Nature of ascension

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What is the nature of ascension and why was the prophet Muhammad favoured with it?

The Ascension is one of the greatest miracles of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. The Prophet realized a spiritual perfection and full refinement through belief and worship and, as a reward, God took him to His holy Presence. Escaping from the imprisonment of ‘natural’ laws and material causes and rising beyond the limits of bodily existence, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, crossed distances swiftly and transcended all dimensions of the material world until he reached the holy Presence of God.

Multi-dimensional existence

Atomic physics has changed many notions in physics and established that the material world is a dimension or an appearance of existence. Besides this world, there are many other worlds or dimensions of existence, each of which has its own particularities. Einstein put forward the notion that time is only one of the dimensions of existence. Science has not yet drawn the final conclusions about existence and new findings and developments continually change our view of it. Therefore, especially in our day, it is completely illogical to question the event of Ascension. People have difficulty in understanding how one can penetrate all time at the same moment as a single point. In order to understand this subtle matter, consider the following analogy.

Imagine that you are standing with a mirror in your hand, with everything reflected on the right representing the past, while everything reflected on the left represents the future. The mirror can reflect one direction only since it cannot show both sides at the same time as you are holding it. If you wish to reflect both directions at the same time, you will have to rise high above your original position so that left and right directions are united into one and nothing remains to be called first or last, beginning or end.

In the Ascension, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, must have moved with the speed of the spirit and he travelled through all time and space and all dimensions of existence in a very short period. During that heavenly journey, he met with the previous Prophets, saw angels and beheld the beauties of Paradise and the terrors of Hell. He also observed the essential realities of all the Qur’anic issues and the meanings and wisdom of all the acts of worship. He went as far as the realms where even the greatest of angels, Gabriel, cannot reach and was honoured with vision of God’s ‘Countenance’ free from any qualitative and quantitative dimensions and restrictions. Then, in order to bring humanity out of the darkness of material existence into the illumined realm of belief and worship, through which they could realize a ‘spiritual’ ascension each according to his capacity, he returned to the world where he was made subject to all kinds of persecution.

Note: Belief in the Prophet’s Ascension is the result of belief in the pillars of faith and draws its light and strength from those pillars. For sure, the Ascension cannot be proved independently to irreligious atheists who do not accept the pillars of faith, because it is impossible to discuss the Ascension with those who neither know God, nor recognize the Prophet, nor accept the angels, and who deny the existence of the heavens. Firstly, those pillars must be proved. Since this is so, in the following we shall address the believer who, since he deems it unlikely, has doubts about the Accession. However, from time to time we shall turn to the atheist who is the third party in our discussion and is in the position of listening, and speak to him.

The Qur’an declares:

Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) to Masjid al-Aqsa, the neighbourhood of which We have blessed, that We might show him of Our signs. Surely He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (al-Isra’, 17.1)

Then he drew nigh and came down, till he was two bows’ length or even nearer, and He revealed unto His servant what He revealed. The heart (of His servant) lied not (in seeing) what he saw. (al-Najm, 53.8-11)

In the Name of God, the merciful, the Compassionate.

Glory be to Him Who transported His servant by night from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa’, the environs of which We had blessed, so that We might show him some of Our signs. Surely He is the One Who is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (al-Isra’, 17.1)

It is naught but a revelation revealed. One with mighty power taught it, one exalted in wisdom and strength: he rose, while he was in the highest horizon. Then he approached and came nearer. He was at a distance of two bows’ length or even nearer. And He revealed unto His servant what He revealed. The heart did not falsify what he saw. Will you then dispute with him concerning what he saw? Surely he saw him (another time when) he (Gabriel) descended, near the Lote-tree of the farthest limit, beside it is the Garden of Abode. It was when what enveloped the Lote-tree enveloped it. The eye did not waver, nor did it stray. Truly did he see some of the greatest signs of his Lord. (al-Najm, 53.4-18)

Out of the vast treasury of the first mighty verse above, we shall only describe two points which the pronoun He in Surely He is refers to as a principle of eloquence, since they are included in our present concern here.

After mentioning the journey of the noble Beloved of God, upon him be the best of blessings and most perfect peace, from Masjid al-Haram in Makka to Masjid al-Aqsa’ in Jerusalem, which was the beginning of his Ascension, the Wise Qur’an concludes: Surely He is the One Who is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. Together with this phrase itself, the pronoun in the Surely He is, which alludes to the furthest point of the Ascension indicated by the verses from sura al-Najm (sura 53), refers either to Almighty God or to the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings.

If it refers to the Prophet, according to the rules of rhetoric and the relationship between the pronoun and its antecedent, the meaning is this: this journey, which is apparently particular, is in reality so comprehensive and signifies such universal ascent that the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, heard and saw during it all the signs of the Lord and the wonders of Divine art which caught his sight and encountered his ears as the results of the manifestations of Divine Names in universal degrees as far as the Lote-tree of the farthest limit and the distance of two bows’ length. Thus, through its conclusive phrase, the verse describes that particular journey as the key to understand a (higher) journey that is universal and full of extraordinary events.

If the pronoun in Surely He is, refers to God Almighty, the meaning is this: in order to call a servant of His on a journey to His presence and entrust him with a duty, after sending him from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa’, which is where the Prophets gather, and causing him to meet with them and showing that he is the absolute, indisputable heir of the principles of the religions of all the Prophets, He took him through both the external and inner dimensions of His dominion as far as the Lote-tree of the farthest limit and the distance of two bows’ length.

For sure, he was a servant and that journey was a particular ascension. However, since he was given a Trust which is connected to the whole of the universe, was accorded a light which would change the colour of the universe, and also had with him a key with which to open the door to eternal happiness, Almighty God describes Himself as the One Who hears and sees all things so that His world-embracing, comprehensive and all-encompassing wisdom in the Trust, the light, and the key, might be observed and understood.

This mighty truth contained in the Ascension may be dealt with under four heads or four principles:

Why was the Ascension necessary?

It is asked: Almighty God is nearer to one than one’s jugular vein. He is closer to everything than itself; He is absolutely free of corporeality and space. Therefore, while all the saints are able to converse with Him in their hearts, why was it necessary for the sainthood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to make a long journey like the Ascension in order to succeed in holding a conversation with God that any saint is able to do in his heart?

Answer

We shall make this profound mystery easier to understand by means of two comparisons. Consider the following two comparisons from The Twelfth Word which concern the mystery of the Qur’an’s miraculousness and the mystery of the Ascension.

First comparison: A king holds two kinds of conversation and interview and has two modes of address and favor. One is that he converses with an ordinary subject or citizen about a particular matter or a special need by means of a private telephone. The other is that under the title of supreme sovereignty, and in the name of supreme kingship and on account of being the ruler of the whole country, and with the aim of publishing and promulgating his commands, he converses with an envoy of His connected to those affairs or with a high official of His related to those commands, or speaks to him by means of a magnificent royal decree manifesting his majesty.

God has two kinds of conversing and speaking

As in the comparison (and God’s is the highest comparison) the Creator of this universe, the Master of the whole existence in its external and inner dimensions, and the Lord of eternity, has two kinds of conversing and speaking, and two manners of favoring. One is particular and private, the other, universal and general. The Ascension is the manifestation of the sainthood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, in a form more universal than, and much superior to, all other sainthood. It is the Prophet’s being honoured with the conversation and direct address of Almighty God through His Name of the Lord of the whole universe and His title of the Creator of all existence.

Second comparison: A man holds up to the sun a mirror he has in his hand. According to its capacity, the mirror receives from the sun light which contains seven colours. The man has a relation with the sun by means of the mirror and in accordance with its capacity of reflecting the sun. If he directs the shining side of the mirror towards his dark house or his small, private garden which is covered by a roof, he can benefit from the sun not in proportion to the sun’s value but in accordance with the capacity of the mirror.

