Saturday, August 11, 2007

Miraj | the mystical night journey | holy ascension to the Ultimate Divine Presence

Glory to (God) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless, - in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (The Qur’an 17:1)

Tonight is the night of holy ascension (Miraj or Miraaj) of Prophet in this part of the world. At sunset (as in the Islamic lunar calendar, the ‘date’ starts at the sunset of the night before) the date of 27 Rajab entering upon us: the Isra wa Mir’aj. This is the holy night when Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, was taken to a sacred night journey from earthly sphere into the unseen realm and finally into the ultimate presence of God. In this night the beloved Prophet undertook a most miraculous and special journey out of time domain, on the winged steed al-Buraq, from Mecca to Jerusalem and beyond, met and prayed with the Prophets of all ages appointed to humanity, ascended to the heavens, was given a vision of paradise and hell and finally came back to the earthly realm.

In this journey, the Prophet Muhammad, may God grant peace and blessings upon him, brought back the archetype pattern of communion with the Beloved, the formal prayer which became the hallmark of Islamic faith. It reminds us of the world of the unseen, the world that is more real than this material existence, from which God draws us to him, although in reality He is closer to us than our life-vein. (via Maryams.net)

. Miraj | Prophet's initiation in the higher spheres
According to many mystics including Inayat Khan, the holy ascension is not to be taken literally in the context of physical journey. It was more of a spiritual journey and special vision given to the Prophet. Inayat Khan writes:

A story survives in Islam about the vision of the Prophet: a vision or dream, which was an initiation in the higher spheres. Many take it literally and discuss it, and afterwards go out by the same door through which they came in, but from the point of view of a mystic one can find out the mystery it contains. [>] read more: Symbology of the Prophets Ascension (The Miraj)

It is recorded in the tradition that Prophet Muhammad said that "Prayer is Miraj of the believers" like the holy ascension of Prophet himself into that Divine Presence.

According to Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, known as the greatest master - may God bless his soul, and one of the islamic tradition's most important writers explains: The purpose of spiritual ascension is not to reach God - for He is never apart from us - but simply for Him to show some of His Wonders and Indications. [>] read in details, Secret of the Spiritual Ascension (Miraj) of Prophet.

In mystical words of the Quran, the event is further described in chapter 53:
The Lord of Mighty Power has taught him, The Lord of Strength; so he attained completion, While he was in the highest part of the horizon: Then he drew near, and came closer till he was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; And God revealed unto His slave that which He revealed.

The heart was not untrue in seeing what he saw. What! do you then dispute with him as to what he saw? And certainly he saw him in another descent, By the lote-tree of the utmost boundary, Near it is the Garden of Abode. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!)

The eye turned not aside nor yet was overbold. Certainly he saw of the greatest signs of his Lord. (The Quran 53:5-18)

Further Reading
. Isra and Miraj via wikipedia
. IslamOnline.net - Al-Israa' & Al-Miraj
. The Muhammadan Reality | The Holy Ascension of Prophet
. The Thirty - First Word - Rasale i Nur
. Miraj: A physical or spiritual journey
. Ibn Arabi Society | Miraj
. Ibn 'Arabi and the Mystical Journey | The Journey to the Lord of Power Pin It Now!

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