Monday, December 14, 2020

MUHAMMAD’S FABRICATED NIGHT JOURNEY TO HEAVEN

 


By Taufiq Zia Khan

Muhammad’s Night Journey is of vital importance in Islam because it determined the Islamic ritual of the daily five prayers. In other words, Muhammad’s Night Journey has an impact – five times each and every day – on the daily lives of more than a billion Muslims all over the world. However, if this Night Journey turns out as a fictitious event then Muslims must re-evaluate their worship of Allah. Is it truly an authentic event or is it based on lies?

Surah 17:1: “Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest MosqueWhose precincts We did bless, – in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He Is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).” (Yusuf Ali)

Allah allegedly took Muhammad on a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque.” The Sacred Mosque” refers to the Ka’ba in Mecca while the farthest Mosque” refers to the Jewish Temple at JerusalemLet us now look into the records of Islamic sources that recount the specific details of the Night Journey. Please read the following Hadith carefully because it lays the basis for our discussion.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 227:

Narrated By Abbas bin Malik: Malik bin Sasaa said that Allah’s Apostle described to them his Night Journey saying, “While I was lying in Al-Hatim or Al-Hijr, suddenly someone came to me and cut my body open from here to here.” I asked Al-Jarud who was by my side, “What does he mean?” He said, “It means from his throat to his pubic area,” or said, “From the top of the chest.” The Prophet further said, “He then took out my heart. Then a gold tray of Belief was brought to me and my heart was washed and was filled (with Belief) and then returned to its original place. Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me.” (On this Al-Jarud asked, “Was it the Buraq, O Abu Hamza?” I (i.e. Anas) replied in the affirmative). The Prophet said, “The animal’s step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal’s sight. I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven.”

“…Then the prayers were enjoined on me: They were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses who asked (me), ‘What have you been ordered to do?’ I replied, ‘I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.’ Moses said, ‘Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a dayand by Allah, I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers’ burden.’ So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day.”

Let us analyze this account and see the wisdom of Allah. There are twenty-four hours in a day. If Allah’s original plan is for Muslims to pray fifty times a day, it would mean that Muslims would not have any time left for work, sleep or family. Let’s do the maths. If we were to allow just thirty minutes for the time it takes a Muslim to prepare for the prayer, do the ablution and perform the prayer itself along with the necessary rituals, it will amount to 25 hours (30X50 minutes). A day has only 24 hours. Even going by the very bare minimum, Muslims are left with minus one hour. Most employment requires a person to work at least 8 hours a day on the average. And humans need at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep to remain healthy. And we have not included the time it takes to travel to the mosque and back for those who prefer to pray there. However, on Fridays all Muslim males are required to pray at the mosque.

Does not Allah know that his worshippers need to eat, sleep, work and care for their family? Does not this show the superiority of the wisdom of Moses over Allah? Moses’ advice to Muhammad certainly saved the day for Muslims. Muslims must be grateful to Moses. As it is, even the daily five prayers at specific times has proven to be counter productive to the economy growth of many Muslim nations. This incident has certainly exposed Allah as an unreasonable deity with an unrealistic demand.

THE NIGHT JOURNEY

According to the Qur’an and the Hadith, Allah supposedly took Muhammad on an overnight journey that covered a distance of more than seven-hundred miles from the Ka’ba in Mecca to the farthest Mosque (Jewish Templeat Jerusalem. Then, from Jerusalem Muhammad made a trip to the various heavens and finally returned to Mecca. His mode of transport was a winged steed called “Al-Buraq.”

We will now analyze Muhammad’s Night Journey and see if this account is genuine or if it is just Muhammad’s flight of fantasy. Given below are two different translations of Surah 17:1.

