The Miraj is considered to be of great importance in Hadith literature. For this is when God is supposed to have commanded the five daily prayers.
Whenever it is pointed out that the Quran is fully detailed people ask: ‘If the Quran is fully detailed then where is the salat prayer’. By asking this question in the first place, they have doubted God’s word.
Popular belief among all the ‘muslim’ who claim to be Islamic is that although the Quran instructs us to observe salat, it is the prophet’s hadith which shows us how to perform the salat prayers. This not only shows their ignorance but also exposes their disbelief in the Quran as a detailed book.
This may not due to lack of sincerity but simply the way they regard the Quran -holy words to chanted at weddings, funerals and other occasions. If they would only read the Quran to understand it they would realise that the Quran as God’s message to Mankind is a book of law, a book of wisdom and a book of guidance, fully detailed and with nothing left out.
The salat prayer is one of the most important aspects of submission to God. Is it then conceivable that God omitted it from the Quran? God states that the Quran is fully detailed and there is no other book with better guidance. If we suspect that the salat has been left out then we are accusing God of giving us a flawed guide when saying that He has not.
Apart from many scattered and dubious reports there is not a single hadith book, which specifies the full liturgy of salat.
Most people only know a ritualised style, which has been passed through generations and has become ingrained in their minds. Completely unaware that the Quran does not conform with personal opinions, they try to look for the these ceremonies in the Quran expecting God to comply with their own ideas of how to worship him!
The basis of the ritual salat lies in the volumes of fabricated hadith attributed to the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The orthodox doctrine is that the salat prayers were given to Muhammad during the Miraj -his alleged ascension to heaven and that the angel Gabriel taught Muhammad how to perform prayers.
This as we shall see is hearsay and conjecture yet it is propounded by religious ‘scholars’ and held sacred by those who are totally ignorant of the Quran’s message.
The Isra, the Prophet Muhammad’s night journey to the furthermost mosque is mentioned in the Quran. The Miraj however can only be found in the hadith and requires examination in order verify its authenticity. Of the many books written on this subject ‘The Isra and Miraj’ by Abd-Allah Hajjaj (Dar Al Taqwa Ltd. London 1989) provides some interesting information.
As an introduction to this book the publishers say ‘The Isra and Miraj are of great importance to all Muslims, for this is when Allah commanded the five daily prayers, one of the five pillars of Islam. Also Prophet Muhammad (S) leading all the other prophets in prayer shows that Islam is the fulfillment of perfection of mankind’s religious development, and that he was the last and the greatest of Allah’s messengers.’
This is what the invention of Miraj is really about -the exaltation of Prophet Muhammad. Any person who is familiar with the Quran will immediately recognise that this goes against God’s command not make any distinction between His messengers, those who do, can fall into the category of disbelievers. See chapter Al-Nisa verse 150-152. The elevation of Muhammad from one of God’s honoured servants to the ‘greatest of Allah’s messengers’ is in fact an advanced step to his idolisation. It is not without reason that the people who exalt the prophet Muhammad above all messengers can be labeled as ‘Muhammadens’.
The justification for glorifying Muhammad, they say, is the verses of the Quran, which states’ Muhammad is ‘The messenger of God is a good example for you’, (33.21) and ‘We did not send you except as a mercy towards the whole word.’ (21.107). These verses are assumed to reflect a uniqueness of Muhammad, yet other prophets also had singular attributes. For example God spoke to Moses and had a special relationship with him (20.41), called Abraham His friend while citing him as a good example for us (60.4). Even the prophet Jesus and his mother were made a ‘sign for the whole world’ (21.91). Yet none of these messengers have been attributed any special distinction over and above others as Muhammad has.
As a manifestation of their excessive adoration, the ‘Muhammadens’ want to mimic his every action and deed attributed to him. And it is for this reason the rigid ritual of salat prayers is followed. They believe that the prophet said, ‘Pray, as you have seen me pray’, but the hadith have yet to establish exactly how the prophet prayed. Going back to the Miraj, the hadith informs us that the prophet Muhammad journeyed to heaven on a celestial animal called the ‘Buraq’. The Buraq we are told is a beast which ‘had a cheek like that of a man, a mane like that of a horse, legs like those of a camel, hooves and a tail like those of an ox, and his chest looked like a ruby.’ In another hadith says that it was ‘a white beast, smaller than a mule, and bigger than a donkey.’ The reason for travelling by this strange creature was that it is nobler to ride than to walk’. What do we have here? Some bizarre looking human faced equestrian hybrid, which seems to have come right out of an ancient myth. This curious animal, the hadith fable would have us believe, was the mode of transport for Muhammad, and other prophets, when travelling to heaven.
The word ‘Miraj’ means a ladder or a stairway and other hadiths say that ‘Steps of silver and gold were placed before them until Muhammad and Gabriel reached the top.’ The
contradiction here is apparent. In the first instance Muhammad rode on a Buraq to be more dignified and in the second instance he climbed a ladder. In yet another hadith the prophet is reputed to have said: ‘Whilst I was sitting, Gabriel came to me and tapped me on the back. We got up and went to a tree in which were what looked like two birds’ nests. I sat in one and Gabriel sat in another, and the tree rose up until it filled the sky…’ Someone must have got this mixed up with a story from the Arabian Nights!
The disbelievers of Muhammad’s time had been demanding a miracle from the prophet. They said that they would not believe in him unless he climbed up into the sky and brought down a book. The hadiths concerning his ascention seems to be tailored to meet that demand for a miracle.
These narration attributed to Muhammad are obvious tales of the imagination because the Quran tells us something completely different.
