We then reached the first heaven, Jibreel knocked upon its gate, crying, Open up!? The name of this gate is Bab-ul-Hifz, the Gate of Protection, and it is made of red ruby stone, whereas its lock is made of pearls. From within the guardian of this gate, Ismail, called out in a voice such as I have never heard before, Who is this demanding entry Jibreel thereupon answered, It is I, Jibreel. And who is that with you. demanded the keeper of the gate. That is Muhammed (Sal), replied Jibreel. The keeper of the gate then asked, Has he been given prophethood. Yes, replied Jibreel, ?he has been given prophethood. Has he been cited and invited to come here, Ismail demanded to know. Yes, he has been invited to come,? Jibreel replied. Then Ismail said, ?Welcome, welcome to you! What a delightful visitor! With these words he opened the gate.In another narration a differing version is related:
Rasulullah (Sal) rose up to the heavens using the rock in the Masjid-ul-Aqsa as a stepping stone to mount the Buraq. The distance from the earth to the heaven is five hundred years? wayfaring. Each heaven has a depth of five hundred years? travelling, and between two heavens there is a space of another five hundred years? travel.
The Holy Prophet (Sal) resumes his narrative:
When I entered this heavenly realm, I encountered Isma?il in his impressive aspect, seated upon a throne of light. One hundred thousand angels surrounded him, standing in front, to the back, to his right and to his left. Each of these angels had another hundred thousand soldiers at his command. Isma?il and all those with him engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-l-malik-il-a?la, Subhana-l-?aliyy-il-azhim. Subhana man laysa ka-mithlihi shay?in.
(Praise be to the Highest King; Glory to the High, the Mighty;
Glory to Him who is unlike any other.)
I then saluted him and he returned my greetings and honoured me. After this I beheld another group of angels, who stood in pious reverence in Qiyam, (the standing position of ritual prayer). They all were engaged in this Tasbih:
Subbuhun quddus Rabbuna wa Rabb-ul-mala?ikati wa-r-ruh
(Praised be He with exalted praise, He who is holier than holy, our Lord and the Lord of the angels.)
I enquired of Jibreel about these angels? form of worship, and he answered, ?Since the day they were created they have been worshipping thus and so they will remain until the Day of Resurrection. Ask the Lord to grant this worship to your nation, too.? So I made supplication and the Lord granted this kind of worship to my nation. That is how the Qiyam came to be included in our prayer.?
Apart from these, I beheld a number of angels created from wind and water. The angel appointed as their head and overseer was called Ra?ad (which means thunder). He is responsible for the clouds and the rains. The Tasbih they were engaged in was this:
Subhana dhi-l-mulk wa-l-malakuti
(Praise be to Him in whose Hand lies the entire creation and its dominion.)
From this angel?s voice issued the sounds of thunder and lightning. In the heavenly sphere there remained not one empty space, angels were cramped even into the smallest corner, prostrating themselves and praising the Lord with manifold praises.?
Then I saw another angel who bore the shape of a man. Below his waist he was made of fire, while above the waist he was made of snow. The fire clung to the snow and although there was nothing separating these two elements, neither did the snow extinguish the fire, nor did the fire melt the snow. But tears were streaming down this angel?s face, and as he wept, he recited this glorification (Tasbih):
Ya man allafa bayna-th-thalji wa-n-nar,
allif bayna qulubi ?ibadika-l-mu?minin.
(Oh Thou who hast joined the snow and the fire,
unite Thou also the hearts of Thy believing servants.)
I turned to Jibreel and asked, Who is this angel and why does he weep?? Jibreel explained, He is an angel, Habib by name. He weeps for the sins of thy nation and prays for mercy and forgiveness on them.
Then I saw Adam in the form in which he appeared in the world. He was draped in wraps of light and seated upon a throne of light. The Lord Almighty presented to him the souls of the departed, and whenever he perceived the soul of a believer, he rejoiced and said,
A pure soul emerges from a pure body.? After this, he asked for forgiveness and pleaded for mercy upon that soul. Then the angels came and carried that soul up to a high and lofty place, as it is written in the Holy Qur?an:
No indeed; the book of the pious is in Illiyun;
and what shall teach thee what is Illiyun? A book inscribed,
witnessed by those brought nigh.
(The Stinters, 19)
Whenever the souls of departed unbelievers and hypocrites are presented to him, he is vexed and curses them, ?An impure soul emerges from an impure body.? The angels then take that spirit and place it in a place called Sijjin, as it is written in the Holy Qur?an:
No indeed; the Book of the libertines is in Sijjin;
and what shall teach thee what is Sijjin?
A book inscribed.
(The Stinters, 7)
I then asked Jibreel who was this person and he told me,?This is your first forefather Adam, go towards him and extend to him your greetings.? So I went to him and saluted him, and he replied to my salute, honouring me by saying, ?Welcome to you, oh my righteous son. Oh righteous Prophet! Praise be to the Lord who has given me such a son as you.? In this way he received me well, and I replied to his complimentary speech with these words: ?Praise be to the Lord who has given to me such a father as thou art one.? Then again, Adam spoke, glorified the Lord and said, ?Glory to the Almighty who has blessed you with such great wonders; who has brought you forth from my loins; may Allah always increase the blessings He showers upon you and make you steadfast and permanently grounded in them.? In reply to this supplication and well wishing, I said, ?Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Might and Bounty! He who created you from clay through His Divine Powers and who had you carried up to the heavens on the shoulders of angels. Who has made you the Qibla and commanded all the angels to bow down before you and who has made Paradise accessible for your sake.? To that Adam answered me as follows, ?For all the bounteous gifts granted to me that you have mentioned, you are still more blessed than I. For all the miracles and gifts that I was granted were only given to me for the sake of your light upon my forehead, I was favoured with all these honours only for the sake of that radiant light.?