Surah 17:1: “Praise be unto him, who transported his servant by night, from the sacred temple (of Mecca) to the farther temple (of Jerusalem), the circuit of which we have blessed, that we might shew him (some) of our signs; for (God is) he who heareth, and seeth.” (Sale)

Glory be to Him Who took His devotee (Muhammed) one night from Masjid-al-Haram (in Makkahto Masjid-al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), whose vicinity We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs; surely He is the One Who is the Hearer, the Observer.” (Malik)

In Islam, the “Night Journey” is also known as “AlMi’raj” and most Muslims are aware of this alleged incident. Muslims proudly use Surah 17:1 as proof to validate the prophethood of Muhammad. Ironically, the difficulties and contradictions that arise from this single Qur’anic verse prove the very opposite. In fact, it not only undermines the authenticity of Muhammad’s claim as a prophet but it also invalidates the legitimacy of the Qur’an as the Word of God.

Muslims, who consider the teaching of “The Night Journey” as an authentic occurrence must examine the relevant facts to determine if this event really happened. Since the Qur’an does not provide specific detail of this event, Muslims have to rely on the accounts recorded in the Hadith and the Tafsirs (Commentaries) of reputable Muslim scholars to fully comprehend this account in the Qur’an.

Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0309:

It is narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him said: I was brought al-Buraq who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of vision. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait Maqdisin Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak’ahs in it, and then came out and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriel said: You have chosen the natural thing.

This Hadith testifies that Muhammad arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem” and “entered the mosque and prayed in it” before continuing his journey to heaven. He is even supposed to have tied his flying steed to the ring used by the prophets” at the “mosque in Jerusalem. Notice that the “Temple” is also spoken of as a “mosque.” Thus, according to this Hadith and supported by a Qur’anic verse, there was a Mosque” in Jerusalem at the time of Muhammad’s Night Journey.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his introduction to Surah 17 states:

It (Surah 17) opens with the night journey of the Holy Prophet: he was transported from the sacred mosque (of Makkah) to the Farthest Mosque (of Jerusalem) in a night and shown some of the Signs of Allah. The majority of Commentators take this Night Journey literallyThe hadith literature gives details of this Journey and its study helps to elucidate its meaning. The holy Prophet was first transported to the seat of the earlier revelations in Jerusalem, and then taken through the seven heavens even to the Sublime Throne.”

Yusuf Ali’s footnote 2168 states:

The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock, called also the Mosque of Hadhrat Umar.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 228:

Ibn Abbas added: The sights which Allah’s Apostle was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ul-Maqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) were actual sights, not dreamsAnd the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Quran is the tree of Zaqqum (itself).

From the above-cited Muslim sources, we can clearly see that Muslim scholars firmly believe that during the time of Muhammad’s Night Journey, “the farthest Mosque” existed in Jerusalem. And Muslims believe that Muhammad literally visited the Mosque in person. It is not supposed to be taken as a dream, vision or some form of spiritual experience. In fact, Muhammad is even believed to have led a prayer there.

A commentary on Surah 17:1 in Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 5, Surah Hud to Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 38, p. 551, states:

Al-Masjid Al-Aqsameans the Sacred House which is in Jerusalem, the origin of the Prophets from the time of Ibraham Al-Khalil. The Prophets all gathered there, and he (Muhammad) led them in prayer in their own homeland. This indicates that he is the greatest leader of all, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon them.

The difficulty that arises from this account in the Qur’an is the fact that there was no Mosque in Jerusalem at the time of Muhammad’s Night Journey. Masjid-al-Aqsa – meaning the Farthest Mosque – was built many years after the death of Muhammad. Neither was there a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. More than five-hundred years before Al-Buraq took flight, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. These are historical facts. Therefore, it is utterly impossible for Muhammad to have visited a Mosque or Temple on his Night Journey.

The Night Journey presents an anachronism. Anachronism is defined as: “The representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or historical order.”

