Mi'raj and Isra
Bani Isra'il 17:1
Glory be to Him, Who transported His Servant one night from the Maskjid-I-Haram to the distant Temple, whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We might show him Our Signs;EN17:1 the fact is that He alone is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. 17:1
EN17:1 One night the Angel Jibril transported the Holy Prophet on al-Buraq from Masjid-i-Haram to Masjid-i-Aqsa (the Temple). There the Holy Prophet offered his prayers along with the other Prophets. Then he took him towards the higher spheres, where he met some of the great Prophets in different spheres. At last he reached the Highest Place in the Heavens, and was received in audience by Allah. It was there that besides other important instructions five daily Prayers were prescribed. Then he returned to the Temple and from there came back to Masjid-i-Haram. During this journey, according to many traditions, Paradise and Hell were shown to him. We also learn from authentic traditions that on the following day when he mentioned this event, the disbelievers of Makkah scoffed at him, and some of the Muslims also were skeptical about this. The above additional details base don the traditions cannot be said to be against the Quran, for these additions to the details given in the Quran; therefore the details related to in the traditions cannot be rejected on the plea that they are against the Quran. Nevertheless, if one rejects any part of those details which are given in the traditions, one cannot be declared a renegade.
It was a supernatural event which was brought about by the unlimited power of Allah. This was a physical journey in which Allah arranged that the Holy Prophet should make observation of His Signs with his physical eyes. All the objections raised against the various details which are given in the traditions are frivolous, except two, which are plausible. Firs, if we accept these details, then we shall have to admit that Allah is confined to a certain place: otherwise there was no need that His Servant should be transported for this purpose to a certain place. Secondly, according to traditions, the Holy Prophet was enabled to observe Paradise and Hell where he saw some people suffering from torment. The objection is: why should some people be awarded punishments or rewards before the Final Judgment after Resurrection?
As regards the first objection, it is true that Allah is Infinite by Himself, but in dealing with His creation, He employs those means which suit His imperfect creation not because of any limitation of His but because of the limitations of His creation. When he desires to show some of the wonderful Signs of His Kingdom to a servant, He transports him to the place where the Signs are to be shown. It is obvious that the servant cannot see simultaneously the whole of the universe as Allah does, for Allah has no need to go to any place for this purpose but the servant has. The same applies to the appearance of the servant before the Creator. Though Allah is not confined to any locality, it is necessary to go to the place where His manifestations have been concentrated for his observation because it is not possible for the servant with his limited powers to go in His Presence in His Infinite Capacity.
As regards the second objection, it is based on the lack of understanding: many of the Signs which were shown to the Holy Prophet were symbolical. For instance, a small hole from which a fat ox came out but could not go back into it, represented mischief personified. In the same way the adulterer were shown as if they had fresh meat before them but instead of that they were eating rotten flesh. Similar punishments for evil deeds shown to him were only symbolic observations of the punishments in the Hereafter so that he might see in advance the things which would take place in the Hereafter.
In regard to Mi'raj it should be kept in view that all of the Prophets were enabled by Allah to see His Signs in the heavens and the earth according to their ranks. And for this propose all the material curtains were lifted so that they could see with their naked eyes the unseen realities, to which they were required to invite the people. This was done so that the Prophets could say with full conviction what they had seen with their own eyes. For this experience would distinguish them from a philosopher who bases all his theories on guess work and cannot say that he bears witness to what he claims. In contrast to philosophers, Prophets could say that they bore witness to the things which they presented because they had seen them with their own eyes.
By the StarEN53:1 when it set, 53:1
EN53:1 When the day dawned, and the stars are set.
your companion EN53:2 is neither gone astray nor deluded EN53:3. 53:2
EN53:2 "Your companion" implies the Holy Messenger of Allah and the addresses are the Quraish. "The person being mentioned is no stranger to you: he is not an outsider whom you may not be knowing or recognizing already. He is a man of your own clan and tribe; he lives and moves among you; even your children know who and what he is, what is his character, what are his dealings, what are his ways and habits and characteristics, and how has he passed his life among you so far. If some one of you were to say an improbable thing about him, there would be a thousand men among you who knew him, who could see for themselves what was said actually applied to him or not."
