Assalamualaikum ustaz. I hope you are always in the best of health. I have a question which I feel in need of being presented and asked. I heard a man said that isra’ and mi’raj is a tale. He said that it is a tale because it depicts the Prophet PBUH’s weaknesses. He said imagine why the Prophet PBUH should follow Prophet Moses’s advice to decrease the numbers of prayer from 50 to 5. Just fulfill whatever is obliged. Unlike Prophet Abraham AS when he was commanded to slaughter his son, he quickly abide by it without questioning anything or negotiating for a decrease from Allah. This is what he told me. He also said that all of this while, the ustaz and scholars are wrong when telling on isra’ and mi’raj. Hope for an explanation from ustaz. I am a person with less religious knowledge especially regarding what was told by him. Thank you, ustaz.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Among the attributes of the believers is acknowledging and believing in the unseen. This is as mentioned by Allah SWT in the Quran:
الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,
Surah al-Baqarah (3)
The unseen like the paradise, hellfire, hereafter and etc. should be based on the saying of al-Quran or the authentic hadiths of the Prophet PBUH. It shall not be told or said without having any referral to these two sources. Any stories or telling on the unseen without having any sources whether from al-Quran or hadith will be considered as a fake or baseless news.
Among the most debated event is the isra’ and mi’raj. Basically, isra’ and mi’raj is told by Allah SWT in al-Quran. This event did not only happen to the Prophet PBUH spiritually as claimed by some individuals, but took place both spiritually and physically. Allah SWT says:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
Surah al-Isra’ (1)
Imam al-Tabari stated in his tafsir mentioning the opinions on how isra’ mi’raj of the Prophet PBUH took place. Some said that isra’ mi’raj happened to the Prophet PBUH in both spiritual and physical manner. Some are of the opinion that isra’ and mi’raj only happened spiritually.
Imam al-Tabari chose the opinion that isra’ and mi’raj took place in the Prophet PBUH both spiritually and physically. He said, indeed, Allah SWT took His servant which is Prophet Muhammad PBUH from Masjidil Haram to Masjidil Aqsa as mentioned by Allah and what is the real context was mentioned by the Prophet PBUH. Allah SWT took the Prophet PBUH by buraq and he prayed where the previous Prophets and Apostles prayed. The Prophet PBUH also saw some wonders. Therefore, it is untrue if one claims that the journey of isra’ and mi’raj only happens spiritually. In fact, what is true is the journey happened spiritually and physically. If the journey only happened spiritually, surely it will not become the sign of prophethood of the Prophet PBUH. In fact, it will be impossible to be the hujjah for the message brought by the Prophet PBUH. (Refer Jami’ Al-Bayan Fi Ta’wil Ayi Al-Quran, 4/446).
Syeikh Tohir bin ‘Asyur said that the journey of isra’ and mi’raj is an extraordinary event (a mu’jizat) in which the journey from the start to the end took only half a night. (Refer Tahrir Al-Ma’na Al-Sadid Wa Tanwir Al-‘Aql Al-Jadid Fi Tafsir Al-Quran Al-Majid, 14/10).
In fact, this event is only a test to those who testify that they believe in the Prophet PBUH. Whether they truly believe or not. This is stated by Allah SWT in the Quran:
وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الرُّؤْيَا الَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُونَةَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ ۚ وَنُخَوِّفُهُمْ فَمَا يَزِيدُهُمْ إِلَّا طُغْيَانًا كَبِيرًا
And [remember, O Muhammad], when We told you, "Indeed, your Lord has encompassed the people." And We did not make the sight which We showed you except as a trial for the people, as was the accursed tree [mentioned] in the Qur'an. And We threaten them, but it increases them not except in great transgression.
Surah al-Isra’ (60)
Syeikh Amin al-Syanqiti said that Allah created everything which was showcased to the Prophet PBUH among the matters and events which are odd and astonishing on the night of isra’ and mi’raj as a test to the public. This is because there are among them who totally rejected what was said by the Prophet PBUH. Some even said that it was impossible to happen. They also said that how was the Prophet PBUH prayed in Baitul Maqdis and went through the seven layered of heavens as well as seeing it all in one night then be in Mecca the next morning. This is a test to those with doubt. (Refer Adwa’ Al-Bayan Fi Idhah Al-Quran Bi Al-Quran, 3/236).
