Dawkins, Hasan, and the Tale of the Night Journey.


al-buraq-5

At the end of 2012, Richard Dawkins met with Mehdi Hasan to discuss religion as a force for good or evil, and if religion can coexist with science, at Oxford Union. During the talk, Hasan was asked if he believed that the Prophet Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, in reference to al-‘Isrā’ wal-Mi’rāj. His answer was yes, and you cannot prove he didn’t. I wanted to address this answer, because it seems to be the argument from people from the three major religions, that their ‘miracles’ are believable, and thus, rational, because Atheists are unable to prove that they didn’t happen. Moses parted the sea, we can’t prove he didn’t. Jesus returned from the dead. We can’t prove he didn’t. Noah managed to fit millions of species into his boat. We can’t prove he didn’t. The Prophet flew 700 miles on a winged horse named al-Buraq (though, this detail is not mentioned in the Qur’an, but in later Hadith) and up to heaven from Jerusalem, met Jesus, Adam, Abraham, and Moses, all in one night. We can’t prove he didn’t. And so to believers, this suggests that if we can’t definitively prove he didn’t, it somehow increases the probability that it happened, to “checkmate Atheists!”. I find this a uniquely unintelligible position to hold.

Firstly, I wanted to discuss what I believe to be the motive behind Sura 17 of the Qur’an that briefly mentions the Night Journey. As noted in my previous article, the oldest Qur’anic text we currently have – Sana’a manuscript – dates back to the rule of fifth Uyammad Caliph, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. I have come to the conclusion that Abd al-Malik was an exceptionally gifted ruler and political genius. The foundations of the Islam we know in the 21st Century, can be traced back to him. The legends around the Prophet Muhammad, can be dated back to him. The bringing together of tradition, state power, dynasty legacy, and religion, can be dated back to him. He knew how to secure an empire. He was a master of PR. Muhammad’s name was used to strengthen Abd al-Malik’s position as Caliph. One of his most impressive shows of power and wealth, can be seen with the Dome of the Rock and the ‘expansion’ of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The importance of this project cannot be underestimated. It’s placement – in the centre of Jewish Jerusalem, and towering above the Church of the Sepulcher – was a show of power. In a single architectural blow, al-Malik had overpowered thousands of years of Jewish and Christian history, in their most Holy of places, and designated himself and his dynasty as its successor. The winged horse, the flight, is irrelevant. The point was the importance of Jerusalem.

To link the Prophet – who never stepped foot in Jerusalem – to Jerusalem, al-Malik needed to be creative, and to send out a powerful message that this city now belonged to the new empire, and the new dynasty. The first step, was to create the most impressive architectural marvel; the Dome. Now, he needed to link this to the new religion that would be the centrepiece of the new empire (religion and empire were intrinsically linked, this wasn’t lost on al-Malik). But there was no obvious link at first. Afterall, the Qur’an names the spot that the Prophet flew to as “the furthest place of worship“, not Jerusalem. There is no reason to suspect the Qur’an meant Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa mosque was not built during Muhammad’s life time. There was no mosque in Jerusalem at this time. The myth must have developed later (though some Muslim writers have found elaborately creative ways to get around this glaring mistake). And so, It will not come as a surprise to you, that the Mosque in Jerusalem, was built by the Uyammad’s, just as a narrative was developing. And so we see attempts from that era, to link the Ka’bah in Mecca, to Jerusalem. To do so, creates a city of Islam out of the city of Jerusalem.

There are two possibilities: Firstly, Muhammad flew on a winged animal, to the middle of Jerusalem, and then up to heaven, which he did either by passing through a portal to another dimension, or… there is a physical place called Heaven somewhere in the universe…. he then met with the obvious characters from the Biblical and Jewish narratives (coincidentally), and then came back (we can discount the spiritual interpretation, because Hasan is quite clear that he believes the Prophet DID fly to Jerusalem and then to heaven). He passed this story on, which continued to be passed on word for word, until the Qur’an was written down, and further discussed in Hadith.

Or secondly, it is all myth. And it started around the time we’d expect, given the PR effort the Umayyads were making to secure their dynasty by appealing to the earlier history of the Arab surge out of Mecca, in an attempt to forge an imperial identity.

I’m inclined to go along with the latter, and I say this because it is the only rational position one could possibly adopt, after studying the evidence, and weighing the probability of the two options. To believe the former, you dismiss the latter, and by doing so you must conclude that the laws of physics are in fact, not laws after all. They can be broken. You also have to decide whether ‘heaven’ is a supernatural realm, in which case al-Buraq managed to pass through a magic portal to get there, or ‘heaven’ is in the universe somewhere, in which case, where? How fast must the winged horse travel to get there? Either way, you see there might be trouble with the finer details of your story. If you chose to believe the story of the night journey, you have a lot of evidence building to do in order to destroy the very foundations of all science. I look forward to your thesis.

Indeed, belief in the validity of al-‘Isrā’ wal-Mi’rāj, means that the work of thousands of wonderful scientists, those who laid the foundations of our understanding of physical universal principles, must be wrong. That their work, built upon by thousands more well established, peer reviewed scientists from across the planet, repeated experiment, with centuries of thorough investigation and intense calculations and evidence building; must be wrong. To suggest that these principles that have been slugged out over centuries to give us a firm understanding of the way the universe works, are all actually wrong, requires more evidence than simply “well, you can’t say that he didn’t“. To believe it to be true, means you directly contradict, and in fact, dismiss, all known phsyical properties of the universe. You cannot claim reason, after abandoning reason.

