*1 In the original the word "an-najm"has been used. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Sufyan Thauri opine that it implies the Pleides. Ibn Jarir and Zamakhshari have held this same interpretation as preferable, for in Arabic when the word an -najm is used absolutely it usually implies the Pleides. Suddi says that it implies Venus; and Abu `Ubaidah, the grammarian, holds that here the word an-najm has been used generically so as to express this idea: "When the day dawned, and the stars set." In view of the context we are of the opinion that this last interpretation is more preferable.(53:2) your companion2 has neither strayed nor is he deluded;3
*2 "Your Companion" implies the Holy Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace) and the addressees are the Quraish. The word Sahib as used in the original means a friend, a companion, a close associate. Here, making mention of the Holy Prophet by the word Sahib-u-kum (yew Companion) instead of "Our Messenger" is very meaningful. This is meant to make the people of the Quraish realize: "The person being mentioned is no stranger to you: he is not an outsider whom you may not be knowing or recognizing already. He is a man of your own clan and tribe; he lives and moves among you; even your children know who and what he is, what is his character, what are his dealings, what are his ways and habits and characteristics, and how he has passed his life among you so far. If same one of you were to say an improbable thing about him, there would be a thousand men among you who knew him, who could see for themselves whether what was said actually applied to him or not. "
*3 This is the thing for which an oath has been sworn by the setting star or stars. "Going astray" means a person's adopting a wrong way being unaware of the right way, and "being deluded" means his adopting the wrong way knowingly and consciously. The verse means: "Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) is a well-known man among you. Your accusation that he has gone astray, or is misguided, is utterly wrong. In fact, he is neither gone astray nor misguided." Here, the propriety of swearing by the setting stars is that in the darkness of the starry night a person cannot see the things of his surroundings clearly, and from their vague appearances can form wrong judgments about them, e.g.. he may take a tra for a ghost in the dark, a string for a snake, a rock in the sand for a beast of prey. But when the stars have set and the day has dawned, everything appears before man in its real form and shape, and there remains no doubt whatever about the reality of anything. The same is the case also of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) among you. His life and personality is. not hidden in darkness, but is manifest like the bright dawn. You are aware that this "companion of yours" is a right-minded, wise and sagacious man. How can somebody from among the Quraish have the misunderstanding that he has gone astray? You also know how well-intentioned and honest and righteous person he is. How can one of you form the view that he has knowingly adopted a crooked way not only for himself but has started inviting others also to the same falsehood?(53:3) nor does he speak out of his desire.
It means this: "The things for which you accuse him of having gone astray or been misled and deceived, have neither been fabricated by himself nor motivated by any selfish desire on his part, but they have been sent down, and are being sent down, to him by God. He did not intend to become a Prophet of his own desire so that he might have laid a claim to Prophet hood in order to satisfy his desire, but when Allah appointed him to that office through Revelation, then only did he rise to preach his mission and to tell you that he had been appointed God's Messenger to you. Likewise, this invitation to Islam, this teaching of the doctrine of Tauhid, this news about the gathering together of all mankind on the Day of Resurrection and their accountability, the truths that he is presenting about the Universe and Man and the principles of leading a pure life, are not a philosophy propounded by himself, but the knowledge of all this has been bestowed on him by Revelation. Likewise, this Qur'an that he recites before you, is also not of his own composition but it is Divine Word which is sent down to him by Revelation."
Here, the question arises: To which of the words spoken by the Holy Prophet do Allah's Words: "He does not speak of his own desire; it is only a Revelation which is sent down to him," apply? Do they apply to everything that he spoke, or to sonic of his words and not to others? The answer is: As far as the Qur'an is concerned, the Divine Words apply to it most completely. As for the other words, apart from the Qur'an, which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) spoke, they could inevitably be of three kinds: First, those words which he employed for preaching religion and inviting others to Allah, and for explaining the themes, teachings and commands of the Qur'an, or for giving admonition and instruction to the people to fulfil the object for which the Qur'an was revealed. In this regard, obviously nobody can have the doubt that, God forbid, he fabricated these things from his own mind. In these matters, his position, in fact, was of the official interpreter of the Qur'an and of Allah's authorised representative. Although these things were not revealed to him literally as the Qur'an was revealed; yet these were necessarily based on the same knowledge that he had been given by Revelation. The only difference between the Qur'an and these was that the Qur'an, both in word and in meaning, was entirely from Allah, and in these other things the meanings were those taught by AIIah and the words those which he himself employed to express those meanings. On the basis of this very distinction, the Qur'an has been described as wahi-jali (manifest Revelation) and the Holy Prophet's other sayings as wahi-khafi (concealed Revelation).
