The heavenly journey of the Prophet of Islam has been straight-forwardly explained in two Chapters of Qur'an.
Glorified be He who carried His servant at night from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, the precincts of which We have blessed so that We may show him of Our signs. Verily He is the AllHearing, the All-Seeing.
(al-Qur'an - Chapter 17, Verse 01)
Will you then argue with him about what he saw? He certainly saw him (Jibraeel) during his other ascent to the Lote-tree (in the seven heavens) near which is Paradise. When the tree was covered with a covering, (Muhammad's) eyes did not deceive him, nor did they lead him to falsehood. He certainly saw the greatest (signs) of the existence of his Lord.
(al-Qur'an - Chapter Najm, Verses 12-18)
From the apparent reading of the verses, the physical journey took place with the Prophet riding on Buraq and began from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa - The Bayt al-Muqaddas. After the journey, the Prophet said:
During the Me'raj, I met with the various Prophets; I saw the angels; Heaven and Hell were shown to me; I was brought to the Arsh (Throne) and reached to Sidratul-Muntaha. I also met people in heaven who were being showered with the blessings of Allah and also I saw people in hell who were being punished by the harshest types of punishment; I was also informed as to why they were in such a state.
Faidh al-Kashani summarizes the above event very nicely in his book Me'raj - The Night Ascension, and says:
The Prophet of Islam began his historical night journey, along with the trusted protector of the revelation, the angel Jibraeel from the house of Umm al-Hani, the daughter of his uncle and sister of Amirul-Mu'mineen Ali, in the blessed city of Makkah.
With the aide of his steed al-Buraq, he traveled to Bayt al-Muqaddas, which (at that time) was located in the country of Jordan and is also known as Masjid al-Aqsa (the furthest Masjid). He disembarked at this place and in a very short period of time, visited various places inside the Masjid - including Bayt al-Laham, the birthplace of Prophet Isa al-Masih, in addition to the houses and other important places of the various Prophets. In some of these places, he even recited two units of prayer.
In the next stage (of his journey) he traveled from this spot to the heavens, where he was witness to the celestial bodies and the entire universe. He spoke with the spirits of the (previous) Prophets and the angels; he saw from very close both Paradise and Hell; and the various stages and levels of the people of paradise and those in hell. It was these unknowns of the creation, the secrets of the origin of the universe, the expanse of the world of creation, and the unlimited power of Allah, the Highest, that he was given complete knowledge of.
Subsequently, he continued on with his journey until he reached to the region known as Sidratul-Muntaha, a place that was covered in grandeur and magnificence. It was from this same path that he traversed that he returned, and upon coming back, once again visited to Bayt al-Muqaddas, proceeded on to Makkah and then to his home.
On the return trip, he came across a trade caravan from the tribe of the Quraish who during their journey had lost one of their camels which they were searching for. The Prophet drank from the water that the people of the caravan had with them and by the rising of the morning sun, reached back to the house of Umm al-Hani.
Upon his return, the Prophet told Umm al-Hani of the secrets (that he saw) and that evening, in a gathering of the people of the Quraish, lifted all the curtains of the secrets of the Me'raj and his journey and opened their minds to this event. The word of his travels spread from mouth to mouth amongst all the groups, and now more than ever, the Quraish were upset (with him).
The Quraish, as was their old-time habit, belied the Prophet and in the gathering, a man stood up and asked if there was anyone in Makkah who has seen Bayt al-Muqaddas so that he could ask the Prophet in regards to the physical building.
Did the Prophet describe the physical particularities of Bayt al-Muqaddas, rather, he even informed them of the event that took place between Makkah and Bayt al-Muqaddas - and it was not long after that the travelers (of that caravan) reported the exact events (as had occurred).
The Prophet Before Me'raj
The Prophet has said:
Every time I went to Me'raj (the minimum number of times reported for ascents to Me'raj is two and the maximum reported is one hundred and twenty. For more information, refer to Biharul-Anwar - Volume 18, Pages 306-307 and 387. Allah told me to convey His Salaam to you and to tell you that you are the Imam of His friends and the light of those who obey Him.
O Ali! I congratulate you for this honor. (Biharul-Anwar - Volume 40, Page 53. Amali of Saduq, Page 252)
Apparently, this has been the practice of Allah (SWT) since He created the one light of the Prophet (S), the first and foremost creation, and centuries before any other thing were created. In the form of light and energy, the Prophet is said to have gone through many decades and centuries of journey and transformation in which Allah taught the Prophet first-hand many things and made him the most perfect human being. In the end, the light was transferred into the human body and the Prophet of Allah was born. No wonder, the Prophet has remarked that he has moments with his creator ALLAH, that no angel or human can withstand - the experience is so challenging.
al-Majlisi (1627) writes in his Hayatul-Qulub that Shaykh Saduq (AR) states, on the authority of al-Sadiq (AS), that the Commander of the Faithful declared that the Most High, Allah (SWT) created the Sacred Light of Muhammad, the asylum of Prophecy, before the heavens or earth, empyrean or throne, table of decrees or divine pen, paradise or hell were formed. His light was also created previous to the creation of any other Prophets by the period of 424,000 years.