He spoke many more things to me, and ended his speech by saying, ?From my time on until the time of your prophet hood, only one in a thousand of my children were graced with entering Paradise, while nine hundred and ninety-nine were sent to Hell. When your time of prophet hood came, only one in one thousand of your nation was sent to Hell and nine hundred and ninety-nine were admitted into Paradise. The Almighty placed your blessed name beside His very own Holy Name even before you appeared in this world and proclaimed your great worth to all of creation.?
Adam recited this Tasbih:
Subhana-llahi wa bi-hamdihi,
(Glory to the Mightiest of the Mighty,
Glory to the All-Embracing, All-Abundant;
Praised be Allah and glorified be He!
Praised be Allah, the All-Glorious
I seek forgiveness from Allah Almighty).
Then I saw a door to the right of Adam from which issued the sweetest of scents. Just to look in the direction of that door filled the heart with gladness and serenity. To his left there was another door; to look at it sufficed to make a man weep and the heart to become heavy. I asked Jibreel about these doors, and he said, ?The door to the right opens upon Paradise. The souls of the blessed enter through that door, and whoever glances to the right, sees them and is gladdened. The door to the left leads to Hell, and the souls of the sinners must go through that door. Who looks to the left sees them on their way to Hell and is saddened by the sight.?
Next I saw an angel who had the form of a cockerel. He was very large and his head touched up to the Divine Throne, while his feet were below the seven layers of the earth. He had two wings; when he spread these, they reached from the farthest east to the utmost west. The station of this angel is the Sidratu-l-Muntaha, which shall be described in detail later on, insha?Allah. The angel’s body is created of white pearl, while the comb on its head is of red ruby.?
To rear a pure, white, unspeckled rooster in one?s home is of great usefulness and has very special advantages. This is because of its resemblance to this angel, the Cockerel of the Divine Throne. It benefits not just the owner of the white rooster, but it also protects the neighbours and the environment from many disasters and bad things. The Holy Prophet (Sal) is reported to have said about this, ?The white rooster is my sincere friend, and he is also the friend of my friend, the angel Jibreel. He is also the enemy of my enemy, Shaytan. The white rooster protects the house in which he is raised and its owner and entire household, as well as nine neighbouring houses and their inhabitants.?
There is only this condition attached to it: the rooster must be of a flawless white, without a speck. He is of even greater value if his crest is forked, as the Holy Prophet (Sal) says,The fork-crested white rooster is my dear and beloved friend. He protects four houses to the right, four to the left, four in front and four in back, altogether sixteen houses and their inhabitants from disaster and calamity.? (This Hadith is related by Abu ash-Shaykh from Annas.) There is another Hadith related by Bayhaqi from ?Umar who claims that the Holy Prophet (Sal) said, ?This rooster makes known to Allah?s servants the times for prayer. Whoever raises a white rooster in his house will be protected from three things: from the evil of Shaytan, the evil of the sorcerer, and the evil of the soothsayer.? However, he who raises a white rooster must on no account slaughter him, as those who know about these matters inform us in the ?Fath-ul-Qadir? will have us know: ?Sorrow will not depart from the side of him who slaughters a white rooster.?
Imam Tha?libi cites from the book entitled ?Hayat ul-Haywan? (The Life of the Animals) by Imam Dumayri: ?The Holy Prophet (Sal) makes clear to us these pearls of spiritual wisdom when he says, ?There are three things that Allah Almighty loves and is pleased with: the voice of him who recites the Holy Qur?an; the sound of the rooster?s call; the voice of him who prays for forgiveness in the time before the dawn.?
To continue with the Holy Prophet?s (Sal) narrative:
This angel who has the form of a rooster descends to the earthly skies when it is night, and this is his Tasbih:
La ilaha ill?Allah-ul-hayy-ul-qayyum
(Glory to the All-Holy King,
Glory to the Great and Exalted God,
there is no God but Allah, the Ever-Living, Eternally Abiding.)
I then asked Jibreel, What is this?? and Jibreel answered me, ?This is the reason he is called, the Rooster of the Divine Throne?, for when it is night on earth, he descends to the worldly skies. After one third of the night has passed, he flaps his wings and says, ?Oh you who would be worshippers, arise and pray! All of creation hears this call, all except mankind and Jinn. Therefore, when the roosters on earth hear the angels call, they too flap their wings and voice their call, saying, ?Oh you heedlees ones! Arise and engage in remembrance of your Lord!? When half of the night has passed, this angel again flaps its wings and calls, ?Let those who would perform the supererogatory night prayer (Tahajjud); rise and pray!? When the roosters on earth hear this call, they too sound their call to pass on to men the message of the angel. When two thirds of the night has passed and only one third of it remains, the angel speaks up again and calls out, ?Where are they who would ask for forgiveness for their sins, whose sole hope and desire is the Lord of the Worlds? Let them rise and pray for forgiveness and present their invocations!? Again, the roosters on earth hear this call and pass it on to the people on the earth. When at last dawn begins to break, this angel flaps its wings once more and calls, ?Now let the heedless ones rise, though they be laden heavily with their sins..? After this, he again ascends to his station in the Heavens. Again, the roosters on earth hear his words and inform mankind of the angel?s call. This same sequence is repeated every night, uptil the Day of Judgement.?