Another man, however, puts down the mirror, and facing the sun directly, sees its splendor and comprehends its grandeur. Afterwards, he climbs a very high mountain and stands in the sun without veil, witnessing the majesty of its broad dominion. Then he comes back and in order to have a direct connection with the constant light of the sun, he makes large windows in his house or in the roof of his garden, and obtains other means of benefiting from the sun directly. Facing it, he may speak to the sun in indebtedness, and say: ‘O amiable sun, the beauty of the world and darling of the skies, who gilds the face of the earth with light and makes it and all the flowers smile in joy and happiness! You have illuminated and heated my house and garden as you illuminate the whole world and heat the face of the earth.’ However, the former one with the mirror cannot say the same, since the reflection of the sun through the mirror is restricted and in accordance with the mirror’s capacity.

How God manifests Himself in human nature?

Likewise, the manifestation in human nature of the Single, Eternally Besought-of-All, Who is the Sun without beginning and the Lord of eternity, is in two forms, which comprise innumerable degrees.

The first is a manifestation occurring in the mirror of the heart by means of one’s relationship with the Lord. Whether particular or universal, everyone may receive a manifestation of the light and conversation of the Eternal Sun in accordance with his capacity and the character of his spiritual journeying in traversing the degrees toward sainthood, and his ability to receive the manifestations of Divine Names and Attributes. That is why there are innumerable degrees in sainthood which is attained through journeying within the shade of some particular Name or Attribute.

The second is that since by virtue of having a comprehensive nature and being the most enlightened fruit of the tree of creation, man is able to reflect all together, in the mirror of his spirit, the Divine Names manifested in the universe, Almighty God manifests Himself and all His Beautiful Names in the greatest of mankind at the greatest level and most comprehensively. It was thus this form of manifestation that occurred in Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, in His Ascension, in which his sainthood found its meaning and became the first stage of his Messengership.

Is it believable that the Ascension took place almost in an instant?

In sainthood there are veils or screens between a man’s heart and the manifestations of Divine Names; it is as in the case of the first man in the second comparison above. While in Prophethood there are neither veils nor screens; as in the case of the second man in the second comparison, it is connected directly with the manifestation of the Majestic Being with all His Names in a single being. Since the Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension was the greatest wonder of his sainthood and marked its final, greatest station, it was transformed into the rank of Messengership. The Ascension, in its inner aspect, signifies sainthood and was a journey from the created to the Creator. As regards its apparent aspect, it is Messengership and signifies a return from the Creator to the created. Sainthood consists in journeying through the degrees of nearness to God; it requires attainment of many ranks and therefore needs some length of time. As for Messengership, whose light is greatest, it proceeds from the realization of Divine nearness in all its comprehensiveness, which occurs in an instant. It is for this reason that a tradition says: ‘The Ascension took place in an instant. The Prophet went and returned in the same instant.’

Now we say to the atheist who is the third party in our discussion and therefore in the position of listener: Since this universe is a like a most orderly country, magnificent city, or adorned palace, it surely must have a ruler, owner, and builder. Since there is such a magnificent, Majestic Owner, All-Perfect Ruler, All-Gracious Maker; and since there is a man with a universal view who has relationship with that entire country, city or palace, and is connected to all of them through his senses, feelings and faculties, certainly, the Magnificent Maker will have sublime relationship to the fullest degree with that man, whose view is universal and consciousness comprehensive, and will favor him with a sacred address.

Since among those who have been honored with this relationship from the time of Adam, upon him be peace, up to now, according to the testimony of his achievements (he has taken half of the world and a fifth of mankind under his control and influence and enlightened the universe, giving it a new spiritual form and furnishing it with a sublime meaning (the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, displayed this relationship at the fullest degree. Most certainly, the Ascension, which consists in the fullest degree of that relationship is most deserved by, and suitable for, him.

What is the reality of the Ascension?

It is the journeying of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, through the degrees of perfection. That is, Almighty God has various Names and titles manifested in the arrangement and disposition of creatures, and displays diverse works of His Lordship (His upbringing, training, sustaining and providing) as the results of execution of His absolute authority in invention and administration of creatures in the levels of the heavens where He executes His Lordship in different ways according to the conditions of each level.

Thus, in order to show those works of His Lordship to that special servant of His and thereby make him a being encompassing all human perfections and receiving all the Divine manifestations, one who would view all the levels of the universe and announce the sovereignty of His Lordship, and who would proclaim the things of which He approves and unveil the enigmatic meaning of creation, God Almighty mounted him on Buraq (a mount of Paradise) and had him travel through the heavens like lightning, promoted him to higher and higher ranks, and caused him to observe the Divine Lordship from mansion to mansion and from sphere to sphere, and showed him the Prophets, his brothers, whose abodes are in the heavens of those spheres, one after the other. Finally, He raised him to the station of the distance of two bows’ length and honoured him with the special manifestation of all of His Names to the fullest degree and with His Speech and the vision of Himself.

We may examine this sublime truth through the telescope of two comparisons.

First comparison: As is explained in The Twenty-fourth Word, a king has different titles in the departments of his government, different names and attributes vis-à-vis the different classes of his subjects, and different designations and marks in the spheres and offices of his rule. For example, just ruler in the department of justice, sovereign in the civil service, Commander-in-Chief in the army, chief teacher in the department of education, and so on. In each sphere and department he has a seat or chair, which has the meaning of a throne. That single king may have a thousand names and titles in the spheres of his sovereignty and departments of his government. He may have a thousand thrones of sovereignty one within or adjacent to the other.

It is as if that ruler is present, and knows what is going on, in every sphere through his collective personality and through his telephone. He sees and is seen in every department through his laws and regulations, and representatives, and he administers and observes from behind the veil in every level through his rule, knowledge and power. He has a different center and headquarters in every sphere. The rules of every sphere and department are different from one another. That king designates a person among his subjects, and showing him to all those spheres and departments of his government and making him witness his imperial dominion and commands special to each, brings him to his presence. Then he entrusts him with certain general and universal commands concerning all those spheres and departments and sends him back.

Likewise, the Lord of the Worlds, Who is the Sovereign of eternity, has attributes and qualities in the levels of His Lordship that are all different but that are related with one another; and Names and signs in the spheres of His Divinity that are all different but appear one within the other; and manifestations and inspirations in the performance of His majestic acts that are all different but resemble one another. He has also titles in the execution of His Power that are all different but hint at one another; and sacred revelations in the manifestation of His Attributes that are all different but point to one another; and operations in the manifestation of His actions that are all different but complement one another; and He has aspects of His majestic Lordship in His colorful art and multi-colored creatures that are all different but observe one another.

It is because of this mysterious reality that He has organized the universe in an amazing and wonderful fashion with different formations one over the other from particles (which are the smallest level of creatures) to the heavens, and from the first level of the heavens to the Greatest Throne of God, each heaven being the roof of a different world, a chair for exercise of Divine Lordship, and a center for the Divine operations. Although on account of His Absolute Oneness, all the Divine Names may be found in all those spheres and levels, and He may manifest in them Himself with all His titles, just as in the department of justice the title of Just Ruler is dominant with the others subordinate, so too, in each level of creatures, in each heaven, a Divine title is dominant and the others are subordinate to it. For example, in whichever heaven the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, met with the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, who had been made distinguished with the manifestation of the Divine Name of the All-Powerful, Almighty God is in constant manifestation in that heaven primarily with His Name, the All-Powerful. Again, in the sphere of the heavens which is the Prophet Moses’ abode, upon him be peace, God’s title as Speaker, with which He distinguished Moses, is most predominant. And so on.