Apparently, only Allah and the Infallible (AS) can explain years here, as during that period even time was not created yet. The Laws we see today were not in effect in that era.
al-Majlisi (1627) continues the narration by Ali that:
In this light Allah formed twelve compartments; namely of Power, Greatness, Grace, Mercy, Felicity, Munificence, Official Dignity, Religious Direction, Prophecy, Exaltation, Majesty and Intercession. Allah then stationed that intelligent light in the compartment of power for the period of 12,000 years, and the journeys for this light continued. In the last journey to the compartment of intercession, the light cried for one thousand years - glory and thanks to the Mighty Lord!
The Most High then formed twenty seas of light, in each of which were a number of sciences that no one understands but Allah. He then commanded the light of Muhammad to go down through the sea of Glory; of Patience; of Humility; of Submission; of Contentment; of Faithfulness; of Mildness; of Abstinence; of Fear; of Repentance; of Good works; of Abundance; of Religious Direction; of Carefulness and of Modesty, till he had passed through the twenty seas.
When he came forth from the last sea, the Most High addressed him saying, O My Beloved! Best of My Prophets! First of My Creatures! Last of My Apostles! Be the Advocate on the Day of Reward! That light (of Muhammad) then fell into adoration, and when it arose, 1,24,000 drops fell from the light, from everyone of which Allah made a Prophet, thus completing the number of those sacred Prophets.
It is further reported that the Prophet, in the form of light and energy, dwelt under the Empyrean 73,000 years, and then resided 70,000 years in Paradise. Afterwards, the light was rested another period of 70,000 years at Sidratul-Muntaha (The Prophet visited this very place during the Me'raj in the human form). Emigrating form heaven to heaven it arrived at length in the lowest of these celestial mansions, where it remained until the Most High willed the creation of Adam, the Father of Mankind.
Me'raj, a Physical Possibility - A Note on The Infallible's Ability to be Present and Respond to Millions of Prayer, Salutations, and Requests at the Same Time
al-Ridha (AS) has said:
One who denies (any of these) three things is not among our followers: The Me'raj, the questioning in the grave and Intercession.
In brief, it is related in most reliable and authentic traditions that on this blessed night, the Prophet was taken from his resting bed to the celestial boundaries and the ends of the universe, and to a place where even angels were not permitted to visit. He was shown many secrets of the world, met many Prophets of Islam, and several orders and Islamic Laws were revealed and changed. All this happened in a very little earth time and the Prophet returned to his bed the same night and the whole event took place within a short time.
Moreover, as we shall note later, this kind of journey took place many times and by other Infallible and humans as well. The grandson of Ali, al-Sajjad (AS) was observed to travel hundreds of miles within seconds to bury his father and relatives who were left barren in the desert of Karbala, after the merciless massacre of his father. Ali (after his physical death) was also present at an instant when his daughter Zainab (AS) called for her the night after the killings of her brother and many relatives in Karbala.
Further, Ali is also reported to be aware of the Ascension and the possibility of his presence cannot be refuted. The Almighty could have allowed Ali to experience the same journey, as both of them were ONE light and energy. Mir Ahmad Ali (1988) writes that when the Prophet (S) returned from his heavenly journey, before he could relate his experiences, Ali began giving him the minutest details of the journey, making it quite obvious that Ali was with the Prophet (S) throughout his journey. The Prophet (S) was true in saying that him and Ali are of one and the same light.
Ali and His Travel to the Other Worlds
As mentioned before, Mir Ahmed Ali (1988) writes that Ali had to manifest himself many times and fulfill some divine plans and assist the creation (animals, humans, jinn, trees or just about anything or any matter) in so many different aspects of life in the different worlds and in space. He quotes an authentic tradition (mentioned earlier) from the Prophet (S) to have confirmed Ali's presence in countless events that required his presence.
Ali Ibn Abi Talib is known as mazhar al aja-ib and mazhar al ghara-ib because, as willed by Allah, he used to appear in different forms to carry out divine plans under very special circumstances. These two epithets are exclusively reserved for Ali. Even today the true believers invoke Allah to send him for help.
In every age, to many persons he comes personally to remove hardships. Through his name great spiritual achievements are attained. The Holy Prophet, and after him, Ali are acknowledged as the most superior possessors of the spiritual powers.
To be able to do this, he had to be living before any other thing that was created. And his ability to travel long distance at shorter periods of time and be physically present means that his body was able to transform into energy particles, travel at speeds greater than the speed of sound and light, and then transform himself back to physical form - and all with the assistance of the Almighty. Ali could also have accessed wormholes, or Allah just willed and Ali was there. These aspects are explained in detail a bit later in this section only. In any case, all the laws of physics and chemistry, and other laws of the entire creation have an obligation to the Infallible as Allah willed this from the beginning of creation.