The two positions; that of “he did fly to heaven“, and “he didn’t fly to heaven“, do not have equal weight. The evidence is weighed heavily in favour of science. It is true, I cannot prove beyond any doubt, that the Prophet Muhammad didn’t fly on a winged animal, to heaven. I wasn’t there. But I can make an educated guess, using what we know of the universe and the laws it operates under, because we have nothing to suggest those laws are untrue in any way. Even if suddenly evidence were provided to suggest that universal principles can be broken, we would then need to provide evidence that they were indeed broken on that particular day. A suggestion, in an 8th Century book is not evidence. It is no more evidence, than if I were to write down that I have an invisible monkey that flies me to the moon every Sunday. And it requires of me than just “You can’t prove otherwise.

If I am to contradict & dismiss absolutely everything we know about the fundamental workings of the universe, then the burden of proof is on me to show that it is at least possible first, and then to show that it did happen as I say it did. As far as I am aware, no religious “miracle” has so far destroyed the foundations of modern science in that way. This includes the night journey.

Hasan asked Dawkins:

“Do you regard them all [people who believe in God and the supernatural] as intellectually inferior to you?”

– But I Think Hasan has the question the wrong way round. It seems to me, if you’re willing to so flippantly and easily believe a story that contradicts and disregards extensive research, studies, evidence of all those who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of understanding of the laws of the universe, and forcefully squeeze your book of unsubstantiated myths and legends, without any evidence to back up what any of it says; you’re the one who believes yourself to be intellectually superior, not just to the person you’re talking to, but to the entire scientific community. Hasan says “I’m willing to say, I can’t prove that he did“. This is irrelevant. If you’re a Muslim, you believe that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged animal, because the Qur’an and Hadith say so. You therefore believe it more probable than not, which in turn means you believe all scientists to be mistaken. This is a sense of intellectual superiority on an extreme level. Dawkins is simply reflecting the work of thousands of scientists – including many incredible Islamic scientists – when he suggests that the Prophet did not fly to heaven on a winged animal. This isn’t about what Professor Dawkins believes, it’s about what science has taught us. Belief of one Professor is irrelevant.

It seems more probable to me that the universal physical laws, which have never been observably broken, and show no reason to believe they ever will be; were not suspended to allow a man to fly around on winged animal that can either break the speed of light, or can travel between dimensions. It seems far more probable that the story of the night journey was created to provide more strength to a brilliant dynasty that had become obsessed with creating a narrative to justify its power. Thus, staking their claim over Jerusalem. Then came coins, huge stunningly crafted buildings of wealth and prestige in politically important places, patronage of great artists and poets, the centralisation of power into a more bureaucratic state, the nationalisation of Arabic as the language of Empire, and a need to link all of this back to the man that was – undoubtedly – considered the hero of the Arabs in the 7th Century, Muhammad. This all happened at the same time, for the same purpose. This isn’t coincidence. This is design. This is Abd al-Malik’s, and his sons design. The night journey conforms to that design perfectly. It is therefore more probable that the night journey is a myth, for reasons stated above, than it is probable that the physical order of the universe be broken.

The discussion between Dawkins and Hasan at Oxford Union can be seen here.

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17 Responses to Dawkins, Hasan, and the Tale of the Night Journey.

  1. Dick Turnip says:

    You the Man! That was awesome!

  2. QED says:

    An argument like “You can’t disprove X, so I can assert X” is simply wrong in principle.

    You don’t have to go as far as the speed of light or other dimensions to debunk the specific case at hand. Just count the required calories, the ability to shed enough metabolic heat etc:one horsepower gets no horses airborne (except in movies via special effects, which are getting very believable looking).

  3. cathannabel says:

    I have not see the full Dawkins/Hasan debate but having had similar debates with many Christians over the years, is there not an interpretation of Hasan’s position which asserts the truth of the tale in a metaphorical/allegorical sense rather than literal?

  4. paarsurrey says:

    There is no mention of any winged horse in Quran.

  5. Arkenaten says:

    The last two posts have been the best examples of logically trashing the divine notion of Islam I have read.
    A real joy to read.
    Thank you.

  6. Shalton ngwenya says:

    There is no mention of praying 5 times a day or wearing the burqa in the Quran either?

  7. Ellen Victrix says:

    Dawkins’ conviction that there is no god is just as great a leap of faith as any Muslim or Christian’s belief that there is one.
    Why does anyone feel compelled to “logically trash” anyone else’s faith anyway? Can’t we believe what we like?

  8. Mohseni says:

    Nice job man. This should teach them Believers that not everyone is as stupid as they are.

    I mean one must be an idiot to believe in a winged horse. Besides Mohammad (PBUH) was a mass murderer and assassin. So why even bother with this lowlife?

  9. Mohseni says:

    @paarsurrey — Islam is far broader than the Qur’an. If you reduce Islam to the Qur’an it would be a very different religion. In any case, doesn’t the Qur’an say that slaveowner Mohammad (PBUH) talked to angels? How different is that from a winged horse?