The Prophet Muhammad was connected to all the spheres of Divine Lordship

Finally, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings (since he was honored with the manifestation of the Greatest Name of God and also with those of all His other Names, and since his Prophethood is universal) must certainly be connected with all the spheres of His Lordship. Also, it was certain that the reality of the Ascension would require the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to meet with the Prophets whose seats are in those spheres, and to pass through all those levels.

Second comparison: The title of Commander-in-Chief, which is one of the titles of a king, is manifested in every rank in the army from that of the head of the military staff to that of a corporal. A private sees in the person of his corporal the sample of the imposing title of Commander-in-Chief, and so takes his orders from him and obeys him. When the private becomes a corporal, he sees the sergeant in the commanding position and obeys him. Then, if he becomes a sergeant, he sees a sample of the title of Commander-in-Chief and a manifestation of it in the lieutenant’s office. And so on. He will see the title in each of the spheres of captain, major, colonel, general, and field-marshal in proportion to the smallness or largeness of the sphere.

If the Commander-in-Chief wills to entrust a private with a duty connected with all the offices of military ranks, if he wills to accord him a rank where he can appear in every office and control it like an inspector, then, for sure, in order that the private should have the necessary knowledge of all the offices and be recognized by the personnel, he will cause him to make a tour of study and inspection of the offices from that of a corporal to the highest. Then he will admit him into his presence, and honoring him with private conversation and bestowing on him a decoration and decree, will send him back whence he came.

The following point must be noted in the comparison: if the king is not powerless and, besides governmental, has also spiritual power, he will not deputize persons like field-marshal, general and lieutenant to act in his name in different offices, but himself will be present everywhere in person and give orders directly, appearing in the form of those persons of certain ranks. In fact, there are narrations that certain kings who were saints of the highest level executed their rules in many spheres in the form of certain individuals. As far as the truth we are trying to explain in this comparison is concerned, since the Commander-in-Chief is in no way powerless, the decrees and commands come directly from him in every office and are executed through his command, will, and power.

So, as in the comparison, the Ruler of the heavens and the earth, Who is the Absolute Sovereign and the Lord of Eternity having the command of ‘Be!’ and it is, has a sphere of Lordship, a level of ruler-ship in the levels of creatures and classes of beings, ranging from particles to the planets, from flies to the heavens, which, whether small or great, particular or universal, are all different but related with one another. In each of these spheres His regulations, statutes and commands are carried out in perfect order and obedience. Thus, in order to comprehend the elevated aims and tremendous results in the whole of the universe and, witnessing the duties of worship particular to each of those levels and classes and observing the sovereignty of Lordship of the One of Grandeur and the majesty of His rule, to understand what is pleasing to Him, and to be a herald of His sovereignty, one must make a journey through all those levels and spheres of His ruler-ship until one reaches the Supreme Throne, which is the title of the greatest, all-encompassing sphere, and attain to the rank which is the ultimate one a servant can reach, and is called the distance of two bows’ length, and meet with the One of Majesty and Grace. This journey constitutes the reality of the Ascension.

Like ordinary human beings travelling in the mind with the speed of imagination and saints journeying in the heart with the speed of lightning, like angels, whose bodies are of light, circulating with the speed of spirit from God’s Throne to the earth, from the earth to God’s Throne, and like the people of Paradise who will rise from the Place of Gathering to Paradise covering a distance of five hundred years (a distance which is normally covered in five hundred years on foot) with the speed of Buraq, it is certain that the body of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, will go as far as God’s Throne together with his elevated spirit. For the body of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is the store of the faculties of the spirit of Muhammad and the means for the performance of its duties, which is of pure light and has the abilities of light, and is more refined than the hearts of the saints, lighter than the spirits of the dead and the forms of angels, and finer than the energetic envelopes of beings.

Now, turning to the atheist who is in the position of listener, and says to himself: ‘I do not recognize God or know of the Prophet, so how should I believe in the Ascension?’, we say to him:

The universe must have an Author

Since there is the universe with all the creatures and many diverse acts in it, and a continual creation is observed, and since an orderly act cannot occur without an author, a meaningful book cannot be without a writer and a skilful design cannot be without a designer, for sure, the wise and purposeful acts that fill the universe must have an author, and the meaningful letters and amazing inscriptions or designs that cover the earth and which are renewed from season to season, must have a writer and designer. Also, since when two rulers interfere in the same affair, it causes disorder, and since there is a perfect order in everything from the wings of a fly to the lamp of the skies, then the ruler is One. For if He was not One, since the art and wisdom in everything are so wonderful and amazing that they require an All-Powerful and All-Knowing Maker, then there would have to be gods to the number of creatures. Since in this case those gods would be both opposite and similar to one another at the same time [because the acts and creatures in the universe are in infinite diversity and yet resemble one another in many ways], it is infinitely inconceivable that this amazing order would not be upset.

Again, since those creatures are clearly seen to be moving with a command in an order a thousand times more organized than an army; and since each group of creatures from the sun, the moon and stars to almond flowers, display in a perfect and organized manner and in a thousand times more orderly fashion than an army, the uniforms, decorations and other kinds of beautiful garments that the Eternal All-Powerful One has accorded them, and exercise the movements that He has assigned to them (since this is so, then this universe has an Absolute Ruler behind the veil of the Unseen, Whose commands all of the creatures heed and carry out.

Furthermore, since, as testified by both all of His wise acts and the majestic works He displays, that Ruler is a Majestic King; since, as is demonstrated by His favors, He is an extremely Compassionate Lord; since, as the most beautiful works of art He has produced bear witness, He is a Maker, Who is Lover of art and loves His own art; since, as is apparent from the decorations and curiosity-exciting arts He exhibits, He is a Wise Creator Who wants to attract the appreciative gaze of conscious beings to His works of art; since, as is understood that, due to the wisdom of His Lordship, He wants to inform conscious beings of the meaning of the amazing and wonderful decorations He has displayed in the creation of the universe, and of where creatures come from and where they are bound to go; then, for sure, this Wise Ruler and All-Knowing Maker wishes to demonstrate His Lordship. Also, since He wills to make Himself known to, and loved by, conscious beings through all those traces of grace and mercy and the wonders of art that He displays, then, of a certainty, He will by means of an envoy inform conscious beings of what He wants them to do and what is pleasing to Him. He will choose one among conscious beings and declare His Lordship by means of him. In order to exhibit His favorite arts, He will honor a herald with the nearness of His presence and employ him in exhibiting them. In order to display His perfections by informing conscious beings of His lofty purposes for the creation of the universe, He will appoint one among them as a teacher. He will certainly appoint a guide so that the mystery of creation, the enigma of existence do not remain meaningless. In order not to allow the beauties of art that He displays for the eyes to see, to remain useless, He will choose a guide who will teach the purposes contained in them. Also, He will pick out one among conscious beings and, in order to communicate to them the things that please Him, raise him to a rank above the others, and inform them of those things by means of him.

Since reality and wisdom require it to be so and the one most worthy to perform these duties was the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, because He actually performed them most perfectly, a fact to which the world of Islam that he founded and the light of Islam that he showed are truthful and just witnesses, then he would have to rise high above all other creatures and attain to a rank where he held a universal and elevated conversation with the Creator of the universe. This is what lies in the reality of Ascension.

In short: Since Almighty God has formed, organized and decorated this vast universe in this way for mighty purposes and great aims such as those mentioned above; and since among beings there is mankind to see the universal Divine Lordship with all its subtleties, and this mighty Divine sovereignty with all its truths, most certainly, that Absolute Ruler will speak to mankind and inform them of His purposes. However, since everyone is not able to free himself from being a simple individual occupied with low matters and rise to the highest, universal position to directly receive the Ruler’s universal address, then, for sure, certain special individuals among mankind will be entrusted with that duty. Those individuals should be from among mankind so that they can teach human beings, while, in order to be able to be the direct addressees of God, they should also be extremely exalted spiritually.

