The Physical Isra and Mairaj in the Light of Tafsirs

12/12/2012 20:35


The Physical ‘Isra’ and ‘Mairaj’ in the Light of Tafsirs


1. Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir Tabari {d.310 A.H} states:


“According to us the True and Correct statement is that Allah Almighty  took his ‘Abd’- Sayyiduna Muhammad  to Journey from ‘Masjid al Haram’ to ‘Masjid al Aqsa’ at Night as it is present in the Hadiths. Allah Almighty  made the Prophet  sit on the ‘Buraq’ and he led the Prophets and Messengers in Prayers at ‘Masjid al Aqsa’ and Showed him many ‘Signs’.


And the one who says that only the ‘Ruh’ {Soul} of the Prophet  was taken on ‘Mairaj’ and that it was not a Bodily/Physical ‘Mairaj’, then this is not correct. Because, if it had been the case, then this incident would not have been a ‘Sign’ {‘Dalil’} of his Prophet-hood {‘Nabuwwat’}; and nor the deniers of this fact would have denied it and if it had been the incident in Dream, then the ‘Mushrikin’ {Polytheist} would not have denied/refuted it, because one does not become astonished on seeing strange and rare things in one’s dream, nor would have anyone refuted/denied it.


And Allah Almighty  has said:


“Asra bi Abdihi” (اسرٰی بعبدہ ) and not

“Asra bi Ruhi Abdihi” (اسریٰ بروح عبدہ ) and the Prophet’s  sitting on the ‘Burraq’ also indicates that this was a Bodily/Physical ‘Mairaj’ because, sitting on a means of transport indicates the presence of ‘Jism’ {Body} not ‘Ruh’ {Soul}.” {Jami’ ul Bayan or Tafsir al Tabari; 15: 23-24}


2. Imam Baghavi Shafai’ {d. 516.A.H} states:


“According to many, the Prophet  was taken for ‘Isra’ with his Body in a State of Wakefulness. Upon this, there are mass-narrated reports which are ‘Sahih’ {Authentic}.” {Tafsir Ma’alim ul Tanzil or Tafsir al Baghavi; 3: 128}


3. Imam Fakhruddin Razi Shafai’ {d.604 A.H} states:


“Some people have said that < وَمَا جَعَلْنَا ٱلرُّءْيَا ٱلَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ > {Surah Bani Israil; 60} is a proof that the incident of ‘Isra’ took place in dream. But, this statement is Weak {‘Zaeef’} and Rejected {‘Batil’}, as I have proved in the beginning of this Surah.” {Tafsir Mafatih ul Ghayb or Tafsir al Kabir; 6: 99}


4. Imam Muhammad bin Abdullah Qurtubi Maliki {d. 668 A.H} states:


“The majority of ‘Salaf’ and Muslims are supportive of this position (view) that ‘Isra’ took place with his Body in the state of Wakefulness.” {Al Jami’ ul Ahkam il Quran or Tafsir al Qurtubi; 10:137}


Imam Qurtubi further states:


“If this had been the incident of Dream, then Allah Almighty  would have revealed: “Bi Ruhi Abdihi” (بروح عبدہ and would not have Revealed: “Bi Abdihi” (بعبدہ. Allah Almighty  also states: < مَا زَاغَ ٱلْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَىٰ > {Surah Najm; 53: 17} This Ayah of Surah Najm also proves that this incident was in Wakefulness.


Also, if it would have the incident of Dream, then it would not have been a ‘Sign’ of Allah Almighty  and not a Miracle, And Umm Hani  would not have said to the Prophet  that he should not inform the people of this incident otherwise they would belie (deny) the Prophet . And nor there would have been any Merit in the Testifying of Abu Bakr Siddiq . And nor would have been any reason behind the taunts, jests and denial of the Quraysh. When the Prophet  informed them of the ‘Mairaj’, they denied him and many ‘Muslims’ became ‘Murtad’ {Apostates}.


And if this would have been a Dream, then it would not have been denied and the incident which happened in Sleep is not called ‘Isra’ {Journey}.” {Tafsir al Qurtubi; 10: 189}


5. Imam Khazin Shafai’ {d.725 A.H} states:


“The True position upon which numerous people, the great ‘Salaf’ and the general ‘Khalf’ from the later ‘Fuqaha’ {Jurists}, ‘Muhaddithin’ {Hadith Masters} and the ‘Mutakallimin’ {Theologians} are is that ‘Isra’ was with his Body and Soul. Upon this, the Proof is the statement of Allah Almighty  Himself: < سُبْحَانَ ٱلَّذِى أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً > {Surah Bani Israil; 17: 1}; the word ‘Abdihi’ denotes both: Body and Soul. And the Authentic Hadiths which have been presented before support this statement (position) for all those who have read the Hadiths and pondered upon them.”{Tafsir Lubab ul Tawil fi Ma’ani ul Tanzil or Tafsir al Khazin; 3: 135}


6. Imam Hasan bin Muhammad Nayshapuri {d.728 A.H} states:


“Be Informed that the Majority of Scholars of Islam are in Consensus {‘Ijma’} that the ‘Isra’ of the Prophet  took place with his Body.” {Tafsir Gharaib ul Quran or Tafsir al Nayshapuri; 4: 323}


7. Imam Imaduddin Ibn Kathir Shafai’ {d.774 A.H} states:


“And the Truth is that ‘Isra’ took place in the state of Wakefulness, not in sleep , this is the position of the Majority of Scholars that ‘Isra’ was with his Body and Soul, not in Sleep .” {Tafsir al Quran al Azim of Tafsir Ibn Kathir; 4: 113}