  10. Admin says:

    Reblogged this on steve emmett and commented:
    This another good article from Futile Democracy

  11. […] already established mythical names and events. Indeed, later Hadith tell us that Muhammad upon his Night Journey visited heaven, and met Moses. The reliability of both the Qur’an and Hadith, and so, […]

  12. Arkenaten says:

    @Ellen Victrix.

    ”Why does anyone feel compelled to “logically trash” anyone else’s faith anyway? Can’t we believe what we like?”

    At its core, religion – ALL religion – seeks to exert control over people through supposed divine intervention, be this through a human intercessor or shoddily composed religious text.
    If people wish to believe this nonsense then so be it. But don’t preach it , teach it, or demand in any fashion that it is factual unless you can produce evidence.
    You may start with any of these, Noah;s Ark, The Resurrection, Mohammed’s night journey, Moses and the Exodus.

    Prove any one and I will be in Shul,Church or Mosque before the week is out.

  13. […] of running for public office in US; or when Muslims claim ownership over Jerusalem by invoking the al-’Isrā’ wal-Mi’rāj story. Despite the intolerant and exclusive behaviour these baseless myths encourage, they are still […]

  14. MOSES NEVER EXISTED!

    MOSES? NOT IN THE NEW ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA
    New edition of Jewish world’s most profound encyclopedia is rather skeptical of Moses’ existence
    Associated Press

    MUHAMMAD MEETS MOSES:
    NIGHT JOURNEYS OR NIGHTMARES?

    . In the sixth heaven, Prophet Muhammad met Moses.

    Whenever Prophet Moses is mentioned in the Quran or in the narrations of Prophet Muhammad, we know that something important is about to be described. After the two Prophets had exchanged greetings and Prophet Moses had expressed his faith in Muhammad’s prophethood, Moses started to weep. When he was asked why, he replied: “A young man has come after me, and more of his followers will enter paradise then my followers”.

    Until the advent of Islam, Prophet Moses had had the largest following of any Prophet. Moses cried, and from this, we can understand that there was a type of rivalry between the Prophets; but it was not a competition filled with jealousy or envy. Rather, it was filled with compassion. As we move further into the journey, we will see the love and compassion Prophet Moses had for Muhammad and his followers. Prophet Muhammad and Angel Gabriel then ascended into the seventh heaven.

    42 PRINCIPLES OF MAAT 2000 YEARS BEFORE THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
    The Ten Commandments, eight of them at least, were taken (PLAGIARIZED) from the Egyptian Principles of Ma’at written at least 2000 years earlier.

    Written at least 2,000 years before the Ten Commandments, the 42 Principles of Ma’at are one of the world’s oldest sources of moral and spiritual instruction. Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian divine Principle of Truth, Justice, and Righteousness, is the foundation of natural and social order and unity.

    ISRA/NIGHT JOURNEY

    The story of the Night Journey is copied – like most of the important stories in the Quran – from the traditions of the Jews regarding the Ascention of Moses to the Seven Heavens and visiting Paradise and Hell is from Midrash Gedullat Mosheh. There is infact an Arabic translation of this Midrash in the Berlin library. Wertheimer, published (Midrash Ketappuah Ba’aze ha-Ya’ar) which is identical to the former.

    Muhammad in his Quran changed several items to suit the Arabian mind, otherwise, especially in the description of Hell, Muhammad and the Quran were more faithful to the original version from which he plagiarized.

    Isra is the name of Surah 17 which is also called Bani Isra’il, (The Children of Israel). It is the alleged Nocturnal Journey from Mecca to the Farthest Mosque mentioned in:

    17:1 “Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for journey [Asra/Travel] 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)”

    Even the obvious should be pointed out to the reader: that the name of JERUSALEM is NEVER mentioned anywhere in the Quran.

    This alleged ‘event’, is described in

    Bukhari Hadith 1:345 [Gabriel took Muhammad by hand to first Heaven] where there is no alighting at Jerusalem.

    Bukhari Hadith 5:227 & 4:429 [Gabriel & Buraq go to first Heaven] again, there is no alighting at Jerusalem.

    Bukhari Hadith 9:608 [Gabriel took Muhammad by hand to first Heaven] yet once more, there is no mention of Jerusalem.

    The word (Asra/Travel) appears also, in the following:

    11:81 (The Messengers) said “O Lut! we are Messengers from thy Lord! By no means shall they reach thee! Now travel [Asri] with thy family while yet a part of the night remains and let not any of you look back: but thy wife (will remain behind): to her will happen what happens to the people. Morning is their time appointed: is not the morning nigh?”

    15: 65 “Then travel by night [Asri] with thy household when a portion of the night (yet remains) and do thou bring up the rear: let no one amongst you look back but pass on whither ye are ordered.”

    20:77 We sent an inspiration to Moses: “Travel by night [Asri] with my servants and strike a dry path for them through the sea without fear of being overtaken (by Pharaoh) and without (any other) fear.”

    26:52 By inspiration We told Moses: “Travel by night [Asri] with My servants; for surely ye shall be pursued.”

    44: 23 (The reply came): “March [Asri] forth with My servants by night: for ye are sure to be pursued.