For example, if you were reading a factual historical account of a 13th century battle, and part of the story included war planes, you would immediately recognize that there is something wrong. Such an anachronism would instantly label the work as fraudulent. Imagine a Christian saying today that he had visited a church in Mecca. How would we know that this is untrue? Even if we did not follow the Christian around, we would know this is false, because there are no churches in Mecca. It would be the same if a Muslim claimed to visit a mosque, where none exists. In the event of the Night Journey, even if Muslims were to refer to the Temple as a mosque, no mosque or Temple existed.

Islamic sources state that the Night Journey took place twelve (some say eleven) years after the beginning of Muhammad prophetic career. He became a prophet in 610 C.E. and this means the Night Journey occurred sometime in 622 C.E. The Jewish Temple that was rebuilt by King Herod was completely destroyed in 70 C.E. by General Titus – 552 years before the alleged time of the Miraj in 622 C.E. In 622 C.E. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Byzantines (Christians). There were no Muslims living there and there were certainly no mosques of any kind in Jerusalem.

Yet the Qur’an states that Muhammad visited the farthest Mosque (al-Aqsa) at this period of time. A Jewish Temple that did not exist any more does not provide a better solution to this error in the Qur’an than a Mosque which is yet to be built. No mosque existed in Jerusalem at the time of Muhammad’s Night Journey. The original al-Aqsa Mosque was built by Caliph Umar only after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 638 C.E. Later it was rebuilt and expended by Caliph Abd al-Malik. For the first thirty years (638 C.E.-691 C.E.) of Muslim rule in Jerusalem, only a simple wooden sanctuary was built. In fact, the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple was said to be a rubbish heap at the time when Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 C.E. Caliph Umar told the people to follow his example in clearing the rubbish away. (Al-Tabari, Volume 12 p.195-196).

Additionally, the rock enshrined in the Dome of the Rock is supposed to be where Muhammad launched his trip to heaven. However, the Dome of the Rock – which is not to be confused with the al-Aqsa mosque – was only erected in 691 C.E. by Caliph Abd al-Malik. This is almost sixty years after the death of Muhammad. So to which non-existing Mosque did Muhammad visit, enter and pray before ascending to heaven? Was there a Jewish Temple in 622 C.E.? Was there a Masjid al-Aqsa in the year 622C.E.? Was there a Dome of the Rock in the year 622 C.E. for Muhammad to take-off from as Muslims claim?

Seeing that the Qur’an mentions a journey to a Mosque that did not exist during the lifetime of Muhammad, how can the Qur’an qualify as the Word of God? In light of the fact that both the Qur’an and the Hadiths contain this historical error, how can Muslims trust either source to provide them with any reliable information? This is an issue that followers of Islam must honestly seek to resolve. Let us continue with our analysis of the Night Journey account.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 227:

“…So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day.” 

According to the above account in the Hadith, Muhammad repeatedly met and spoke with Allah in the highest heaven. On the advice of Moses, he approached Allah a number of times to have the prayers reduced from fifty to five times a day. Thus, Muhammad spoke face to face with Allah and established the Second Pillar of Islam.

Muhammad’s personal encounter with Allah is important to Muslims because their own approach to Allah five times a day is established through Muhammad’s heavenly meeting with Allah. Thus, the authenticity of this encounter is decisively linked to the truthfulness of Islam itself. In fact, the legitimacy of the daily five prayers of the Muslims all over the world is very much dependent upon the authenticity of this encounter. Well, did Muhammad actually speak face to face with Allah?

Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p.184:

Umm, Abu Talib’s daughter, said: ‘The Apostle went on no journey except while he was in my house. He slept in my home that night after he prayed the final night prayer. A little before dawn he woke us, saying, ‘O Umm, I went to Jerusalem.’ He got up to go out and I grabbed hold of his robe and laid bare his belly. I pleaded, ‘O Muhammad, don’t tell the people about this for they will know you are lying and will mock you.’ He said, ‘By Allah, I will tell them.’ I told a Negress slave of mine, ‘Follow him and listen.’”

