Spiritual Ascent

“To follow Muhammad is, that he went on the Mi’raj, and you go behind him.”
– Shams at-Tabrizi

The Ascension of Moses (peace be upon him)

Amr bin Maymun (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

When Allah raised Moses to him, and spoke to him, Moses saw a man attached to the Throne. He said: My Lord, who is that?
He said: he is one of My righteous servants. If you wish, I will tell you about his good works.
He said: My Lord, do tell me.
He said: He never envied {people for what Allah gave them of His favor} (ref. to Q 4:54).

Narrated by Ibn Abd al-Barr in al-Tamhid.

Physical and Spiritual Ascensions

“He (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) was taken up in the ascension in the waking state, on the night of the 27th of Rabee’ I, as was stated by Ibn al-Atheer and an-Nawawi in Sharh Muslim, and it was said: in Rabee’ II, as was stated by an-Nawawi in his Fatawa, and it was said: in Rajab, and this is what is acted upon today, and other dates were also given. As for in the sleep, it happened to him thirty-three times, according to what (Abd al-Wahhab) al-Sha’rani mentioned.”
– Shaykh Mu’min ash-Shablanji, Nur al-Absaar.

Note: An-Nawawi’s opinion in  Sharh Muslim is based on al-Qadi Iyad, but in his work al-Rawda, An-Nawawi declares that it is definitely in Rajab,  and the 27th of Rajab was chosen by al-hafiz Abd al-Ghani bin Suroor al-Maqdisi in his Seera. It was on the 27th of the month, and on the night of Saturday, as quoted by Ibn al-Mulaqqin from the narration of al-Waqidi.
– from  Al-Kalimaat at-Tayyibaat of  Shaykh Muhammad Bakheet al-Mutee’i )

Dream Vision

“He (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) experienced [the Ascension] one time with the soul and one time with his noble body. The time he experienced it with his soul, it was a dream during sleep and his body was asleep. The spirit then saw what it saw and the experience required no explanation and interpretation.”
– Ahmad b. al-Muabarak al-Lamati, al-Ibriz.

The Hadith of Umar

When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) returned to his Lord, our master Umar refused to accept it, and wanted to believe that this was another one of our master Muhammad’s spiritual ascensions (peace and blessings be upon him). He said,

Some of the hypocrites claim that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) died. The Messenger of Allah did not die, but went to his Lord in the same way as Moses son of Imran did. He was gone for forty nights, but finally came back though they said he had been dead. By Allah the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) will come back as Moses came back! (Narrated by Ibn Hisham in the Seera).

The Hadiths of Bilal

Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said to Bilal,

Bilal, tell me which act you did at the time of the morning prayer for which you hope to receive good reward, for I heard during the night the sound of your footsteps before me in Paradise?

Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) replied: “I did not do any act in Islam for which I hope to get any benefit, but this: that when I perform complete ablution during the night or day I pray after that purification what Allah has ordained for me to pray.” [Narrated by Muslim in his Sahih]

One of the Friends of God said: It means that when the soul of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) ascended to Paradise during his sleep, he saw the soul of Bilal also there. He used to go to Paradise in his dream when he slept, by virtue of the Sunna which he initiated.”

Note: Going to Paradise in sleep might be different than a full spiritual ascension, and Allah (most sublime) knows best.

The early hadith scholar al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi (d. circa 315 A.H.) , author of Nawadir al-Usul, wrote in Seerat al-awliya:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) described Bilal, saying that his heart was attached to the Throne, and that he was one of the seven persons through whom the Earth exists, nay that he was actually the best of them. This was narrated to us by Dawud b. Hammad al-‘Absi on the authority of Abd al-Aziz ibn Abi Rawwad, who raised the hadith to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).”

The Spiritual Ascents of the Salaf

The ascent of the souls was known in the first generation between the Companions and the Tabi’een, and it is only the people of this age who are ignorant of it, because they have not read the traditions about the Salaf.

Al-hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn ‘Asakir narrated in Tarikh Dimashq through different paths from Ibn Khalid that he said: ‘The soul of a woman ascended for seven days, and the only thing keeping her family from burying her was a vein moving in her neck. Then she spoke and said: What happened to Ja’far ibn al-Zubayr? And Ja’far had died in those days in which she had no awareness.

So we said: He died.

She said: By Allah, I saw him in the Seventh Heaven, and the angels were giving each other glad tidings of his arrival, and they were saying: “The muhsin (doer of good) has come! The muhsin has come!’
(Ja’far ibn al-Zubayr is most likely the Companion, son of the Companion, wAllahu a’lam).

Ibn Asakir also narrated about Ibn al-Majishun (d. 213 AH, the student of Imam Malik and the Mufti of Madina of his time). The narrator said: The soul of Ibn al-Majishun ascended, so we put him on the washing bed, and the washer came to him and found a vein moving at the bottom of his feet, so we delayed (his washing and burial). After three days, he sat up. So we said to him: Tell us what you saw!
He said: Yes, my soul ascended, and the angel took me until he reached the Lowest Heaven and he asked for it to be opened and it was opened, and likewise in all the heavens until he got to the Seventh Heaven, and it was said to him: Who is with you? He said: Ibn al-Majishun. It was said to him: There still remains of his life such-and-such.
Then he descended so I saw the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and I saw Abu Bakr on his right, and Umar on his left, and I saw Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz in front of him. So I said to the angel who was with me: Who is this?
He said: Do you not recognize him?
I said: Yes, but I want to make sure.
He said: It is Umar bin Abd al-Aziz.
I said: He is seated very close to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).
He said: He acted according to the haqq (the truth, and what is due unto God) in the age of injustice, and they acted according to the haqq in the age of haqq.’

The mutawatir (multiply-narrated) traditions about that are copious, and  Hujjat al-Islam al-Ghazali based himself upon them when he said in one of his books: ‘Among the awliya of Allah are those whose bodies are in their beds, and their souls are at the Throne.’

Shaykh Taj ad-Din Ibn ‘Ata’illah al-Sakandari said in Lata’if al-Minan: Shaykh Abu al-’Abbas al-Mursi said: I sat in the Angelic realm (malakoot) of Allah Most High, and I saw Abu Madyan attached to the leg of the Throne. He was a blond man with blue eyes. I said to him: What are your sciences, and what is your rank? He said: As for my sciences, they are seventy-one sciences. And as for my rank: the head of the seven Abdaal.
I said: And what do you say about my shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili?
He said: He exceeded me by forty sciences, and he is the ocean that cannot be encompassed.

–  Abdul Qadir Ibn Mughayzel ash-Shadhili, Al-Kawakib az-Zaahira.

The Ascent of Abu Yazid

Abu al-Qasim al-’Arif said: This is what has been related from the retainer of Abu Yazid, that he said: I heard Abu Yazid al-Bistami, may Allah be pleased with him, say:
‘I saw myself in the dream as if I had risen to the heavens in quest of Allah…that I might abide with Him forever…’
Then Abu al-Qasim narrates the entire Ascension through the seven heavens, and concludes by saying:
O my brothers, I have shown this vision to the most venerable among the people of ma’rifa. All of them support it, none deny it. Rather, they accept it as one of the levels of the people who cut themselves off in quest for Him.

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