And Jibreel continued, ?When the Day of Judgement is about to occur, this angel will want to call out his call as usual after the first third of the night has passed. But he is stopped by a call from on High, ?Oh My angel, do not awaken My servants!? In this way he is prevented from calling, and he and all the angels of the heavens with him realize that the Day of Resurrection is upon them. All at once they begin to weep.?
That night will be the length of three days and three nights, and in that night neither the cocks will crow, nor will the dogs bark. Mankind will lie in a deep sleep of forgetfulness for three full days and nights. Only those who were accustomed to rise and pray the prayer of the night (Tahajjud) will awaken and rise to pray their Tahajjud as usual. But they will wonder and say, ?Yet there is no sign of morning breaking, have we risen too early?? Then they will lie down to sleep a bit longer, and when again they awaken, still it will not be day. Then they will understand that it is the longest night before the Last Day, and that indeed it has finally begun.
They will then set about trying to wake up their companions who were not used to rising for the night prayer, but whatever they do, they will not succeed in waking them, it is impossible. Then they betake themselves to the mosques, gathering there and repenting of their sins, praying for forgiveness. There they will remain for those whole three days and nights, weeping copious and incessant tears, imploring the Lord for mercy. When this period is over and the day dawns, the sun will be seen to rise in the west and the Gates of Repentance will be shut.
To continue with our Prophet?s (Sal) narrative:
I then came to a sea, which was whiter than milk and as viscous as the semen of men. Within it, I beheld things so exceedingly strange and unknown so as to defy all description. Their numbers were unaccountably great and beyond reckoning. I asked Jibreel, ?What sort of sea is this?? and he answered me, ?This is the Sea of Life. On the Day of Resurrection, after every created thing has died its death, the Almighty will want to raise them all from their graves in order to mete out reward or punishment. He will then issue His Command and a rain will fall upon the earth from the waters of this sea. The rainwaters will rise to a depth of forty yards upon the level earth and the ground will be drenched to its depths. All the flesh and bones that have rotted in the earth will then be restored, all the skins and strands of hair and nerves will come together and appear once more. As soon as this water comes in touch with the earth, whatever is contained in it will instantly return to its former state. What has long been scattered will be assembled again, and all this will come to pass on account of the action of the waters of the Sea of Life.?
After this, Jibreel called the Adhan and Iqama, and I led all the angels and inhabitants in a prayer of two Rak?ats. Then I rose to the second level of the heavens,?
The Second Heaven
The Lord Almighty, praised be His Name, has created this heaven from red coral and called it Qaydum. The name of its gatekeeper is Mikha?il. This heaven appeared to me to be especially full of light and splendour, so much so that I was blinded and had to squint. The door of this heaven is of pearls and its lock is of light. Jibreel knocked upon this door and requested entry. The keeper of the gate, Mikha?il, called from inside, Who is it requesting the opening of this gate? I am Jibreel, replied Jibreel, and again the angel asked, ?And who is this with you? This is Muhammed (Sal),? answered Jibreel . Again the gatekeeper asked, Has he been given prophet hood?? ?Yes.? replied Jibreel. Has he come here upon invitation and request? asked Mikhail. Yes, said Jibreel, ?invitation and request have gone before. Then the gatekeeper said, ?Welcome to you, oh welcome guest! How agreeable a visitor! With that, he opened the gate.
I entered and beheld the guardian angel of this heaven, Mikha?il. There were two hundred thousand angels at his service, each one of whom had another two hundred thousand helpers to assist him. I greeted him and he returned my greetings with reverence. He gave me the joyous news of the many honours and blessings the Almighty was to bestow on me. They were engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-llahi kullama sabbaha-llaha musabbihun,
wa-l-hamdu lillahi kullama hamid-allaha hamidun
wa la ilaha ill?Allahu kullama hallala-llaha muhallilun
wa-llahu akbaru kullama kabbara-llaha mukabbirun.
(Glory be to Allah whenever the glorifier glorifies Him;
and praised be He whenever the praiser praises Him;
there is no God but He each time this Tahlil is recited;
and Allah is Greatest each time this Takbir is affirmed.)
I passed on and came upon another group of angels who stood in rows and and were bowing in Ruk?u in perfect reverence and devotion. They remained always in this position and recited this Tasbih:
Subhana-lladhi la tudrikuhu-l-absar;
(Praised be He, the Heir Universal who sees,
Praised be He whom our eyes cannot perceive;
Praised be the Majestic, the All-Knowing.)