    It should be pointed out to the reader, that from all the Hadith records as well as from the Quran, one can discern a pattern of behaviour as well as of relaying a message which shows that Muhammad was obsessed with doing all his deeds – or alleged deeds/events – at night, when there are no witnesses. Take for example, the following momentous alleged events:

    96: “1 Proclaim! (or Read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created 2 Created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood…”

    17:1 Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for journey by night [Asra/Travel] 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)”

    The first verse, represents Muhammad’s alleged violent encounter with the angel Gabriel who ‘revealed’ to him the first verse of the Quran. Muhammad, the PURPORTED ‘prophet’, FORGOT on which night of the month of Ramadan, it took place.

    The second verse, represents the alleged Night Journey.

    In both cases, the ‘miraculous events’ occurred in the DEAD of NIGHT without WITNESSES, and only the words of Muhammad as evidence. These alleged ‘miracles’ are in contrast to those stupendous miracles performed by Moses in DAYLIGHT and in front of the whole of EGYPT and the ISRAELITES.

    The interpretation of this Aya/Verse is found first and foremost in the biography of Muhammad written by Muhammad Ibn Ishaq (d 767; 140 years after the death of Muhammad) in his book Sirat Rassoul Allah (Re. A. Guillaume’s sections 265/6 p183) which informs us with great honesty, on the authority of his wife Aisha, that his body never left her side and that he was only transported spiritually; this is corroborated by the Qarawiyun Library Manuscript in Fez, Morocco, where it repeats that Ibn Ishaq relates on the authority of Aisha the Prophet’s wife and most intimate companion of his later years, who declared emphatically that “he was transported in his spirit (bi-ruhihi), while his body did not leave its place” (cf. Tabari, Zamakhshari and Ibn Kathir in their commentaries on 17:1); the great Al-Hasan al-Basri, who belonged to the next generation, held uncompromisingly to the same view.

    In another version in (section 267 p 184) , it is Hind, Umm Hani d. of Abu Talib that relates concerning the Night Journey: “The apostle went on no Night Journey except while he was in my house. He slept that night in my house. He prayed the final night prayer and he slept and we slept there. ….”

    Some traditions assert that this may have been a spiritual ascent, as affirmed by:

    Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 5.228 Narrated byIbn Abbas
    Regarding the Statement of Allah”
    “And We granted the vision (ascension to the heavens) which We made you see (as an actual eye witness) was only made as a trial for the people.” (17.60)

    Ibn Abbas added: The sights which Allah’s Apostle was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ul-Maqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) were actual sights, (not dreams). And the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur’an is the tree of Zaqqum (itself).

    Whose version should one trust, that of the wife who slept with him or of his companions who were not present?

    Neither the Quran – which did not allow for a single miracle to be performed – nor Muhammad, ever declared that it was a miracle.

    It was the companions of Muhammad who, after his death, created the mythology assuming a real and physical transport to Jerusalem, inspite of the fact that not one of the Ahadith above, mentions any intermediate ‘landing’ at Jerusalem but a direct ‘flight’ from Mecca to the first Heaven only.

    There is also no mention of any ‘holy rock’ to which Buraq was tethered either. Since there was no Masjid (Mosque) or Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Muhammad, it could not possibly and realistically have meant Jerusalem. On the other hand, it makes more sense to assume, that this was a spiritual transport to the Temple of Allah in Heaven. This ‘tradition’ too, would have been a copy from the Jewish traditions regarding Jacob and Moses visiting the Seven Heavens.

    It was the Muhammadan interpreters of the Quran who expressed the erroneous, falsified and unsubstantiated opinion, and later the dogma that he was transported physically to Jerusalem in spite of the fact that its name was never mentioned in the entire Quran.

    Jerusalem, on the other hand, is mentioned 667 times in the Bible.

    Moreover, pre-Islamic pagan Arabs had no tradition or knowledge of Jerusalem. Surah 17:1 is a single verse which does not describe a miraculous journey at all since if it were so then it would have given us much greater details of such a wonderous and unusual event. In fact the next verse 17:2 discusses Moses and the subsequent verses other subjects, all of which have absolutely no relevance to the first alleged momentous and miraculous event.

    Muhammadan theologians have an incredibly difficult task explaining away the following abnormalities, inconcistencies and illogical conclusions that emanate from all the stories about the Night Journey if it were really a physical one:

    1 On his ‘flight’ to ‘Jerusalem’, how could he have possibly observed Moses praying in his grave? Since Muhammad was only an ordinary mortal, which of his senses could have been able to penetrate the earth of the grave to see Moses? Even in the dark of night? Was Moses physically intact? Was he standing or horizontal? Was it his spirit that Muhammad saw or his actual body which had not disintegrated after 2100 years?

    2 Muhammad led the previous prophets in prayers at the ‘Temple’/Masjid in Jerusalem. There was no Temple at Jerusalem when Muhammad was alive since it had been destroyed at least 550 years earlier; there was only a Christian cathedral containing statues of Jesus and Mary; so where and what was this temple? Accordingly this was a pagan precinct and Allah would not have considered it either holy or pure.

    3 Among the prophets at prayer, yet once more was Moses present. He had just been observed in his grave but had now somehow, been transported to ‘Jerusalem’ arriving even before Muhammad.

    4 How did all the other prophets arrive at ‘Jerusalem’? Muhammad allegedly had Buraq. What did the others have as transport? Which prophets were present?