The second kind of the words were those which the Holy Prophet spoke in connection with the struggle of raising Allah's Word and his services for establishing Islam. In this regard, he had to perform countless duties of different kinds as the leader and guide of the Muslim community. In this many a time he took counsel with his Companions as well, and followed their advice instead of his own view. On being asked he sometimes told them that he was expressing a particular view not under Allah's command but as his personal opinion, and on several occasions it so happened that he said something on the basis of his own opinion and later. an instruction came down against it from Allah. None of the things of this nature that he said or did could be based on a selfish motive. As for the question whether these sayings were based on Divine inspiration, the answer is that except for the things in regard to which he made it explicit that they were not based on Divine command, or about which he took counsel with his Companions and accepted their advice, or with regard to a thing against which AIlah sent down an instruction after he had said or done something on the basis of his personal judgment, all other things were based on concealed Revelation (wahi khafi) just like the things of the first kind. For the office of the leader and guide of the Islamic Movement and the chief of the believing community and the ruler of the Islamic State, which he held, was not self-invented or bestowed by the people, but he had been appointed to it by Allah, and whatever he said and did in carrying out the duties of this office, his position in it was of the representative of Divine, Will. In this matter, whatever he said on the basis of his personal judgment, his judgment in those matters was approved by Allah, and was, derived from the light of the knowledge which Allah had blessed him with. That is why whenever his personal judgment was even slightly turned away from Allah's pleasure, it was immediately rectified by manifest Revelation (wahi jali; ). This rectification of some of his personal judgments is itself a proof that all the rest of his religious judgments and interpretations were precisely in accordance with Divine Will.
The third kind of the things were those he said concerning common matters of life as a man, which had nothing to do with the duties of Prophet hood, which he said before being appointed a Prophet as well as continued saying even after having been appointed a Prophet. About this kind of the Things it should be understood at the outset that there was no dispute with the disbelievers concerning them. They had not accused him of being a misled and misguided person because of these but because of the first two kinds of the things. These things were not disputed and therefore could not become the cause of a verse from Allah. But although they were not the subject of any dispute, yet the fact is that in this private aspect of his life also never did the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) utter a word that was opposed to the truth, but at alI times, under all conditions, his words and deeds remained within the bounds that Allah had prescribed for living his life as a Prophet and righteous man. Therefore, the light of Revelation shone in that sphere as well. This same thing has been reported from the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in some authentic Ahadith. In Musnad Ahmad a Tradition has been related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, saying that the Holy Prophet once said: "I never say anything but what is true and right. " A Companion said, "O Messenger of Allah, you say things sometimes in jest also.' The Holy Prophet replied: "Indeed, I never say anything but the truth. " According to Musnad Ahmad and Abu Da'ud, Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Amr bin 'As is reported to have said: "I used to write down whatever I heard from the sacred tongue of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) so as to preserve it. The people of the Quraish forbade me to do this, saying: 'You arc writing down everything whereas the Holy Prophet is a man: he sometimes says things in the state of anger too'. At this I gave up writing. Afterwards when I mentioned this before the Holy Prophet, he said: 'You should continue writing: By Him in Whose hand is my life, never have I said anything but the truth'." (For a complete discussion of this question, see my book Tafhimat vol. I, Article: Prophethood and Its Injunctions).
That is, "There is no human being who teaches him this, as you seem to think, but he obtains this knowledge through a supernatural source. " According to some people, "mighty in power" implies AIIah Himself, but a great majority of the commentators are agreed that it implies the Angel Gabriel (upon whom be peace). This same view has been reported from Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hadrat 'A'ishah, Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Qatadah, Mujahid and Rabi` bin Anas. Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Razi, Alusi and others also have adopted this very view. Shah Waliyullah and Maulana Ashraf 'Ali Thanwi also have followed this same view in their translations. And the fact is that from the other explanations of the Qur'an itself also this very thing is confirmed. In Surah Takvir it has been said: "This indeed is the word of a noble Messenger, who has great power and high rank with the Owner of the Throne: there he is obeyed and held as trustworthy. And (O people of Makkah), your Companion is not mad. He has seen that Messenger on the bright horizon." (vv. 19-23). Then, in Surah Al-Baqarah: 97, the Angel has been mentioned by name through whom this teaching had been revealed on the heart of the Prophet: "Say to them: Whoever is enemy to Gabriel should understand that he has, by Allah's Command, revealed to your heart the Qur'an." If these verses are read with this verse of Surah An-Najm, there remains no doubt that here "mighty in power" implies the Angel Gabriel and not AIIah. More about, it to follow.
