Khutbas by Imam Habib
Khutba on Isra and Mi'raj
الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي بعبدِهِ ليلًا مِن المسجدِ الحرامِ إلى المسجدِ الأقصَى أسرَى، ثم عَرَجَ به إلى ما قاب قوسَينِ أو أدنَى، حيثُ أراهُ من ءاياتِهِ الكبرى، وأوحى إليه ما أوحى، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدٌى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.
Muslims, in just a week’s time, next Friday night to be precise, it will be the 27th night of Rajab, generally said to be the date upon which the Messenger of Allah made his famous Night Journey and Ascent, the Isra’ and Mi‘raj.
The story of what happened on this night is well-known to every Muslim, and accepting it as true is the hallmark of the trueness of a person’s belief. For there is no dispute that the Night Journey and the Ascent actually took place since both are mentioned in the Quran and both are mentioned in the Sunnah. Indeed to deny them is kufr and takes one outside the bounds of Islam.
As for what is said in the Quran, Allah names a a sura after the Night Journey, al-Isra, and says in its beginning:
“سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آَيَاتِنَا إِنَّه هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ”
“Glory be to Him who took His slave on a journey by night from the Masjid-al-Haram to the Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” And then in Surat an-Najm, He alludes to the Ascent, the mi’raj, saying:
“وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَى مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَى وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى عَلَّمَهُ شَدِيدُ الْقُوَى ذُو مِرَّةٍ فَاسْتَوَى وَهُوَ بِالْأُفُقِ الْأَعْلَى ثُمَّ دَنَا فَتَدَلَّى فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى فَأَوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَا أَوْحَى مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى أَفَتُمَارُونَهُ عَلَى مَا يَرَى وَلَقَدْ رَآَهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى عِنْدَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى عِنْدَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَى إِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى لَقَدْ رَأَى مِنْ آَيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرَى”
“By the star when it descends, your companion is not misguided or misled; nor does he speak from whim. It is nothing but Revelation revealed, taught to him by One immensely strong, possessing power and splendour. He stood there stationary - there on the highest horizon. Then he drew near and hung suspended. he was two bow-lengths away or even closer. Then He revealed to His slave what He revealed. His heart did not lie about what he saw. What! Do you dispute with him about what he saw? He saw him again another time by the Lote-tree of the Furthest Limit, beside which is the Garden of Refuge, when that which covered the Lote-tree covered it. His eye did not waver nor did he look away. He saw some of the Greatest Signs of his Lord.”
So the bare bones of the journey are found in the Quran. It is left to the hadith to flesh out the story and provide us with the exact details of happened. And those hadith are about as mutawatir as it is possible to get. Imam al-Qurtubi said,
ثبت الإسراء في جميع مصنَّفات الحديث، ورُوي عن الصحابة في كل أقطار الإسلام فهو من المتواتر بهذا الوجه.
“The [story of the] isra (and miraj) is mentioned in all the collections of hadith and is narrated from Companions living in every place to which Islam spread. It is mutawatir to that degree.” The story so many of us know know today is drawn from the narrations of more than 26 of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, including Ali ibn abi Talib, Aisha, Abu Hurayra, Ibn Abbas, Anas ibn Malik, Abu Saeed al-Khudri, Umm Hani and many others. Their accounts do differ in some minor matters, but all agree upon the following sequence of events. But, before I relate these events, it is important that you know that all of these things happened to the Prophet while he was fully awake - not when he was asleep as some people have claimed, since if it had been in a dream, there would not have been anything miraculous about it and so the idolaters of Quraysh would have had no cause to deny his story.
On the night of the Isra and Mi‘raj, Jibril came to the Messenger of Allah while he was sleeping, woke him up and led him out to where he found the Buraq waiting for him, a white riding mount taller than a donkey but shorter than a mule. Jibril instructed him to mount it and they began their journey, not stopping until they had reached Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem. There the Prophet alighted from the Buraq and found waiting for him a company of other Prophets including Ibrahim, Musa and Isa. When he greeted them, they all made dua for him and asked him to lead them in prayer. Then, after the Prophet had finished his prayer with them, two vessels were brought before him, one containing milk and the other wine, and he was asked to chose one them. When he drank the milk and left the wine, Jibril told him, “You have chosen the fitra.”