In the book Kashful-Ghummah, as narrated by Faidh al-Kashani, from Umar that when the Prophet (S) was asked as to what voice did Allah (SWT) speak to him during the Journey, the Prophet replied:
My Lord spoke to me with the voice of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and said, O Ahmad! I am an Entity that is not like anything else. I cannot be compared to anything else and I know all the secrets of your heart. With the exception of Ali Ibn Abu Talib, you have no other close friend. Thus, I speak to you with the voice of Ali Ibn Abi Talib so that your heart will be at ease.
Schwartz and Russek, and several other established Physicists have noted that energy waves can radiate out at the velocity of sound or light (and even faster) into the farthest reaches of the universe. According to Jablonski (2000), everything, everyone, every action, every thought, every feeling - ALL is energy. The laws of energy also relate that energy may be transformed into matter and back to energy.
Based on these scientific facts, there was no difficulty in taking the Prophet to the farthest of the cosmos and the Heavens on the Night of Ascension. The physical Ascension was possible then and is possible now, with the permission of the Almighty.
During the initial creation, the Prophet was pure energy and light and was able to undergo the entire journey Allah assigned for him and mentioned earlier. However, on earth the Prophet had a human body and because the human body cannot withstand itself at speeds faster than the speed of light or sound, a good and reliable explanation is that the Prophet's body was transformed into energy, traveled at extremely fast speeds; then his energy-self transformed into matter so he could experience everything in a physical manner - this process is termed as dematerialization. He was then sent back into earth in a similar manner and transformation.
Another good explanation is that the Prophet (S) could have easily accessed a wormhole and ventured at extremely and unbelievably fast speeds into the Heavens. Time on earth slowed down and was significantly distorted. When the Prophet came back, it was as if just a few moments had passed by, when he made remarkable journeys and met many Prophets, and experienced lots of Allah's secrets of the universe.
Ali and His Responsibilities to the Jinn Community
Besides the Prophet's Me'raj and sacred journey, Ali also had to venture into other worlds of the Jinn and other communities (The jinn are among the creatures that Allah (SWT) created). Allah (SWT) created angels, jinn, mankind, animals, plants and others. Jinn have some qualities like human beings. These qualities are intellect, discrimination, freedom, and the power to choose between right and wrong, between true and false, as well as between good and bad. Jinn are created from fire of hot wind (al-Qur'an - Chapter 15, Verse 27) and from smokeless fire (al-Qur'an - Chapter 55, Verse 15)
Ali had to journey several times and fought many battles with the unbelieving Jinns, and also solved their problems - he was the Leader of all creations, not only humans. Therefore, it is a scientific possibility that Ali could have transformed himself into energy and venture into those worlds at a speed faster than the speed of sound and light. When he came back into the earth, only little time had passed and he could resume his other responsibilities. This aspect is well explained by science.
It is reported by Sayyid Lavasani that, Imam al-Khui (AR), one of the greatest Shiite Mujtahid (Jurist) of his time, used to communicate with the spiritual community (in particular the Jinn community) and they often came to him so that he can answer the questions from the jinn.
Several narrations follow:
Muhaqiq Ardabili in the book, Manhaj al-Tahqiq Ila Sawa al-Tariq, from Abu Saeed Khudri has narrated that one day, Abu Saeed Khudri was with the Prophet (S) along with a group of his companions in Abtah. While the Prophet (S) was busy talking, a dust suddenly appeared from afar and gradually came nearer until it stopped in front of the Prophet (S). From the dust came a loud voice, which said
Peace be upon you O Messenger to all the worlds, O Seal of the Prophets!
He answered his greeting and asked him as to who he was? He replied:
O Messenger of God, I am a member of the people of the jinn. My people bother me and even take possession of my pasture and water. This is why I have sought your support and I beg you to send someone with me to issue a just ruling for us. In your presence I promise and guarantee the safe return of your messenger to you.
The Prophet (S) then asked as to what was his tribe? He replied:
I am Arafat bin Shimrakh from the tribe of jinn. We used to approach the heavens before your appointment to the Prophethood and we would overhear some of the news and tell others about them. When God had chosen you as a prophet we were barred from doing this, so we believed and accepted your prophecy. There are some of us who acted in a hostile manner and did not believe, unfortunately, their number is too great and we are unable to resist them. We hope that you would be generous to us because you are a mercy to the worlds.
The Prophet (S) asked him to show them the form in which he was created so they could see his face in that form. The Jinn said, I hear and obey. At that very moment, he showed his face.
I saw a person coming out of the dust with an elongated head, with one eye in a small eye-socket in the middle of his head, teeth like that of a beast and his entire body was covered with hair like a bear.
The Prophet (S) made him promise to guarantee the safe return of whomever he sent with him. He then turned toward Abu Bakr and said, Stand up and go with your brother Arafat to see his tribe, ask about their situation, issue a fair ruling for them and then come back. Abu Bakr asked, O Messenger of God, where do they live? He answered, Under the ground. Abu Bakr said, I cannot go through the earth and judge among them when I don't understand their language.