Here, some people express the doubt as to how the Angel Gabriel can be regarded as the Holy Prophet Muhammad's teacher. For this would mean that he was the teacher and the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) his pupil, and this would place him above the Holy Prophet in rank. But this suspicion is misplaced, because Gabriel did not impart instruction to the Holy Prophet from any personal knowledge of his own, which might give him superiority over the Holy Prophet. AIlah, in fact, had made him a means of conveying knowledge to the Holy Prophet, and he was the Holy Prophet's teacher in the metaphoric sense for being only a medium of instruction. That dces not give him any superiority whatever. To quote an example: After the Prayer was prescribed five times a day, AIlah sent Gabriel (peace be upon him) to teach the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) the correct times of the Prayers, and he led him in the Prayers five times daily for two days. This has been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi and Mu'watta and other collections of the Ahadith, with authentic chains of reporters, and in this the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself has explained that he was the follower and Gabriel his leader in the Prayers. But his being made the leader only for the purpose of instruction does not mean that he was superior to the Holy Prophet in rank.
*6 Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah take dhu mirra-tin of the Text in the meaning of beautiful and grand. Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Ibn Zaid and Sufyan Thauri say that it mean: strong and powerful. Said bin Musayyab has expressed the opinion that it means wise. In a Hadith the Holy Prophet has used this word in the sense of healthy and sound. In Arabic usage this word is used in the meaning of sound in judgement, wise and learned also. Allah has chosen this word for Gabriel (peace be upon him) here because he possesses both intellectual and physical powers to the highest degree. We have adopted only one of these meanings in the translation, for his physical powers have been mentioned in the preceding sentence.(53:7) being on the higher horizon.7
*7 The horizon means the eastern edge of the sky where the sun rises and the day dawns. The same has been referred to as ufuq mubin (bright horizon) in Surah Takvir: 23. Both the verses make it explicit that when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) saw Gabriel (peace be upon him) for the first time, he had appeared on the eastern horizon of the sky; and there are several authentic Traditions which show that at that time he was in his real shape in which Allah has created him. We shall quote all such Traditions below. -(53:8) Then he drew near and hung above suspended,
*8 That i:, "After appearing on the uppermost edge of the sky, Gabriel started advancing towards the Prophet till he reached and hung suspended about him in mid air. Then he bent down to him and came within just two bow-lengths or even closer. " The commentators generally have taken qaba qausain in the meaning of "two bow-lengths", but Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas and Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud have taken qaus in the meaning of a dhira'(an amm-length, cubit), and have interpreted the words kama qaba qausain, saying that the distance between them was reduced to only two arm-lengths. And since all bows are not equal in length, the approximate distance has been expressed by "two bow-lengths away or even closer.(53:10) Then he revealed to Allah's servant whatever he had to reveal.9
*9 The sentence fa auha ila `abd-i -hi ma auha of the Text can have two translations: (1) "He revealed to His (Allah's) servant whatever he revealed"; and (2) "He (Allah) revealed to His own servant whatever He revealed. " According to the first translation, the meaning would be: Gabriel revealed to the servant of Allah whatever he had to reveal"; according to the second: "Allah revealed through Gabriel to His servant whatever He had to reveal. " The commentators have given both these meanings; the first meaning, however, fits in better with the context, .and the same has been reported from Hadrat Hasan Basri and lbn Zaid. Here, the question may be asked: "How can the pronoun of abd-i-hi turn to Allah instead of to the subject of auha, whereas Allah has nowhere been mentioned from the beginning of the Surah to this place ?" The answer is that wherever it becomes apparent from the context that the antecedent of a pronoun refers to a particular person, the pronoun turns to him automatically whether it has been mentioned before or not. There are several instances of this available in the Qur'an itself. In Surah AI-Qadr: l, AIIah says: "We have sent it down in the Night of Glory." There is no mention of the Qur'an in this sentence, but the context explicitly shows that the antecedent of the pronoun is the Qur'an. At another place Allah says: °If Allah were to seize the people because of their misdeeds, He would not leave any creature (unpunished) on its back. " In this sentence there is no mention of the earth anywhere, but the context clearly shows that "its back" implies "the earth's back". In Surah Ya Sin: 69, it has been said: "We have not taught him poetry, nor does poetry behove him." Here, there is no mention of the Holy Prophet, neither before this sentence nor after it, yet the context is explicit that the antecedent of the pronouns is the Holy Prophet himself. In Surah Ar-Rahman: 26, it has been said: "Whatever exists on it shall perish." There is no mention of the earth either before or after it, but the style clearly shows that the pronoun of 'alaika turns to it. In Surah AI-Waqi'ah: 35, it has been said: "We shall have created them especially." There is no noun or pronoun before or after it to which the pronoun of hunna may be referring. It is apparent from the context that it signifies the women of Paradise. Thus, as auha ila `abd-i hi cannot at all mean that Gabriel revealed to his servant, the meaning necessarily would be that "Gabriel revealed w the servant of AIlah", or that "Allah revealed to His own servant through Gabriel. "(53:11) His heart added no untruth to what he saw.10
That is, "As the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) observed all this in broad daylight in the waking condition, with open eyes, his heart did not deem it was a delusion, or that it was a jinn or a devil, who had appeared before him, or that it was an imaginary figure, or a vision that he was seeing while awake, but his heart fully confirmed what his eyes saw. He did not for a moment doubt that it was the Angel Gabriel and the Message he was conveying was indeed God's Revelation to him."