Then he got back onto the Buraq and began the part of the Journey known as the Mi’raj or Ascent. He ascended each heaven in turn, encountering a different Prophet at each stage of the way, until he had gone beyond all of the heavens and come to the Lote Tree of Furthest limit - a place two bow-lengths away or even closer where no created being had ever come before.
There he greeted his Lord saying,
التحيات لله (الزاكيات لله) الطيبات الصلوات لله
“Greetings are for Allah, (pure things are for Allah), good deeds and prayers are for Allah.”
So Allah returned his greeting saying.
السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته
“Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessing”, so the Messenger of Allah replied, saying,
السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين. أشهد الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله
“Peace be upon us and upon the righteous slaves of Allah. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, One without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.” In those eternal moments Allah revealed to His beloved Prophet what He revealed to him and made the prayer incumbent upon the Muslim umma.
Then before the night had come to its end, the Messenger of Allah returned to Makkah - with the entire journey having taken place in less than a single night. As he told Umm Hani,
“يا أمّ هانئ، لقد صليتُ معكم العشاءَ الآخِرةَ، كما رأيتِ، بهذا الوادي ثمّ جئتُ بيت المقدس فصليتُ فيه، ثمّ صليتُ الغداةَ معكم الآنَ كما تروْنَ”
“Umm Hani’, I prayed the final night prayer with you, as you saw, in this valley, then I went to Jerusalem and prayed there. Then I prayed the morning prayer with you now as you can see.”
The next day, he told the idolators what had happened to him, but they sneered at him and rejected him. Then they went to Abu Bakr and said to him, “Have you heard what your companion is saying? He claims to have travelled last night to Jerusalem, prayed there, and then come back to Makka before morning!” So Abu Bakr replied, “By Allah, if that is what he says then he has spoken the truth. And what do you find so astonishing about that? Every day, he tells me that communications come to him from the heavens to the earth in but a single moment of the day or night and I believe him. That is far more extraordinary than that which has so amazed you!” It was this immediate acceptance that led to Abu Bakr being given the title as-Siddiq, the true.
This is only a brief synopsis of the events of that night - the full story is related in the books of hadith, seera and tafsir and I encourage you all to study it, for there are many parts to it that the majority of us know little, if nothing, about. But even this basic outline contains much for us to reflect upon and many important reminders, the most important of which, perhaps, is the indication it gives us of the exalted station of the Messenger of Allah and the rank he held with his Lord, for that is clear from transpired during both segments of his journey - the isra on the earth and the mi’raj through the heavens:
It is narrated from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah said about his time in Jerusalem that night,
“وقد رأيتني في جماعة من الأنبياء فحانتِ الصلاةُ فأممتُهم”
“I saw myself in a group of the Prophets, and when the time for prayer came I was their imam.” Abu Ja‘far ibn Ali ibn al Husayn said, “Thus, Allah honoured Muhammad above the inhabitants of the Heavens and the earth.”
وذكر البزار عن علي ابن أبي طالب أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلّم ركِب البراق وجاء بجيريل عليه السلام إلى الحجاب الذي يلي الرحمانَ فبينما هو كذالك إذ خرج ملَكٌ من الحجابِ فقال رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلّم: “يا جبريلُ مَن هذا” قال “والذي بعثك بالحق إني لأقرب الخلق مكانا وإن هذا الملكَ ما رأيتُهُ منذ خُلِقتُ قبل ساعتي هذه.”
And al-Bazzar narrated from ‘Ali ibn abi Talib that the Buraq took the Messenger of Allah to the veil just below the All Merciful from behind which an angel appeared, so the Messenger of Allah asked Jibril (who was accompanying him), “Who is this,” Jibril replied. “By the One Who sent you with the Truth, I have been granted a station closer to Allah than all the rest of creation, and yet, I have never seen this angel before.”
These accounts are very important in understanding the place the Messenger of Allah occupies within creation. First, he was honoured above all Prophets by being appointed their imam, and then he was honoured above everything in creation by being brought to a station where no other created being, not even the angels, had ever stood. He went beyond the earth, beyond even the heavens and the entirety of existence to a station two bow-lengths away or even closer.