I asked Jibreel, ?Since when have they been in this position of Ruk?u?? and he said, ?Since the day they were created they have always been bowing in Ruk?u, and thus they will remain until the Day of Resurrection, bowed in Ruk?u, reciting their Tasbih. Pray to your Lord that He granted to your nation this form of worship in their prayer.? I therefore prayed to Allah for this, and the Almighty granted it to my nation.?
After we passed on, I perceived two young men and I asked Jibreel who they were. Jibreel explained to me, ?These young men are the Prophets Yahya and Isa. They are related to each other, being cousins.? I saluted them and they received my Salams with reverence and greeted me, saying, ?Welcome to you, oh righteous Prophet, our righteous brother!? Then they gave me tidings of the many Gifts of Grace the Highest and Holiest Lord had in store for me.?
The Tasbih of Isa was this:
(Praised be to the All-Compassionate, the All-bounteous;
Praised be the Eternal, Never-Ending;
Praised be He who creates from nothing, then causes to die
and returns to its previous state.)
After we had passed them, I saw a very great angel who had seventy thousand heads, and on every head there were seventy thousand faces. Every face had seventy thousand mouths and in every mouth there were seventy thousand tongues. Each tongue spoke a different language, which bore no resemblance to the next. Each tongue glorified the Lord as follows:
Subhanallahi wa bi-hamdihi;
Subhanallahi-l-azhim wa bi-hamdihi,
(Praise be to the Creator, the Glorious;
Praise be to the All-Powerful, All-Knowing;
Praise be to Allah and glorified be He;
Praise be to Allah the Magnificent and glorified be He,
I beseech Allah for forgiveness.)?
?Who is this?? I asked Jibreel. Jibreel told me, ?This is the angel who is charged with the distribution of provisions, and his name is Qasim. He distributes to every single one his daily provision; no one receives more or less than his apportioned lot.?
According to one narration, he is to have said, ?If a person finds himself in straightened circumstances and in the morning prayer (Fajr) recites one-hundred times the last line of the Tasbih of this angel between the Sunna and the Fard Rak?ats, then Allah will supply him plentifully and make his provision bounteous.?
This is the line of this Tasbih:
Subhana-llahi wa bi-hamdihi,
Subhana-llahi-l-azhim wa bi-hamdihi
(Praise be to Allah and glorified be He;
Praise be to Allah the Magnificent and glorified be He,
I beseech Allah for forgiveness.)
To continue with our Prophet?s (Sal) narration:
?After passing by this angel, I beheld an even greater, even more wondrous angel who was seated upon a throne of light. He was silent and of morose aspect. The throne he was seated upon had four corners and each corner was supported by seven hundred thousand pillars of gold and of silver. Around him were grouped such multitudes of angels, only the Omnipotent Owner of Might and Bounty, Allah Almighty alone knows their number. To his right angels were ranged row upon row, seventy thousand in all, dazzling in their light. All of them were clad in green and they gave off a lovely scent. Their words, too, were sweet, and their beauty was so great that it was impossible to gaze at them.?
?To the left were another seventy thousand angels, ranged row upon row. Their aspect was of terrible and sinister portent, their faces were black as night and their speech was rude. Their clothing was ugly and the smells they emitted were noxious. When they began reciting their Tasbih, tongues of fire erupted from their mouths. They held before them fiery clubs and blades, and their eyes were so cruel, no one could stand to look at them for long.?
?The angel seated upon the throne was covered with eyes from head to foot, which sparkled as Mars and Venus in the sky. He also had shimmering wings and in his hand he held sheet of paper, while before him there was a tablet. He gazed incessantly at that tablet and not once lifted his gaze from it. There was also before him a tree, and only Allah can know the number of its leaves. Upon each leaf was written the name of a certain person. Then there stood before him a type of vessel. At times he reached in it with his right hand and drew something out of it, handing it to the luminous and gentle angels to his right. At times he reached for something with his left hand and gave it to the pitch-black angels standing by his left side. As I looked at those dark angels, fear fell upon my heart and I began to tremble. I was seized by a weakness and prostration, and I asked Jibreel, ?Who is this?? Jibreel replied, ?This is the Angel of Death, his name is Israil. There is no one who can bear to look at him. It is he who ends all delights, and cuts off from all community.? He then went up to him and said, ?Oh Israil, this visitor here is the Prophet of the Last Times (Sal), he is the Beloved of Allah, the Lord of Mercy. Speak thou to him!? Upon these words, Izrail lifted his head and he smiled. Jibreel approached him and saluted him. I also went up to him and proferred my Salams. He received my greetings and showed me great honour. Then he spoke, ?Welcome to you, oh Muhammed (Sal)! Allah has created no creature more honoured than you, and to no nation has He given greater honour than to your nation. I am gentler and more compassionate towards your nation than to any nation that went before them.? In response to these words, I said to Izrail, ?You have gladdened my heart, oh Israil, and cleared my mind of fear. Yet there remains one matter on my mind, for I have seen your state to be one of gloom and grief and I wonder wherefore.?