Here, the question arises: How is it that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) did not entertain any doubt at all concerning such a wonderful and extraordinary observation, and he confirmed with full faith that whatever his eyes saw was an actual fact and not an imaginary figure, nor a jinn or devil ? When we consider this question deeply we are led to five reasons for it:
First, that the external conditions in which this observation was made, testified to its truth and validity. The Holy Prophet did not observe this in darkness, or in a state of meditation, or in a vision, or in a sleep-like condition, but the day had dawned and he was fully awake, and he was seeing the whole scene in the broad daylight in the open with his own eyes precisely in the way as one sees the other things in the world. If doubt is cast on this, then whatever we see in the day time, e.g. rivers, mountains, men, houses, etc., also would become doubtful and illusory. Second, that the Holy Prophet's own internal condition also testified to its validity. He was in his full senses. He had no idea whatever in his mind that he should observe, or that he was going to observe, such a thing. His mind was absolutely free from such a thought and any longing for it, and in this state he met with this experience suddenly. There was no room for doubting that the eyes were seeing an actual scene, but that an imaginary thing had appeared before his eyes.
Third, that the being who had appeared before him in that condition was so marvelous and magnificent, so beautiful and bright, that neither had he ever had any concept of such a being before that he could take it for a product of his own imagination, nor could a jinn or a devil have such an appearance that he would have taken him for a being other than an angel. Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud has reported that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: °I saw Gabriel in the shape that he had six hundred wings." (Musnad Ahmad), In another Tradition Ibn Mas`ud has further explained that each single wing of Gabriel (on whom be peace) was so extensive that it seemed to be covering the whole horizon (Musnad Ahmad), Allah Himself has described him as shadid al-quwa (one mighty in power) and dhu-mirra (one endowed with great wisdom).
Fourth, that the teaching that the being was imparting alsa testified to the validity of the observation. The Holy Prophet had no concept of the knowledge that he received suddenly through him, a knowledge that comprehended the realities and truths of the whole Universe. About it he could not have the doubt that it consisted of his own ideas which were being set and arranged by his own mind. Likewise, there was no ground for thinking either that it was Satan who was imparting that knowledge to him and thus deluding him, for it is not for Satan that he should teach, nor can he ever teach, the doctrine of Tauhid to man as against polytheism and idol-worship, that he should warn of the accountability of the Hereafter, that he should create contempt against ignorance and its practices, that he should invite people to moral excellences, and should exhort a person not only to accept that teaching himself but should also rise to ' eradicate polytheism, injustice, wickedness and sin from the world and replace these evils by the virtues of Tauhid, justice, equity and piety.
The fifth and by far the most important reason is that when Allah chooses a certain person for His Prophet hood, He cleanses his heart of doubts and suspicions and evil suggestions and fills it with faith and conviction. In this state no hesitation or vacillation is caused in his mind about the validity of whatever his eyes see and his ears hear. He accepts with complete satisfaction of the heart every truth that is revealed to him by his Lord, whether it is in the form of an observation that he is made to witness with the eyes, or in the form of knowledge which he is inspired with, or in the form of a Revelation that is recited to him literally. In all these cases the Prophet is fully aware that he is absolutely safe and secure against Satanic interference of every kind, and whatever he is receiving in any form is precisely and definitely from his Lord. Like all God-given feelings this sense and feeling of the Prophet also is a certainty which does not admit of any misunderstanding. Just as the fish has a God-given sense of being a swimmer, the bird of being a bird, and the man of being a man, and there can be no likelihood of any misunderstanding in this regard, so has the Prophet also a Godgiven sense of his being a Prophet. He does not even for a moment entertain the doubt that he has perhaps been involved in the misunderstanding of being a Prophet.
This is about the Holy Prophet's second meeting with Gabriel (upon whom be peace) in which he appeared before him in his real shape and nature. The place where this meeting took place has been described as Sidrat-al-muntaha, along with which it has been said that nearby it is located Jannat al ma'va (Garden of Repose).
Sidrah in Arabic means the lote-tree and muntaha the extreme edge or limit. Thus, literally, sidrat al-muntaha means "the lote-tree that is situated on the extreme edge or limit". 'Allama Alusi in his Ruh al-Ma'ani has explained it thus: "At this the knowledge of every learned man comes to an end; whatever is beyond it is known to none but Allah. " Almost the same explanation of it has been given by Ibn Jarir in his commentary, and by Ibn kathir in An-Nihayah fi Gharib alHadith wal-Athar. It is difficult for us to know what kind of a lote-tree it is that is situated at the farthest end of this physical world and what is its nature and state. These are the mysteries of the Divine Universe which are incomprehensible for us. In any case, it is some such thing for which there was no more appropriate word than "sidrah " in human language, in the sight of AIIah.