Although there is a spatial and physical significance to the Isra and the Mi’raj in the sense that the Prophet physically went to Jerusalem, physically led the other Prophets in prayer and physically passed the Prophets, one by one, on his ascent through the seven heavens, there is also a ruhani significance. The fact that the Messenger of Allah passed all the other Prophets on his ascent demonstrates that he had surpassed them - that he had achieved a closeness to Allah that went beyond that of Adam, Isa, Musa, and even Ibrahim, whom he encountered in the seventh heaven, and the closest Angels.
This is the station of the Messenger whose umma we are blessed to be a part of and whose example and sunna we strive to follow. He is the best of creation and we must never forget that - we must never stop loving him or saying salawat on him, and must never stop thanking Allah for allowing us to know him and be a part of his umma.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيمالحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته. قال الله عز وجل في كتابه العزيز: “عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَلاَ يُظْهِرُ عَلَى غَيْبِهِ أَحَدًا اِلاَّ مَنِ ارْتَضَى مِن رَسُولٍ.”
Allah says in his Noble Book: “ He is the Knower of the Unseen, and does not divulge His Unseen to anyone except a Messenger with whom He is well pleased.”
There are many other important lessons we can draw from the story of the Isra, and Mi‘raj, and I would like to mention some of those in brief, inshAllah, in this second Khutba.
Firstly, it reminds us of the limitations of the sciences and senses in which we trust and upon which we depend, since it shows that there is an entire world out there that most of us cannot and will not ever see: an Unseen world. For on that night, the Messenger of Allah saw things and did things that defy the attempts of conventional science to explain, such as travelling from Makkah to Jerusalem and back on horseback in a single night, or seeing Prophets from previous generations in the flesh.
This reminder is one that we have great need of, especially in this age of sensory overload. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the world is just what our five senses experience but the truth is that those senses barely touch the surface of Allah’s creation. We struggle and strive to encompass a miniscule part of this world in which we live and yet it is just one world of many, for Allah is the Rabb al-Alamin. There are whole species who see us from where we cannot see them, such as the jinn. The limits of our senses are clear for all to see, as for the limits of our mind, except for those to whom Allah has granted insight and opening. The Unseen world is there and is real - the fact that we do not see it does not make it any less so. As a famous English playwright once said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Secondly, it reminds us of the importance of the prayer and the central position it occupies within the deen of Allah. The first thing the Messenger of Allah did when he arrived in Jerusalem was to do the prayer, and the only act of worship that was made obligatory during the Mi‘raj was the prayer.
Anas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, describing what happened when he was at the Lote Tree of Furthest limit, “Then Allah revealed to me what He revealed to me and He made fifty prayers every day and night obligatory for me.” Then he mentioned that when he passed by Musa, he told him to go back to his Lord since 50 prayers would be too much for his people. So he went back to his Lord, and every time he went back to his Lord, his Lord deducted five prayers, and every time he went back to Musa, Musa told him that he must get the number of prayers reduced because they would be too much of a burden for his people. This continued until the number had been reduced to five prayers.
Allah said, “Muhammad, they are five prayers every day and night. Each prayer counts as ten, so that makes fifty prayers...” When the Prophet passed by Musa, he again told him to go back and get the number reduced, but the Prophet answered, “I have gone back to my Lord so often that I am ashamed before him,” and returned to his people with the five prayers that we know today: Subh, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.
So the one act of worship that Allah revealed to His slave when he was the closest to Him any created being could ever be was the prayer, and the one act of worship the Prophet brought back for his umma from the Mi‘raj was the prayer.
And on top of that, the entire journey may be seen as an allegory for the prayer: Imam al-Qushayri said, “I heard Abu ‘Ali ad-Daqqaq, say, ‘Our Prophet in reality brought the Mi‘raj back with him to his umma, for the prayer is the Mi‘raj brought down. The Mi‘raj of the Messenger of Allah had three distinct stages: From the Haram to the al-Aqsa Mosque; from the al-Aqsa Mosque to the Lote Tree of Furthest Limit; and from the Lote Tree of Furthest Limit to a station two bow-lengths away or closer. In the same way, the prayer has three stages: Standing, bowing and finally prostration.’”
