Jumu'ah, 25 June 2010
MSA-AIT Masjid

Dear Brothers rahimakumullah,
This month Rajab about 14 hundred years ago, witnessed a very important event experienced by our Nabiya Karim SAW. Event that can be described as an act of active mercy, or rahmah, from his Lord SWT to him, and through him SAW this rahmah is also for his ummah including all of us sitting here today. This event is very well known as Isra Mi'raj, or the miraculous night journey followed by the ascension to the heavens. The Quran Karim, preserves this blessed event for our remembrance. In Surah Bani Israil, Allah says about the Isra:

"Glory to Him who made His servant travel by night from the sacred place of worship (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) to the furthest place of worship (Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa), whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him some of Our signs: He alone is the All Hearing, the All Seeing".

And the event of Miraj is preserved in Surah An Najm (53:13-18), where Allah describes:

"A second time he (SAW) saw him (Jibril AS): by the lote tree beyond which none may pass (Sidrat-ul-muntaha), near the Garden of Restfulness, when the tree was covered in nameless [splendour]. His sight never wavered, nor was it too bold, and he saw some of the greatest signs of his Lord".

Dear brothers, as we all know, this miraculous event bears numerous significances for Rasulullah SAW personally, for his da'wah of Islam, and in turn for all of his ummah. These include among many others, the gift of salaah 5 times a day, the most important act of worship which facilitates our direct communication to our Lord SWT. The scholars of Islam throughout the history have pondered and tried to extract various important lessons from Isra Miraj for the benefit of this ummah. And in this khutbah, I would like to share with you insha Allah, two out of those many lessons, namely psychological significance and epistemological significance of Isra Miraj.

Dear brothers in Islam, in order to appreciate the psychological or strategic significance of the miraculous event we must look to the exact moment when it took place. The most authentic sources indicate that this event took place of the night of 27th Rajab in the eleventh year after the commencement of his mission, when the Prophet (pbuh) was 51 years of age. Shortly before this event the Prophet (pbuh) had, at age fifty, suffered the two greatest blows he had ever suffered since the announcement of his prophethood ten years earlier.
Firstly, Abu Talib who, because of his position as leader of an important clan of the tribe of Quraish (Banu Hashim) and as the Patriach of Makkah, was able to offer security and protection to the Prophet (pbuh), now died, and the Prophet (PBUH) was left in a position of grave insecurity. Shortly before this the Prophet (pbuh) suffered another serious blow when his beloved wife and life-long companion, Khadija (RA), died. To the intense grief and the loneliness of a widower were now added the grave burden of the Prophet's (pbuh) insecurity.

But the darkest day of his life and of his mission was yet to come when, shortly after, he ventured to the city of Taif with the hope of extracting some form of support from Banu Saad Bin Bakr (in which tribe he was suckled) and other tribes in that city which would alleviate his perilous insecurity. The tribal chiefs not only rejected his approach but ordered the street urchins to stone him out of the city. With blood flowing from his wounds, his heart lonely and forlorn with grief, and his enemies closing the noose around him and his small band of followers, it appeared as though the end was in sight.

Not once, not even at such a hopeless moment, did the faith of the Prophet waver. He relied on none but Allah. He turned to none but Allah. Regardless of the hopelessness of the objective situation in which he now found himself, there was no thought of any compromise with the forces ranged against him and his followers. It was at precisely this moment, not sooner and not later, that the miraculous journey (Miraj) took place. And it marked the turning point in his mission (apart from being the greatest honor ever bestowed by Almighty God on any of His creation). Through his steadfast commitment to 'Truth' and to the mission of struggle for establishing the supremacy of 'Truth', and through his noble patience in the face of unrelenting adversity, the Prophet (Pbuh) earned the Grace of divine intervention (al-Isra wal Miraj) which then charted a course to victory.

Four and a half months after the Miraj (i.e. the month of Zil Hajj in the same 11th year of the Call) the tide began to turn and a way was provided for the Prophet (Pbuh) and his followers to escape from the perils of Makkah. The opening was from the city of Yathrib (later to renamed Madina) and was grasped in the first pledge of Aqaba. By the time of the second pledge of Aqaba one year later (Zil Hajj in the 12th year of the Call) the way was clear for the migration to Madina (Hijrah) which took place three months later (Rabi-ul-awwal) in the 13th year of the Prophet's (Pbuh) mission). Hijrah was followed by the successful establishment by the Muslims of the city-State of Madina with the Prophet (pbuh) as supreme authority. This was followed by military victory at Badr and diplomatic and political victory at Hudaibiyah until, finally, complete victory over the Quraish at Makkah in the year 8 A.H. (eight after Hijrah).

