Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli is a well-known Muslim Shia scholar, public speaker as well as a researcher. He is the Executive Director of Noor Islamic Education, an established charitable organisation based in the United Kingdom. Born close to Kadhimiyya (Baghdad, Iraq) in 1978, his great-grandfather – Sheikh Mohammed Rida – was a distinguished scholar in Hilla, Iraq. This city is home to several great Islamic scholars, such as Allamah Hilli and Al-Muhaqiq. It is situated approximately 100km south of Baghdad.
In many parts of the world, the 27th Rajab is celebrated as the day of the Prophet’s ascension to the heavens. And while it is an accepted fact that Meraj occurred many times, there is an extremely significant event yet rarely talked about. Sheikh Hilli talks about the significance of the 27th Rajab as the Day of Bethat (or Mab’ath) and why Muslims don’t celebrate it enthusiastically as it deserves to be celebrated.
Why is it that our brothers from other schools of thought do not hold the 27th as the Ba’that or when it comes to Maahe Ramadan, do not celebrate the beginning of the revelation to the Holy beloved Prophet? Why is it that on the nights of qadr as we do also, we uphold the great night of ibaada and the Qur’an and its emphasis? We see seldom the reference to look, this is the beginning of the wahi and it’s a day of celebration. Why?
Because if you and I delve into it and this is a very delicate, sensitive point, historically, it’s very useful for us when we engage in the discussion also in our Aqeeda, in our beliefs. It hurts me personally. When I see Shi’a calendars, they say twenty-seventh Mi’raj. Today we see Mi’raj/Ba’that. When we compare Ba’that and Mi’raj they cannot be compared in significance, Ba’that is by and large one of the greatest events to happen in the history of mankind. It is the beginning of dawat, not Prophethood. We don’t believe it’s the beginning of Prophethood because the Prophet of Islam was a Prophet way before he was born.
He says I am a Prophet. when Adam was what, “Bayn al ma’i wa tin”, he was being produced between clay and water. Yes. Ashhado annkum anwaran Allah when we for recite the dua of Zyiarat Warith, what do we say we bear witness “Ashhado annaka noor kunta nooran fil aslabish shamikha” ‘you are light that, transferred from one what line to another’.
That’s true, the holy third Imam. Yes. And of course, the Prophet of Islam is what the first light as he himself states. Now, here’s the thing. Why is it that today, unfortunately, we have seen this trend of the reference to Mi’raj above all, and what it’s placing next, to Ba’that. It’s primarily Ba’that, no problem if you mentioned by passing Mi’raj. But that’s as far as it should be. Yes. One should not equate these two events at all because the Qur’an came forward to demonstrate the significance of the commencement of the religion of Islam.
Yes. So you asked me this question, where does this come from then? Because sometimes you have to scrutinize our own behavior and our own conduct. Yes. We should not be afraid to speak out. Oh! But the generation and culture and everyone else accepts Mi’raj so let’s accept it. Yes, we accept Mi’raj, but we have a problem with the date. You have an issue with the date when it was. Yes. So you ask me why.
I tell you, if you go to the Sihah books, Bukhari and Muslim, you go to Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad, you go Attabari’s Tareekh, you go to so many books of history as well as Hadith narration, which is a Muslim Ummah, are either followers of the School of Sahaba, our brothers and sisters, they come forward and they say that they are by and large acceptable narrations. They are Sahih many of them would consider being truthful when it comes to the depiction of this story of the first revelation, it leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact, it is grossly misrepresentative and unjustly representative of the holy beloved Prophet of Islam. This is very important. I have said this so many times in this place and in other places, these occasions like the Ba’that, like the wiladat of the Holy Prophet, like the wafat of the Holy Prophet. All these occasions, any time the Prophet is mentioned, it’s a great opportunity to say to people that the School of Ahlul Bayt’s viewpoint and the way it dissects and looks at the life of the Prophet is like no other school of thought in terms of the purity and exonerating the Prophet of Islam from the misconceptions and the falsehood that has been attributed to him.
One of them is the story of revelation, perhaps you’ve come across it. We remind ourselves what it says in the Sihah books. Yes, you go to Sahih Bukhari volume nine. You go to Sahih Muslim volume one. In many places, you find the following. That the Prophet of Islam used to practice ta?annuth – worship of Allah, as it is known deep reflection, contemplation, ibadat that was practiced at the time of Ibrahim, alayhi assalam, in Ghar Hira.
Yes, all of a sudden, he hears a voice, the voice says “Iqra”, read, he looks around, there is nothing, he responds. ‘I do not read. I cannot read’ “Ma ana bi Qari” , ‘I cannot read’, the voice says “Iqra” once again. But before it says it, once again, the narration says Jibrael holds the Prophet and squeezes him to the extent that the Prophet nearly suffocates and then lets him go. This is in Bukhari, so nobody should dispute it. The second time, third time, three times. The Prophet is squeezed very heavily in his chest until he is let go. And then he descends down the mountain and goes to Khadija , salamullahi alayha.