" Jannat al-ma'va' literally means "the Jannat (Garden) that is to be an abode. " Hadrat Hasan Basri says that this is the same Jannat which the believers and righteous will be given in the Hereafter, and from this same verse he has argued that that Jannat is in the heavens. Qatadah says that this is the Jannat in which the souls of the martyrs are kept; it does not imply the Jannat that is to be given in the Hereafter. Ibn 'Abbas also says the same but adds that the Jannat to be granted to the believers in the Hereafter is not in the heavens but here on the earth.
*12 That is, "its Splendor and Glory exceeds aII description. The Divine Glory and effulgence was such as can neither be conceived by man nor can any haman language depict it adequately.(53:17) His eye did not waver, nor did it stray,13
*13 That is, "On the one hand, the Holy Messenger of Allah was so firm and steadfast that even in the Presence of the great Divine Splendor and Glory his sight was not dazzled and he went on gazing at it with great composure. On the other, he was in such complete control of himself and so exclusively attentive that he kept his mind and his sight focused upon the object for which he had been summoned, and he did not let his sight wander to any side like a spectator's to have a glimpse of the wonderful objects present there. This can be understood by the example of a person who gets an opportunity to be present in the court of a mighty and powerful king, where he comes across such glory and splendor that had never cven been conceived by him before. Now, if he be a shallow person, he would be struck with amazement, and if he be un-initiated in the court coquette, he would become heedless of the royal presence and would turn his gaze to every side to look at the embellishments of the court. But a noble, reverent and dutiful person will neither be stupefied and confounded, nor will become lost in witnessing the court, but will present himself with full dignity and will keep his mind concentrated on the object for which he had been summoned in the royal court. This very virtue and quality of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been esteemed in this verse.(53:18) and he certainly saw some of the greatest Signs of His Lord.14
This verse clearly starts that the Holy Prophet had not seen AIIah but His wonderful Sings. Even according to the context, this second meeting also took place with the same being with whom the first meeting had taken place. Therefore, one will have to admit that neither the one whom he had first seen on the uppermost horizon was Allah nor he whom he saw afterwards by the farthest lote-tree was AIIah. Had he seen Allah Almighty on either occasion it would have been a great thing and must certainly have been mentioned here explicitly. About the Prophet Moses it has been said in the Qur'an that he had besought to see AIIah And the reply given was: Lan tarani "You cannot sec Me." (Al-A'raf 143). Now, obviously if this honour that was not granted to the Prophet Moses, had been granted to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), it would by itself have been such an important thing which must have been stated in clear words. But we see that nowhere in the Qur'an has it been said that the Holy Prophet had seen his Sustainer and Lord. But in Surah Bani Isra'il also, where mention has been made of the event of Mi`raj (Ascension), it has been said that "We had transported Our servant...so that We may show him some of Our Signs" (li-nuriya -hu min ayat-i na), and here in connection with his visit at Sidrat al-muntaha also it has been said: "He saw of the greatest Signs of His Lord" (laqad ra a min ayat-i Rabb-i-hil kubra).
In view of these reasons apparently there was no ground for the dispute whether the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) on both these occasions had seen Allah Almighty or the Angel Gabriel (on whom be peace). But, the reason that has given rise to this dispute is that the traditions of Hadith differ on this question. Below we reproduce in their sequence the Ahadith that have been reported from the different Companions in this regard:
(1) Traditions of Hadrat `A'ishah:
Hadrat Masruq has stated in Kitab at-Tafsir of Bukhari asked Hadrat 'A'ishah: O mother of the faithful! Had Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) seen his Lord and Sustainer? She replied: Your question has terrified me. Why do you forget that if a person lays claim to three of the things, he would lay a false claim ? (The first of these things that Hadrat `A'ishah mentioned was): Whoever among you says that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) had seen his Lord and Sustainer, tells a lie. Then Hadrat `A'ishah recited these verses: La tudriku-hul-absar "Eyes cannot comprehend Him; " and: Ma kana li-bashar-in anyyukallima-hullah-u ills wahy-an au min-wara-i-hijab- in au yursila rasul an fayu-hia bi-idhni hi ma yasha-u: "It is not given to any mortal that Allah should speak to him, face to face; He, speaks either through Revelation (secret instruction), or from behind a curtain, or He sends a messenger (an angel), who by Allah's Command, reveals whatever He wills." (Ash-Shura: 51). Then she said: °The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in fact had seen Gabriel (on whom be peace) in his real shape twice."