    5 Were the prophets in a spiritual or physical form?

    6 If the prophets were there physically – like Muhammad allegedly was – then they must have been resurrected before the arrival of the Messiah and contrary to the assertions of the Quran that the Qiyama/Resurrection would occur at the End of Days.

    7 If Muhammad led all these multitudes of people in prayers, who called for the prayers? Where in Jerusalem was it conducted especially since there was no Masjid to pray in? What did all of them recite? How was it that no one in Jerusalem became aware of what should have been a great commotion especially in the dead of night.

    8 Come to think of it, why did this journey occur at night? Jerusalem was not lit by electricity and could not have been a glowing beacon, so how were all these ‘prophets’ able to recognise each other in the darkness? Why did Muhammad not visit it in daytime instead so that this ‘miracle’ would have been infinitely more impressive and effective? Why at night when there were no other independent witnesses to corroborate such a miraculous and unbelievable event? How could have Muhammad possibly seen any and all of Allah’s ayat/miracles in the depth of darkness?

    9 If Mecca were superior to Jerusalem, as Muhammad later asserted, why then did not all those prophets meet at the Ka’ba in Mecca instead, whether spiritually or physically, and pay homage to Muhammad at his birthplace, as well as save him the inconvenience of a Night Journey?

    10 Why did Buraq feel reluctant to carry Muhammad if it were sent by Allah? It should have ‘known’ not to be afraid.

    11 Why does not the word Mi’raj appear in the Quran to denote this miraculous event if it actually occurred?

    12 Buraq would definitely had needed his wings to fly while in the earth’s atmosphere; but to get to the Heavens it would have had to cross into outer space. How did Buraq and Muhammad survive such a trip if it were really physical?

    13 How far is Heaven away from Earth that we have not been able to see or find it with the most incredibly powerful telescopes observing the beginning of creation at least 12 billion LIGHT years away?

    14 Did Muhammad, Buraq and Gabriel travel at the speed of light? More than the speed of light? Time warped Space? How was Muhammad able to do all these ‘miracles’ and return home within a few hours when the nearest star, Alpha Centaur of 4.2 light years would require so many years to get there? Of course, the only ‘logical’ answer would be that Allah is capable of anything and everything and close the subject.

    15 Since Gabriel was Muhammad’s guide, why did he need to get permission for the gates to be opened at every Heaven? After all, he was Allah’s foremost angel/messenger and should not have needed the degrading and insulting process of identifying himself to any lower level angels. As a guest of Allah, Muhammad should not have needed all these unnecessary ‘bureaucratic’ questions and delays.

    16 How did the same prophets who were praying with him earlier get to the seven heavens so fast ahead of him without any delays or Gabriel as a guide and a ‘pass-par-tous’, nor Buraq to transport them?

    17 Muhammad’s wives assert that Muhammad never left their side. Who could possibly be more knowledgeable about Muhammad’s where abouts than especially his most jealous wife Aisha? After all, it was she who shared his bed and not the companions nor the later Muhammadan theologians who created the myth of a physical transport.

    18 Since this event was physical – it must have been one of the most astounding in the life of Muhammad – how was it possible that he forgot what the alleged Jerusalem Temple looked like only a few hours after having supposedly visited it? Only in dreams can one forget the most incredible ‘vision’ experiences. How could an alleged prophet, who should have been able to foretell the future, forget the very recent past and the present?

    19 Why did not Buraq remain with Muhammad after the ‘miracle’ if it were real? None of the Ahadith mention what transpired to it after Muhammad was ‘returned’ to Mecca. Only seeing this animal by the Quraysh would have turned them all and then the whole of the Arabian tribes into perfect believers without the need later on to slaughter them into submission and belief.

    20 The verse 17: 60 Behold! We told thee that thy Lord doth encompass mankind round about: We granted the Vision [al rou^aia] which We showed thee [araynaka] but as a trial for men as also the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur’an: We put terror (and warning) into them but it only increases their inordinate transgression! ….asserts in the language of the Arabs that it was just a vision and not a physical transport.

    21 If all the above unbelievable miracles had transpired as some of the Ahadith allege, how is it possible that the Quran neither mentions any of them, names them or even alludes to them? Why would Allah ‘reveal’ in hundreds of verses, the most mundane conversations, events and deeds, but NOT ONCE any of the ‘most momentous events’ if they did actually occur?

    My conclusion – based on the fact that this word was totally new to the Arabic language and became associated with the Mi’raj and was very rarely used again in Arabic literature – is that it was derived from the word Isra-el used to describe the nocturnal fight between Jacob and the angel of God. Muhammad was only emulating a miraculous event from the Bible, Jacob’s nocturnal fight with the angel of God and the Ladder. This is confirmed by the later concocted myth, that Muhammad later ascended from (Jerusalem) to the first and subsequently the 7th heaven on a ladder (Mi’raj) that is a replica and a very important similitude of the Jacob/Israel story. In the Midrash, Jacob too, visited the heavens, was welcomed by the guardians, was shown miracles, was transported instantly from Canaan to Harran (Ginsberg’s Legends of the Jews; Vol.I, p:349/54).