So, since among human beings the one who taught the purposes of the universe’s Maker most perfectly, unveiled the mysterious meaning of the universe and creation, and heralded the beauties of the dominion of His Lordship in the best way was Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, most certainly, in order to rise spiritually high above all other human beings to the most exalted and comprehensive rank, he would make an Ascension in the form of journeying through the corporeal world and then reaching beyond seventy thousand veils which consist in the manifestations of Divine Names, Attributes and acts, and all the levels of creation. This is the Ascension.

Questions concerning Ascension

How should I believe it? What does it mean to cover a distance of thousands of years to a Lord Who is nearer to all things than themselves and to meet with Him after passing through seventy thousand veils?

Answer

Almighty God is nearer to everything than itself but everything is infinitely far from Him. Consider that if the sun had consciousness and the power of speech, it would be able to converse with you by means of a mirror in your hand. It would have the power of disposal over you as it wished. Although it is nearer to you than the pupil of your eye, which is like a mirror, you are millions of miles away from it and could in no way draw closer to it. If you rise to a position corresponding to the moon and come to the point of being face to face with it, you would still only be able to be a kind of mirror to it.

Likewise, the Majestic One, Who is the Sun of Eternity, is nearer to everything than itself but yet everything is infinitely distant from Him. In order to be honored with some sort of nearness to Him, one should pass through all the levels of existence, and being freed from the restrictions of being a single particular to rise higher and higher beyond thousands of veils in the degrees of universality, draw near to a Divine Name encompassing the whole of the creation, and then traverse many other degrees beyond it.

Again, for example, as mentioned above, a private is far below the rank of the Commander-in-Chief. He views him through an insignificant sample of command that he sees in a corporal, at a great distance and beyond many veils. In order to be nearer to his position, the private should be promoted to the higher and comprehensive ranks of lieutenant, captain, major, and so on. Whereas the Commander-in-Chief is always present with the private through his rules, decrees, knowledge, and commanding. Since this truth has been convincingly argued in The Sixteenth Word, I cut short the discussion here.

Question

I deny the levels of the heavens and do not believe in angels. How should I believe in one’s journeying through the heavens and meeting with angels?

Answer

It is really difficult to convince those like you whose minds are dependent on their eyes. But since the truth is so brilliant as even the blind can see, we say: As scientists generally agree (and have been trying to establish for almost two centuries), space is full of some matter called ‘ether’. Subtle and refined matters like light, electricity and heat point to the existence of some more subtle and refined matter which fills space. For just as fruits demonstrate the existence of trees that bear them, flowers their flower-bed, shoots their field, and fishes the sea, the stars, also, present to the mind’s eye the existence of their origin, field, sea, and flower-bed. Since there are different formations in the celestial realm above us and different rules are in force under different conditions, then the heavens which require the existence of those rules must also be different. Since, just as in man there are immaterial ‘worlds’ apart from his material body, like the mind, heart, spirit, imagination, and memory, certainly, in the universe, which is the macro-human and the tree of which man is the fruit, there are other worlds apart from the corporeal one. Also, each world has a heaven, from the world of the earth to the world of Paradise.

As far as the angels are concerned, we say this: On the earth, medium-sized among the planets and insignificant and dense among stars, animate and conscious beings, the most valuable and enlightened among creatures, are to be found in countless numbers. So, of a certainty, the stars, which are like adorned castles and perfectly-built palaces compared to the earth, which is like a dark house, and the heavens, which are like the seas of the stars, will be the dwelling-places of angels and spirit beings, who are conscious, animate, extremely numerous, and of different sorts. Referring the reader to The Twenty-ninth Word concerning angels, we cut short the discussion here.

In short: The heavens are formed of ‘ether’ and they are the source of subtle and refined matters or energies or forces like light, heat, electricity, and gravity. As pointed to in the hadith, The heaven is a wave stretched and restrained, they were made favorable for the motion of stars and planets. Wisdom and reason require that, from the Milky Way to other further systems and the closest planet, the heavens should consist of seven levels in different states and formations, each being a heaven to a world, from the world of the earth to the intermediate world of the grave and world of symbols or ideal forms and to the world of the Hereafter.

Question

Man is only able to ascend to some height by means of aircraft. How then could someone go and come back bodily within a few minutes covering a distance that would normally take thousands of years?

Answer

According to science, whose findings you accept without question, a heavy body like the earth with its annual movement cuts a distance of about six hundred miles in one minute. In one year it covers a distance of approximately one hundred and sixty million miles. Should an All-Powerful One of Majesty, Who causes the earth to make that regular motion and revolves it like a stone in a sling, be unable to convey a human being to His Supreme Throne? Should a Wisdom which causes the heavy earth to revolve around the sun like a Mawlawi darwish through a law of Divine Lordship known as gravity be unable to raise the body of a human being like lightning to the Throne of the All-Merciful One through the ‘gravity’ of the All-Merciful One’s Mercy and the attraction of the Eternal Sun?

Question

Let us accept that he could ascend, but why did he and why should he? Would it not have been enough if he had ascended just in heart and spirit like the saints?

Answer

Since the Majestic Maker has willed to show His amazing signs in the inner and external dimensions of His domain, and to make the ‘workshops’ and sources of this world observed, and to display the results of man’s actions pertaining to the Hereafter, most certainly and as required by the reason and wisdom, together with Muhammad’s spirit, He would take to His Supreme Throne his eyes, the key to the world of visible objects, his ears, which perceived His signs in the world of sound and voices, and to cut it short, his blessed body, which is like the machine of his spirit comprising different members and components by means of which he performed his countless duties. Just as the Divine Wisdom makes the body accompany the spirit in Paradise, because it is the body that is the means by which numerous duties of worship are performed and the means of innumerable pleasures and pains, so also it is pure wisdom that He would make his blessed body accompany his spirit ascending to the Lote-tree of the furthest limit, which is the ‘trunk’ of the Garden of Abode.

Question

According to reason, is it not impossible to cover in a few minutes a distance which would normally take thousands of years?

Answer

In the art of the All-Majestic Maker, the motions are of infinitely different degrees. For example, everybody knows how different are from one another electricity, spirit, imagination, and sound. Also, as has been established by science, the speeds of the motion of different planets are so different that it astonishes the mind. So, why should it be deemed contrary to reason that the body of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, which acquired some sort of refinement, accompanied his spirit in the Ascension and moved at its speed? It sometimes occurs that you sleep for ten minutes but have one year’s experiences. Even, if the words one spoke and heard in a dream lasting one minute were collected together, it would take a day and even more to speak or hear them in the waking state. That means a single period of time means one day for one while a year for another.

Consider this by means of an analogy. Let us imagine a clock to measure the speed of man, a cannon-ball, sound, light, electricity, spirit, and imagination. The clock has ten hands to show the hours, minutes, and seconds down to fractions of an hour to the power of ten, and also it has ten circles one round the other and sixty times larger than it respectively. If the circle with the hand showing the hours was the size of a normal clock, the circle we imagine to have a hand showing fractions of an hour to the power of ten would have to be the size of the annual orbit of the earth, or even much greater.

Now let us suppose there are two people. One is as though mounted on the hour-hand and observes according to its motion while the other is on the hand showing fractions of an hour to the number of ten. There will be an enormous difference, as great as the proportion between our clock and the annual orbit of the earth, with respect to the things these two individuals observe in the same period of time.