A part of this Hadith is also found in Bukhari (chapter 4 of Kitab atTauhid) And in the tradition that Bukhari has cited from Masruq in Kitab Bida 'aI-Khalq, he states: "Hearing this thing from Hadrat `A'ishah, I asked: What would then Allah's words, Thumma dana fa-tadalla, fa-Kana qaba qausain-i au adha. mean ? She replied: This refers to Gabriel; he always appeared before the Holy Prophet in human shape, but on this occasion he had appeared before him in his real shape and nature and the whole horizon was filled with him. "
In Muslim (Kitab al-Iman, Babu fi Dhikr Sidrat al-muntaha) this conversation between Hadrat `A'ishah and Masruq has been related in greater detail, its most important part being this: "Hadrat `A'ishah said: The one who claims that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) had seen his Lord and Sustainer imputes a lie to Allah. Masruq says: I was leaning back. Hearing this I sat up and said: Mother of the faithful, do not make haste: Has not Allah said: wa lagad ra'a-hu bi/-ufuq-i/ mubin? and lagad ra'a-hu nazlat-an ukhra '' Hadrat 'A'ishah replied: I was the first one in this Ummah who inquired of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) about this. He had replied: "It was Gabriel (on whom be peace). I have never seen him in his real shape and form in which Allah has created him except on these two occasions. On these two occasions I saw him descending from the heavens and his great presence was covering the whole space between the earth and the heavens."
Ibn Marduyah has related this tradition of Masruq, thus: "Hadrat `A'ishah said: I was indeed the first person who asked the Holy Prophet: Did you ever sec your Lord and Sustainer? He replied: No, I had only seen Gabriel descending from the heavens."
(2) Traditions of Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud:
Bukhari (Kitab at-Tafsir), Muslim (Kitab al Iman) and Tirmidhi (Abwab' at-Tafsir) contain a tradition on the authority of Zin bin Hubaish, saying that Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud gave this commentary of fa-kana qaba qausain-i au adha: "The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) saw Gabriel (on whom be peace) in the shape that he had six hundred wings."
In the other traditions of Muslim, Zirr bin Hubaish has reported this very commentary of Ma kadhab al-fu adu ma ra'a and lagad ra a min ayat-i Rabbi-hil kubra from Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud. In Musnad Ahmad this commentary of Ibn Mas`ud has been reported by 'Abdur Rahman bin Yazid and Abu Wail also besides Zirr bin Hubaish. Furthermore, in Musnad Ahmad two more traditions of Zirr bin Hubaish have been related in which Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud commenting upon wa lagad ra a-hu nazlat-an ukhra, 'inda-sidrat-il muntaha stated: "The Holy Messenger of AIIah said that he saw Gabriel by the lote-tree he had six hundred wings. "Imam Ahmad has cited a tradition on the same subject, on the authority of Shaqiq bin Salamah also, in which he states that he heard Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud saying that the Holy Prophet himself had said that he had seen Gabriel (on whom be peace) in that shape at sidrat al-muntaha.
(3) When 'Ata' bin Abi Rabah asked Hadrat Abu Hurairah the meaning of the verse lagad ra a-hu nazlat-an ukhra, he replied: "The Holy Prophet had seen Gabriel (on whom be peace).": (Muslim: Kitab al lman).
(4) Imam Muslim has related in kitab al-Iman two traditions of `Abdullah bin Shaqiq on the authority of Hadrat Abu Dharr Ghifari, in one of which he says that he asked the Holy Prophet: "Did you ever see your Lord?" The Holy Prophet replied: Nur-un anna ara-hu; and in the other he says that the Holy Prophet gave this answer to his question: Ra 'aitu nur-an. Of the first answer of the Holy Prophet Ibn al-Qayyim has given this meaning in his Zad al-Ma ad: "Between me and the sight of my Lord there was Light," and of the second this: "I did not see my Lord but only a Light." Nasa'i and Ibn Abi Hatim have reported the saying of Hadrat Abu Dharr, thus: "The Holy Prophet had seen his Lord with the heart (mind), not with the eyes.
(5 ) Imam Muslim in his Kitab al-Iman has related this tradition from Hadrat Abu Musa al-Ash`ari: "The Holy Prophet said: The sight of no one from among His creatures has reached Allah Almighty."
(6) Traditions of Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas:
According to Muslim, when Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas was asked the meaning of: Ma kadhab al-fu 'adu ma ar'a, wa lagad ra'a hu nazlat-an ukhra, he said: "The Holy Messenger of Allah saw his Lord twice with his heart. " This tradition is also contained in Musnad Ahmad.
Ibn Marduyah has cited this saying of Ibn `Abbas, on the authority of 'Ata' bin Abi Rabah: The Holy Messenger of Allah had not seen Allah with the eyes but with the heart. "
Nasa'i contains a tradition from `Ikrimah saying that Ibn `Abbas said "Do you wonder at this that Allah made the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) His friend, blessed Moses with His Word and honoured Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) with His sight?" Hakim also has cited this tradition and held it as authentic.