    This alleged ‘Night Journey’ occurred – according to Ibn Sa’d’s Al Tabaqat al Kabir Vol. I, on the 17th night of First Rabi’- before the Hijra of 622 CE. As usual with the ‘miracles’ of Muhammad, it happened in the dark of night and without any other independent witnesses. Only the word of Muhammad is used as telling the truth. This story is also uncannily similar to that found in an old Pahlavi book “Book of Arta Biraf”. This Zoroastrian story describes the journey of a saintly priest (Arta Viraf) who went into a trance, and his spirit went up to the heavens under the guidance of the angel Sarosh. He passed from one Utopia/Heaven to another until he reached the presence of Ormazd, the great God of the Universe. After Arta had seen everything in the heavens, Ormzad ordered him to return to earth as his messenger and to inform the people all that he saw and heard.

    In the first eighteen months in the Madina, Muhammad venerated Jerusalem much more than the Ka’ba as evinced by first directing his followers to pray towards the holy city and to emulate several other Jewish traditions. He had to associate himself with the city that was holy to Jews and Christians and to copy the arrival of Jesus on a donkey on his last visit from which he too allegedly, ascended to heaven after his crucifixion. Muhammad changed the Qibla towards Mecca ONLY after he was rejected by the People of the Book and not before.

    Again and again it must be repeated, that Muhammad was surrounded by other religious influences that were infinitely more powerful, more interesting and more literate than any he had from his sterile pagan Arab background. He was able to pick and choose bits and pieces, from all and sundry, and incorporated them in his new theology and ‘Islamised’ them accordingly.

    It is an indisputable fact, that the Quran is built completely on plagiarised, plundered, pirated and/or perverted concepts, precepts, thoughts, ideas and stories, from the Torah, Hebrew Scriptures, New Testament, Zoroasterianism, Abyssinian Christianity & pagan Arabian religion, traditions and fetishes. The Quran does not contain a single original and practical thought or precept of its own.

    Sahih Muslim HadithHadith 328 Narrated byAbuHurayrah
    The Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him) said: I found myself in Hijr and the Quraysh were asking me about my night journey. I was asked about things pertaining to Bayt al-Maqdis, which I could not preserve (in my mind). I was very much vexed, so vexed as I had never been before. Then Allah raised it (Bayt al-Maqdis) before my eyes. I looked towards it, and I gave them the information about whatever they questioned me. I also saw myself among the group of apostles. I saw Moses saying a prayer and found him to be a well-built man as if he were a man of the tribe of Shanu’ah. I saw Jesus, son of Mary, (peace be upon him) offering prayer; of all men he had the closet resemblance to Urwah ibn Mas’ud ath-Thaqafi. I saw Ibrahim (peace be upon him) offering prayer; he had the closet resemblance to your companion (the Prophet himself) amongst people. When the time of prayer came I led them. When I completed the prayer, someone said: Here is Malik, the keeper of the Hell; give him salutation. I turned to him, but he preceded me in salutation.

    *** It is impossible that had Muhammad been transported physically to the none existent Temple of Solomon, that he could ever had forgotten the details of what he had just recently seen and/or experienced.

    How could he have forgotten anything from the most momentous experience of his life, if it were a physical one especially since it had transpired only a few hours after the alleged event?

    It is only when one dreams that it is very possible to forget parts of or even the entirety of a dream. What kind of ‘prophet’ is Muhammad who cannot remember the recent and immediate present and the past let alone foretell the future?

    Most astounding of all is Muhammad’s level of MENDACITY since he is asserting in the Hadith above that Allah showed him the Temple of Solomon which had been detroyed 570 years earlier by the Romans and the only part that was left was the Wailing Wall of the Jews. What was he possibly describing to his mostly ignorant, gullible and superstitious followers?***

    Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 1.140 Narrated byKuraib
    Ibn ‘Abbas said, “The Prophet slept till he snored and then prayed (or probably lay till his breath sounds were heard and then got up and prayed).” Ibn ‘Abbas added: “I stayed overnight in the house of my aunt, Maimuna, the Prophet slept for a part of the night, (See Fath-al-Bari page 249, Vol. 1), and late in the night, he got up and performed ablution from a hanging water skin, a light (perfect) ablution and stood up for the prayer. I, too, performed a similar ablution, then I went and stood on his left. He drew me to his right and prayed as much as Allah wished, and again lay and slept till his breath sounds were heard. Later on the Mua’dhdhin (call maker for the prayer) came to him and informed him that it was time for prayer. The Prophet went with him for the prayer without performing a new ablution.” (Sufyan said to ‘Amr that some people said, “The eyes of Allah’s Apostle sleep but his heart does not sleep.” ‘Amr replied, “I heard ‘Ubaid bin ‘Umar saying that the dreams of Prophets were Divine Inspiration, and then he recited the verse: ‘I (Abraham) see in a dream, (O my son) that I offer you in sacrifice (to Allah).’ ” (37.102) (See Hadith No. 183)

    Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 6.233 Narrated byJabir bin Abdullah
    The Prophet said, “When the Quraish disbelieved me (concerning my night journey), I stood up in Al-Hijr (the unroofed portion of the Ka’ba) and Allah displayed Bait-ul-Maqdis before me, and I started to inform them (Quraish) about its signs while looking at it.”

    (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 248).
    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.

    It seems that Muhammad was having a very convenient ‘vision’ while in front of his congregation that was showing – him only – the details of the Temple of Solomon, of which there was not one human being in the whole world let alone in Arabia who had any details of, since it had been destroyed over 570 years earlier.