Muhammad conjured up one of the most preposterous lies ever uttered in the name of religion. Can Muslims vouch for the validity of the requirement of the daily five prayers by Allah now that it turned out to be a lie concocted by Muhammad? But the problem does not stop here. The vital question that we would like to ask the Muslims is this, “How did this lie of Muhammad regarding the Night Journey get into the Qur’an?” Since Surah 17:1 presents the Night Journey as a factual event within a historical time frame, Allah misled not only the early Muslims, but every single Muslim throughout the ages in thinking that this was a truthful event.

Muhammad’s fictitious journey to the non-existent mosque in Jerusalem proves that neither he nor Allah nor the Qur’an are to be trusted. The historical truth that no mosque or temple existed in Jerusalem at the time of the Night Journey strongly substantiates the fact that Muhammad lied. And Muhammad’s lie was laid bare not by an enemy but by his own cousin who truly cared for his reputation. She testified that he spent the night in her house and not in Jerusalem or heaven. To save him from making a fool out of himself, she pleaded, “O Muhammad, don’t tell the people about this for they will know you are lying.”

Additionally, we have clear testimonies from the wife of the Prophet himself which prove that he did not meet or speak face to face with Allah.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Hadith Number 457:

Narrated By ‘Aisha : Whoever claimed that (the Prophet) Muhammad saw his Lord, is committing a great fault, for he only saw Gabriel in his genuine shape in which he was created covering the whole horizon.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith Number 378:

Narrated By Masruq : I said to ‘Aisha, “O Mother! Did Prophet Muhammad see his Lord?” ‘Aisha said, “What you have said makes my hair stand on end ! Know that if somebody tells you one of the following three things, he is a liar: Whoever tells you that Muhammad saw his Lord, is a liar.” Then ‘Aisha recited the Verse:

No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is the Most Courteous Well-Acquainted with all things.’ (Surah 6:103‘It is not fitting for a human being that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration or from behind a veil.’ (Surah 42:51) ‘Aisha further said, “And whoever tells you that the Prophet knows what is going to happen tomorrow, is a liar.”

Three important points can be learnt here. Firstly, if Muhammad really had this wonderful experience of encountering Allah in person, would he have kept this a secret from his wife – especially his favorite wife? Muhammad may have lied to others, but perhaps he did not want to do so to his favorite wife. Secondly, her testimonies were given after the death of Muhammad, which means it cannot be argued that he could have had this experience after her testimonies were given. The evidence points to this because it was only after the death of Muhammad that it became customary for Muslim men to seek clarifications from the wives of Muhammad, since it is now impossible to consult him. Thirdly, her testimonies are substantiated with verses from the Qur’an. In other words, the Qur’an itself testifies that Muhammad could not have met Allah face to face. Muhammad may have lied to others, but perhaps not to his favorite wife.

For the benefit of our Muslim readers, we have provided additional translations of the Qur’anic verses that Aisha used to substantiate her reason why Muhammad could not have met Allah.

Surah 6:103: No mortal eyes can see Him, but He can see all eyes. He is All-kind and All-aware. (Muhammad Sarwar)

Surah 42:51: It is not given to any human being that Allah should speak to him except through revelation, or from behind a veil, or that a messenger (an angel) be sent to him who reveals to him by Allah’s leave whatever He wishes. He is All-High, Most Wise. (Maududi)

MANY MUSLIMS GAVE UP THEIR FAITH

Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 183:

Many Muslims gave up their faith. Some went to Abu Bakr and said, ‘What do you think of your friend now? He alleges that he went to Jerusalem last night and prayed there and came back to Mecca.’”