Thus Isra and Miraj, in marking the turning point in the Prophet's (Pbuh) mission, also ordained a psychology of da 'wah (inviting people to God), to the effect that it is the obligation of the believers to persevere in the mission of truth despite all adversities, and no matter how long the struggle may last (the Prophet was aged 51 and had, by then, pursued the mission for 11 long years), and to be steadfast and patient until Divine intervention charts the course of victory. Thus the strategic factor for success in the process of the Islamic revolution lies in the spiritual domain of Divine Grace. Revolutionary forces cannot invoke this Grace. They must earn it.

Dear brothers, secondly is the epistemological significance. For those of us who are not familiar with the word, epistemology means knowledge that studies knowledge. Allah has explained in the Qur'an that the purpose of the al-Isra was "to show him (i.e. the Prophet) of Our Signs". Now since the Signs of Allah are basically pregnant with knowledge, which is intended for the benefit of mankind (and this is why the verses of the Qur'an are also called Signs or Ayat), it should be obvious that Allah showed those Signs for the purpose of imparting some special knowledge to the Prophet (Pbuh). This fact is clearly reinforced by the use, at the end of the verse, of the divine attributes al-Sami (He Who hears) and al-Basir (He Who Sees). Since it is He, Allah, Who really Sees and Really Hears, Real knowledge is with Him. Al-Miraj, therefore, was to the world of Real knowledge.

This is a matter of such supreme importance for the modern world that it could usher an intellectual revolution. The modern scientific method insists that only that which can be an object of observation and experimentation can be admitted into scientific knowledge. That which cannot be observed cannot be admitted as knowledge, because only scientific knowledge is real knowledge. Everything else belongs to 'dreamland'. The result has been that the secularization of knowledge has delinked knowledge from the sacred and the transcendental. And since the essence of things are located in their transcendental substance, modern scientific man can sees things only as they 'appear' to him. As a consequence he is like a ship without a pilot, sailing the wide sees without a clue as to where he is going.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that this so-called age of ‘progress' is, indeed, the age when these signs of the Last Day have appeared. This is the age of secularism. Even the state is secular, and so too politics, the economy, education, the market, the media, sports, entertainment, etc. The dining room and the bedroom are today also secularized. Secularism begins by ‘excluding God', and culminates by ‘denying Him'! How so? When knowledge is secularized it leads to the belief that knowledge comes from only one source, i.e., external observation and rational enquiry. The implication of the adoption of this epistemology is as follows: since this material world is the only world we can ever ‘know' in this way, it follows that this is the only world that really ‘exists'.

Thus it is that secularism leads inevitably to materialism, i.e., the acceptance, for all practical purposes, that there is no reality beyond material reality. And materialism has led, naturally so, to a world of greed, lies, promiscuity, injustice, oppression, godlessness, and great betrayals since the moral foundations of society cannot be sustained without the spiritual heart of religion. And such a world is not bothered in the least with such things as the ‘remembrance' of Allah Most High.

All human knowledge comes to man through the medium of the senses and the intellect, both operating inter-dependently within the framework of space and time. Man is, under normal circumstances, imprisoned within this framework of thinking and living. But through the Prophet's (Pbuh) Miraj Allah demonstrated, in as spectacular a manner as possible, that there is another world of knowledge which transcends space and time. Man can partake of that knowledge if he can pierce the spatio- temporal barrier. If and when he does, he will be able to acquire the knowledge of things 'as they are' in contrast to the prevailing knowledge of things 'as they appear to us'.

The Miraj, therefore, established the existence of transcendental knowledge, and the learned man (Alim) is he whose knowledge is enriched with transcendental knowledge. But the further significance of the Miraj into the world of transcendental knowledge is that it did not take place until the Prophet (Pbuh) had first spent long years learning from the Signs of Allah "here-below", i.e. in this world. Transcendental knowledge thus appears to be the fruit which is earned after prolonged struggle in the quest for knowledge. The epistemological significance of the Miraj, therefore, is that it affirms the existence of, and draws our attention to transcendental knowledge. It also provides us with the methodology which must be adopted if the acquisition of that knowledge is to be possible.

Finally, I pray to Allah SWT may Allah SWT bless us with the best gift of all, namely shabr, so that we are able to stay istiqamah in His deen for the rest of our life, regardless of the heavy and stealth challenges of the dunya. And may Allah SWT enable us to see with two eyes, i.e. the external and more importantly the internal eyes of the heart, so that we can see the transcendental reality behind the great and lethal deception of the material worlds. Ameen.

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