الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي بعبدِهِ ليلًا مِن المسجدِ الحرامِ إلى المسجدِ الأقصَى أسرَى، ثم عَرَجَ به إلى ما قاب قوسَينِ أو أدنَى، حيثُ أراهُ من ءاياتِهِ الكبرى، وأوحى إليه ما أوحى، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير،  ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدٌى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.

 

This has been a wonderful week, with the mosque celebrating its tenth year, and it has been the cause of much joy for all connected and all concerned. It is a special occasion, one during which we have been able to express our gratitude to our Lord for His unceasing and unsurpassed generosity to us. It is a reminder of the great blessing that this building represents, serving as a focal point and a gathering point for the men and women of this generation. This mosque has played a vital role in in enabling this community to flourish and helping it to go from strength to strength, and to continue to grow and strengthen as we move forward by the Permission and Will of Allah.

So it was important that we mark the occasion, but there is the anniversary coming up on Wednesday night of an event that was even more blessed and profound. We go from a very special ni‘ma to one even greater, for while we have just celebrated the tenth anniversary of the mosque, next week provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the 1438th anniversary of the isra and mi‘raj, the Night Journey and Ascent. In the first we celebrated Allah’s generosity in giving us a place to pray, in the second we are celebrating his giving us the prayer; in the first we celebrated the masjid, the place of sajda, during which we get closer to him than at any other moment in our day-to-day lives, for Abu Hurayra said,

 

أقرب ما يكون العبد إلى الله عز وجل إذا سجد

 

“The closest a slave can get to Allah is when he is in prostration.” In the second, we are celebrating the best of creation being brought nearer than qabi qawsayn aw adna, a place no other created being has or will ever come. In the first we celebrated our Lord granting us permission to establish one of His Houses and making it a place of gathering for this umma, in the second we are celebrating Him taking His slave by night from His original House upon the earth to another of His harams and making that a gathering place for the Prophets of the ummas, all lined up behind the Messenger of Allah. The blessings that our Lord bestowed upon this umma on this blessed night of the Isra and Mi‘raj are too numerous to count.

The journey of the Isra and Mi‘raj took place, according to many of the scholars of tafsir and sira, one year before the Hijra on the twenty-seventh night of Rajab. The basic account of what happened on this night is well-known to every Muslim, and accepting it as true is the hallmark of the trueness and sincerity of a person’s belief, since there can be no dispute that the Night Journey and the Ascent were actual events, as they are clearly mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah. Indeed to deny them is unbelief and takes one outside the bounds of Islam.

As for what is said in the Quran, Allah names a sura after the Night Journey, al-Isra, and says in its beginning:

 

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آَيَاتِنَا إِنَّه هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ”

 

the translation of which is, “Glory be to Him who took His slave on a journey by night from the Masjid-al-Haram to the Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” And then in Surat an-Najm, He alludes to the Ascent, the mi‘raj, saying:

 

وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى عِنْدَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى عِنْدَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَى إِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى لَقَدْ رَأَى مِنْ آَيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرَى

 

the translation of which is, “He saw him again another time by the Lote-tree of the Furthest Limit, beside which is the Garden of Refuge, when that which covered the Lote-tree covered it. His eye did not waver nor did he look away. He saw some of the Greatest Signs of his Lord.”

The outline of this great journey is found in the Book of Allah, but it is left to the Sunna to flesh it. The precise details of what took place in the course of that journey are found in the collections of hadith, and so numerous are they that they many of those details are considered definitive and indisputable. Imam al-Qurtubi said,

“The [story of the] isra (and miraj) is mentioned in all the collections of hadith and is narrated from Companions living in every place to which Islam spread. It is mutawatir to that degree.” Some of the scholars counted the narrators from among the Companions and found them to number more than 26, including such greats as Ali ibn abi Talib, Aisha, Abu Hurayra, Ibn Abbas, Anas ibn Malik, Abu Saeed al-Khudri and Umm Hani. Their accounts do differ in some few minor matters, which can be put down to the fact that so much was done and so much was accomplished during that night, but what follows is agreed upon. It should be made clear that all of these things happened to the Messenger in a waking state, not when he was asleep. For were it have been a dream, no one would have considered his account unbelievable or disputed it. If I were to say that I dreamt that I flew to the moon and back, none of you would be particularly shocked and none of you would consider the contents of my dream barely credible like Quraysh did when they heard of the journey of the Messenger of Allah.