“Many Muslims gave up their faith” because they knew without a shadow of a doubt that Muhammad lied to them. Sensible Muslims should do the same today. They should leave Islam. A true prophet of God will not make up stories regarding his spiritual experiences as Muhammad did. The fact that Muslims are taught to believe that the rock enshrined in the Dome of the Rock is where Muhammad launched his trip to heaven shows that the Night Journey is to be recognized as a literal journey in Islam and not as a spiritual experience of Muhammad. But, as an eyewitness’s report showed, on that specific night, Muhammad was at the home of his cousin. Thus, it can clearly be seen that the Prophet of Islam lied. This gives us a legitimate reason to reject Islam. Muslims should also ponder, “Why did not Muhammad take off from Allah’s Holy Ka’ba in Mecca to get into heaven instead of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem?”

Jehovah God lovingly cautions us in the Holy Bible:

1 Timothy 4:7: “But turn down the false stories.”

Ephesians 5:6: “Let no man deceive you with empty words.”

Muslims will do well to heed the above loving counsel of Jehovah. While Allah records the lies of Muhammad as facts in the Qur’an, notice the position of Jehovah regarding lies and falsehood:

Proverb 6:16-19: “There are six things which Jehovah hates; Yes, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, A false witness that utters lies, And he that sows discord among brothers.”

These are the hallmarks of a true Creator – the God of Truth. Not only is Jehovah a God of Truth but he also requires his worshippers to display the same standard of honestly at all times.

QUESTIONS FOR MUSLIMS

  • Does not Allah know that there are only 24 hours in a day?
  • Does not Allah know that his worshippers need to work, eat, sleep and care for their families?
  • Why did not Allah know that even going by the bare minimum, Muslims will not be able cope with his absurd demand to pray fifty times a day
  • Did not Allah know that it would be impossible for Muslims to accomplish this unreasonable command to stop every 28.8 minutes for prayer?
  • Can Allah really then be the all knowing God as you claim?
  • Since a Muslim will have to stop working twice each hour to pray, would any employer, in his right mind, employ a Muslim?
  • Why did not Allah tell Muhammad to pray five times a day in the first place? 
  • Does not this show that Moses was much wiser than Allah?
  • Does not this also prove that Moses was more in tune with reality than Allah?
  • How could Moses – a mere human – come up with a more practical solution for Muslims than Allah?
  • Why did Allah allow Moses to change his commandments if all his commandments are perfect from the start?
  • Instead of submitting to Allah’s commandment willingly, why did Muhammad choose to follow the contradictory advice of Moses to reduce the number of prayers?
  • Is this not an indication that Muhammad doubts the perfection of Allah’s commandments?
  • Can you imagine what life would have been like for you if it were not for Moses?
  • As it is, most Muslims find it difficult to pray five times a day, can you imagine how difficult it would be for you if you had to pray fifty times a day?
  • Does not this show that Allah is nothing but a selfish, egotistical deity who wants to be praised all the time?
  • Does not this show that only an irrational deity would make such an unreasonable demand?
  • Will the true God dictate how many times in a day his worshippers should pray to him?
  • Will the true God dictate the specific times in a day as a requirement for his worshippers to pray to him?
  • Are not prayers something that comes from the heart with no time requirement?
  • Since most Muslims cannot even pray five times every day of their life, are they not continually tormented by the fear that they will die without having fulfilled their obligation?

PRAYER WORKS THROUGH LOVE

Prayer works through love. In Christianity, there is no such compulsion. Jehovah wants heartfelt prayers. Not scripted prayers that are demanded to be expressed only at certain specific times and in certain specific number of times. There is no such thing as fixed time prayers in Christianity. According to the Bible, a Christian can pray at any time before his God. The Bible prescribes neither the form nor the amount of prayer required of the believer. In the Bible, prayer is always a voluntary expression of devotion poured out from a sincere at any time of the day or night.

Psalms 4:1: “When I call, answer me, O my righteous God.”

And Jehovah assures us in the Holy Bible:

Psalms 145:18: Jehovah is near to all those calling upon him. To all those who call upon him in trueness.”

Christians have access to their God from any place they may be and at any time they may choose.

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