Thus, since time is like an aspect or a ‘ribbon’ of motion, a rule which is in force in motion is also in force in time. While the things we observe in the period of one hour are of the same amount as the observations of the individual mounted on the hour-hand, which moves in the smallest circle at the lowest speed, like the one mounted on the hand showing fractions of the hour to the power of ten, God’s noble Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, gets on the mount of Divine assistance and in the same space of time, in that same hour, like lightning, traverses the entire sphere of contingency, and seeing the wonders of the external and inner dimensions of Divine dominion and rising as far as the limits of Divine realm, is honored with Divine conversation and vision of His Beauty, receives the decree, and returns to his duty. It was possible for him to do that, and he did it.

Question

So, it is possible. But everything possible does not occur. Is there anything else similar to this so that we could accept it? How can we accept the occurrence of something to which there are no similar cases, only because it is possible?

Answer

There are so many cases similar to it that they cannot be enumerated. For example, anyone with sound sight can ascend with his eyes from the ground to the planet Neptune in a second. Any astronomer can mount the laws of astronomy in his mind and travel beyond the stars in a minute. Anyone who believes can mount in thought on the acts and pillars of the prescribed prayers, and leaving the universe behind through some sort of Ascension, go as far as the Divine presence. Any perfected saint who sees with his heart can, through his spiritual journeying, traverse in forty days the Divine Throne and the spheres of His Names and attributes. Certain persons, even, like ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani and Imam Rabbani, truthfully reported that they used to ascend spiritually as far as the Divine Throne in one minute.

Furthermore, the angels, whose bodies are of light, come and go between the ground and Divine Throne in a very short time. The people of Paradise will ascend to the gardens of Paradise from the Place of Gathering in a short period of time. Many examples such as these demonstrate that it is pure wisdom, and completely rational, and it undoubtedly occurred, that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who is the lord of all the saints, the leader of all the believers, the head of all the people of Paradise, and is accepted by all the angels, made an ascension which would be the means of his spiritual journeying (beyond the ranks of sainthood), and that it would be in a form appropriate to his position.

What is the wisdom in the Ascension?

The wisdom in the Ascension is so elevated that human minds cannot reach it. It is so profound that the mind cannot comprehend it, and so subtle and fine that the intellect cannot grasp it. However, even if we cannot know the reality of the wisdom in the Ascension or the exact Divine purposes for it, we can nevertheless, by means of some indications, show the existence of some of those purposes. They are as follows.

In order to demonstrate the light of all of His Names throughout the universe and the concentration of the manifestations of His Names on certain beings and thereby show His Unity or Oneness, the Creator of this universe distinguished an eminent individual with an Ascension in the form of a link between the furthest limit of the realm of multiplicity and corporeality and the starting point of the dominion of pure unity and spirituality. Addressing him on behalf of all the creatures, He explained all the Divine purposes to him in the name of conscious beings and made them known through him. He also willed to observe through his sight the beauty of His art and the perfection of His Lordship in the mirrors of His creatures, and also to cause them to be observed by others.

Furthermore, as is testified by His works, the Maker of the world has infinite beauty and perfection. Both beauty and perfection are loved because of themselves. Since this is so, the One with infinite beauty and perfection has a boundless love for His beauty and perfection. That boundless love manifests itself in many ways in the works of His art. He loves His works of art because He sees His beauty and perfection in them. The most lovable and elevated among His works of art are animate beings. The most lovable and elevated among animate beings are conscious beings, and by virtue of their comprehensiveness, the most lovable among conscious beings are to be found among human beings. The most loveable individual among human beings is the one who has most fully developed his potentiality and manifested the samples of the perfections observed in all the creatures.

Thus, in order to see at one point and in one mirror all the manifestations of His Love pervading all of the creatures, and to display all the varieties of His beauty, focused on one individual, the Maker of beings chose one among human beings who is of the quality of an illustrious, enlightened fruit of the tree of creation and whose heart is like a seed containing the essential elements of that tree. Then, in order to demonstrate how He loves that individual in the name of the universe, He drew him to His presence through an Ascension, which is like a thread linking the seed, which is the origin, with the fruit, which is the end, and honored him with the vision of His Essential Beauty. In order that the others could copy him in his holiness and excellence, He favored him with His Word and entrusted Him with His Decree.

In order to comprehend this exalted wisdom, we shall observe it through the telescope of two comparisons.

First comparison: As is explained in detail in the parable of The Eleventh Word, suppose there is a glorious king who has vast treasuries full of many varieties of jewels. He has great skill in strange crafts, comprehensive knowledge of innumerable curious arts, and profound learning in numberless sciences. Since anyone with beauty and perfection wants both to see and display his beauty and perfection, of course that skilful king too will wish to set up an exhibition where he will reveal before the people’s eyes the majesty of his dominion, the glitter of his wealth, the wonderful works of his art and the marvels of his skills. By doing so, he also wants to observe his own beauty and perfection in two ways: he wants both to see them with his own eyes penetrating as far as the fine, delicate points, and also to observe them through the sight of others.

So, the king begins to build an imposing, magnificent, extensive palace. He divides it into apartments and mansions in an amazing way. Then, He adorns it with jewels of great variety from his treasures, and decorates it with the finest, the most beautiful works of his art. He furnishes it with the most delicate works of his knowledge and science, and decks it out and completes it with the miraculous works of his learning. Next, he spreads tables with varieties of bounties and the most delicious of foods worthy for each group and prepares a general banquet. Then, in order to show his perfection, he invites his subjects both to eat of the foods and to see the palace with everything in it.

Then he appoints one among his subjects as representative and accords him the highest rank with himself. He invites him up from the bottom floor to tour all the mansions and floors one after or above the other. Showing him the successive machinery and all the workshops of his wonderful art and the storehouses for the produce coming from below, he brings him up to his own private apartment. There, he honors him with his presence and the vision of his blessed person, who is the origin of all those perfections, He informs him of the true nature of the palace and of his own perfections. Appointing him as a guide for the rest of his subjects, he sends him back to describe to the people the maker of the palace by means of its contents, inscriptions, and wonders. The guide will also inform them of the meanings of the inscriptions, what the works of art and well-proportioned and well-arranged furniture and decorations signify, and how they point to the perfections and skills of the palace’s owner. Again he will teach them the correct behavior and formalities in visiting the palace and beholding the exhibition in it, and describe the protocol and ceremonies that are in accordance with the pleasure and desires of the learned and skilful king, who does not appear to them.

In exactly the same way (God’s is the highest comparison) the Majestic Maker, Who is the Lord of Eternity, desired to see and display His infinite Beauty and perfections. So He made the palace of this world in such a fashion that each creature voices His perfections in numerous tongues and points to His Beauty with many signs. Through all the beings in it, this universe shows how numerous immaterial treasuries are hidden in each of His Most Beautiful Names and how many subtleties are concealed in each of His sacred titles. It shows this in such a way that although together with all their laws and principles all sciences have studied this book of the universe since the time of Adam, they have not yet been able to discover one-hundredth of the meanings and signs which that book contains concerning the Divine Names and perfections.

Thus, the Wisdom of the Majestic One of Beauty, the Beautiful One of Majesty, the Maker having perfection, Who has made that palace of the universe like an exhibition to see and display His perfections and transcendent Beauty, requires that He should inform someone of the meanings of His signs contained in that palace so that they do not remain vain and without benefit for conscious beings on the earth. His Wisdom really requires that He should have someone to travel through the exalted worlds, which are the sources of the wonders in that palace and the storehouses where the results of their lives accumulate; that He should raise him above all others, honor him with nearness to Him in His presence and get him to tour the worlds of the Hereafter, and entrust him with many duties such as being a teacher to all His servants, a herald of the sovereignty of His lordship, a conveyor of the things pleasing to Himself, and an expander of His signs in the creation and operation of the palace of the universe; that He should show his preeminence through the decorations of the miracles which He would enable him to work, and that He should proclaim through a decree like the Qur’an that that person is a truthful personal interpreter of the Majestic One.

We have so far demonstrated through the telescope of this comparison a few of the instances of wisdom in the Ascension only as examples. You may infer others by analogy.