When he comes to Khadija, he cries or shouts. “Zammilooni Zammilooni” means ‘cover me, cover me’. She asks him what has happened. He says, ‘I think I have been affected by the jinn. I feel that there is something that is affected me. I am feeling something which is unusual and I have heard something being said to me, so I don’t know what that is. She says to him, ‘Let’s go to my cousin. Waraqa Ibn Nawfal, the famous Christian monk’? ‘He will know’.
So they both go. They go to this Christian monk. He asks the Prophet: ‘what did you see? What did you hear? The Prophet of Islam informs him, this man, Waraqa says to him, ‘this is what to Moosa who is also spoken to, that I wish I live long enough to see that your community that you will lead this community as a Prophet, that I wish to see how your community will drive you out of your city’.
So the Prophet says, ‘is that going to happen’? He says,’ yes, that will happen. The narrations tell us that Waraqa died shortly after the Prophet returned, but because he was told by a Christian that he was a Prophet, he still had doubts. And the doubts were further strengthened because the revelation stopped for a few months. No Wahi, no revelation. So what happened? He decided to commit suicide, God forbid, in Bukhari. He goes up three times to the mount and he tries to throw himself because he says, you know what, it is better to get rid of myself than to continuously have these feelings and thoughts.
He wants to throw himself from the top of the mountain, Maadhallah and Jibrael comes to him and says, “Ya Muhammad Innaka Rasoolul lahi Haqqa” . ‘Oh, Muhammad, you are truly the messenger of God’. Three times the Prophet wants to do it, he’s held. The Prophet wants to do it, he’s held. In other words, he stopped throwing himself from the tip top tip of the mountain. Now the story ends in Bukhari and Muslim, continues in Tabari and other historical works, just to be accurate and not to be oppressing of anyone.
Yes, because people can get carried away. It stops here in Bukhari and Muslim, It continues in Tabari, where the Prophet of Islam now comes to Khadija and says, ‘I am really confused. I must be able to find a way to differentiate whether I am being influenced by the jinn or it is truly an angel that is speaking to me because I heard an angel say I am a Prophet of God. He stopped me from committing suicide. Therefore, how do I know?
Khadija says I have a way litmus test, a barometer for you. This is how she says, Sit on my left lap. He sits on the left lap. Then she says to him, Can you still see him? He says, Yes, I can see him. Then she says, Sit on my right. He sits on the right. Can you still see him? Yes, I can see him. Then she says to him, she removes her hijab and says, Can you still see him?
Meaning the angel. He says,’ No, angel’s gone. She says, ‘then don’t worry. Oh, this thing is gone. She says, ‘Then don’t worry. It is an angel. Because you know angel doesn’t see women without hijab’, surely? Yes. And so you find these kinds of narrations are there. And I remember having a discussion with a Sunni brother in Mecca a few years ago when he saw me reciting Ziyarah. He came to me and said this Ziyarah that you are reciting, is it in Bukhari or Muslim?
I said, no. He said, then we cannot recite it. I said you know what’s in Bukhari and Muslim. He said, of course, I gave him the references and I spoke to him about the story. He responded immediately without hesitation and said, What’s wrong with it? I said, What do you mean? He said, Well, at least the Prophet didn’t commit suicide. So there is the idea of the defence of these books at the expense of the attacking of the Prophet, to that extent.
Now, when we come to the school of Ahlul Bayt, what is our objections to all this story? You may already have formulated a response to this story, which, by the way, you will not hear many of the scholars from other schools of thought talking often about because in this day and age, people are more intelligent in the sense that they will question or at least the sources they can easily verify. Yes. What is our problem with these narratives and the so-called narrations that exist?
Number one as far as the squeezing of the chest is concerned. why is it that Jibrael needs to squeeze the chest of the Prophet three times? To say to him, read, what is the relationship between the Prophet’s reading and the squeezing of the chest and why the Prophet should go into this suffering?
Number two, we do not have a single narration and mark these words that the Prophet of God, hundred and twenty-four thousand went through what the Prophet of Islam went through. So what does this say? Why should all the other Prophets, when they first receive revelation they are okay, no squeezing of the chest, no this kind of pain and suffering when receiving the revelation? Yes. And the Prophet of Islam has to go through it. Number one. Number two. When it came to the Prophet seeking help from Khadija, and Khadija saying Waraqa ibn Nawfal knows, does that not clearly demonstrate that the knowledge of Khadija is higher than that of the Prophet? To me, it goes to any sane individual, it does because Khadija is providing a solution to the Prophet and saying, you know what, I know Waraqa he is a Christian monk, he will be able to tell us the difference because the Prophet is confused according to these narrations.