“They (the disbelievers) said, ‘We will not believe unless…. You climb into the sky…” And the Prophet Muhammad’s explicit reply was “…God be glorified; am I any more than a human messenger?” (Bani Israel 17.88-93).
In chapter 6 verses 8 and 9, God says that if an angel were to come down with him the matter would be terminated without anyone being respited and even if a angel was sent down it would be as a man to keep them in their confusion.
Verse 7 in chapter 25 says that the disbelievers even question why an angel has not comedown to preach with Muhammad.
Despite these assertions that God did not send down an angel to support Muhammad in his preaching An Nawawwi in his selection of ‘Forty Hadith’ describes an incident where the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad while he was sitting with his companions and questioned him to ensure his knowledge was correct!
Hadiths depicting the prophet Muhammad climbing a ladder into the sky, riding a Buraq or flying by state of the art bird’s nest do nothing but invite ridicule and take away the credibility of his mission.
This is what the intention of these fabrications seems to be. Perhaps that is why in verse 10 chapter 6 it says: ‘Messengers before you have been ridiculed, and those who ridiculed them were subsequently condemned.” Belief in the absurd hadith is making a mockery of Muhammad and a diversion from the message of God.
After comparing the hadith against the Quran it may be easy to dismiss the Miraj as a figment of someone’s vivid imagination but it is this event which has led millions of people to believe that it is the basis of salat, so it needs further investigation. What is alleged to have happened when
Muhammad reached heaven could easily be an adventure story from Sinbad the sailor.
On arriving the Buraq was tied to a hitching post and Gabriel and Muhammad approached the first heaven Gabriel ask the gatekeeper to open the gate and he asked ‘Who is there?’
‘Gabriel’, was the reply. ‘Is anyone with you?’ The gatekeeper asked. ‘Yes, Muhammad is with me.’ Replied Gabriel. ‘Has the revelation been sent to him?’ Questioned the gatekeeper ‘Yes’ answered Gabriel. ‘Welcome to him, blessed is the one who has come’ said the gatekeeper.
When the gates to the first heaven were opened they saw a man sitting with a multitude of people on his right and left. When he looked towards his right he laughed and when he looked towards his left he wept. He said, ‘Welcome to the righteous prophet and the righteous son.’ Muhammad asked, ‘Who is this?’ Gabriel answered, ‘This is Adam and the multitudes on his right and left are the souls of his descendents. Those on the right side are the people of paradise and those on the left are the people of hell. So when he looks to his right he laughs and when he looks to his left, he weeps.’
So now we know! Not only is there a hitching post for the Buraq, just in case he gallops off into the celestial wilderness, but there is a gatekeeper who questions the prophets who turn up without an appointment! A point to note is that souls who are condemned to hell are in the first heaven!
Gabriel takes the prophet Muhammad to the next heavens one by one going through the same routine with the gatekeeper and meeting various prophets in each heaven. Muhammad was even taken to a place where he heard the creaking of pens!
On the auspicious night, the hadiths say, Muhammad was offered two cups, one containing wine and the other milk. When Muhammad chose the milk he was then told by Gabriel that had he chosen wine, all his followers would have gone astray. Verse 54 of chapter 24 of the Quran says that Muhammad is responsible for his own actions and his followers are responsible for their own actions. So it quite clear that Muhammad’s choice would have made no difference to anybody
According to a hadith of Ibn Mas’ud narrated by Muslim the prophet Muhammad was commanded to pray five times The Salat prayer has been incumbent on Muslims from a daily, …and the major sins of every one of his Umma time before Muhammad. (Community) who does not associate partners with Allah were forgiven.
This yet another contradiction as on the day of Judgement Muhammad will say “My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran.” (25.30) Surely people who desert the Quran are least likely to be forgiven especially when God says “Do you expect to enter paradise without undergoing the same test as those before you?” (2.214).
The hadiths go on to narrate that Muhammad reached the seventh heaven where he conversed with God who prescribed 50 Salat prayers each day.
On his way down Muhammad met Moses who said that Muhammad’s community would never be able to pray as much and he should go back and ask God to reduce this number. This was repeated a few times and by the barter method Muhammad was able to argue with God until only five salats each day were agreed.
What this hadith is trying to prove is beyond understanding. Fifty prayers a day is a monumental undertaking. It would mean praying at least twice every was even taken to a place where he heard the creaking hour and there would not be much time for eating, sleeping or work. The Quran says: ” (God) has imposed no hardship in observing your faith.” (22.78).
God must know the difficulty of being in prayer continually without food and rest and would never impose such exertion on his creations. In sura 62 verse 10 He says: “Once the salat prayer is finished, you shall spread through?) The land and, seek God’s bounties, and continue to commemorate God frequently, that you may succeed.” It would be impossible to seek God bounties if you are unable to do any one thing for more than a few minutes.
The salat prayer has been incumbent on Muslims from a time before Muhammad.
In Sura 21.72-73 God says: “And We granted him (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob as a gift, and We made them righteous. And we appointed them imams who guided in accordance with our commandments, AND WE TAUGHT THEM RIGHTEOUS WORKS AND THE OBSERVANCE OF SALAT AND ZAKAT.”
‘The word Salat means communication between servant and God. Sura 24 verse 41 clarifies this: “Do you not see that God is glorified by everyone in the heavens and the earth? Even birds in their flight. Each in his own way practices SALAT prayer and glorification…”
Muhammad, God’s messenger brought no new doctrine (Sura 46.9) in fact he followed Abraham (Sura 3.95). Perhaps the hadith arc implying that God is a tyrant and it is with Muhammad’s grace that we have been spared from being constantly in state of prayer. In truth Muhammad would have followed nothing but the Quran and those who believe in his Messengership do the same.