Israil explained to me, ?Oh Rasulullah (Sal), since the time the Lord Almighty has appointed me to my post, I have been living in fear of not being able to discharge my duty and of not being able to fulfill my responsibility. That is why I appear gloomy and depressed.? Then I asked him about the vessel he had before him, and he said, ?That is the entire world, everything from east to west, from one end of the world to the other is contained in this dish. I dispose of it at will.? Again I asked him, ?What is this tablet you are looking at?? and he said to me, ?This is the Lauh-ul-Mahfuzh, the Preserved Tablet, on which is inscribed the doom of those who are to die within the year. The angels write them down and hand the list to me. That is the Tablet.? ?And what is this page?? I asked. ?On this page is written the exact hour of time when these souls are to be taken away.? ?And what is this tree?? I asked. He said, ?It is the tree of the lives of those living in the world. When a man is born, a leaf unfurls upon that tree upon which his name is written. When his time to die approaches, his leaf begins to yellow and wither and his name appears on the Tablet. I give this leaf to the angels, and they take it and mix it in his food so that he eats it. When he has eaten it, by the leave of Allah he falls ill, and when his time is up, his name is erased from the Tablet. I stretch out my hand and seize his soul, whether he be in the east or in the west of this world. If he is among the blessed, I hand him to the angels on my right, for they are the angels of Mercy. But if he is one of the sinners, I hand him to the angels to my left, for they are the angels of Wrath.?
May Allah preserve us from the doom of the wretched sinners, Amin.
?Again I asked, ?How many of those angels are there?? and Azra?il replied, ?I do not know their number, but whenever I seize a person?s soul, six hundred angels of Mercy and six hundred angels of Wrath are ready to do their duty. They wait expectantly to see to which group it will belong. These angels do their duty only once, the same angels never come twice, and so it will be until the Day of Judgement.? After this, I asked again, ?Oh Angel of Death, how do you take the soul of every single individual?? He replied, ?Since the time I was created, I have never moved from this spot. Seventy thousand angels are there to serve me, and each one of these has another seventy thousand helpers. Whenever I have to seize a person?s soul, I give my order to them and they go out and bring the person?s soul up into his throat. After that, I just stretch out my hand and grasp it from there.? I said to him, ?What I would wish for is that my nation, which is a weak nation, experience death in a mild and gentle manner.? He replied, ?By Allah, the Lord of Might and Majesty who has made you the Seal of the Prophets, He Almighty addresses me seventy times during one day and night, saying to me, ?Take the souls of those belonging to Muhammed?s nation with lightness and ease, and judge their deeds kindly.? Therefore, I am given to more compassion towards your nation than to any of those who went before them.?
After this, Jibreel called the Adhan and Iqama and I led the angels and all inhabitants of the second heaven in a prayer of two Rak?ats. Then I continued my ascent to
The Third Heaven
The Lord Almighty created this heaven from copper and has named it Zaytun. The name of its guardian angel is Arina?il. Its gate is of white pearls and it has a lock of light. When Jibreel knocked upon the gate, the guardian angel called from within, ?Who is it requesting entry?? Jibreel answered, ?It is I, Jibreel.? ?And who is this with you?? asked the keeper of the gate. ?It is Muhammed (Sal),? replied Jibreel. Again he asked, ?Has he been given prophet hood?? ?Yes, he has,? answered Jibreel. ?Has he received summons and invitation?? ?Yes, he has,? replied Jibreel. Then Arina?il opened the gates, saying, ?Welcome to you, how pleasing a guest!? I entered this heaven and I beheld Arina?il to be a great and majestic angel. He had at his command three hundred thousand angels who engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-l-mujibi liman da?ahu.
(Praise be to the Giver of all things, the generous Bestower,
Praise to the Opener of All Ways, the All-Knowing,
Praise to Him who answers all prayers.)
I greeted this angel and he responded with full reverence and gave me news of many and varied blessings and gifts that were to come to me. After that, I went on and came upon a large group of angels ranged in rows and all in the position of Sajda. While bowing thus, they were engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-lladhi la mafarra wa la malja?a minhu illa ilayhi,
(Praised be the Almighty Creator,
Praise be to Him from whom there is no escape
no refuge but in Him;
Praised be the Highest of All.)
Jibreel then said to me, ?They are perpetually engaged in this form of worship. Pray that the Lord grant that also to your nation.? Then I prayed to the Lord and He granted to my nation the Sajda in their prayer. This is the reason why the Sajda in our prayer is doubled: when I came and saluted them, they raised their heads from their Sajda to receive my salute, then they again bowed down. Therefore, my nation was obliged to perform the Sajda twice in their prayer.
I then passed on, and I saw Yusuf in all his great beauty. Of all existing beauty, Yusuf was given one half. I gave him my Salams and he returned them with dignity and bade me welcome. He informed me of many miracles to come and he prayed for me. His Tasbih was this:
(Praised be the Most Bounteous of the Bountiful;
Praised be the Greatest of the Great;
Praised be the Peerless, Unique;
Praised be Eternal, Never-Ending.)
After we had passed him, I saw Da?ud and his son Sulayman. I greeted them both and they returned my Salams with respect. They gave me great good tidings and said, Pray in this night that you might be given intercession for your nation and that the Lord grant them security. In this way they counselled me.?
Daauds Tasbih was this:
(Praised be the Creator of Light;
Praised be He who accepts Repentance
and the Bestower of All Good.)
Sulayman’s Tasbih was this:
Subhana maliki-l–mulk ,
Subhana man ilayhi tasir-ul-umur.