Number three, a Christian comes and verifies the religion of Islam. What does that say about the beginning of the religion that is shaky, that even the Prophet himself is unable to verify the commencement of the revelation, isn’t it?
Number four, this story contradicts the Qur’an clearly, the Qur’an says “Aamana ar-Rasoolu bimaaa unzila ilaihi mir-Rabbihee” (2:285), it’s Surah al-Baqarah. The Prophet is in full belief of what Allah – Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, has revealed to him. The Qur’an says “Wa maa yantiqu ‘anilhawaaa” (53:3), he does not speak for himself “In huwa illaa Wahyuny yoohaa” (53:4). Yes, if they argue, well, you know this was not the entire life. This was after the first revelation while he came down and he was unsure after the first revelation.
When did this speaking of nothing but revelation begin? When we choose, when we like to choose and begin to say yes, that’s when the Prophet was convinced. Now everything is a revelation. Of course, that’s conjecture. That’s rejected. Yes.
Number five, what else do we say? We say that an act of reflecting or thinking about ending one’s life is abhorrent in any society, let alone Islamic teachings. But today, when you hear somebody who’s committed suicide, what do people say? Wonderful Act do they say that people are happy when somebody committed suicide? Oh, that’s why he must have been so depressed. Must have really been fed up with this life, yes? Act of committing suicide, displays or denotes an individual who has no hope, who has no connection, who has no relationship with God whatsoever and wants to end their life, isn’t it? Yes, I’ve had too much pain and suffering and they don’t see a way out, isn’t it?
What kind of image does that give to our children, to the people who are thinking about the religion of Islam, that the Prophet who we believe is the greatest human being, wants to kill himself? And when we say that the Qur’an says “Ma atakum al-Rasul fa-khidhuh” (59:7), whatever the Prophet did, then you must do whatever the Prophet did not do, you must not do. We believe that the Prophet’s actions as sunnah. Once again, where do we begin this sunnah? Is it when later he was convinced that he was a Prophet? Is that where we begin this sunnah or it’s when the revelation was commenced isn’t it?
Number five is of great importance. When we talk about what when we talk about this incidence of Khadija, what does it denote? Again, it denotes Khadija has some kind of litmus test whereby she has knowledge that the Prophet of Islam does not have. But more importantly, it is completely rejected. Why? Because of the notion that the Malaika, of course, do not have desire. They do not turn away, but there is a lady without hijab. Otherwise, our ladies are MashaAllah and can do whatever they want. There is no Malaika to record their actions. Yes, Malaika do not have Shahwat. They do not have the desire. Yes, therefore the Malaika are there.
This whole story, whether it’s in Bukhari or Muslim, whether it’s in Musnad Ahmed, whether it’s in Tabari, Ibn Kathir all these books have been cooked and fabricated and made up in order to what? In order to make others better than the Holy Prophet of Islam. Yes, because I read a narration that says the Prophet of Islam would say that’s what he would say, come forward and say what? He would say that I have a Shaytan who constantly bothers me, yes who’s constantly annoying me, and I can see him, he has some features characterized. Yes, and it’s constantly one that I battle with. Then there is another narration that says the second Khalifa Umar once saw Shaytan, punched him and then Shaytan never came back again.
Yes, these attempts to raise individuals above that of the Holy Prophet of Islam is something which has to be noted. Therefore, in conclusion, today, when you and I celebrate what does the school of Ahlul Bayt say, by the way, about Ba’that? Very clearly our sixth Imam Jafar Ibn Muhammad Al-Sadiq, salawatullahi wa assalamu alayh [Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘aali Muhammad] the narrations from Ahlul Bayt are clear. He was asked, Ya Ibn Rasul Allah how did the Prophet receive the revelation? He said when Allah chooses an individual, he makes sure that when they receive the revelation, they know and they receive it in the most tranquil and then the most serene of ways “Fee Sakinati Wal Wiqa'”, Imam Al-Sadiq says.
And when he was asked, what did the Prophet say when the Jibrael Said “Iqra” the Prophet said “Madha Aqra” ‘what should I read’? The Prophet was anticipating. He was waiting. He was ready for the revelation. All this stuff about Waraqa Ibn Nawfal, all this stuff about, God forbid, trying to end the life, all this stuff about this litmus test and Barometers are rejected in the school of Ahlul Bayt because we believe these strongly stand against the belief of the Ismah of the holy Prophet. The error-free, sinless nature and the fact that the Prophet of Islam is the greatest, therefore, human being.
Therefore, we say this in conclusion. What do we say? Let us be very careful because from time to time, these ideas have kept coming through. Yes, we remember Mi’raj, no problem, but the utmost and the most significant event of the twenty-seventh of Rajab is the Ba’that of the Holy Prophet, which our narrations are happy to speak about. The narrations of others are not, because of the way they depict the great personality of the Prophet of Islam.
We pray to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala to raise us with Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad.
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