In Tirmidhi, there is a tradition from Sha`bi to the effect that Ibn `Abbas said in a gathering: "Allah had distributed His Sight and His Word between Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) and Moses (upon whom be peace). He spoke to Moses twice, and Muhammad saw Him twice " Hearing these very words of lbn 'Abbas, Masruq had approached Hadrat `A'ishah with the question: "Had Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) seen his Lord?" She had replied: What you have said has made my hair stand on end." After this the same dialogue that we have cited above under the tradition of Hadrat 'A'ishah tool place between Hadrat 'A'ishah and Masruq. In one of the traditions reported in Tirmidhi from lbn `Abbas, he says: "The Holy Prophet had seen Allah Almighty." In yet another he says: "He had seen Him twice", and in a third one; "He had seen Him with the heart."
In Musnad Ahmad a tradition from Ibn `Abbas is to the effect: "The Holy Prophet said: I saw my Lord, the blessed, the exalted. " In another tradition he says: "The Holy Messenger of Allah said: Tonight my Lord came to me in the best shape. " I think that by this the Holy Prophet meant that he saw Allah Almighty in a vision. Tabarani and Ibn Marduyah have related this tradition also from Ibn `Abbas: "The Holy Messenger of Allah had seen his Lord twice, once with the eyes and the second time with the heart. "
(7) Muhammad bin Ka'b al-Qurzi states that when some of the Companions asked the Holy Prophet,: 'Did you ever see your Lord? he replied: I have seen Him twice with my heart." (Ibn Abi Hatim) Ibn Jarir has related this very tradition, thus: "He said: I have not seen Him with the eye, but with the heart twice. "
(8) A tradition of Hadrat Anas bin Malik which Imam Bukhari has cited in his Kitab at-Tauhid in connection with the event of the Mi'raj, on the authority of Sharik bin `Abdullah, contains words to the effect: "When the Holy Prophet reached sidrat al-muntaha, Allah Almighty drew near him and hung suspended above him till there remained between the Holy Prophet and Him a distance equal to two bow-lengths or even Iess. Then, what Allah revealed to him included the Command for SO Prayers." But, besides the objections that Imam Khattabi, Hafiz lbn Hajar, Ibn Hazm and Hafiz `Abdul Haq (author of Al-Jam' bain al-Sahihain) have raised in respect of the authenticity and subject-matter of this tradition, the main objection against it is that it clearly contradicts the Qur'an, for the Qur'an mentions two separate occasions when the experience of the vision took place, the first initially at the uppermost horizon to which reference has been made in: Dane fa-tadalla, fa-kana qaba qausain-i au adna, and a second time near sidrat al muntaha. But this tradition mixes up the two occasions and presents them both as one occasion of the vision. Therefore, because of its being contradictory to the Qur'an, it cannot be acceptable in any case. As for the other traditions that we have cited above, the weightiest among them are those that have been related from Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud and Hadrat `A'ishah, for both of them have unanimously reported this saying of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself that on neither occasion he had seen AIIah but Gabriel (peace be on him), and these traditions fully conform to the explanations and allusions of the Qur'an. Furthermore, they are also confirmed by the sayings of the Holy Prophet which Hadrat Abu Dharr and Hadrat Abu Musa al-Ash'ari have reported from him. On the contrary the traditions that have been cited from Hadrat 'Abdullah bin `Abbas in the books of Hadith are self-eontradictory. In some he regards both the experiences as a vision with the eyes, in some both as a vision with the heart, in some one with the eyes and the other with the heart, and in some he wholly negates the vision with the eyes. In none of these traditions he has cited any saying of the Holy Prophet himself and where he has cited such a saying, it contains no mention of either of the two experiences stated in the Qur'an; besides, the explanation of one of his traditions givcn by the other indicates that the Holy Prophet at some time bad seen Allah Almighty not in the waking condition but in a vision during sleep. Therefore, in fact, for the commentary of these verses the traditions ascribed to Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas cannot be held as reliable. Likewise, although the traditions of Muhammad bin Ka'b al-Qurzi cite a saying of the Holy Prophet, they do not mention the names of the Companions who might have heard this thing from the Holy Prophet himself. Moreover, in one of them it has been said that the Holy Prophet had clearly denied having seen Allah with the eyes.
That is, "You regard the teachings being givcn to you by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) as erroneous and falsehood, whereas he is being given this knowledge by Allah, and Allah has made him see with his own eyes the verities to which he is testifying before you. Now consider it for yourself as to how irrational are the beliefs that you are following persistently and'' as to whom you arc causing loss by opposing and resisting the person who is guiding you to the Right Way. In this connection, especially the three goddesses that were worshipped generally by the people of Makkah, Ta'if and other parts of Hejaz have been taken as an example. About them, they have been asked: Have you ever considered rationally whether they could have even the slightest role in the affairs of the Godhead of the earth and heavens? Or could they bear any relationship whatever with the Lord of the Universe?
