How The Narrative of Isra & Miraaj Paints A Negative Picture of God

The night of Miraaj approaches us, which according to the traditions (not Quran), is the night in which the prophet supposedly went on a journey to the heavens to communicate with God. While some say it was a physical journey, others maintain it was spiritual. But that’s not my main concern here.

Let’s just ignore that this story portrays God to be a heavenly entity, portrays Mohammad (salutes and respect) to be the most superior prophet of God, expects us to believe that the heart of the prophet was literally washed by Zam Zam water, and that the narrative features an animal not very different to a Pegasus. Let’s just ignore all that to avoid going into too much detail, and get to the more absurd part of it:

“Fifty prayers were enjoined on me. I descended till I met Moses who asked me, ‘What have you done?’ I said, ‘Fifty prayers have been enjoined on me.’ He said, ‘I know the people better than you, because I had the hardest experience to bring Bani Israel to obedience. Your followers cannot put up with such obligation. So, return to your Lord and request Him (to reduce the number of prayers).’

I returned and requested Allah (for reduction) and He made it forty. I returned and (met Moses) and had a similar discussion, and then returned again to Allah for reduction and He made it thirty, then twenty, then ten, and then I came to Moses who repeated the same advice. Ultimately Allah reduced it to five. When I came to Moses again, he said, ‘What have you done?’ I said, ‘Allah has made it five only.’” – Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 4, Book 54, Hadith number 429

In what seems to be an all-knowing God in Islam, somehow God was absolutely oblivious how 50 prayers were impossible for Muslims to perform, but Musa (salutes and respect), with his superior knowledge, realizes that this is wishful thinking at best, and sends Mohammad back to negotiate a 90% decrease in His legislation. That Musa was more aware about God’s creation than God himself, is what comes out as a conclusion out of this!

Don’t like what I say? But that’s precisely what the narration portrays, albeit in more sugar coated words. How is it that you find nothing wrong with it at all? Seriously, I just can’t wrap my head around this. What is more appalling is that I find myself to be the odd one out here, when clearly you should be in the odd for believing such a story, that is so clearly contrary to Islamic tenets!
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Do you really think God’s decree is negotiable? That Mohammad could even imagine challenging His decree? Well, you may, and are free to believe so. But what Mohammad says in the Quran is very different:

“It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.” (Quran, 10:15)

 

“I only follow what is revealed to me.” (Quran, 6:50, 7:203, 10:15, 46:9)

 

“All ruling belongs to GOD” (Quran, 12:40)

 

“They have no guardian apart from Him and He allots no one a share in His legislation!” (Quran, 18:26)

Final thoughts

Just for a moment, set aside all the cultural traditions that have been imposed on you in the name of Islam, and think objectively: Does this narrative do justice to God? And let that sink in. Now, what is there to celebrate about such a distorted narrative?

The purpose is not to hurt your religious sentiments, as you are free to believe whatever you may want to; but to demonstrate the naivety of unquestioningly accepting secondary sources and how this has made us an utterly perplexed “Ummah”. While some are quick to rally and protest against the “evils of the West”, there seems to be an overwhelming silence on the Islamic traditions that disrespect God and the Prophet in so many more ways than a cartoon could. Maybe it’s about time we realized the need for a much needed internal reform.

For the love of God, when will we stop propagating stories that obviously defame His Majesty?

Update: After some readers provided their comments on how it might have been a trial of Mohammad, this is the response to that:

Allah does not burden a soul more than he can bear. (2:286)

That God never changes his sunnah 35:43); nor His words (10:64; 30:30; 17:77; and 18:27).

That Salat was not a practice initiated by the prophet, but he merely followed Ibrahim. (3:95)

That the same religion was revealed to Mohammad as was revealed before. (42:13)

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22 thoughts on “How The Narrative of Isra & Miraaj Paints A Negative Picture of God

  1. The Punishment for Contradicting and Opposing the Messenger and Following Other than That of the Believers.

    ” And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers- We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.” (4:115)

    All the verses that the writer or should we call self-appointed Reformer brought to support his thinking are copy and paste from the Book. He tried to deceive the reader without discussing the context of each verse.

    The Islamic ideology derives from the Quran and Sunnah. Legislation in Islam also derived from these two sources. Therefore if any one of these sources is lost or distorted then the risk is to the ideology as a whole. In this respect the study of Isnad is not a not a peripheral discipline in Islam but fundamental to the preservation of the ideology itself. Without Isnad the Sunnah as a source of ahkam would cease to exist. Without Isnad, we would lose the ability to elaborate, specify and restrict the ambivalent, general and absolute import of the Quran text since the role of the Sunnah is to clarify the Quran. Without Isnad, extraction of Sharee’ah rules for new realities from the Sunnah would cease to exist. Without Isnad foreign elements could have been incorporated within the ideology due to their false attribution to the Prophet ( saw). Thus, Isnad is crucial for the purity, clarify and crystallization of the Islamic ideology and its ability to solve new problems from its legislative source. That is why ‘Abdullah b. Mubarak the teacher of Imam al-Bukhari (Rahmatullah ‘alayhim) did not exaggerate when he said:

    “The isnad is part of the Deen: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked.”

    It is also precisely for this reason that the orientalists, have sought to create doubt in the efficacy of the Isnad. The wholesale rejection of hadith as a historical source was first argued by an Orientalist named Ignaz Goldziher in volume 2 of his book: Muslim Studies. Goldziher was then followed by Joseph Schact who developed his ideas and tried to present a substantial body of proof to this effect in his work: The origins of Muhammadan jurisprudence which was publised in 1950. And more recently Gautier Juynboll in his, Muslim Tradition. Studies in chronology, provenance and authorship of early hadith’ has developed further techniques to proves the false nature of the hadith literature. The generasl thrust of orientalism since Goldziher has tended to impute doubt, in various degrees, on the corpus of hadith literature. For them the elaborate isnad which the Muslims adduce as proof of authenticity have either been doctored or embellished such that the hadith literature is more a reflection of the time in which they were fabricated, ie the political and sectarian milieu of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, than the time they are supposed to go back to which is the time of the Prophet and his noble companions This is one of the more serious and fundamental attacks by Orientalists on the Islamic ideology. By throwing doubt on these sources it would be possible to demolish the whole edifice which rests upon them. It was in this vein that attempts were made to discredit the historicity of the hadith literature.

    In addition we see the influence of this thought on modernism and modernist thinking where Sunnah as a source of legislation is markedly absent in the political field. Hence we see amongst some Muslims an attitude which considers the Sunnah of lesser important than the Quran simply because the hadith requires further study and scrutiny as compared to the Quran. This has led to people either disregarding or neglecting ahkam simply because it is not found explicitly in the Quran. Hadiths discussing the unity of the Muslims, the obligation to appoint a Khaleefah, or the ruling that a woman cannot be ruler to name but a few are brushed aside or not given their due weight because they are ‘ hadith’ and not an ayah of the Quran.

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    • Simple rule, even found in the hadith books and scholarly opinions: No secondary source can go against the Quran, if they do, they must be rejected because the Quran is the furqan.

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  2. Like you say, all respects to all opinions of everyone. However, I, very personally, do not think God can NOT do something…. Can he play a game with his prophet? ??? By all means he can!! ( I don’t mean ‘game’ in a literal way, obviously!)

    God, knows it all… He (or she or it or whatever ppl want to say) STILL does expect you to pray to him. If God knows it all, there is really no place for “DUA”. Can’t God just give (or not give) as he pleases (which he, in any case, does!)

    I don’t think “Almighty” means ‘since he knows it, he wouldn’t ask’….. To me ‘Almighty’ is plain and simple. “I know it, but am asking you… let’s see what you say” or even “I know it and I will anyway do what i want to do, i’ll just make you feel you did it all”

    I am not defending this hadees… could be true. could be false. I just don’t support the ‘God wouldn’t do it coz he’s God”

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    • Hi Almas. I’d have to disagree. Just because God can do “everything”, it doesn’t make Him random. God tells us that his sunnat (way of doing things) is consistent, so that no one can fool us by coming up with fantastic stories and attributing it to him. The problem with upholding your view is that one falls prey to believe anything, again, because God can do it all. Someone might say, God came down on earth today, and had dinner with me. The fact that this is possible is not the point, the point is why would God change his way of doing things?

      Regarding prayers, I talk about it here:
      https://quranalyzeit.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/a-helping-hand-is-better-than-praying-lips/

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  3. Beside this fabled isra miraaj, muslims believed iblis the devil was able to enter the garden again to nudge Eve after The Almighty kicked him, iblis, out. As if Allah is weak in protecting His garden. Muslims also threatened The Almighty to give the holiest “makkam” to the prophet and muslims also insult The Almighty saying He and His angels gave prayers or blessings to the prophet …

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  4. Putting aside the debate whether this story is true or not. I’m not really bothered by the fact that God had been asked by the prophet, or that the idea came from Abraham. In my point of view and my personal interpretation, it only shows how God is close to His messengers. It does not question the almighty. Remember how He gave Satan the time and chance to justify his actions, and granted him his request (“andirni ila ajalin mussamma”).

    I’m mostly concerned about the numbers. Be it fifty or five prayers, is that really what matters? What is the morality of this story? Because as it is related, it shows that we have to stick to numbers in our religion practice… and fall into a commercial transaction with God. It just feels wrong!

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      • Hi Ro!

        What I meant is that it’s okay to approach God and ask Him whatever the request is, it does not stain His image, it only shows and underlines how close and tolerant He can be to His messengers.
        And I gave the example of Satan (Iblis) to show that He was also tolerant with him. So I think it’s a matter of interpretation, and (housn d’an bi Allah).

        On the other side, the part that I don’t understand is : what is it with numbers ? Actually, this is the point that does bother me the most, because in a lot of Hadiths you find that you had to do some specific things in specific numbers so you can get specific rewards…

        I hope I made it more clear this time 🙂

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      • Sophia, but it’s ridiculous to think that God would want us to pray 50 times in the first place. I mean, let’s just do the math here. 1 prayer should last 10 minutes, if you’re not just fulfilling your “duties”. So, 50 x 10 = 500 minutes/8.5 hours of prayers every day.

        If we are to accept this narrative, then thank God for Musa! 🙂

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  5. I should add, listen to the lecture on this topic by Shaykh Yasir Qahdi. He explains it beautifully and inshaAllah your problem will wither away.

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  6. Let me get this straight, you are a Muslim that is openly denying or disliking Al Isra Wal Mi’raj because you think it goes against the majesty of Allah? You realize there is no opinion you can have when it happened and is part of Islam right? You should instead consult the Ulema about why it is a honor to the Prophet of Allah (SAW).

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    • Of course, yes. I’m surprised that you don’t find it offensive to God.

      The Quran repeatedly encourages Ijtihad, and condemns blindly following the clergy (9:34)

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  7. Selam Ro,
    to add….
    The miraj hadith previous to this incident also explains it was the work of the devil, not Allah.

    The questionable hadiths are

    Volumn 007, Book 069, Hadith Number 508.
    ————————————
    Narated By Abu Huraira :
    Allah’s Apostle was presented a bowl of milk and a bowl of wine on the night he was
    taken on a journey (Al-Mi’raj)
    .

    Volumn 007, Book 069, Hadith Number 482.
    ————————————
    Narated By Abu Huraira : On the night Allah’s Apostle was taken on a night journey (Miraj) two cups, one containing wine and the other milk, were presented to him at Jerusalem. He looked at it and took the cup of milk.
    Gabriel said, “Praise be to Allah Who guided you to Al-Fitra (the right path); if you had taken (the cup of) wine,
    your nation would have gone astray.”

    GABRIEL PLAYED A GAME OF CHANCE WITH THE PROPHET.

    The Angels deliver a message with no doubt, no chance in the word of Allah, yet we find here CLEARLY they are attributing the works of shaitain.

    [Quran 5:90-91] O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; <——- THE DEVIL PLAYS GAME OF CHANCE NOT ALLAH OR HIS MESSENGERS.
    you shall avoid them, that you may succeed.
    The devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, <——
    and to distract you from remembering GOD, and from observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Will you then refrain?

    Night Journey to Vegas
    All bets in please!
    50:50 odds today

    Wine – Astray
    Milk – Right Path

    Next time they say Miraj, just ask them about this voiding hadith

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  8. The incident does not portray Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) to be the most superior prophet of God because Muslims, and the Quran itself, does not support this notion.

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    • The Quran definitely doesn’t support this notion, but a high majority of Muslims believe he was the best man that ever lived. Some even say the whole universe was created for him. This, while ignoring the Quranic commandment of not making distinction between messengers.

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