Let us remind ourselves firstly of the sequence of events during the course of that special night. It starts with the arrival of Jibril, his companion for the journey. He came to the Messenger of Allah while he was sleeping in the Haram and woke him up. Then he led him out to where he found the Buraq waiting for him, a white riding mount taller than a donkey but shorter than a mule. Jibril instructed him to mount it and they began their journey, not stopping until they had reached Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem. There the Prophet alighted from the Buraq and found waiting for him a company of other Prophets and Messengers including Ibrahim, Musa and Isa. When he greeted them, they all made dua for him and asked him to lead them in prayer. Then, after the Prophet had finished his prayer with them, two vessels were brought before him, one containing milk and the other wine, and he was asked to chose one them. When he drank the milk and left the wine, Jibril told him, “You have chosen the fitra.”

Then he got back onto the Buraq and began the part of the Journey known as the Mi’raj or Ascent. He ascended each heaven in turn, encountering a different Prophet at each stage of the way, until he had gone beyond all of the heavens and come to the Lote Tree of Furthest limit – a place two bow-lengths away or even closer where no created being had ever come before.

There he greeted his Lord saying,

التحيات لله (الزاكيات لله) الطيبات الصلوات لله

 

“Greetings are for Allah, (pure things are for Allah), good deeds and prayers are for Allah.” So Allah returned his greeting saying,

السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته

 

“Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessing”, whereupon the Messenger of Allah replied, saying,

 

السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين. أشهد الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله

 

“Peace be upon us and upon the righteous slaves of Allah. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, One without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.” In those eternal moments Allah revealed to His beloved Prophet what He revealed to him and made the prayer incumbent upon the Muslim umma.

Then the Messenger of Allah returned to the Haram in Makka, with the entire journey having taken place in less than a single night. As he told Umm Hani,

 

“يا أمّ هانئ، لقد صليتُ معكم العشاءَ الآخِرةَ، كما رأيتِ، بهذا الوادي ثمّ جئتُ بيت المقدس فصليتُ فيه، ثمّ صليتُ الغداةَ معكم الآنَ كما تروْنَ”

 

“Umm Hani’, I prayed the final night prayer with you, as you saw, in this valley, then I went to Jerusalem and prayed there. Then I prayed the morning prayer with you now as you can see.”

The next day, he told the idolators what had happened, but they sneered at him and rejected him. Then they went to Abu Bakr and said to him, “Have you heard what your companion is saying? He claims to have travelled last night to Jerusalem, prayed there, and then come back to Makka before morning!” Abu Bakr replied, “By Allah, if that is what he says then he has spoken the truth. And what do you find so astonishing about that? Every day, he tells me that communications come to him from the heavens to the earth in but a single moment of the day or night and I believe him. That is far more extraordinary than that which has left you so incredulous!” It was this immediate acceptance that led to Abu Bakr being given the title as-Siddiq, the true.

This is only a brief synopsis of the events of that night – the full story is related in the books of hadith, seera and tafsir and I encourage you all to study it, for there are many parts to it about which the majority of us know little, if not nothing. But even this basic outline contains much for us to reflect upon and many important reminders, the most important of which, perhaps, is the indication it gives us of the exalted station of the Messenger of Allah and the unsurpassed rank he held with his Lord. Both segments of the journey show this clearly.

Let us look first at the Isra: It is narrated from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah said about his time in Jerusalem that night,

 

وقد رأيتني في جماعة من الأنبياء فحانتِ الصلاةُ فأممتُهم

 

“I saw myself in a group of the Prophets, and when the time for prayer came I was their imam.” And now let us look at the mi‘raj: Ali ibn abi Talib said,

 

ركِب النبي البراق وجاء به إلى الحجاب الذي يلي الرحمانَ فبينما هو كذالك إذ خرج ملَكٌ من الحجابِ فقال رسولُ الله: يا جبريلُ مَن هذا، قال: والذي بعثك بالحق إني لأقرب الخلق مكانا وإن هذا الملكَ ما رأيتُهُ منذ خُلِقتُ قبل ساعتي هذه.

 

ُThe Prophet mounted the Buraq and it took him to the veil just below the All Merciful, from behind which emerged an angel, so the Messenger of Allah asked Jibril (who was accompanying him), “Who is this?” Jibril replied. “By the One Who sent you with the Truth, I have been granted a station closer to Allah than all the rest of creation, and yet, I have never seen this angel before.”

First he was honoured above all Prophets on this world by being appointed their imam, and then he was honoured above everything in creation in the Next World by being brought to a station where no other created being, not even the angels, had ever stood. He went beyond the earth, beyond even the heavens and the entirety of existence to a station two bow-lengths away or even closer.

This is the station of the Messenger, whose umma we are blessed to be a part of and whose example and sunna we strive to follow. He is the best of creation and we must never forget that – we must never stop loving him nor showering our salawat oupn him, we must never stop thanking Allah for allowing us to know him and be a part of his umma.

 

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم

 

الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته. قال الله عز وجل في كتابه العزيز: عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَلاَ يُظْهِرُ عَلَى غَيْبِهِ أَحَدًا اِلاَّ مَنِ ارْتَضَى مِن رَسُولٍ.