(Praise to the Lord of All Dominions,
Praise to the Compeller, the Imposing;
Praised be to whom all Things must return.)
?After I left them, I came to an angel seated upon a throne. This angel had seventy heads and seventy pairs of wings, each pair spanning all the way from the east to the west. All around him I beheld enormous angels, each of which was extremely tall. These angels were punishing a certain group of sinners, beating them with sticks until they fell apart. Then they became whole again and the angels began beating them again. I asked who this great angel was whom I saw seated upon the throne. Jibreel told me that he was the angel Soha?il and he told me that those I saw being punished were the unjust tyrants and cruel oppressors from among my nation. In this way they would be punished until the Day of Judgement. Their Tasbih was as follows:
Subhana man huwa fauqa-l-jabbarin;
Subhana-l-muntaqimi mim-man asahu.
(Glory to Him who is above all oppressors;
Glory to Him who attacks all attackers;
Glory to Him who takes revenge on whomever disobeys Him.)
?After this, I beheld a Sea of Fire surrounded on its shores by fierce and terrible angels. ?What is this?? I asked, and Jibreel explained to me, ?This sea is the ?Sea of Sa?q? (Lightning), and these angels here throw down thundering bolts of fire and lightning from the heavens onto the earth.?
As it written in this Holy Verse of the Qur?an:
He looses the thunderbolts,
and smites with them whomsoever He will..
After this I beheld a door, which was made all of camphor wood. Its lower groundsill reached down to the lowest level of the earth, while its upper doorsill reached to just below the Divine Throne. This door was a double door, on which was mounted a lock as great as heaven and earth together. I asked in amazement, ?What is this door?? and Jibreel answered me, ?The name of this door is ?Bab-ul-Aman?, the Door of Safety.? I asked why it was so called and Jibreel told me, ?The Lord Almighty created Hell and filled it with various torments. There came a breath out of Hell, and all the creatures on earth and in the heavens appealed to the Lord for help and protection. Then, the Lord of All Majesty created this door between Hell and the rest of all creation, so that all the creatures of the seven heavens and earths will find safety from it. Therefore, the name of this door is the Door of Safety.? I then asked to see what was behind that door and asked for it to be opened, but Jibreel said, ?Behind this door you will find Hell, is that really what you want to see?? ?Yes, indeed, I wish to see it,? I said. Thereupon a Divine Command was heard, saying, ?Oh My Beloved, upon a sign of your finger, this door will open.?
I then signalled with my hand and the door opened. I looked beyond it and this is what I saw: a great Minbar of iron, which had six hundred thousand pedestals. Upon it sat a great and terrible angel created from fire. He was busy twisting ropes of fire, making shackles and fetters of fire. His face was awesome and frightful to behold. His hand was powerful and his anger was plain to see. His head was bowed forward and he recited this Tasbih:
Subhana-lladhi la yajuru wa huwa-l-malik-ul-jabbar;
Subhana-l-muntaqimu min ?ada?ihi,
Subhana-l-mu?ti li-man yasha?a,
Subhana man laysa ka-mithlihi shay?un.
(Praised be He who commits not injustice
and He is the Almighty, Omnipotent King;
Glory to Him who triumphs in revenge over His foes,
Praised be He who bestows on whomever He wilt;
Glory to Him who is unlike anything.)
Flames leapt from his mouth as high as mountains, and from his nose darted flares of fire. This angel was exceedingly angry and full of rage, and his eyes, each one of which was as great as the whole world, blazed with fury. As I beheld this angel in all his awesome aspect, I felt afraid. Were it not for the grace and generous support from the Lord Almighty, I would have perished from fear. I asked Jibreel, Who is this, the sight of whom makes me tremble? Jibreel told me, Be unafraid, for there is nothing there for you to fear. This is the Guardian of Jahannam, Hell, and his name is Malik. Allah Almighty has created him from His Wrath and since the day of his creation, he has never smiled yet. His fury increases with every passing moment. Go up to him now and salute him.? Thereupon, I went up and gave him my Salams, but he was so engrossed in what he was doing that he lifted not even his head. Jibreel passed in front of him and spoke to him, Oh Malik, he who has just given you Salams is the Prophet of Allah, Muhammed (Sal).
Jibreel thus introduced me, and when he heard my name, this terrible angel rose to his feet and honoured me with many compliments and respectful greetings, after which he spoke, saying to me, ?Oh Muhammed (Sal), good tidings to you! For the Lord has vouchsafed to you many miraculous doings; and He is pleased with you: He has forbidden your body to the fires of Hell. From love and respect for you, He has also forbidden the fires to touch those who follow you. He has ordered me to treat the disobedient from among your nation with mildness and restraint. I shall wreak my revenge on those who refuse to believe in you.?
I then said to Jibreel, Ask him to show me Hell.? When Jibreel told him of my request, he opened a hole the size of a needlepoint through which I could look into Hell. At first, a thread of black smoke came wafting through the hole. Had that smoke come from the hole for the period of one hour, all the heavens and the earth would have been filled with it. The light of the sun and the moon and all other luminaries would have been occluded, all would have been steeped in darkness and laid waste. But Malik stopped up that hole with his hand and the smoke ceased pouring forth. Then he said to me, ?Look through this hole and behold Hell.?
