The Angel Gabriel and Prophet Muhammad continued their
miraculous ascension through the heavens. This journey was far beyond the
wildest imagining of any human being. It began in the deserts of Arabia and spanned the reaches of the known universe and beyond. At the gate of the seventh
heaven, they exchanged the same questions and answers as in the previous
heavens, and the angels declared their pleasure at meeting Prophet Muhammad. Permission
to enter was given and the Prophet of God, accompanied by Gabriel, the angel
trusted with the revelations of God, moved into the final heaven.
The seventh heaven is an expression used by Christians
to denote extreme happiness or bliss, as in “I am in the seventh heaven”. In Islam,
the seventh heaven is where Prophet Mohammad met Prophet Abraham; and indeed,
he (Muhammad) must have been extremely happy and in a state of bliss, having
been honoured with this journey of wonders. Both Prophets exchanged greetings
by saying Assalamu alaikum (may peace be upon you) and, as every other
prophet had done, Prophet Abraham expressed his belief and faith in Prophet
Through his son, Ishmael, Abraham is the father of the
Arabs and the ancestor of Prophet Muhammad; he is an ancestor of the people who
became the Children of Israel (followers of Prophet Moses) through his son
Isaac. In Jewish traditions, Abraham is called the father of the Jews. However,
Islam rejects this idea, for the Quran clearly states that he was neither a Jew
nor a Christian, but a believer in pure monotheism (belief in One God).
“Why do you dispute about Abraham, while the Torah and the
Gospel were not revealed until after him? Have you then no sense? Abraham was
neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa.” (Quran 3:65
Muslims are required to believe in all of the Prophets
of God; Abraham, however, holds a special place as one of the important
messengers of God and has the unique honour of being called, in both Islamic
traditions, the beloved servant of God. Together, Abraham and his son Ishmael
built the Kaaba (the black cubical building in the middle of the Holy Masjid in
“And remember when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the
foundations of the House, saying, Our Lord! Accept this from us. Verily! You
are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Quran 2:127)
Muslims turn their faces towards the Kaba many times
every day whilst performing their prayers, and in every prayer, they ask God to
bless Abraham and his family.
The World of Angels
While in the seventh heaven, Prophet Muhammad was shown
the building known as the much-frequented house, or al Bayt al-Mamoor in
Arabic. It is fitting that Prophet Abraham was here with this house, as it is
the heavenly equivalent of the Kaaba in Mecca. Each year at the time of
pilgrimage (Hajj), more than 2 million Muslims from all over the world flock to
Mecca to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Abraham and perform certain rites
including circling the Kaaba. Every day 70,000 angels visit this much-frequented
house in the seventh heaven to worship God. Prophet Muhammad informed us that,
once the angels have visited Bayt al-Mamoor, they never return. God
swears by this house in the Quran.
“And by the Bayt al-Mamoor.” (Quran 52:4)
Seventy thousand angels every day! What are the
implications of this? Think about it and wonder for how many thousands or even
millions of years has this been happening? How many of these beings, created
by God from light, are there? This was another wonder that Prophet Muhammad
was privileged to see and made able to describe to us. In his traditions, he
also informs us that the heavens above us are moaning, every space as big as
the width of four fingers is occupied by an angel worshipping God.
The Uppermost Boundary
Prophet Muhammad then moved through the seventh heaven
to the uppermost boundary, to Sidrat al-Muntaha, a lote tree.
“Near Sidrat al-Muntaha (lote-tree of the utmost
boundary. Near it is the Paradise of Abode.” (Quran 53:14-15)
He described its fruits like jugs and its leaves as big
as elephant ears. Four rivers originated from the lote tree’s roots. When he
asked about them, Prophet Muhammad was told that two of the rivers originated
in Paradise. Nothing has reached us about the names or significance of these
two rivers from the narrative of the ascension. However, he was told that the
other two rivers were replicas of the Nile and the Euphrates, two rivers that are
especially blessed in this world of mankind.
Sidrat al-Muntaha is called the uttermost boundary
because everything that comes up from the earth or the heavens stops there, and
everything that comes down stops there,
and because the knowledge of the angels stops at that point. No one
has gone beyond it except Prophet Muhammad.
Beyond this point, we leave the heavens and move into the realm of the
hereafter, the realm that contains Paradise and the Throne of God. As Prophet
Muhammad continues his miraculous journey, he moves into this realm and stands
in the presence of God Almighty.