 

Allah says in his Noble Book, the translation of which is, “He is the Knower of the Unseen, and does not divulge His Unseen to anyone except a Messenger with whom He is well pleased.”

The lessons we can learn from what transpired during the Isra and Mi‘raj are too numerous to count. It provides us with guidance at every level, directly and indirectly.

It reminds us that knowledge is an ocean, far outstripping the limits of our senses and our perceptions. Just because we cannot see, smell, hear, taste or touch something does not mean it is not there. So vast is the seen world that it defies our efforts to fully quantify, classify and encompass it. No one of us will ever experience all there is to experience in this dunya, but that seen world is but a grain of dust in the vast desert that is creation. The Unseen is vast and majestic – the Throne and the Footstool, the jinn and the angels, the abodes of the Hereafter, eternal and vast. It is humbling to know and gives us perspective and understanding. It is only when we accept our limits, and the limits of the tools within which we place such trust, that we can truly start to know and understand anything.

It reminds us of the primary importance of the prayer, an act of worship that it is all too easy to take for granted, and the central position it occupies within the deen of Allah. The first thing the Messenger of Allah did when he arrived in Jerusalem was to do the prayer, and the only act of worship that was made obligatory during the Mi‘raj was the prayer.

Anas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, describing what happened when he was at the Lote Tree of Furthest limit, “Then Allah revealed to me what He revealed to me and He made fifty prayers every day and night obligatory for me.” Then he mentioned that when he passed by Musa, Musa told him to go back to his Lord since 50 prayers would be too much for his people. So he went back to his Lord, and every time he went back to his Lord, his Lord deducted five prayers, and every time he went back to Musa, Musa told him that he must get the number of prayers reduced because they would be too much of a burden for his people. This continued until the number had been reduced to five prayers.

Allah said, “Muhammad, they are five prayers every day and night. Each prayer counts as ten, so that makes fifty prayers…” When the Prophet passed by Musa, he again told him to go back and get the number reduced, but the Prophet answered, “I have gone back to my Lord so often that I am ashamed before him,” and returned to his people with the five prayers that we know today: Subh, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.

So the one act of worship that Allah revealed to His slave when he was the closest to Him any created being could ever be was the prayer.

And on top of this, the entire journey may be seen as an allegory for the prayer. Imam al-Qushayri said, “I heard Abu ‘Ali ad-Daqqaq, say, ‘Our Prophet in reality brought the Mi‘raj back with him to his umma, for the prayer is the Mi‘raj brought down. The Mi‘raj of the Messenger of Allah had three distinct stages: From the Haram to the al-Aqsa Mosque; from the al-Aqsa Mosque to the Lote Tree of Furthest Limit; and from the Lote Tree of Furthest Limit to a station two bow-lengths away or closer. In the same way, the prayer has three stages: Standing, bowing and finally prostration.’”

It reminds us that our actions in this world have hidden consequences. What we do affects us inwardly as well as outwardly. And the results are much more immediate than we realise. The Messenger of Allah saw many people being punished in the Unseen, the usurers, the zakat evaders, the fornicators, and that is before they have even taken their place in the Next World. This happens after death, but even to a certain degree beforehand. Each wrong action that is not offset by repentance destroys a part of you and leaves a part of your being in torment. They are like a cancer, using your body in a way in which it was not intended to be used and leaving devastation in their wake.

And it reminds us of the extraordinary gift, the inimitable miracle, that is the Book of Allah. For, despite hearing of all the remarkable things that happened to the Messenger of Allah on that night, things beyond the ken of normal men, things that transcended the natural laws of earth and left them far behind, still Abu Bakr did not consider them particularly remarkable when compared to the Revelation itself. He said, “By Allah, every day, the Prophet tells me that communications come to him from the heavens to the earth in but a single moment of the day or night and I believe him. And that is far more extraordinary than that which has left you so incredulous!”’ The eternal Words of Allah brought into creation, something uncreated, not just something unseen, for no matter how far beyond the limits of our senses, the unseen is still created, whereas the Words of Allah are not. Mashallah.

We could continue like this all day, so numerous are the blessings from this one event. So we will gather to show our appreciation and our thanks here in the mosque this coming Wednesday night between Maghrib and Isha, and you are all welcome to join us.

We ask Allah to make us among those who reflect upon His lessons and take heed. We ask Him to grant us insight and understanding into the true significance of what happened to the Messenger of Allah on that blessed night and to give us access to its secrets and its fruits. We ask Him to increase us in love of His Messenger and in appreciation of the blessing that He bestowed upon us by making us part of his umma. And we ask that He once again unite that umma and join our hearts together.

 

إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ  أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.

رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.

إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.