Then, the Prophet (S) turned to Umar and asked him the same questions as Abu Bakr did and made the same response. Thereupon the Prophet (S) looked to the left and right and said, Where is the light of my eyes? Where is the victor over my sorrow? Where is my son-in-law? Where is the father of Hasan and Husain? Where is the payer of my debts?
Amirul-Mu'mineen, Ali (AS) answered, Here am I, here am I, O Messenger of God! I am at your service, I will do whatever you command.
The Prophet (S) said, O Ali! Go with Arafat and ask about the situation of his people and make a legal ruling between him and his people.
Ali (AS) declared, I hear and obey, Ya Rasulullah!
Arafat then stood up and Amirul-Mu'mineen (AS) girded his sword and went off with Arafat. Abu Saeed Khudri, Salman Farsi and a group of companions set out behind them to see where the Jinn was taking him and what the result would be. When Ali (AS) arrived between Safa and Marwa they saw the earth opened and Arafat entered the ground. Amirul-Mu'mineen (AS) looked at the companions and said, May God reward you, and he himself followed Arafat into the ground which once more closed up after they disappeared within. The Companions went back to where they had been concerned about the fate of Amirul-Mu'mineen (AS).
The next day the Prophet (S) said the morning prayer with the companions and they sat together until noon but there was no news about Ali (AS).
The time for the noon prayer came, they prayed and still there was no word of Ali (AS). The companions were very concerned, but the hypocrites were happy and said to each other that the Jinn must have tricked Ali (AS) and took him away to kill him. Thus they would be free of the Prophet (S) priding himself on Ali (AS) and be relieved of the latter's presence. The time of the afternoon prayer arrived, but there was still no news of Ali (AS).
The Prophet (S) went to Safa and sat down talking all the while about Ali. When the hypocrites felt sure that he had been killed they began to rejoice at his misfortune. By the time the sun had begun to set the companions were in a somber mood. Suddenly they saw the same ground in which they had disappeared split apart, Arafat came out in front, Ali (AS) came out behind him with his famous sword DHULFIQAR.
The Companions gave a loud Takbir (the cry of ALLAHU AKBAR) and the Prophet (S) got up and embraced Ali (AS). He kissed between the eyes of Ali and said, Dear Ali! Why did you delay? You had us worried. He answered:
O Messenger of Allah! When I arrived there I invited Arafat's family to three things, the first of which was to bear witness that there was no god but Allah and that Muhammad (S) was the Messenger of Allah, which they did not accept.
Second, they refused to pay the jizya poll tax (tax levied upon non-Muslims living under the protection of the Islamic State).
Third, I ordered them to come to an agreement with him that they would have the use of the water and pasture one day and he would have the use of them on the other day but they did not accept this either.
So out of necessity I drew my sword and fought them and I killed many of them, then they shouted, al-Aman! (pardon). I said to them, Aman would only be given with belief, so they were forced to believe in God, the prophecy of the Messenger of Allah and they agreed to make peace with Arafat. I reconciled them with each other and they shook hands in fraternity dissipating the hostility among them. O Messenger of God, I was busy with these tasks up till just now.
Arafat then came forward and declared:
O Messenger of Allah, may God reward you and strengthen Islam through you for it has helped us secure our rights. Our tongues are not able to thank you for what you have done. If it was not for this help, there would not have been any Islam among us.
And then the Jinn went away.
Muhaqiq Ardabili again narrates in his book, Shawahid al-Nabuwwa, from ibn Abbas that when the Messenger of God (S) headed towards Makkah from Hudaybiyya the army was overcome by thirst by the time they reached Juhfa. In that arid environment, the Prophet (S) said, The trees you see in the distance have a well near them. Who among you will take a group with him and go over there to bring us back some water for us? One man got up and said, I am ready. He set out with a large group towards the direction of the trees. When they got there a blazing fire burst out and they heard very loud and terrifying voices. Fear overcame them and they came back and told the Prophet (S) what had happened. He said, They are Jinn, if you had gone ahead you would have been victorious and whoever goes and is not afraid I will guarantee him Paradise.
Another man got up and set out with the same group. They had not gone too far when the voices got louder and the fires increased in intensity with a huge roar and there were flashes of lightning and the clash of thunder. Fear once again took hold of them and they came back without reaching the well and the fear now started to affect the others.
The third time, a group known for their bravery pressed forward but as soon as they saw heads without bodies and bodies without heads they were forced to remain thirsty preferring to escape than to stay there. When they came back to the Messenger of God (S) they told all they had seen. The Prophet (S) called for the Commander of the Faithful (AS) saying, Go and save the men from the trials of thirst.
Salmat ibn Akwa said:
I was with the group all four times, but when the Commander of the Faithful (AS) reached the trees and heard the men speaking out of fear and terror, he ordered them to walk directly in his footprints and not look around and he recited some lines of poetry which meant:
I seek refuge in Allah Who is the One and Only, He is the Creator of jinn and men, and earth and the sky, I don't care about fire and thunder, I am not afraid of noises and voices like the others.
When they reached the well, they let the bucket down the well and filled it but when they tried to pull it up the jinn cut the rope leaving the bucket at the bottom. Imam Ali (AS) asked his men as to who was ready to enter the well, when none came forward.
At that moment I saw that the Commander of the Faithful (AS) was ready and willing to serve. He said, Be patient! Do not be afraid of anything you see and hear! He climbed into the well and not long after he had descended into it the sounds of singing and laughing were heard.
There were also noises that sounded as if some people had a blockage in their throats and were asphyxiating. Suddenly, the men heard a sound, which made them think that Ali (AS) had fallen into the well. They became very afraid and their patience changed into anxiety.
Then they heard the cry of ALLAHU AKBAR by the Commander of the Faithful (AS) and they understood that he had drawn his sword to fight with them, because the jinn began to utter the cries of al-Hazar and al-Aman.
The boisterous laugh had been converted into the sounds of weeping. The Commander of the Faithful (AS) asked for a rope to be thrown into the well, to which he tied the bucket full of water and then shouted to pull it up! Thus did his men draw up bucket after bucket of water, filling water skin after water skin with water until they were completely satisfied and then he climbed out.
Each of them had taken one water skin while he had taken two. When they arrived at the trees the fires and the dreadful voices had disappeared.
They went to see the Prophet (S) and related the whole story as they had witnessed it. Everyone was excited about what had happened and after that, no one felt any trepidation to go and fetch water from that well. The Prophet (S) said that the jinn that inhabited that place had been the brother of one who had been killed by Ali (AS) in Safa and Marwa and he intended to seek revenge, but he was killed and the Muslims were now rid of him.
Shaykh Mufid, Tabarsi and Majlisi have narrated it that when the Prophet (S) went to war with the Bani al-Mustalaq, they dismounted near a rough valley. Late in the night, the angel of revelation descended and informed the Prophet (S) that a tribe of unbelievers and rebellious jinn were lying in ambush in this valley and they were going to attack and harm his companions. The Prophet (S) called the Commander of the Faithful (AS) and said, Go to the place where the jinn who are the enemies of God are lying in ambush and save the army of Islam from their evil. Use the power that God has given you and the Divine Names of which He has informed you.
Afterwards, the Prophet (S) sent one hundred armed Companions with Ali (AS). He said to stay with Ali (AS) and obey him as he ordered them. The Commander of the Faithful (AS), the devoted soldier, knew the valley and when they reached near the place of ambush he told his companions to halt next to the valley and to not move until he said so. He himself, however, sought refuge in God from the evil of the enemy and recited the best names of God and advanced toward the enemy. Eventually he motioned to his companions for them to come towards him.
When they reached near the valley, Ali (AS) said to stop there and not go any further. He himself entered the dreadful valley. A severe wind arose that seemed like it would blow them off their feet and the men started to quake with fear. In the middle of the valley, the Commander of the Faithful (AS) shouted with a loud voice, I am Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and the successor of the Messenger of God (S) and if you want, indeed, if you can, stand up against me and don't run away.
At that moment persons with African like features appeared with flames of fire in their hands all over the valley, but Ali (AS) was chanting the Qur'an and advanced swinging his sword left and right. When he got close to them they became black like smog, which drifted upwards and finally disappeared. The Commander of the Faithful (AS) came out of the valley saying ALLAHU AKBAR and went to his companions. When the smoke and fire disappeared, the companions said, O Ali! What did you see? We were about to die of fright!
The Commander of the Faithful (AS) replied, When they appeared and were preparing to attack, I started reciting the best names of God and I was not afraid of them when I was attacking them. They were unable to resist me and if they did not change their forms I would have killed them all. God saved the Muslims from their evil and the survivors sought refuge with the Prophet (S) to believe in him and to seek his pardon. When the Commander of the Faithful (AS) returned to the camp with his fellows, he went to the Prophet (S) and informed him of the news. The Prophet (S) became glad, made a prayer for him, and then said, O Ali, the Blessed and the Almighty Lord frightened the survivors with your sword and they came to me trembling with fear and begged pardon from me and became Muslims. So I accepted their conversion to Islam.
Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hakim Neishapuri was a Sunni scholar and researcher. In his book, Fadhail al-Ashra, he writes, One day, a jinn was sitting with the Prophet (S) when as soon as Ali (AS) entered he disappeared. This prompted the Prophet (S) to ask him why he had hidden himself when he saw Imam Ali (AS).
The jinn replied, O Messenger of God, during the time of Suleiman (AS), Ali (AS) wounded me, and I am still groaning as a result, so when I saw him, I began to shudder. The Prophet (S) said, God has created an angel that looks like Ali (AS) in order to fight in support of the prophets. (Ali and this angel used to fight for the Prophets (AS) and the Jinn for Islam)
There is another version of the story, which says that one day a jinn was sitting in the presence of the Prophet (S) when the Commander of the Faithful (AS) came in. When the jinn saw Ali (AS) he sought refuge with the Prophet (S) saying, O Messenger of God, help me and save me from this young man! The Prophet (S) asked him as to why he was afraid? What has he done to you? The jinn replied, O Messenger of God, I was one of the jinn in the service of Prophet Suleiman (AS).
The Infallible, Prophets and Humans on These Journeys
Humans have also been reported to make such journeys - by the power from Allah - examples of Shaykh Rajab Ali and Tabrisi have been detailed and will be mentioned again. Therefore, besides the Prophet and Ali, other sacred and highly spiritual persons have also initiated and experienced such remarkable and impossible journeys. The Aimmah (AS) are even reported to have made days of journey in seconds to attend a funeral, and make a return.
In al-Irshad by al-Mufid, Page 304-305:
Ali, son of Khalid was a Zaydite, and as such he did not acknowledge the Infallible who came after the fourth Infallible Ali Zain al-Abidin. He lived in the time of the Infallible Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad, the ninth guide and Infallible. He says, I was in the city of Samarrah, when I was told that a man from Damascus who claimed to be a Prophet had been brought there and put in prison. Ali, son of Khalid went to see him and asked him what the matter with him was.It is reported that Prophet Suleiman used to order the wind to take him wherever he wanted to go and he traveled great distances in seconds. This is the meaning of the verses 12 and 13 of the chapter of Saba, 34 in al-Qur'an. al-Jibouri (1987) writes that Prophet Suleiman would say his morning prayers in Syria and his noon prayers in Persia. It is reported that Khidhr (a divinely appointed scholar and teacher of Prophet Musa) used to appear in front of the Prophet and the Infallible in an instance when he had any questions that required the attention of the Infallible.
I was in Syria where I was busy in worship at the site supposed to be the resting place of the holy head of al-Husain, the doyen of the martyrs. One night I found all of a sudden a man standing before me. He asked me to get up. I rose unconsciously and went a short distance with him when I found myself in the mosque of Kufa. He asked me if I knew that mosque. I said that I did and that it was the mosque of Kufa (in Kufa). He offered his prayers. I too offered my prayers along with him. Then we set out again. We had not gone far, when I noticed that we were in the mosque of the Prophet, al-Nabi (in Madina). There he invoked blessings on the Prophet, and then we both offered our prayers.
Thereafter, we left that place too and set out again. A moment later I found myself in Makkah. There we circumambulated the Ka'bah, and then left the mosque of al-Haram.
After walking a few steps I found myself at my original place in Damascus. Then all of a sudden that man disappeared from my sight as if he was a slight draught of breeze, which swept my face and vanished.
A year had passed since this incident when I met that man again. He took me on the same journey and we two visited once again all the holy places, which we had visited the first time. When he wanted to leave me, I said to him, I beseech you in the name of Him who has given you such a wonderful power to be so kind as to let me know your name. He said, I am Muhammad, son of Ali, son of Musa, son of Ja'far, He was the ninth Infallible.
And the story continues.
As we noted earlier, humans (besides the Infallible and the Prophets (AS), though considered impossible, have been reported to experience such events and one by Shaykh Rajab Ali is relevant here. It is reported that the invocation of an entrapped young man entreating, O God! Train me for Your-Self! was answered in that sensational situation and caused such a leap forward in the spiritual life of this holy young man that the superficial people are unable to comprehend. With this leap, Rajab Ali traveled in one night a one hundred-year-long distance (defying the limits set by space and time), and became renowned as Shaykh Rajab Ali Khayyat.
In the first step of Divine training, his eyes, ears, and heart opened up so that he could see beyond the world of matter and through the High Heaven, the things other people could not see and hear. This esoteric experience prompted the Shaykh to believe that Ikhlas (sincerity and devotion) causes the eyes and the ears of the heart to open up.
One of the Shaykh's devotees who had been closely associating with him for so many years wrote about the Shaykh's spiritual achievements:
As a result of his great love in Almighty God and the Ahlul-Bayt (AS), there remained no veil between him and God. He had access to all worlds. He would talk to all the souls residing in Barzakh (purgatory world) since the beginning of creation up to the present. He would see, by his own will, whatever anyone had done in their whole life and would tell the signs, and would reveal what he willed and would be allowed to.Apparently, visiting the kingdom of the heavens and the earth with the eye of the heart is a prologue to attaining the high status of intuition of certitude. All those who have been delivered from the snares of nafs and Shaytan, by tearing apart the heart's veils, are able to observe the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and to bear witness to the Oneness of the Sacred Essence of God. As noted earlier, Ayatullah al-Beheshti used to travel hundreds and thousands of miles to pray behind the living 12th Imam al-Mahdi (AS) and then came back to lead prayers for the general people.
The Prophet (S) has said:
If it were not that devils are dominant over the hearts of human beings, they would be witnessing the kingdoms of the universe.One of the Shaykh Rajab Ali's disciples related:
I asked the late Haji Muqaddas whether the following hadith attributed to the Prophet (S) is correct - if it were not that devils are dominant over the hearts of human beings, they would be witnessing the kingdoms of the universe. He answered, Yes. I asked, Do you see the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? No, but Shaykh Rajab Ali Khayyat does! He replied.Shaykh has said:
Try to set your heart for God; when your heart is for God, He will be there; when He is there all that relates to Him will be present and evident there; whenever you will all will be with you, for God is there, the spirits of the Prophets and Awliya will be there; if you will, even Makkah and Madina will be with you. So try that your heart be just for God so that whatever is created by God be present to you!A case in point, it is reported that Fizza - the maid of Fatima al-Zahra (AS) - traveled from Africa to Madina in seconds and this was done with the assistance of the Prophet (S). This was a miracle on those days, but a simple act by the Prophet of Islam who had the kingdom of the heavens and the earth in his domination.
If you rise up for God, all the universe's assets will guide and support you. Since their perfection lies in merging in you, they wish to deliver what they naturally possess to achieve real perfection. If man rises up for God, all existing creatures will line up in his cause to present to him what they possess and to be his guide.
Allamah Majlisi (AR) writes in Hayatul-Qulub - Volume 3:
Through reliable sources Shaykh al-Tusi (AR) had narrated a tradition from Imam Zain al-Abidin (AS) that the place described as a far-off place by Allah where Maryam had moved for delivering is Karbala. Maryam had covered a long distance from Damascus to Karbala in a split second; Prophet Isa (AS) was born at a point near the grave of Imam al-Husain (AS) and she returned to Damascus that same night.
The 12th Imam al-Mahdi being present in an instant when any of his sincere follower asks for him; the fact that Fatima al-Zahra (AS) has promised to be present at all gatherings that commemorate the event of Karbala and cry for her son; and so forth, make the origin of these pure 14 souls light upon light, and this power was also given to certain specific Prophets and individuals. More on this follows.
The Science of these Journeys
It remains a scientific fact that as one travels fast into space, the slower the time passes on earth. This aspect of science has been proven and explained well in Physics and Astronomy. Einstein's theories of General and Special Relativity can be used to actually prove that time travel is possible. Government research experiments have yielded experimental data that conclusively illustrate that fast moving aircraft have traveled into the future (as time on earth ticks slower than time recorded on the person making the fast voyage - time slows down). This phenomenon is due to the principal of Time Dilation, which states that bodies moving at high velocities experience a time that ticks slower than the time measured at zero velocity. Phenomena known as Wormholes and Closed Time like Curves are also additional possible means of time travel into other realms of the universe.
According to Bosak (2003), this feat has not yet been accomplished - to our knowledge - and its theory involves complicated scenarios of tears in fourdimensional space-time and traveling near the speed of light. Obstacles, which prevent our humble attempts to cheat time, include our inability to move even close to the speed of light, and finding a source of energy as powerful as an exploding star.
Bosak (2003) quotes Professor Michio Kaku of the university of New York who believes that space flight may one day unlock the secret of time itself. This will require the development of spacecraft that can travel at speeds on the order of two hundred million meters per second, that's about four hundred and fifty million miles per hour. Craft Traveling at this speed will take us near the speed of light, where time actually slows down. This is what's known as Time Dilation.
Einstein's theories predict that the faster a spacecraft moves the slower time ticks inside of it. Imagine that a rocket ship takes off from earth and approaches the speed of light. If we were to watch it from earth with a very powerful telescope as it traveled away from us, we would see everyone inside the ship as being frozen in time. To us their time would slow down, but to them nothing would change! This has been measured in the laboratory and on location using atomic clocks, aircraft, satellites and rockets. It is proven that time slows down the faster you move.
Bosak (2003) continues in his article titled Time Travel and Inter-dimensional Voyages that in 1975 Professor Carol Allie of the university of Maryland tested Einstein's theory using two synchronized atomic clocks. One clock was loaded on a plane and flown for several hours, while the other clock remained on the ground at the air base. Upon return, the clock on board the plane was found to be ever so slightly slower that the one on the ground. This was not due to experimental error, and has been repeated numerous times with the same result. This difference in time is even more pronounced in satellites such as the space station. This is because these objects are traveling at speeds much faster and for much longer periods than possible in an airplane. The faster an object moves, the more time is distorted.
Now that we know that it is possible to travel into the future by moving at great speeds, the next problem is how to travel in time a respectable amount without having to sit in a fast moving spaceship for years. This problem is solved by the theoretical existence of what are known as closed time-like curves, and wormholes.
Timeline means that the body under consideration experiences time that increases in one direction along its world line. Princeton University physicist John A. Wheeler, and Kip S. Thorne of California Technology have shown that a closed time-like curve is one way to create a kind of shortcut through space-time called a wormhole. Wormholes are holes in the fabric of four-dimensional space-time, that are connected, but which originate at different points in space and at different times. They provide a quick path between two different locations in space and time. This is the four-dimensional equivalent of pinching two pieces of a folded sheet of paper together to make contact across the gap. Distortions in space cause the points separated by the gap to bulge out and connect. This forms a wormhole through which something could instantaneously travel to a far away place and time. No more problems of traveling in a rocket ship for years to get into the future!
In reality however, it would require a much more elaborate scheme to create a wormhole that connects two different points in space-time. First it would require the construction of two identical machines consisting of two huge parallel metal plates that are electrically charged with unbelievable amounts of energy. When the machines are placed in proximity of each other, the enormous amounts of energy - about that of an exploding star - would rip a hole in space-time and connect the two machines via a wormhole. This is possible, and the beginnings of it have been illustrated in the lab by what is known as the Casimir Effect. The next task would be to place one of these machines on a craft that could travel at close to the speed of light. The craft would take one machine on a journey while it was still connected to the one on earth via the wormhole. Now, a simple step into the wormhole would transport you to a different place and a different time.
Chapter 27, Verse 32, Allamah Taba Tabai has the following to say about Asif, the successor of Prophet Suleiman (AS) and his ability to bring the throne of Bilqis from thousands of miles away in the blinking of an eye. The great scholar explains wormholes and constriction of space as a possibility in the creation of Allah. He says:
In the book Basair, the closest of the greatest name of God has been derived from 73 alphabets and one of the alphabets was known to Asif Barkhiyya and when he used it, the land between Suleiman and Bilqis constricted so that he could catch the throne with his hands, lift it and kept it there. The land expanded to its original form again. This was done between the times spent in the batting of the eyelids. We have 72 out of the seventy-three alphabets and one is with God and He has secreted it with the unknown knowledge. There is none mightier and more powerful than God.
Allamah says that this has been quoted from Imam al-Sadiq (AS) too. The late Kulayni has quoted it from Imam al-Baqir (AS) and Nufili has quoted it from Abul Hasan (AS).
In Majmaul-Bayan it is reported that the angels must have brought the throne. The second explanation is that the wind must have brought it. The third is that God must have created consecutive motions in it. The fourth is that the land must have sunk and the throne came close to Suleiman. The fifth is that God must have removed it or vanished it and brought it before Suleiman.
Presence of The Infallible in All Congregations and their Ability to Immediately Respond
It is a fact that the essence and origin of the Prophet, Ali and the Infallible is light and so are all the Infallible. Shiite Muslims believe that whenever they call upon the Infallible, whenever they commemorate the merciless death of al-Husain and his family in Karbala, and that whenever they stand for Ziyarat and salute the Infallible, they happen to be present and also reply to the Salaam and it is compulsory to reply to a Salaam - salutation.
The fact that millions of Shiite Muslims worldwide, together with trees and other non-human creation - as these creations are intelligent, aware, send their prayer (like the stones did to the Prophet) and also lament and commemorate the incident of Karbala (as mentioned in the Ziyarat/Salutations of al-Nahiya by al-Mahdi) - congregate and commemorate this incident at their favored time, the presence of the Infallible on such occasions means that they are pure energy, their essence that of light, and can travel at speeds unknown to mankind to be present in these congregations held at different places throughout the universe. Another possible explanation is that the personal/specific info-energies of these blessed souls are ever present in these many congregations throughout the universe.
It is further apparent that the conscious and intelligent personal energy signatures with the information of salutation released from each individual direct themselves instantly to the Infallible and the Guides are able to understand and respond in a required manner through energy interaction and energy communication. The practical nature of energy allows such energy signatures to instantly reach the blessed Infallible.
We have also noted earlier that the holy spirit, a different angel than the four sacred angels we are aware of, is responsible for releasing to the Prophets and the Infallible all the information that transpires in the world and they need to know about it - this way they are well versed and can respond.
Besides the energy explanation and the other explanations, the Angel Fitrus is also responsible for sending all these salutations to al-Husain. He did say the following after receiving intercession and ability to fly after touching himself with the cradle (body in other traditions) in which the body of al-Husain resided:
O Prophet of Allah! This son of yours will be mercilessly killed by your nation. Therefore it is incumbent upon me in exchange of this favor that I recompense. Hence there is no person who visits his grave except that I receive him, and there is no Muslim who offers salutations to him or who prays for him except that I take it to his presence and carry his message.In another instance, the Prophet (S) has said:
There is no Muslim that greets me but that Allah delivers it to my soul so that I may return the greetings to him.al-Qur'an (al-Qur'an - Chapter 7, Verses 11-15) remarks:
(al-Dur al-Manthur, by al-Suyuti - Volume 1, Page 570, under the commentary of Chapter 2, Verse 203. For more detailed account, see al-Ghadir - Volume 5, Pages 98-99)
It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrated; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.It stands to reason that if Shaytan, the accursed rebel was blessed with the ability to be present near each individual (countless at a time), at all times, when that person is about to disobey Allah, this blessing and ability was undoubtedly gifted to the Prophets, Aimmah (the 14 Perfect Souls), and some humans with a high status in front of Allah. This ability is a gift from Allah to His believing persons so Shaytan is unable to misguide the righteous, as they have constant guidance from the Aimmah (AS).
(Allah) said, What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you? He said, I am better than he - You did create me from fire, and him from clay.
(Allah) said, Get down from this; It is not for you to be arrogant here; get out, for you are of the meanest (of creatures). He said, Give me respite till the day they are raised up. (Allah) said, Be among those who have respite.
He said, Because You have thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on Your straight way - Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left; Nor will You find, in most of them, gratitude (for Your mercies).