    The same Muhammad who gave detailed descriptions of Paradise, Hell, his encounters with the earlier prophets and what they looked like, could not remember anything about the Temple in which he had allegedly led the earlier prophets in prayers a few hours earlier. It was in fact to emphasise his claim that he had been recognised by the previous prophets that he placed the scene of his ascent to heaven on the site of the Temple of Solomon, the holiest spot on Earth for the Jews and Christians.

    Ibn Ishaq 183, reports regarding this particular alleged version of events, that it was Abu Bakr (renamed al Saddiq after this, meaning the Truthful one) who agreed upon and asserted Muhammad’s description of the none existent Temple of Solomon.

    *** The ‘greatest of all the prophets’ and his very best companion were TWO PATHOLOGICAL LIARS, corroborating each other’s lack of veracity as TRUTH.

    Most revealing of all is that the Ahadith themselves contradict each other in content, in time sequences and in the characters that were allegedly involved.

    Other important points to bear upon all the above are the following:

    Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 9.608 Narrated byAnas bin Malik
    The night Allah’s Apostle was taken for a journey from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) Al-Ka’ba: Three persons came to him (in a dream) while he was sleeping in the Sacred Mosque before the Divine Inspiration was revealed to Him. One of them said, “Which of them is he?” The middle (second) angel said, “He is the best of them.” The last (third) angle said, “Take the best of them.” Only that much happened on that night and he did not see them till they came on another night, i.e. after the Divine Inspiration was revealed to him (Fateh-Al-Bari Page 258, Vol. 17), and he saw them, his eyes were asleep but his heart was not–and so is the case with the prophets: their eyes sleep while their hearts do not sleep. So those angels did not talk to him till they carried him and placed him beside the well of Zam-Zam. From among them Gabriel took charge of him. Gabriel cut open (the part of his body) between his throat and the middle of his chest (heart) and took all the material out of his chest and abdomen and then washed it with Zam-Zam water with his own hands till he cleansed the inside of his body, and then a gold tray containing a gold bowl full of belief and wisdom was brought and then Gabriel stuffed his chest and throat blood vessels with it and then closed it (the chest). He then ascended with him to the heaven of the world and knocked on one of its doors.

    The dwellers of the Heaven asked, “Who is it?” He said, “Gabriel.” They said, “Who is accompanying you?” He said, “Muhammad.” They said, “Has he been called?” He said, “Yes.” They said, “He is welcomed.” So the dwellers of the Heaven became pleased with his arrival, and they did not know what Allah would do to the Prophet on earth unless Allah informed them. The Prophet met Adam over the nearest Heaven. Gabriel said to the Prophet, “He is your father; greet him.” The Prophet greeted him and Adam returned his greeting and said, “Welcome, O my Son! O what a good son you are!” Behold, he saw two flowing rivers, while he was in the nearest sky. He asked, “What are these two rivers, O Gabriel?” Gabriel said, “These are the sources of the Nile and the Euphrates.”

    Then Gabriel took him around that Heaven and behold, he saw another river at the bank of which there was a palace built of pearls and emerald. He put his hand into the river and found its mud like musk Adhfar. He asked, “What is this, O Gabriel?” Gabriel said, “This is the Kauthar which your Lord has kept for you.” Then Gabriel ascended (with him) to the second Heaven and the angels asked the same questions as those on the first Heaven, i.e., “Who is it?” Gabriel replied, “Gabriel.” They asked, “Who is accompanying you?” He said, “Muhammad.” They asked, “Has he been sent for?” He said, “Yes.” Then they said, “He is welcomed.) Then he (Gabriel) ascended with the Prophet to the third Heaven, and the angels said the same as the angels of the first and the second Heavens had said.

    Then he ascended with him to the fourth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the fifth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the sixth Heaven and they said the same; then he ascended with him to the seventh Heaven and they said the same. On each Heaven there were prophets whose names he had mentioned and of whom I remember Idris on the second Heaven, Aaron on the fourth Heaven, another prophet whose name I don’t remember, on the fifth Heaven, Abraham on the sixth Heaven, and Moses on the seventh Heaven because of his privilege of talking to Allah directly. Moses said (to Allah), “O Lord! I thought that none would be raised up above me.”

    *** Muhammad was asleep when all these events were taking place. Gabriel conducted a most astounding and extremely dangerous medical operation on Muhammad without any anaesthetic that would have caused deadly pain in anyone in real life.

    Only in a dream can such an event take place. The hadith itself confirms that his “eyes were asleep” that is they were closed and hence could not have actually seen anything in reality. It was no more than a DREAM. This confirms Aisha’s statement that he never left her bed as well as that of Hind asserting the same.

