Happy Space Pegasus Day – Shab e Mairaj Mabrook
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
Our story begins on a dark and storm-less night, our hero an intrepid explorer of space , the first astronaut perhaps but alas he was born in ancient Arabia and could not pierce the 7 heavens (as discussed by Ptolemy and his one true god Allah1) above him. Just like the other ancient gods Vishnu, Yahweh etc Allah too lived above the 7th heaven.
Fortunately for him on this particular night his god sent him Space Pegasus (commonly referred to as Buraq)2, this was no ordinary Pegasus that the pedestrian Perseus flew but one that was able to fly past the confines of our planet and past the 7 heavens, with or without supplementary oxygen remains a mystery.
He took Pegasus and in the blink of an eye flew the 1200 kilometers to Jerusalem 3 where he met the reanimated Jesus, Moses, Adam and all the other Holy Patriarchs. He had planned to lead them in prayer but discovered that The temple Mount, referred to as the farthest Mosque no longer existed. The long wars between the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) and Persian empires, the numerous sackings and Jewish rebellions against Rome had reduced it to a mere trash heap 4.
With no furthest mosque available, but with the power of his sky-god and the re-animated patriarchs such minor details did not faze him. Either via time travel or via instantaneous reconstruction he found the trash heap no more and was able to pray at the Mosque little knowing that his trash-heap prayers at the Haram Ash-Sharif would trigger numerous wars and generations of conflict, but we digress for our hero’s journey had barely begun.
After having dinner in which he was given a choice between milk, wine and water (the significance being a story for another day)5 he continued on. With the help of Space Pegasus he flew past the heavens in which were embedded the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. As he flew past these at relativistic speeds (the only way Muslims account for the entire journey having taken place within the blink of an eye but of course without understanding time dilation and how relativistic speeds would cause him to arrive back years if not centuries late) he saw Adam, Joseph , Moses , Aaron instantaneously teleported to their respective heavens while he being of the living had to take the more pedestrian route of Space Pegasus. He may have deemed to complain but was too arrested by the vistas that he saw on his journey.
Finally after the long but brief journey he arrived at the gates of heaven where he met with his lord and creator Allah himself. After a long conversation about the meaning of it all, he was given a gift of 50 prayers for his people. But before returning he was allowed to take a look at the bounties of heaven and the tortured , wretched souls inhabiting hell. Apparently they had already reached their destination despite the final days wherein they were to be judged being a while off. In any case he saw that women were rightly so, the prime inhabitants of hell6
and how crossing the bridge of Sirat was an essential task to reach heaven or fall to hell. Just like Arda Viraf before him he was impressed and continued his journey with his belief greatly strengthened7.
On his journey home he passed through the same heavens and met Moses again. Moses being somewhat of an elder statesmen having experiences far exceeding Mohammad advised him not to merely accept the ‘gift’ of prayer but to negotiate with his god. Just like all other gods Allah’s will was not absolute and bargaining with him was imperative. Perhaps god had made a mistake and 50 prayers were unneeded or beyond the capabilities of the poor Muslims Mohammad led and Allah created8. Considering the sage advice of Moses Mohammad decided to turn Space Pegasus around and head back to god wherein he bargained them down. Feeling triumphant he continued back on his journey wherein Moses chided him on his inexperience. Despite being a trader Mohammad was not quite the master bargainer for he returned back to God at Moses insistence numerous times until he had haggled it down to a mere five daily prayers. At this point Moses still persisted but Mohammad lacking the faith of Moses demurred, instead of feeling the thrill of chasing a bargain as experienced bargainers often do he felt shame 9 and returned home.
He later came to learn that Abraham had banished poor Hagar to the deserts of Arabia all alone with an infant simply because Yahweh had granted him another son through his actual wife. Allah of course being all merciful had loaned Space Pegasus to Abraham as well which he used to visit his concubine and son on the daily saving him from his absentee dead-beat dad impulses.
When Mohammad returned home he found his bed still warm and scarcely a moment had past. When the next morning he told those around him they questioned his journey and the sheer miraculousness of it all cast doubt into the hearts of many. To prove his story he was asked to describe the farthest Mosque at the temple mount he had visited. How many doors it contained, the layout of it. Since he had not been concerned with such trivialities as whether it actual existed, the doors would have scarcely caught his attention. His lord Allah being all powerful showed him a vision instantaneously which allowed him to see the Mosque in real-time while simultaneously describing it to his detractors. 10
To this day the night-journey of Isra & Mairaj is celebrated with great reverence with supplications and thanks to the mercy and generosity of Allah
1) Ptolemy’s Universe consisted of seven concentric spheres called the heavens with the sun, moon, the known planets embedded within the spheres. The christians expanded on this that the throne of the lord is above the 7th heaven which Allah agreed with via Mohammad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Heavens
2) I was brought al-Buraq who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof at a distance equal to the range of vision. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait-ul Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 101).
3) Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things) Quran 17:1 .
5) Allah’s Apostle was presented with two cups, one containing wine and the other milk on the night of his night journey at Jerusalem. He looked at it and took the milk. Gabriel said, “Thanks to Allah Who guided you to the Fitra (i.e. Islam); if you had taken the wine, your followers would have gone astray”. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 196).
6) Usama b. Zaid reported that Allah’s Messenger (way peace be upon him) said: I stood at the door of Paradise and I found that the overwhelming majority of those who entered therein was that of poor persons and the wealthy persons were detained to get into that. The denizens of Hell were commanded to get into Hell, and I stood upon the door of Fire and the majority amongst them who entered there was that of women – Sahih Muslim Book 36:6596
7) From Zorastrianism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Arda_Viraf) – Arda Viraf is chosen for his piety to undertake a journey to the next world in order to prove the truth of Zoroastrian beliefs, after a period when the land of Iran had been troubled by the presence of confused and alien religions. He drinks wine and a hallucinogen, after which his soul travels to the next world where it is greeted by a beautiful woman named Den who represents his faith and virtue. Crossing the Chinvat bridge, he is then conducted by “Srosh, the pious and Adar, the angel” through the “star track”, “moon track” and “sun track” – places outside of heaven reserved for the virtuous who have nevertheless failed to conform to Zoroastrian rules. In heaven, Viraf meets Ahura Mazda who shows him the souls of the blessed (ahlav). Each person is described living an idealised version of the life he or she lived on earth, as a warrior, agriculturalist, shepherd or other profession. With his guides he then descends into hell to be shown the sufferings of the wicked. Having completed his visionary journey Viraf is told by Ahura Mazda that the Zoroastrian faith is the only proper and true way of life and that it should be preserved in both prosperity and adversity
8) Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, “What has Allah enjoined on your followers?” I replied, “He has enjoined fifty prayers on them”. Moses said “Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it”. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 213).
9) I replied that I had been back to my Lord and asked him to reduce the number until I was ashamed, and I would not do it again. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 187).
10) I stood at al-Hijr, visualised Bayt al-Muqaddas and described its signs. Some of them said: How many doors are there in that mosque? I had not counted them so I began to look at it and counted them one by one and gave them information concerning them. (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 248).