The shrine of Lat was in Ta'if and the Bani Thaqif were so devoted to it that when Abraha was advancing to Makkah with his army of elephants to destroy the Ka'bah, the people only in order to save the temple of their deity had provided the wicked man with guides to lead him w Makkah so that he should spare Lat, whereas like all the Arabs the people of Thaqif also believed that the Ka'bah is Allah's House. Scholars have disputed the meaning of Lat. According to Ibn Jarir Tabari, it is the feminine gender of AIlah, i.e. originally this word was allahatun which became al-Lat. According to Zamakhshari, it is derived from hva yalvi, . which means to turn to or bow to somebody. As the polytheists turned to it for worship and bowed to it and circumambulated it, it began to be called Lat. Ibn 'Abbas _reads it as left (with a stress on t) and holds it is derived from latt yalittu, which means to churn and mix together. He and Mujahid state that this, in fact, was a man, who lived on a rock near Ta'if, and used to entertain the pilgrims to Makkah with barley drinks and food. When he died the people built a shrine to him on the same rock and began to worship him. But this explanation of Lat, in spite of having been reported on the authority of scholars like Ibn 'Abbas and Mujahid, is not acceptable for two reasons. First, that in the Qur'an it has been called Lat and not Latt; second, that the Qur'an describes all the three as goddesses, and according to this tradition Lat was a man, not a woman.
'Uzza is derived from 'izzat, and it means the one (female) enjoying veneration and respect. This was the special goddess of the Quraish and her shrine was situated at Hurad in the valley of Nakhlah, between Makkah and Ta'if. (For the location of Nakhlah, see E.N. 33 of Surah AL-Ahqaf). The people of Bani Shaiban, who were the allies of the Bani Hashim, were its attendants. The Quraish and the people of other tribes paid visits to it and presented offerings and made sacrifices to it. As for the Ka`bah sacrificial animals were driven to it also and it was held in the highest esteem. Ibn Hisham relates that when Abu Uhaihah was on the point of death, Abu Lahab paid him a visit and found him weeping. Abu Lahab asked, °Why do you weep, Abu Uhaihah ? Are you afraid of death ?-and death is the destiny of everybody !" He said, `By God, I do not weep because of the fear of death, but I am grieved to think as to how 'Uzza will be worshipped after me. " Abu Lahab said, "It was neither worshipped for your sake in your lifetime, nor will it be given up after you have left the world." Abu Uhaihah said, 'Now I am satisfied that there are people who will take my place after me." The shrine of Manat was situated at Qudaid by. the Red Sea between Makkah and Madinah, and the people of Khuza`ah and Aus and Khazraj were in particular its great devotees. People visited it as pilgrims, circumambulated it and made offerings and sacrifices before it. In the Hajj months as soon as the pilgrims became free from their visit to the Ka`bah and the religious services at Mina and 'Arafat, they would start raising cries of °Labbaik, labbaik"even there for the purpose of visiting Manat, and the people who intended to go on this second "hajj" did not run between the Safa and the Marwah.
*16 That is, "You held these goddesses as daughters of Allah, Lord of the worlds, and did not consider while inventing this absurd creed that as for yourselves you regarded the birth of a daughter as disgraceful, and desired to have only male children, but as for Allah you assign w Him only daughters!"(53:22) That is indeed an unfair division!
*17 That is, "Those whom you call gods and goddesses are neither gods nor goddesses, nor do they possess any attribute of divinity, nor any share whatever in the powers of Godhead. You have of your own whim made them children of God and deities and associates in Godhead. Allah has sent down no authority which you may, produce as a proof in support of your presumptions. "
*18 In other words, the basic causes of their deviation are two: First, that they do not feel any need for the knowledge of reality for the purpose of adopting a creed and religion, but make a supposition on the basis of a mere conjecture and then put belief in it as though it were the reality, Second, that they have, in fact, adopted this attitude in order to follow the lusts of their souls: they desire that they should have such a deity as should help them attain their aims and objects in the world, and if at aII there is to be a Hereafter, it should take the responsibility to have them granted forgiveness there too, But it should not impose any restriction of the lawful and the unlawfirl on them nor should bind them in any discipline of morality. That is why they do not feel inclined to worship One God as taught by the Prophets, and only like to worship these invented gods and goddesses.
*19 That is, in every age the Prophets appointed by Allah have been guiding these wicked people to the Truth, and now Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has come to tell them as to whom belongs Godhead in reality in the Universe.(53:24) Does man imagine that whatever he wishes for is right for him?20
*20 Another meaning of this verse can be: "Is man entitled to take anyone he pleases as his god ?" Still another meaning can be: "Can the desire of man to have his prayers answered by these gods ever be fulfilled?"(53:25) To Allah belong both the Next World and the present.