I looked through the hole and I saw the seven layers of Hell stacked one upon another. The uppermost was the one reserved for the disobedient from among my nation and it is called Jahannam. The punishments meted out here were less severe than in the deeper layers of Hell.
The second level is called Lazha; it is the hell for the Christians;
The third level is named Hotama, and it is reserved for the Jews;
The fourth level is named Sair, and it is for the Sabeans;
The fifth level is called Saqar, and it is the hell for the Majusis;
The sixth level is called Jahim, and in it shall burn the idolaters;
The seventh level is named Hawiya, and it is reserved for the
hypocrites and those who claimed themselves to be
Gods, such as Nimrod and Pharaoh.
I had not the strength to gaze at the extreme chastisements of those in the lower levels of Hell, so I only saw what went on in the first levels in which were the unrepentant of my nation. I saw that in it there were seventy seas of fire along the shores of each of which was a city of fire. In each of these cities there were seventy thousand houses of fire and in each of the houses there were seventy thousand chests of fire. Each of these chests contained men and women, imprisoned therein, surrounded by snakes and scorpions. I asked the Guardian of Hell, ?Oh Malik, who are these people locked in these chests?? He told me, ?Some of them are people who oppressed their fellows and unfairly enriched themselves through their belongings. Others are those who became proud, and appointed themselves to be leaders and tyrants and ruled by cruel oppression. Greatness and Pride are attributes of Allah Almighty and befit Him alone.?
Then I beheld a people whose lips were as the lips of dogs and camels. Their bellies were bloated and the Zabaniya (demons of hell; myrmidons) beat them with mallets of fire until their entrails were ripped up and trailed out from their rear ends. Each time this happened, their entrails were recreated and the Zabaniya tormented them anew, and thus it continues. I asked who these people were, and Malik told me, These are the people who wrongfully took for themselves what belonged to orphans.?
Then I saw another people whose bellies were swollen up like huge mountains. They were filled with snakes and scorpions that crawled about within and caused them great torment. Whenever they wished to rise to their feet, they could not do so for the greatness of their stomachs and the motion of the vermin in them, and they fell back down. I asked the angel, Who are they? Malik replied, ?These are the people of your nation who committed usury.
Then I came upon a group of women who were suspended by their hair. I asked who they were and Malik said, ?These are the women who concealed not their hair and faces from unrelated menfolk and who revealed their beauty to men other than their husbands and caused their husbands pain and chagrin.?
After them, I beheld a group of men and women who were suspended from their tongues by means of fiery hooks. Their fingernails were made of copper and with them they clawed and tore up their own faces. ?Who are these?? I asked, and Malik told me, ?These are people who swore by false testimony, and who were talebearers, spreading slander and gossip.?
Then I beheld a group of women some of whom were suspended by their breasts while others were tied by their feet, head down. They were yelling and screaming incessantly. I asked about them, and Malik said, ?These are women who committed adultery, and such women who had abortions and killed their children.?
After these I saw a group of men who were tearing flesh from their own sides and placing it in their mouths. But they did not swallow it; they just hid it in their mouths. The Zabaniya were at them, forcing them to eat the flesh, and again, the same thing would take place: they tore of some flesh, placed it in their mouths and the demons of hell would force them to eat it. This was their punishment. I asked who they were and I was told, ?They are those from among your nation who openly criticize and belittle people, and who talk behind their backs and spread malicious gossip about them as well. And those who wink and poke fun at people, making signs of derision with their hands, lips, brows or eyes.
Then I came upon another people whose bodies resembled the trunks of pigs, whose faces were like the faces of dogs, and who emitted fire from their rear ends. Snakes and scorpions were biting them, their flesh being eaten by them. ?Who are those?? I asked the Angel of Hell, and Malik answered me, ?They are those from among your nation who neglected to pray or perform their ritual ablutions, and who went about in a state of (ritual) impurity.
After that, I came to another group of people who were suffering from extreme thirst, and desperately crying for water. In response to their pleas, they were given goblets of fire filled to the brim with boiling water, and they were commanded to drink from these. Being forced to do so, as soon as the goblets came near to their lips, all the flesh of their faces began to bubble from the extreme heat of the water until it fell off and dropped into their goblets. When they had drunk the water, their intestines fell apart and emerged in tatters from their backsides. ?Who are they I asked and Malik told me, These are people from your nation who used to drink wine and other intoxicants.
After this, I saw a group of women who were suspended from their feet, with their tongues protruding and hanging out. Angels with fiery shears clipped them off, but they grew back each time. All the while they were braying like asses and howling like dogs. ?Who are they?? I asked the angel, and he answered, ?These are the wailing women who used to loudly bemoan the dead.?
Then I passed a group of men and women who were seated in copper ovens that were set upon a raging fire, whose flames licked their heads and enfolded their entire bodies. A vile stench arose from here. I asked the angel about them and he said, These are men and women who committed adultery. And what is this terrible smell. I asked. That smell comes from the discharge of their genitals.?
Next I saw a group of women who were hung up while their hands were tightly bound to their necks. Who are these? I asked. ?These are women who deceived their husbands and spent their husband?s wealth without his knowledge, answered Jibreel.