In addition, the story of isra’ and mi’raj is a mutawatir story which cannot be denied. Syeikh Amin al-Syanqiti said that the story of isra’ and mi’raj is a mutawatir story. (Refer Adwa’ A-Bayan Fi Idhah Al-Quran Bi Al-Quran,3/101). This means whoever denies this story is among the disbelievers. Allah SWT also refute those who deny this event. Allah SWT says:
أَفَتُمَارُونَهُ عَلَىٰ مَا يَرَىٰ
So will you dispute with him over what he saw?
Surah al-Najm (12)
Hence, the story of isra’ and mi’raj is not only a tale, whatnot a fable or made-up story. It is mentioned and indicated in al-Quran. What is left for us is to know the authentic stories of what happened along the journey of isra’ and mi’raj.
The story of isra’ and mi’raj also mentioned in a lengthy hadith. It is narrated in several accredited books of hadith. Among them is Sahih al-Bukhari as narrated by Anas bin Malik (3887), Musnad Imam Ahmad (12504) as narrated by Anas bin Malik and Dalail al-Nubuwwah by Imam al-Baihaqi (2/384). And it is also written in several secondary sources (المصدر الفرعي) which also referred to those sources.
Among the most notable event in isra’ and mi’raj is the obligation of prayer in specific. This event is told in a lengthy sahih hadith on isra’ and mi’raj. Anas bin Malik said when the Prophet PBUH told on isra’ and mi’raj, the Prophet PBUH answered:
ثُمَّ فُرِضَتْ عَلَىَّ الصَّلَوَاتُ خَمْسِينَ صَلاَةً كُلَّ يَوْمٍ. فَرَجَعْتُ فَمَرَرْتُ عَلَى مُوسَى، فَقَالَ بِمَا أُمِرْتَ قَالَ أُمِرْتُ بِخَمْسِينَ صَلاَةً كُلَّ يَوْمٍ. قَالَ إِنَّ أُمَّتَكَ لاَ تَسْتَطِيعُ خَمْسِينَ صَلاَةً كُلَّ يَوْمٍ، وَإِنِّي وَاللَّهِ قَدْ جَرَّبْتُ النَّاسَ قَبْلَكَ، وَعَالَجْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَشَدَّ الْمُعَالَجَةِ، فَارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ التَّخْفِيفَ لأُمَّتِكَ. فَرَجَعْتُ، فَوَضَعَ عَنِّي عَشْرًا، فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى فَقَالَ مِثْلَهُ، فَرَجَعْتُ فَوَضَعَ عَنِّي عَشْرًا، فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى فَقَالَ مِثْلَهُ، فَرَجَعْتُ فَوَضَعَ عَنِّي عَشْرًا، فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى فَقَالَ مِثْلَهُ، فَرَجَعْتُ فَأُمِرْتُ بِعَشْرِ صَلَوَاتٍ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ، فَرَجَعْتُ فَقَالَ مِثْلَهُ، فَرَجَعْتُ فَأُمِرْتُ بِخَمْسِ صَلَوَاتٍ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ، فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى، فَقَالَ بِمَا أُمِرْتَ قُلْتُ أُمِرْتُ بِخَمْسِ صَلَوَاتٍ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ. قَالَ إِنَّ أُمَّتَكَ لاَ تَسْتَطِيعُ خَمْسَ صَلَوَاتٍ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ، وَإِنِّي قَدْ جَرَّبْتُ النَّاسَ قَبْلَكَ، وَعَالَجْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَشَدَّ الْمُعَالَجَةِ، فَارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ التَّخْفِيفَ لأُمَّتِكَ. قَالَ سَأَلْتُ رَبِّي حَتَّى اسْتَحْيَيْتُ، وَلَكِنْ أَرْضَى وَأُسَلِّمُ ـ قَالَ ـ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزْتُ نَادَى مُنَادٍ أَمْضَيْتُ فَرِيضَتِي وَخَفَّفْتُ عَنْ عِبَادِي
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 day, and 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. When I came back to Moses, he said, 'What have you been ordered?' I replied, 'I have been ordered to observe five prayers a day.' He said, 'Your followers cannot bear five prayers a day, and no doubt, I have got an experience of the people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel, so go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your follower's burden.' I said, 'I have requested so much of my Lord that I feel ashamed, but I am satisfied now and surrender to Allah's Order.' When I left, I heard a voice saying, 'I have passed My Order and have lessened the burden of My Worshipers.