8. The Grand Mufassir of India, Imam Qazi Sanaullah Panipati Hanafi {d.1125 A.H} states:


“The Majority are agreed that Allah Almighty  took His ‘Abd’- Muhammad  for Journey in the Night of ‘Mairaj’ with his Body and in the State of Wakefulness and Mass Transmitted {‘Mutawatir’} Authentic Reports are present upon this and an ‘Ijma’ {Consensus} has been reached upon it.” {Tafsir al Mazhari; 5: 251}


9. Imam Muhammad Sawi Maliki {d.1241 A.H} states:


“The meaning of Allah Almighty’s  saying: “Bi Abdihi” (بعبدہ is that it took place with his Body and Soul, which is Correct. Against the one saying that ‘Isra’ took place only with his Soul.


And that which has been reported from Ayesha  is not acceptable because during the incident of ‘Isra’ she was a child, and was not in the ‘Nikah’ of the Prophet .” {Tafsir Hashiyat us Sawi ala Jalalayn or Tafsir al Sawi; 3: 301}


10. The Grand Sunni Imam of India, Imam Mulla Ahmad Jiwan Hanafi states:


“The Correct ‘Mazhab’ {School} is that it <‘Mairaj’> occurred in a State of Wakefulness with Body and Soul {‘Ruh’} and upon this are the ‘Ahl us Sunnah wa Jamah’. Therefore, whoever says that it <‘Mairaj’> occurred with just Soul {‘Ruh’} or that it took place in Sleep , then he is an Innovator, Astray, the one who leads other to Astray-ness and a Sinner {‘Fasiq’}!” {Tafsir al Ahmadiya; 330}

11. Imam Sayyid Mahmud Alusi Hanafi Baghdadi {d. 1270 A.H} states:


“The statement of Ayesha  that the Body of the Prophet  was not missing (absent) in the Night of ‘Mairaj’; and that the Soul {‘Ruh’} of the Prophet  was taken on the Night Journey has not been narrated correctly from Ayesha because when this Incident took place, she was only a child . At that time, she was not even the wife of the Prophet . And Muawiya bin Abu Sufyan <> was a ‘Kafir’ {Infidel} at that time, and to bring proof from this Ayah:

< وَمَا جَعَلْنَا ٱلرُّءْيَا ٱلَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ > {Surah Bani Israil; 60} .


The answer is that ‘Ruya’ is used for Seeing Both in Sleep and in Wakefulness. And according to the Majority {‘Jamhur’}, this ‘Ruya {Sighting/seeing} took place with Body and Soul {‘Ruh’}.” {Tafsir Ruh al Ma’ani; 15: 10-11}


The above were references of Sunni Tafsirs. Let us now turn to evidences from some of the Tafsirs of Astray sects.


The Chief Scholar of Deobandiya on the Ayah of ‘Isra’


The Deobandi Grand Scholar Mawlvi Ashraf Ali Thanvi states:


“The ‘Mazhab’ {School} of the Majority of ‘Ahl us Sunnah wal Jamah’ is that, the ‘Mairaj’ took place with his Body in the State of Wakefulness and the Proof of this is the ‘Ijma’ {Consensus} upon it.”


Then Mawlvi Thanvi goes on to stated five evidences to prove his statements and answers 5 objections of its deniers. {Tafsir Bayan ul Quran; 2: 260-262}


The Wahhabi Salafi/ Ahle Hadith Scholars on the Ayah of ‘Isra’


1. The Famous Non-Muqallid Mufassir of ‘Salafis’ and of whom the Majority of them do Taqlid, Shaykh Qazi Shawkani {d.1250 A.H} states:


“And the ‘Mazhab’ {School} of the great ‘Salaf’ and ‘Khalaf’ that has been proved from numerous Authentic Hadiths is that the Prophet’s  ‘Isra’ took place with his Body and Soul in the State of Wakefulness towards ‘Bayt al Maqdis’ and then towards the Skies (Heavens). There is no need to do ‘Tawil’ in the Quranic Ayats and in other similar words of Hadith in order to turn the meaning in another direction.” {Tafsir Fath ul Qadir; 3: 297}


2. The widespread Tafsir of the Salafiya, printed and promoted by the Saudi Salafi scholars in Urdu; Translated by their chief Indian Scholar Mawlvi Muhammad Junagarhi, and with the footnote of Famous Textual Manipulator - Mawlvi Salahuddin Yusuf is as follows:


“‘Isra’ means: ‘Taking at Night’. Further it has been revealed ‘Laylan’ so that the Shortness of the Time in Night be clearly explained ……”


In the Tafsir of “Barakna Hawalahu”, they state:


“This Area is full of natural rivulets, and vegetation and the residential place {‘Maskan’} of the Prophets and their Burial site, therefore is Special {‘Mumtaz’}. Therefore, it has been regarded as Bless-full.” {Tafsir al Quran; Page: 765}


Further, they state:


“The details of which are mentioned in Sahih Hadiths, and from the times of Sahaba, Tabayin to present day, the majority of Scholars and ‘Fuqaha’ {Jurists} are of the view that this ‘Mairaj’ happened in a state Wakefulness . This was not a Dream or Spiritual Journey and Witnessing {‘Mushahidah’}, but was ‘Witnessing’ through the Eyes, which Allah Almighty  made possible through His Power upon His Prophet .” {Tafsir al Quran; Page: 766}

Compiled & Translated by

Basharath Ali Siddiqui Ashrafi

Ashrafiya Islamic Foundation