Next I saw a group of men and women who were being punished in the fire and the demons of hell set upon them, beating them with fiery rods. The more they screamed, the harder they beat them. They drove blades of fire into their stomachs and whipped them with whips of fire. Their chastisement appeared very severe to me. I asked about them and Malik said to me, These are such as opposed and disobeyed their mothers and fathers.
Then I saw a people who wore great rings of fire around their necks. Who are these? I asked the angel. ?These are the ones who defrauded goods left in their safekeeping.?
Then I came to a group who were being slaughtered by the Zabaniya with knives of fire, but instantly they came to life, only to be slaughtered anew. Who are these? I asked, and Malik told me, ?They are those who killed a soul without justification.
Then I saw people who were eating the most disgusting, stinking carcass. Who are these people? I asked the angel. He told me, ?These are the people who spread slanderous gossip, and thereby ate the flesh of their brethren.?
Next I saw a place in hell which had two divisions, one for the men and one for the women, and both were being punished in a terrible fashion. I asked Malik who they were and he said, These are men who went out before their kings and rulers, beating with whips the weak and poor of the people, driving them away with cruelty. And these are women who seemingly dressed in a modest fashion, but in reality were naked and displayed themselves to strangers, for when they went about, they adorned themselves to make themselves appear attractive. Therefore, their heads have grown as big as a camel?s hump, and they cannot enter the peace and safety of Paradise.?
After this, I saw another group of men and women, all being punished in different ways, each distinct from the other. They were made to suffer the worst castigations of all those punished on this level of hell. For example: they were impaled on poles of fire on which their flesh began to boil and drop off until only their bones remained. But Allah Almighty caused their flesh to grow back forthwith and their torment began anew. Some others were bound with shackles and fetters of fire, and that was their penalty. ?Who are these?? I asked again, and Malik answered and said, ?These are such people who whilst they were alive and well, neglected their prayers and abandoned worship.?
Then I said to the Guardian Angel of Hell, ?Oh Malik, shut the Gates of Hell, for I have not the strength to regard any more of its sights.? Malik then said, ?Oh Rasulullah (Sal), you have witnessed the terrors of Hell with your own blessed eyes so that you might pass on what you have seen to your nation as a warning. And may it serve to increase their fear of Allah and keep them from rebellion and disobedience, and make them steadfast in their worship and submission to Allah. Jahannam has seven levels. What you have seen, is only its very first layer, and the punishments therein are light; they are as nothing compared to the deeper levels of hell.?
The Holy Prophet (Sal) then began to weep from pity for his nation and for the terrors that lay in store for it, and as he wept, the great angels Jibreel and Mikha?il and all the Muqarrabin wept with him and joined in his appeal for mercy. At last there came a call from the Lord Almighty, saying, ?Oh my Beloved, for the esteem you hold in the Divine Presence, your prayer is answered and your intercession is granted; so be easy, for on the Day of Judgement, I will give you a special station of intercession and I will spare as many sinners as you ask for, until you say: it is enough! For We have chosen your nation above all other nations, and I have made you their intercessor, so intercede for whomever you wish, I will accept your supplication.
Apart from Malik, there are eighteen other guardians of Hell, nineteen in all. Their eyes are like flashes of lightning and from their mouths issue tongues of flame and they never once feel mercy or pity, Their rage waxes continuously, for punishment and chastisement is their only task. They are of huge stature, so great that with one hand they pick up and throw seventy thousand sinners into the fires of Hell. Each of their teeth is big as Mount Uhud ? so if one tooth alone is as great as a mountain, how great must their whole head, their entire body be! The breadth of the shoulders is a distance of nine days? traveling, and the thickness of their skin is a distance of three days traveling! If he can grab seventy thousand sinners in the palm of one hand, how unimaginably immense must be the stature of this vengeful angel!
Each one of these angels of Hell commands a division of demons (Zabaniya) whose number is known to Allah alone. It is related that Allah described these angels to His Prophet (Sal) in the revelation of the verse:
I shall surely roast him in Saqar;
and what will teach thee what is Saqar?
It spares not, neither leaves alone scorching the flesh;
over it are nineteen.
We have appointed only angels to be masters of the Fire
and their number We have appointed
only as a trial for the unbelievers,
that those who were given the Book may have certainty.
When the Holy Prophet (Sal) received this revelation, concerning the nineteen guardians of Hell, he became distressed on account of his nation, and pleaded for them to be spared. The Lord then addressed him, saying, ?I have included in this Book (the Holy Qur?an) nineteen letters for your nation, oh Muhammed (Sal); if your nation persists in constant recital and application of the words (comprising those letters), I will make them safe from the nineteen Guardians of Hell and their army of assistant demons.? ?What is this word of nineteen letters?? asked Muhammed (Sal). ?It is the phrase: ?Bismillahi-r-rahmani-r-rahim?, spake the Lord.
May the Lord Almighty spare us all and reprieve us on the Day of Judgement from the punishment of Hell for the sake of His Beloved Prophet Abu-l-Qasim Muhammed Mustafa (Sal)! Amin.
Then,? continued the Holy Prophet (Sal), ?the Guardian of Hell closed the hole to Hell and Jibreel called the Adhan for prayer. I led the prayer as Imam and all the angels and inhabitants of the third heaven prayed two Rak?ats behind me. After this we proceeded to:The Fourth Heaven