Thirdly, it reminds us that our actions in this world have consequences. The Messenger of Allah was shown on his journey how people are punished in the Unseen, even before they take their place in the Next World, for the different wrong actions that they do in this world:
While on his Night Journey, the Messenger of Allah came upon a people with only rags covering their private parts, wandering around like cattle, grazing on dari’(a species of bitter thorny bush) and zaqqum (a species of tree with extremely bitter fruit)…” so he asked Jibril who they were. Jibril replied, “These are those who neglected to pay zakat on their wealth.”
Then, the Messenger of Allah saw a river of blood, boiling as if it were bubbling in a cauldron. On both sides of this river were angels with fire(balls) in their hands, which they would throw every time a person’s head rose up out of (the blood). Those fireballs would go straight into their mouths, causing them to burst into flames, and they would continue to burn until they had sunk to the bottom of the river. Then the whole process would start again. When the Messenger of Allah asked about them, he was told that they were people who engaged in usury and so were being punished for it until such time that they would be admitted to the Fire.
Then the Prophet came upon a group of women, some suspended by their breasts and others hanging upside down, so he asked Jibril about them and Jibril replied ‘These are the women who commit fornication and then kill their children.’
These are only some of the many groups of people whom the Prophet passed by during his night journey, each group undergoing a different form of torment based on the wrong actions they committed in this world. We often forget the seriousness of the actions we commit and do not take sufficient care to ensure that they are correct and in accordance with the Book and Sunna. The Messenger of Allah is here describing what is happening in the Unseen at this very moment to those who commit such acts. In other words, what happens to them BEFORE they have taken their places in the Hereafter. The consequences for these actions are much more immediate than many of us realise and so we are complacent and unconcerned, thinking we will have plenty of time to rectify our ways. Take heed of the warnings of the Messenger of Allah! Hear the descriptions he gives of the people he encountered on his night journey and, whenever you find yourself about to commit one of the actions of those people, stop and call to mind the punishment he described them undergoing. That may well cause you to reconsider! May Allah protect us and give us the himma and resolve to avoid wrong action and not become one of those people.
Fourthly, it reminds us of how truly remarkable the greatest miracle of the Messenger of Allah, the Book of Allah, the Quran is. For, despite hearing of all the remarkable things that happened to the Messenger of Allah on that night, things beyond the ken of normal men, things that transcended the natural laws of earth and left them far behind, still Abu Bakr did not consider them particularly remarkable when compared to the Revelation itself. He said, “By Allah, every day, the Prophet tells me that communications come to him from the heavens to the earth in but a single moment of the day or night and I believe him. And that is far more extraordinary than that which has you so amazed!”’
These are but some of the extraordinary lessons that can be drawn from the account of this blessed journey, but there are many more, for the Isra’ and Mi‘raj is much much more than just a wonderful story.
So we ask Allah to make us among those who reflect and take heed. And to grant us understanding of the true significance of what happened to the Messenger of Allah on that blessed night and to grant us access to its secrets and its fruits. We ask Him to increase us in love of His Messenger and in appreciation of the blessing that He bestowed upon us by making us part of his umma. And to once again unite that umma and join our hearts together.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ.
وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ (3) وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
اللَّهُمَّ لاَ تجْعَلِ الدُّنْيَا أَكْبَرَ هَمِّنَا وَلَا مَبْلَغَ عِلْمِنَا وَلَا تُسَلِّطْ عَلَيْنَا بِذُنُوبِنَا مَن لاَّ يَخَافُكَ وَلَا يَرْحَمُنَا
اللَّهُمَّ أَصْلِحْ لَنَا دِينَنَا الذِي هُوَ عِصْمَةُ أَمْرِنَا وَأَصْلِحْ لَنَا دُنْيَانَا التِي فِيهَا مَعَاشُنَا وَأَصْلِحْ لَنَا آخِرَتُنَا التِي إِلَيْهَا مَعَادُنَا وَاجْعَلِ الحَيَاةَ زِيَادَةً لَنَا فِي كُلِّ خَيْرٍ وَاجْعَلِ المَوْتَ رَاحَةً لَنَا مِن كُلِّ شَرٍّ
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.