EN53:3 This is the thing for which an oath has been sworn by the setting star or stars. Muhammad is a well-known man among you. Your accusation that he has gone astray, or is misguided, is utterly wrong. In fact, he is neither gone astray, nor misguided." When the stars have set and the day has dawned, every thing appears before man in its real form and shape, and there remains no doubt whatever about the reality of anything. The same is the case of Muhammad among you. His life and personality is not hidden in darkness, but is manifest like the bright dawn.
He does not speak of his own desire; 53:3
it is but a Revelation which is sent down to him. EN53:4 53:4
EN53:4 The things for which you accuse him of having gone astray or been misled and deceived, have neither been fabricated by himself nor motivated by any selfish desire on his part, but they have been sent down, and are being sent down, to him by God. This knowledge has been bestowed on him by Revelation. The Quran is not his composition but it is a Divine Word.
One mighty in power has taught him, EN53:5 53:5
EN53:5 That is, "There is no human being who teaches him this, as you seem to think, but he obtains this knowledge through a supernatural source (Angel Gabriel). Allah made Gabriel a means of conveying knowledge to the Holy Prophet, and was the Holy Prophet's teacher in the metaphoric sense for being only a medium of instruction. This does not give him any superiority whatever.
who is endowed with great wisdom. EN53:6 He stood poised in front 53:6
EN53:6 Gabriel possess both intellectual and physical powers to the highest degree.
when he was on the uppermost horizon. EN53:7 53:7
EN53:7 When the Holy Prophet saw angel Gabriel for the first time, he had appeared on the eastern horizon of the sky; and at that time he was in his real shape in which Allah has create dhim.
Then he drew near and hung suspended above, 53:8
two bow-lengths away or even closer. EN53:8 53:9
EN53:8 After appearing on the uppermost edge of the sky, Gabriel started advancing towards the Prophet till he reached and hung suspended above him in the mid air. Then he bent down to him and came within just two bow-lengths or even closer.
Then he revealed to the servant of Allah whatever he had to reveal. EN53:9 53:10
EN53:9 He revealed to His (Allah's) servant whatever he revealed.
The heart belied not what he saw. EN53:10 53:11
Do you then dispute with him concerning what he sees (with the eyes)? 53:12
And he saw him once again 53:13
by the farthest lote-tree, 53:14
nearby which is the Garden of Repose. EN53:11 53:15
EN53:11 This is about the Holy Prophet's second meeting with Gabriel in which he appeared before him in his real shape and nature. This meeting took place at Sidrat-al-muntaha, along with which is located jannat al-ma'va (Garden of Repose).
At that time the lote-tree was covered with that which covered it. EN53:12 53:16
EN53:12 That is, its Splendor and Glory exceeds all description. The Divine Glory and effulgence was such as can neither be conceived by man nor can any human language depict it adequately.
The sight was neither dazzled nor it exceeded the limit, EN53:13 53:17
EN53:13 That is, "On the one hand, the Holy Messenger of Allah was so firm and steadfast that even in the presence of the Great Divine Splendor and Glory his sight was not dazzled and he went on gazing at it with great composure. On the other hand, he was in such complete control of himself and so exclusively attentive that he kept his mind and his sight focused upon the object for which he had been summoned, and he did not let his sight wander to any side like a spectator's to have a glimpse of the wonderful objects present there.
and he saw of the greatest Sign of his Lord. EN53:14 53:18
EN53:14 The Hoy Prophet had not seen Allah but His wonderful Signs. Had he seen Allah Almighty it would have been a great thing and must certainly have been mentioned explicitly.