Second comparison: Suppose there is a knowledgeable, skilful person. If that person wants to write a miraculous book, on each page of which are as many truths as would fill a hundred books, and in each line of which are as many subtle meanings as would fill a hundred pages, and in each word of which as many truths as would fill a hundred words, and if all the meanings and truths of that book point to the transcendent perfections of its miracle-displaying writer, he most certainly would not leave such a treasury closed and thereby make it worthless. He would surely teach it to some others so that such a valuable book would not remain meaningless and vain. He would teach it so that his hidden perfections would be unveiled and his beauty (his intellectual and spiritual excellence) would be seen; and so that he should himself be pleased and make himself loved. To this end, he would have someone go through that wonderful book from the first page to the last and instruct him in all its meanings and truths so that that person would then teach them to others.

In exactly the same way, in order to display His perfections, Beauty and the truths of His Names, the Eternal Inscriber has ‘written’ the universe in such way that all creatures proclaim and express in innumerable ways His infinite perfections, Names and Attributes. Of course, if the meaning of a book is not known, then it would have no value. But a book (such as the universe) each letter of which contains thousands of meanings cannot be reduced to nothing, nor are they allowed to do so. That being the case, the One Who has written that book will certainly make it known and cause each group of creatures to explain a part of it according to capacity. He will also teach the whole of it to an individual who has the most comprehensive view, the most universal consciousness, and the greatest capacity. However, to teach the whole of such a book with all its universal truths requires that, starting from the furthest limits of the levels of multiplicity (the corporeal world) which is the first page of the book, as far as the realm of Unity, which is the final page, the individual should be taken on a most elevated and universal journey. Thus, thorough this comparison, to a degree you can look at the exalted instances of wisdom in the Ascension.

Why is the Ascension special to the Prophet Muhammad?

Among the Prophets, only he Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was honored with so great a gift as the Ascension. The reason why he was distinguished with such a divine gift lies in his essential perfection and he nature of his Prophethood.

  • Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, had been expected for long and his coming was promised through many signs. For this reason, the proofs of his Prophethood are numerous. Although elaborated in previous chapters, as related to this particular addendum, we will briefly list the signs that demonstrate the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and the proofs of his Prophethood, in order to show that he was the most worthy to make the Ascension.
    • Despite many corruptions in the previous Scriptures like the Torah, the Gospels and the Psalms, a discerning scholar like Husayn al-Jisri, still in this century, was able to find in them one hundred and ten signs indicating the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and quoted them in his Risala al-Hamidiya.
    • As authentically recorded by history, many soothsayers such Shiqq and Satih, some time before his Prophethood, accurately foretold his Prophethood, and even that he was the Last of the Prophets.
    • Before his Prophethood, there were many extraordinary events, famous in history, called irhasat, that is, signs forewarning people of a coming Prophet. For example, on the night of his birth, the idols in the Ka‘ba were toppled over, and the pinnacles of the famous palace of Chosroes, the Persian ruler, broke.
    • He satisfied the thirst of an army with water flowing from his fingers; he split the moon, as confirmed by the Qur’anic verse, The moon split, and the dry wooden pole against which he leant while preaching his sermons in the Mosque moaned like a camel in the presence of a large congregation because of separation from him. With all his miracles such as these numbering almost one thousand, related by history and biography, he was distinguished and made superior to all other prophets.
    • Friend and foe alike agree that all the good qualities were to be found to the highest degree in his character, and that, as demonstrated by his conduct, the attributes and character of the highest excellence were apparent in the way he performed his mission, and, in accordance with the moral principles prescribed by the religion of Islam, praiseworthy virtues of the highest order are to be found in the Law he brought.
    • It is a requirement of wisdom that Divinity be manifested because of Its perfections. It is the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who manifested the Divinity of God at the greatest level and in the most brilliant fashion through the most perfect and comprehensive way of worship contained in his religion.
  • The Creator of the world wants, as a result of wisdom, to display His most perfect beauty and grace through some appropriate means, and it is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who demonstrated and described His beauty and grace in the most perfect fashion.
  • The Maker of the world wants to exhibit and draw attentive gazes towards His perfect art of infinite beauty, and, again, it is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who proclaimed that art with the clearest voice.
  • Again, it is necessarily Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who, in response to the desire of the Lord of the worlds to proclaim His Oneness in the realms of multiplicity, announced Unity with all its aspects in the most perfect way.
  • The Owner of the world wants, as a consequence of His wisdom, both to see and to show in the mirrors of all beings, His infinite essential beauty and grace, with all their manifestations, and again it is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who reflected them in the most brilliant fashion and made others love them.
  • It is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who, in response to the desire of the Builder of the palace of the world to describe His perfections by exhibiting His unseen treasuries full of invaluable gems, displayed and described them in the most perfect way.
  • The Maker of the universe has decorated the universe with the most beautiful and exquisite kinds of embellishments and included in it His conscious creatures in order that they should travel therein both to get enjoyment and to ponder over it and reflect. He therefore wants, as a result of His wisdom, to communicate to people who observe and reflect the meaning and value expressed by the works of His art. Again, it is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who guided, in the most comprehensive way, men and jinn, and even angels in this respect by means of the Qur’an.
  • Also, the All-Wise Ruler of the universe wants, by means of an envoy, to reveal to all conscious beings the purpose of the changes and transformations in existence and the answer to these three perplexing questions, Where do beings come from? Where are they going? What are they? Again, it is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who revealed, by means of the truths of the Qur’an, this purpose and provided the answer in the clearest and most perfect way.
  • The Maker of this world also wants to make Himself known to conscious beings through His exquisite works and bestows upon them precious bounties. As a result, He desires to communicate to them by means of an envoy what He wants them to do and how they may obtain His approval in return for those bounties. It is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who communicated, by means of the Qur’an, the things that please God in the most exalted and perfect way.
  • The Lord of the worlds has endowed man, who is the fruit of the tree of creation, with such a comprehensive disposition as will encompass the whole universe, and accordingly with an ability, and even need, to perform a universal worship. Man, on the other hand, because of his feelings, is usually inclined to the world with its varying attractions. So, God wills, by means of a guide, to turn man’s attention from worldly multiplicity to Divine Unity, from transience to eternity. Again, it is evidently Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who, in response to this will, by means of the Qur’an, guided man to this end in the most desirable fashion and performed the duty of Messengership in the most perfect way.

    Thus, the most superior among creation are living beings, and among living beings the most superior are conscious beings. The most superior of conscious beings are true human beings, and among the human beings the one who carried out all the duties mentioned in the most perfect and comprehensive way would, of a certainty, rise through an all-embracing Ascension to the nearness of two bowstrings, that is, to the station nearest to God, knock at the door of eternal happiness, open the treasury of Mercy, and become a direct witness of the unseen truths of faith.
  • As observed in the whole universe, everything displays the most pleasing instances of beauty and utmost degree of adornment. This beauty and adornment clearly demonstrate that their Maker possesses a most vigorous will to make things beautiful and to adorn them. This will in turn shows of a necessity that the Maker has a strong inclination and sacred love towards His art. Therefore, the one among beings who has the most comprehensive disposition to display in himself all the wonders of art, one who knows them and makes them known and thus makes himself lovable, and who also deeply appreciates the beauties manifested in other beings in full appreciation of their having come from the Maker will evidently be the most beloved in the sight of the Maker, Who greatly loves His art.
  • It is the same being who, in full awareness of the exquisite qualities that adorn all beings, and of perfections that illuminate them, makes the heavens echo the words: Glory be to God! What wonders God has willed, and all these are from God! God is the greatest!, and who causes the universe to reverberate with the sounds of the Qur’an, and enraptures land and sea with his appreciative reflections and glorifications, and his proclamation and demonstration of Divine Unity. Such a being is he that, according to the principle, the cause is like the doer, he receives the reward equivalent to that of all the good deeds performed by each member of his community; his spiritual perfections draw strength from the blessings prayed for him by each member of his community, and, as a result of the duties he performed in his Messengership, receives immaterial recompense and infinite emanations of Divine Mercy and Love. It is, therefore, the certain result of pure truth and absolute wisdom that this being should advance by means of Ascension as far as Paradise, Sidra al-Muntaha-the Lotus Tree, which is the farthest limit of contingency, the Divine Throne, and to the nearness of two bowstrings.

Questions concerning why the Prophet Muhammad only was favored with the Ascension?

What do you mean by saying that the Prophet Muhammad is the seed of the universe? You also say that the universe was created from his light, and also that he is its farthest and most enlightened fruit. What does that mean?

Answer

The truth in understanding of which you have difficulty, is so elevated and profound that the mind cannot comprehend it; it can be discerned only through the light of belief. However, we will try to make it understandable through comparisons.

When considered with regard to the wisdom in its purposes, this universe appears to have the meaning of a mighty tree. Just like a tree, this world, has branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits: the elements are like its branches, the plants its leaves, the animals its flowers, and human beings its fruits. His Name the All-Wise requires that any law of the Majestic Maker which is prevalent in trees should also be prevalent for this greatest tree. So it is a requirement of Wisdom that this tree of creation would have to be formed from a seed also; a seed which would, besides those of this world of corporeality, also have to encapsulate the models and foundations of other worlds. For the origin and essential seed of the universe, which comprises thousands of different worlds, cannot be a dried, inanimate piece of matter. Since there had been no other trees prior to that tree of creation, for sure, it is again the requirement of the Divine Name the All-Wise that the meaning or the light which constituted the seed or origin of that tree would have to be clothed in the covering of a fruit. Since a seed cannot remain naked for ever, and since at the beginning of creation it was not clothed in the coat of a fruit, and since, as was previously pointed out, among human beings the most well-known and illustrious fruit is the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who has attracted the attentions of all mankind to himself, who has caused the attentions of, in particular, half of the globe and one fifth of mankind to be fixed on himself, and through his spiritual beauties and personal virtues made the world consider him with the view of either love and amazement, then, for sure, the light which constituted the seed of the universe would be clothed in his body and appear in the form of the final fruit.

O listener! Do not deem it unlikely that this amazing, mighty universe was created out of the particular nature of a man. Why should the All-Powerful One of Majesty, Who creates a huge pine tree, resembling a world of some sort, from a seed the size of a grain, have not created or have not been able to create the universe from the light of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings? The tree of the universe being, like the Touba tree of Paradise, upside down, with its roots and trunk upwards and branches downwards, there is a link of light, a link in meaning, between the position of the fruit below and that of the essential seed above. The Ascension is the form of that link, that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, opened up that way; he went through sainthood and came back with Messengership, leaving the door open to it, to some sort of ascension. The saints among his community travel in heart and spirit on that highway of light under the shadow of the Prophetic Ascension and rise to the elevated stations each according to his capacity.

Also, as argued previously, the Maker of the universe has made the universe in the form of a palace for the purposes pointed out in the answer of the first difficulty. Since the means for the accomplishment of those purposes is the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, prior to the universe he would have to be under the eyes of the favor of the universe’s Maker and receive His Manifestation first of all. For the result or the fruit of something is considered first. That means the latest in existence is the first in meaning. So, since the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is both the most perfect fruit and the means for the value of all other fruits and the cause for the realization of all the purposes (for the creation of the universe), then his light would of a necessity receive the first manifestation of Divine creation.

Question

In your foregoing explanations you say that he made his Ascension in order to rise to the elevated realm and to see the machinery and workshops whose produce or works are exhibited in the realm of the earth and the storehouses where the results of the earthly lives of those works are kept. What does this mean?

Answer

This is so comprehensive that narrow-minded people like us cannot understand it. We can only have a glimpse of it from afar.

The life of this material world and the laws to govern it are pre-determined in the celestial worlds. The results of the actions of the innumerable beings living on the earth, which is the place teeming with all kinds of creatures, and the consequences of the deeds of men and jinn take on form also in those worlds. Together with the testimony of numerous indications and many Prophetic traditions, the wise Qur’an suggests and the wisdom in the universe and the Divine Name the All-Wise require, that the good deeds of men and jinn take on the forms of the fruits of Paradise, while their evil deeds take on the forms of the bitter, poisonous fruits of the tree of Hell.

Indeed, creatures exist on the earth in such abundance and creation has been divided into so many branches that the groups and species of beings and divisions of creatures are to be found on the earth in much greater number than all other creatures in all other parts of the universe. These beings and creatures are constantly replaced by newer and newer ones, the world continuously filling with, and being emptied of, them. All these particular, multiple beings and creatures have their sources and origins in the universal laws and universal manifestations of Divine Names, which are first of all reflected in, and received by, the heavens. Simple to some degree and pure, each of those heavens is like the roof of a different world, and it represents a center or an aspect of the Supreme Divine Throne (from which God administers that world), and regulates its affairs. One of those worlds is the Garden of Abode, an apartment of Paradise, which is beside the Lote-tree (Lotus Tree) of the farthest limit. The Truthful Reporter, upon him be peace and blessings, informs us that the praises and glorifications of God performed on the earth take on the forms of the fruits of that Garden. That means, the storehouses where the results or fruits of the works done on the earth accumulate are in those heavenly worlds; the harvest obtained on the earth is sent there (to ‘reap’ on a pre-determined day.)

Do not say: Now does a single utterance of mine, All Praise be to God, which is lost in the air, become embodied in a fruit of Paradise? Because, sometimes you utter an agreeable word while awake in the daytime and have it back and ‘eat’ it in dreams in the forms of a delicious apple. A disagreeable word you utter in the daytime is returned to you at night as a bitter thing to swallow. If you backbite someone, they will make you eat it as decaying flesh. That being so, whatever good or bad words you utter in this worldly sleep, you will eat them in the forms of fruits in the world of the Hereafter, which is the world of being awake. You should not deem that unlikely.

What are the fruits and benefits of the Ascension?

Out of numerous fruits of the Ascension, which is like an elaborate tree of Paradise in meaning, we shall mention only five as examples.

First fruit

The vision of the truths from which the pillars of faith originate and the seeing of angels, Paradise and the Hereafter and even the Majestic Being, became the cause of such a treasury and an eternal light and gift for the universe and mankind that it has freed the universe from being seen as a disordered heap of things doomed to destruction and showed that, in reality, it is the harmonious collection of the sacred ‘writings’ of the Eternally Besought-of-All and lovely mirrors where the Grace and Beauty of the Single One are reflected. It has pleased and rejoiced the universe and all conscious beings. Again, through that light and gift, it has freed man from the confused state of misguidance in which he was seen as a wretched, completely helpless and destitute being entangled in innumerable needs and hostilities and doomed to eternal annihilation, and showed that, in reality, he is of fairest composition and the best pattern of creation, one who, being a miracle of the Power of the Eternally Besought-of-All and a comprehensive copy of the collection of His ‘writings’, is addressed by the Sovereign of Eternity, and one who is His private servant to appreciate His perfections, His friend to behold His Beauty in amazement, and His beloved and an honorable guest of His designated for Paradise. It has implanted infinite joy and enthusiasm in those who are truly human.

Second fruit

The Ascension brought to men and jinn as a gift the essentials of Islam, including primarily the prescribed five daily prayers, which contain all the things pleasing to the Ruler of Eternity, Who is the Maker of creatures, the Owner of the universe, and the Lord of the Worlds. People must be so curious about perceiving those things pleasing to Him, and the perception of them brings so great happiness that it cannot be described. For everyone is desirous of knowing the wishes of a renowned benefactor or a benevolent king to the degree that he says: ‘I wish I had a means of communication and talked to him directly! I wish I knew what he asks of me! I wish I knew what things of me are pleasing to Him!’ God has the possession of all creatures, and the grace, beauty and perfections shared by all creatures are but a dim shadow in relation to His Beauty, Grace and Perfection. You may understand to what degree mankind, who need Him in infinite respects and receive His boundless bounties every moment, should be curious about and desirous of perceiving His wishes and the things pleasing to Him.

It was as a fruit of the Ascension that having left seventy thousand veils behind, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, heard of the things pleasing to the King of Eternity directly from Him with absolute certainty and brought them to mankind as a gift.

Mankind are extremely curious to know facts about the moon and any other planet. They desire that someone will go there and tell them about it. They are ready to make great sacrifices for this end. But the moon travels in the domain of such a Master that if flies around the earth like a fly. The earth flies around the sun like a moth. As for the sun, it is only a lamp among thousands of other lamps and functions like a candle in a guest-house of the Majestic Master of Kingdom. Thus, such are the acts and qualities of the Majestic Being, and the wonders of His art and the treasuries of His Mercy in the eternal world, that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, saw during the Ascension and then told mankind about. You may understand how contrary to reason and wisdom it will be if mankind do not listen to that person with utmost curiosity and in perfect amazement and love.

Third fruit

The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, saw the hidden treasury of eternal happiness during the Ascension and brought its keys to men and jinn as a gift. Through the Ascension he saw Paradise with his own eyes, observed the everlasting manifestations of the Mercy of the Majestic All-Merciful One, and perceived eternal happiness with absolute certainty, and then he brought to men and jinn the good tiding that there is eternal happiness (in an everlasting world).

It is indescribable how great happiness it aroused in the mortal, wretched men and jinn who had regarded themselves as condemned to eternal annihilation, that such a good tiding was given to them at a time when all creatures were giving out heart-rending cries at the thought of being in a flux amidst the convulsions of death and decay in an unstable world, going into the ocean of non-existence and eternal separation through the flow of time and the motion of particles. Consider how such a tiding delights a man if he is given a palace by the king in the vicinity of his residence just when he (the man) is about to be hanged. Add together the instances of joy and happiness to the number of all men and jinn, and understand the value of this good tiding.

Fourth fruit

As the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, himself received the fruit of the vision God’s Beautiful ‘Countenance’, he brought it to men and jinn as a gift that every believer may be honored with the same vision. You can understand how delicious, fine, and beautiful that fruit is when you make a comparison like this:

Anyone with a heart loves a beautiful, perfect and benevolent one. This love increases in proportion to the extent of beauty, perfection and benevolence and mounts to the degree of adoration and self-sacrifice. It even increases to the degree that one may sacrifice whatever one has and one’s life for the sake of a single vision of the beloved one. Whereas, when compared to His, all the beauty, perfection and benevolence shared by the whole of the creation cannot even be like a few flashes of the sun in comparison to the sun itself. You may understand from this what a pleasant, beautiful, rejoicing and blissful fruit it is that one deserves in the abode of eternal happiness the sight of a Majestic One of perfection, Who is worthy of infinite love, the sight of Whom deserves to inspire an infinite eagerness.

Fifth fruit

It was understood through the Ascension that man is a valuable fruit of the universe and a darling beloved of the Maker of the universe. This understanding is one of the fruits of the Ascension, through which man, who is outwardly an insignificant creature, a weak animal and an impotent conscious being, has risen to a position so high that it is the cause of pride for man above all other creatures. The joy and happiness it must give to man is indescribable. For if you tell an ordinary private that he has been promoted to the rank of field-marshal, he will feel infinite joy. While being a mortal, helpless, reasoning and articulating animal that had been continually receiving the blows of decay and separation, man was told unexpectedly through the Ascension:

‘In the inner and external dimensions of God’s dominion and in an everlasting Paradise, enveloped by the Mercy of an All-Merciful, All-Compassionate and All-Magnificent One, you may succeed in realizing all the desires of your heart and in recreation, in travelling, to and fro with the speed of imagination and in the broad sphere of the spirit and the mind. You may also succeed in seeing His Most Beautiful ‘Countenance’ in the abode of eternal happiness.’ You may imagine what great joy and happiness one who is truly human will feel in his heart on hearing this.

Now, turning to the one in the position of listener, we say: Tear apart the shirt of atheism and put on the ears of a believer and the eyes of a Muslim. By means of two comparisons, we will show you the degree of the value of one or two of those fruits.

For example: Suppose you and I are together in a land. We see that we have chanced upon an unfriendly environment; everything and everyone is hostile and strange both to us and to one another. Everywhere is filled with dreadful corpses. Whatever we hear is either the cries of orphans or the laments of the oppressed. While in this state, if one gets a good tiding from the king of that land, through which all those hostile to us become friendly, enemies change into friends, those dreadful corpses emerge as worshipping beings occupied with praising and glorification in veneration and humility, the cries and wailings are heard as shouts of approval or acclamations, and deaths, killings, and robberies change into acts of discharge from the duties of life, and if, together with experiencing ours, we share the joy and happiness of others, then certainly you will understand how joyful that tiding is.

Prior to the light of belief, which is one of the fruits of the Ascension of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, when considered with the view of misguidance, all creatures in the universe seemed to be strange, harmful, troublesome and frightening objects, and such bodies as mountains seemed like dreadful corpses. Death cut off the head of everybody and threw it into the well of non-existence. All the voices heard were cries of lament coming from deaths and separations. Having come just at that time when misguidance presented everything to the mind thus, the truths contained in the pillars of faith, which are a fruit of the Ascension, show you every creature as a friend or brother to you and something which mentions and glorifies its Majestic Maker, and death as discharge from the duties of life, and voices as praises and glorifications of God. If you want to comprehend this truth perfectly, you may refer to the Second and Eighth Words.

Second comparison: Suppose you and I are in a place like a big desert. Caught by a sand storm in the midst of night, we cannot see even our hands. While in this wretched state (hungry, thirsty, hopeless and without protection) if someone appears unexpectedly with a car, and picking us up, takes us to a Paradise-like place where an extremely merciful lord welcomes us and takes us under his protection, where our future has been secured, and a banquet has been prepared for us, you may guess how we will rejoice and feel happy.

So, the desert is the world, and the sands stand for helpless men and other creatures tossing about in the violent disturbances of time and events. Every human being is anxious about his future, at which he looks with the view of misguidance, and sees it in a thick darkness. There is no one he knows to hear his cries. He is extremely hungry and thirsty. But thanks to God’s wishes and the things pleasing to Him, which we come to know as a fruit of the Ascension, the world is the guest-house of an extremely Generous One with men in it being his guests and officers; when, in such a guest-house, the future appears to you as beautiful as Paradise, as lovely as mercy and as brilliant as eternal happiness, you may understand how lovely, pleasant and beautiful that fruit is.

We conclude:

O brother! I congratulate you. May God Almighty include us in the intercession of His noble Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. Amen.

O God! Bestow blessings from the beginning of the world until the end of the Day of Judgement, on him by whose sign the moon split, and from whose fingers water gushed forth like the spring of Paradise; who made the Ascension and whose eyes did not waver (our master Muhammad, and on all of his family and Companions.

Glory be to You! We have no knowledge save what You have taught us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

O Lord! Accept from us (our prayers and all other forms of worship); surely You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. O Lord! Do not call us to account if we forget or make errors. O Lord! Do not make our hearts swerve after You have guided us. O Lord! Complete our light for us and forgive us. Surely You are powerful over all things. The last of their call is all praise to God, the Lord of the Worlds.

 

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