This afternoon, I received an email with the subject line that says ‘If you left Earth to meet God, would you come back?‘. That header left me stumped for a while as it offered me a new perspective that I hadn’t considered before.
To put things into context, that email was actually an advertisement for an upcoming public lecture by Shaykh Ahmad Saad on the phenomenon of the Prophet’s pbuh night journey and ascent to Heaven. That journey, commonly known as the Isra’ Mi’raj, is observed on 27 Rejab (27th day of the seventh month in the Islamic calendar) and it marks an event where Allah swt takes the Prophet pbuh on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and eventually, Heaven.
I’ve been related the story and the circumstances that led to this miraculous journey for quite a fair bit and each time I hear it being told again, I’m still as awed as I was the previous time I heard it. For now, I’m not going to go into the whole varying opinions of scholars on whether it is a physical journey or a spiritual experience. I feel that the technicalities aside, one should focus on the core messages and learning behind the journey which are far more important and enduring than debates on the nature of the journey.
For instance, one of the most moving lessons I derived from this journey is how loving and merciful the Lord is. The journey occurred at a time when the Prophet pbuh faced extreme adversity and hardship. During that year, the Prophet’s pbuh saw the passing of his beloved wife, Khadijah, as well as uncle, Abu Talib. It was also the year when the Muslim community in Makkah faced increasing harassment and oppression. Thereafter while seeking asylum at a nearby city, the Prophet pbuh received mockery for preaching the Message and was even driven out of that place.
Thus in light of these events, one of the most profound effects that the miraculous night journey had on the Prophet pbuh was to comfort and lift his heart. I don’t know about you but when I try to envision the situation from the Prophet’s perspective where I’m in a position where I faced the personal loss of people whom I love and concurrently, having to also deal with the oppression, resentment and negativities for preaching the Message, I would definitely feel very lousy inside. Then if in that moment when I’m feeling truly down, God Himself – the one whose Message I’m conveying to the people – lets me see the true beauty of the Message and all it entails as well as having the previous Prophets before me giving me advice, I’ll be motivated and uplifted. Hence in this aspect, the loving and merciful nature of God is one I gleaned from the journey. Of course I can never begin to even feel 1% of the emotions the Prophet pbuh must be feeling but the point I’m trying to make here is that the Lord comforts.
This journey is also a reminder of how we should place our reliance only on Allah swt alone. In moments when we are down or weak, we should have faith that He will come to rescue us from that condition; that with God, there is always a way out. Like how the Prophet pbuh exercised great patience and unfailing belief in Allah swt in the face of adversity, that too should be something we emulate in our lives.
Very often in the throes of our sadness or disappointment or when we face one challenge after another, we forget that the only One who can lift us again like none other could is Him. Sometimes, we get so lost in our emotions and the situation that we have difficulties getting back up again. However the reality is that not only is He able to lift us again, He also knows the exact thing to do to comfort and help us.
There are many other messages and learning as well however I realized that the one aspect which I’d neglected to consider out of this whole journey is this: After being taken to Heaven, how did the Prophet pbuh feel at the prospect of having to come back to Earth?
I wondered about myself too: If I left Earth to meet God, would I come back? This question speaks to me on two levels.
1) What is the degree of my attachment to this world?
2) How prepared am I for the eventual meeting with Him – that is, death?
It is at these moments that I start to realize just how inadequate I am in terms of obedience and submission to Him. It’s humbling, really, to reflect and realize these inadequacies.
Regardless, it’s better to realize this now then later, right? Realizing it now also means we can then take immediate steps to correct and improve ourselves in our journey to Him.
I pray that Allah keeps us in the shade of His faith, love and mercy always. Amin.
P.S. If you are keen to attend the public lecture mentioned earlier, below is more information about it: