The Angel Jibreel ‘alayhi salaam and Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam continued their miraculous ascension through the heavens. This journey was far beyond the widest 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 salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Permission to enter was given and the Prophet of Allah, accompanied by Jibreel, the angel trusted with the revelations of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, 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 Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam met Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam; and indeed, he (Muhammad) must have been extremely happy and in a state of bliss, having been honored 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 Ibraheem expressed his belief and faith in Prophet Muhammad’s mission.
Muslims are required to believe in all of the Prophets of Allah; Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam, however, holds a special place as one of the important messengers of Allah and has the unique honor of being called the beloved servant of Allah.
The World of Angels
While in the seventh heaven, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was shown the building known as the much-frequented house, or al Bayt al-Mamoor in Arabic. It is fitting that Prophet Ibraheem was here with this house, as it is the heavenly equivalent of the Ka’bah in Makkah. Each year at the time of pilgrimage [Hajj], more than 2 million Muslims from all over the world flock to Makkah to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam and perform certain rites including circling the Ka’bah. Every day 70,000 angels visit this much-frequented house in the seventh heaven to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed us that, once the angels have visited al Bayt al-Mamoor, they never return.
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 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from light, are there? This was another wonder that Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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 worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
The Uppermost Boundary
Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then moved through the seventh heaven to the uppermost boundary, to Sidrat al-Muntaha, a Lote Tree.
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 salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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, (Muslim) and because the knowledge of the angels stops at that point. No one has gone beyond it except Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. (An-Nawawi).
Beyond this point, we leave the heavens and move into the realm of the Hereafter, the realm that contains Paradise and the Throne of Allah. As Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam continues his miraculous journey, he moves into this realm and stands in the presence of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
To be continued…
[Slightly modified. Originally posted at onislam.net]