Sahih al-Bukhari (3887)
Excerpt from this lengthy hadith explains how the obligation of prayer 5 times a day was enjoined. Apparently, this story seems like depicting the weaknesses of the Prophet PBUH because he did not quickly obey with whatever was commanded to him. Especially when the Prophet PBUH went to ask Prophet Moses AS, unlike Prophet Abraham AS and his son who did not question much whatnot to ask for decrease for the command as claimed by some individuals then makes it a reason to say that the story of isra’ and mi’raj is a tale (fake).
However, such claim made by some individuals is a baseless claim.
In fact, what was done by the Prophet PBUH was to showcase his mercy and compassion as he did not want to see his nation become burdened. The Prophet PBUH even referred to Prophet Moses AS because the commandment of prayer was also enjoined to Bani Israil. This is mentioned by al-Qurtubi as cited by al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. Al-Qurtubi said:
“Among the wisdoms why the Prophet PBUH referred to Prophet Moses AS most probably because his nation was also obligated with prayer which was not obligated to nations before them. In which that commandment was seen as burdening to be fulfilled by the nation of Prophet Moses AS. Therefore, Prophet Moses AS gave his opinion due to being compassionate to the nation of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. This indication may be seen by the words of Prophet Moses AS ‘I I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain)’.” (Refer Fath Al-Bari Syarh Sahih Al-Bukhari, 7/202).
So, this clearly shows that it does not mean the Prophet PBUH refused to obey the commandment of Allah. In addition, all the Prophets and Apostles are those the first persons to abide by the commandment. However, what was done by the Prophet PBUH indicates his mercy and taking into account the capability of his nation to obey what was obligated by Allah SWT. If even the nation of Prophet Moses AS had no capability to bear such command, whatnot Prophet PBUH’s nation. This matter surely will lead to neglect and even worse abandonment of the obligation. Therefore, the Prophet PBUH took into account what was said by Prophet Moses AS as a benchmark for his nation to be capable of performing the prayer and obey Allah’s order.
In another perspective, doesn’t it a wisdom from Allah that the lessening of prayer to 5 times a day makes this religion easier to be practiced? This aligns with what Allah SWT mentioned in al-Quran:
مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ
Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you
Surah al-Maidah (6)
In another verse, Allah SWT says:
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ
and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty
Surah al-Hajj (78)
This matter I strengthened by other verse. Allah SWT says:
يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship
Surah al-Baqarah (185)
This is among the wisdoms that Allah SWT wants to highlight which is making the religion becomes easy to be practiced and not burdening. In fact, it is to showcase the attribute of this religion which is always pleasing and not burdening. Imagine if 50 times of prayer are performed, surely it will cause burden among the Muslims and causes negligence to other commandments especially towards governing the world. The lessening to 5 times of prayer a day makes Muslims become more productive and have no other reason to not perform the prayer.
In conclusion, the claim that the story of isra’ and mi’raj is a tale as it depicts the Prophet PBUH’s weaknesses is an absurd claim and deviate from the true fact. It is a mutawatir story which cannot be rejected. The story of isra’ and mi’raj specifically on the commandment of 5 daily prayers depicts Allah SWT’s decree so that this religion especially prayer which is the pillar of it becomes easy to be practiced, not burdening to the extent of it being abandoned.
May Allah drive us away from any syubhah and doubt upon matters which are thabit in the religion.