This article is an excerpt from his book ‘The Message’
The writer Grand Ayatollah Ja’far Sobhani (born 1929 in Tabriz) is an Iranian Twelver Shia Marja’, an influential theologian and writer. Sobhani was a former member of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom and founder of Imam Sadiq Institute in Qom. Ja’far Sobhani learned Arabic literature and the Principles of Islamic jurisprudence in the Islamic Seminary. In 1946, he went to Islamic Seminary in Qom. In the Islamic Seminary, he took part in famous teachers’ classes of Fiqh, Usool, Tafsir, and philosophy. Sobhani’s important teachers were Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi, Khomeini, and Mirza Sayyed Mohammad Tabatabai for nearly 15 years.
ome of those interested in natural sciences, who are anxious to fix a natural cause for every event and a physical agent, for every phenomenon, have chosen to deny the very basis of Me’raaj and think that modern natural and scientific laws do not conform to the Me’raaj of the Holy Prophet. For example, they say:
1. Modern science says: In order to get away from the earth it is necessary to neutralize its gravity. If you fling a ball in the air, the power of gravity brings it back to the earth. With whatever force you fling it, it will come back to the earth again. If we wish to neutralize the gravity of the earth fully, so that the ball should move on and should not return to the earth, it will be necessary to fling at the minimum speed of 25,000 miles per hour.
Hence, the Prophet went out of the zone of gravity and became weightless. But here the question arises as to how he performed the journey at this speed without the necessary facilities.
2. The atmosphere in which one may breathe does not exist beyond a few kilometres from the earth. Thereafter, as we go higher, the air becomes thinner and still more unfit for breathing and occasionally we reach a point where there is no air at all. How did the Prophet manage to live without oxygen while performing his journey in the aforesaid regions?
3. The mortal rays and celestial stones destroy every terrestrial body which is touched by them. They do not, however, reach the earth on account of their collision with the regions of air and in fact, these regions serve as a coat-of-mail for the inhabitants of the earth. In the circumstances, by what means did the Prophet remain safe from these mortal rays?
4. Human life is deranged as and when the pressure of air increases or decreases and man can live in only a particular pressure of the air which does not exist in the upper regions.
5. The speed at which the Prophet performed his journey was decidedly more than the speed of light. Light travels at the speed of 300,000 kilometres per second and modern science has proved that nobody can travel at a higher speed than that of light. Keeping this scientific law in view, how did the Prophet commence his journey at a speed higher than that of light and then returned safe and sound?
Reply To The Above Objections
When we stretch the natural laws to this extent the number of difficulties crosses the limit of those enumerated above. However, we enquire from these gentlemen about the purpose of explaining these natural laws. Do they mean to say that journey in the upper world is impossible?
It should be said in reply that fortunately, the scientific research by the astronomers of Eastern and Western blocs has made this matter something usual and possible, because, by their sending into space the first artificial satellite in 1957, which was given the name of ‘Sputnic’, it became clear that the power of gravity can be neutralized by means of a rocket.
Similarly, by their sending space-ships carrying astronauts by means of rockets it became clear that the thing which man considered to be an obstacle in the way of his journeying in the upper worlds is remediable with the help of science and technology, and, with these industrial and scientific tools available to him, man can solve the problems of mortal rays and the difficulty about the lack of air in which one could breathe.
And even now the sciences relating to space are in a state of expansion and the scientists are confident that after some time it will be possible for them to lead their lives in one of the celestial spheres and they will travel quite easily to the moon and to Mars.
These scientific and technical developments clearly show that such an activity is one hundred per cent possible and is not something beyond reason.
It is possible that some persons may argue that such a journey cannot be undertaken without scientific and mechanical implements and as the Prophet did not possess these resources during the night of Me’raaj, how could he travel in such worlds without them?
The reply to this statement becomes quite clear from our foregoing discussions about the miracles of the Prophets and especially from the detailed narrative which we have penned earlier about the events of the ‘Year of the Elephant’ and the incident of Abrahah’s army being killed with small stones, for it is an established fact that the things which ordinary persons do with implements and scientific tools can be done by the Prophets with the blessings of Allah, and without any apparent and external means.
The Prophet of Islam went to Me’raaj with the blessing of Almighty Allah to Whom the entire creation belongs and Who is the Creator of this wonderful system. It is He who has given gravity to the earth and cosmic rays to the sun and has created different layers in the atmosphere. And He can take these things back and control them whenever He likes.
In case the schedule of the historical journey of the Prophet was accomplished under the command of Allah all these laws decidedly surrender before His absolute Will and are in the grip of His power every moment. In the circumstances what difficulty should there be if the Lord who has given gravity to the earth and cosmic rays to the heavenly bodies should take His chosen servant out of the centre of gravity with His unlimited power and without any apparent means? Allah who has created oxygen can certainly create air for His chosen Prophet in the areas where air does not exist.
The efficacy of a miracle is basically different from that of the natural causes and the strength of man. We should not consider the strength of Allah limited like our own. If we cannot perform a job without means we should not say that the Omnipotent Allah cannot also perform it. From the point of view of the difficulty and its solution the bringing to life of the dead, the transformation of a rod into a boa and keeping Prophet Yunus alive in the belly of a fish in the depth of the sea-the events which have been confirmed by the Heavenly Books and have been narrated for us-are, not unlike the Me’raaj of the Prophet of Islam.
In short, all the natural causes and external impediments are controlled and conquered by the Will of Allah. His Will does not concern only that which is an impossibility, but besides that, He can do whatever He likes, whether or not man possesses strength for it.
No doubt we are addressing here those people who recognize Allah with the qualities and attributes which are peculiar to Him and who believe that He is Omnipotent and can do whatever He wills.
The Object Of Me’raaj
A person asked the fourth Imam: “Is there a particular place for Allah?” He replied: “No”. The man said: “Then why did He make His Prophet journey through the skies?” The Holy Imam replied: “He made him ascend so that he might become aware of the expanse of the Universe and see and hear wonderful things, the like of which had not been seen and heard by the eyes and ears before”.
It is no doubt necessary that the last Prophet should enjoy such a position that he should rely on his vast information and should be able to send a message to the people of the 20th century, who are still thinking of travelling to the moon and to Mars, that he did this performance without any means and his Creator was kind to him and made him fully aware of the system of creation.