    If all these statements by the contemporaries of Muhammad are false according to those Muhammadans who allege that it was a real physical transport, then nothing in the Ahadith can be true hence undermining the whole of the Quran***

    17:1 “Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for journey [Asra/Travel] 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)”

    # The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock, called also the Mosque of Hadhrat ‘Umar. This and the Mosque known as the Farthest Mosque (Masjid-ul-Aqsa) were completed by the Amir ‘Abd-ul-Malik in A.H. 68. Farthest, because it was the place of worship farthest west which was known to the Arabs in the time of the holy Prophet: it was a sacred place to both Jews and Christians, but the Christians then had the upper hand, as it was included in the Byzantine (Roman) Empire, which maintained a Patriarch at Jerusalem. The chief dates in connection with the Temple are: it was finished by Solomon about B.C. 1004; destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar about 586 B.C.; rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah about 515 B.C.; turned into a heathen idol-temple by one of Alexander’s successors, Antiochus Epiphanes, 167 B.C.; restored by Herod, B.C. 17 to A.D. 29; and completely razed to the ground by the Emperor Titus in A.D. 70. These ups and downs are among the greater Signs in religious history#

    30: 1 Alif Lam Mim. 2 The Roman Empire has been defeated 3 In a land close by; but they (even) after (this) defeat of theirs will soon be victorious

    *** Since the events that are mentioned in the two verses above, based on the known historical records actually concern Jerusalem, then the expression “In a land close by” / “Adana’l Ardh..” cannot also be the land of the “Masjid al Aqsa…” “.. the Furthest Mosque…” mentioned in Surat al Isra.

    It is a physical impossibility to have a certain geographical location being both NEAR as well as VERY FAR from another given geographical location excluding the possibility of having to go around the circumference of the Earth to achieve it.

    Since BOTH verses are in the Quran and only 30:3 can be ascertained on historical and linguistic grounds that the subject is Palestine, then the Furthest Mosque could not have been in Jerusalem but most probably the one in Heaven, with Allah, as alluded to in Rabbinic traditions of which Muhammad had a goodly knowledge***

    Ishaq:184 “The Apostle went on no journey except while he was in my house. He slept in my home that night after he prayed the final night prayer. A little before dawn he woke us, saying, ‘Umm, I went to Jerusalem.’ He got up to go out and I grabbed hold of his robe and laid bare his belly. I pleaded, ‘O Muhammad, don’t tell the people about this for they will know you are lying and will mock you.'”

    Ishaq:183 “Upon hearing this, many became renegades who had prayed and joined Islam. Many Muslims gave up their faith. Some went to Abu Bakr and said, ‘What do you think of your friend now? He alleges that he went to Jerusalem last night and prayed there and came back to Mecca.’ Bakr said that they were lying about the Apostle. But they told him that he was in the mosque at this very moment telling the Quraysh about it. Bakr said, ‘If he says so then it must be true. I believe him. And that is more extraordinary than his story at which you boggle.’ Then Allah sent down a Qur’an surah concerning those who left Islam for this reason: ‘We made the vision which we showed you only, a test for men. We put them in fear, but it only adds to their heinous error.'” [Qur’an 13:33]

    *** Even the most ignorant and unlearned followers of Muhammad, as well as his wife Umm, realised the absurdity and falsity of such a declaration.

    Muhammad, none the less persisted. Even Abu Bakr could not believe such a deception and impossible event until he was confronted with a fait a complis forcing him to change his mind and support his friend AGAINST all ODDS of logic ***

  15. Andrew Hughes says:

    You shouldn’t stop there!!
    When considering how the Qu’ran came into existence and how the life of Mohammed is portrayed, isn’t it safe to say that Islam and all it’s writings, are all total lies and fabrication?
    Does any rational mind really believe that an illiterate 7th century goat hand was visited by an angel, then miraculously memorised the words of God without the slightest mistake?
    Were divine powers being used? Did he really have a secret scribe that failed to get mentioned? I think not!
    It’s highly likely, in fact DEFINATELY probable, that all of Islam is a horrible fraud still being played out today all over the world?
    What good has ever come from lies and deceit? Let’s ban all religion, starting with Islam, and set mankind on the true path for the future. A future of logic, rationale and scientific discovery.
    Thank you!

  16. Whatever is written above – almost all proving ridiculously false about the Prophet’s night journey to Isra wal Miraj (the heavens). It is though true that The Laws of Nature can’t be changed but we believe God’s Will and God’s Laws of Nature – both Mighty – are one and the same thing. To a scientist one thing is Law of Nature but to a religious person this is The Will of God. God has the Power to suspend for a while His Law to prove His Power. In this case God suspended His Law of Physics temporarily to show His last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) His future plan of the Day of Judgment, Hell and Paradise so that the Prophet could see it with his own eyes and tells it with sure vision to his followers what he saw there. Prophet Muhammad’s regime of prophethood is till the last day of this earth and for all mankind from his time onwards. This miracle was necessary for the believers so that their belief in God and His Prophet may become more strong. We believe God is Able to do all things. Is this heavenly journey of the Prophet an impossible act to perform by God Who created this entire rift-free creation by a simple order “BE” and “IT IS” ?
    The gist is: believers will believe this miracle to be true as all other miracles performed by other Prophets are true. And the disbelievers will not believe in it. So wait for the Dooms Day as believers say or die for ever, never to resurrect again as Atheists “believe”.

  17. Khalid Khan says:

    A Liberal Sunni here.
    Most Muslims actually believe the PURE NONSENSE Mr. Abdul Basit Khakwany wrote in the previous comment. No wonder the ENTIRE MUSLIM UMMA has not invented anything useful for the past 1000 years. Sadly, they fail to see the what UTTER NONSENSICAL MYTHS they have come to internalize.

    The MUSLIM IGNORANCE is astounding, and perhaps for the next 1000– 2000 years there is NO hope for them.

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