Meraj-un-Nabi (SAW): Spiritual Journey and its Historical Connotations

Meraj-un-Nabi (SAW): Spiritual Journey and its Historical Connotations
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Muhammad Shafi Bhat

The event of miraj-un-nabi, the nocturnal journey of Prophet (SAW) to the highest heavens on 26th Rajabis a unique moment in the Islamic history, and civilization. It had not only multi-faceted psyco-spritual and moral connotations during the times of Prophet but it also possesses a rich and diverse message for humanity in general and Muslim community in particularfor all times. Besides its spiritual/meta-physical importance, the event possessesgreat historical importance for both the development of human civilization and Islamic civilization.This blessed nocturnal journey of Beloved Prophet (SAW) took place during the month of Rajab, in the tenth year of NabaviEra I.e. during the tenth year after the beginning of revelation and Prophet’s (SAW) open proclamation of his prophet-hood that corresponds to 619 C.E.
From historical perspective, it is necessary to know the socio-political milieu of Arabia proceeding the nocturnal journey of Prophet (SAW). Three important events happened in the life of Prophet (SAW) before the blessed journey of Miraj, all theevents possess great importance in the Prophet’s life and mission, and thereforeall the three occasions have a psychological and spiritual relation to the blessed journey of Miraj. The first event proceeding the journey was the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) visit to the city of Taif, it is a historical fact that the response to the heartily call of Prophet towards truth by the people of Taif was worst example of rudeness and inhuman treatment, and the counter response of Beloved Prophet (SAW) to the brutality of Taif clearly portrays not only, unique merciful character and nature of Prophet but also his vision and wisdom, which was proven right by history in broad day light. The second and the third event have very close relation with the social and psychological life of Beloved Prophet (SAW), they are events of death of Beloved prophet’s close relatives who were not just his relatives but hisclose associates and supporters in his mission. They are the events of death of Hazrat Khadija, who besides being Prophet’s beloved wife was the first converted Muslim and was deeply attached to the life and mission of Holy Prophet, another event is death of Prophet’s (SAW) Paternal uncle Hazrat Abu Talib who besides being guardian of Prophet (SAW) from childhood was also active supporter and defender of Holy Prophet (SAW) against all his enemies in Makkah. Their death brought Beloved Prophet such a grief, that he called the year in which Hazrat Khadija and Hazrat Abu Talib died as year of sorrow (AmmunHuzun).
The aftermath of events like Taif, Hostility and inhuman attitude of Makkan’s towards Prophet (SAW) and His Companions, death of beloved relatives was followed by Prophet’s (SAW) nocturnal journey to highest spiritual stage any human being can ever reach which we today call Miraj-un-Nabi. This event depicts status of Prophet (SAW) as being the Beloved of creator, to whom Allah invited to his court and blessed with such anspiritual proximity of Divine which cannot be comprehendedby the limited human intellect. The nocturnal journey of Miraj is multi-faceted and in general sense it seems more related to metaphysical and spiritual experiences of Holy Prophet but still this spiritual experience of Prophet has an eternal message for whole humanity for all times to come, As Allama Iqbal has put it in one of his couplet’s,
SabqmillahainMairaj -e- Mustafayi say,
Ki Aalam-e- bashariyatkizadd may haingardu.
Although the event of Miraj seems to some rationalist minds as against human rationale therefore they reject all kinds of such miracles but in reality to be rational, is to accept the limitations of rationale and in the same way the actual sprit of this event or experience of Prophet (SAW) is not against human rationale or intellect but its reality goes beyond time and space, above the rationality and beyond the limitations of empirical observations, as in its essence the journey of miraj is a journey of love where a Beloved is invited by His Beloved, it is Almighty’s love and Mercy for His Beloved at its height from one dimension and at the same time from opposite side it is highest stage of Abudiyat (servitude) any human being can ever reach. So what may be then called the wider historical and cultural connotations and implications of this event, which can be grasped by both human intuition and intellect has been beautifully exposited by Alama Muhammad Iqbal in his Magnum Opus lectures “ The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’’ Iqbal in his fifth lecture entitled‘The Spirit of Muslim culture’’ has not only differentiated Prophet’s experience of Miraj from all kinds of spiritual experiences which can be experienced by any mystic but Iqbal has also discussed the practical connotations of this miraculous journey in the spirit of Muslim culture and civilization developed by the Prophet (SAW) himself at Madina. Iqbalnot only praises the Prophet’s highest spiritual unitary experience with Allah at the head of his journey but also praises Prophet’s return to this physical and temporal World from such an higher spiritual stage without losing His individual identity (Khudi) after passing through such an highest spiritual experience, Iqbal writes about the experience of ascension of Prophet, “The Prophet’s return is creative, He returns to insert himself into the sweep of time with a view to control the forces of history, and thereby to create a fresh world of ideals. For the mystic the repose of ‘Unitary Experience’ (the usual classical terms used are vasl and deedar) is something final; for the Prophet it is the awakening within him of world-shaking psychological forces, calculated to completely transform the human world. The desire to see his religious experience transformed into a living world force is supreme in the Prophet (SAW). Thus his return amounts to a kind of Pragmatic test of the value of his religious experience. In its creative act the Prophet (SAW) will judge both itself and the world of concrete fact in which it endeavors to objectify itself.” Iqbal further tries to identify the value of Prophet’s Experience in the type of manhood which Prophet has created and the cultural world that has sprung out of the spirit of his message.” Hence in the view of Iqbal, the society and state which beloved Prophet (SAW) founded after migration to Madina was in a way, practical and collective expression of Prophet’s Vision and practical expression of Prophet’s spiritual journey to the highest heaven’s which is being celebrated as Miraj-un-Nabi (SalallahualahiWasalam).

—Pursuing Ph.D in Islamic Studies, from University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: bhatshafi.11@gmaill.com