Ali's (a.s.) role in Meraj
- :Yousuf N. Lalljee
The most amazing instances of the exaltation of Ali are to be found in the descriptions of the Meraj or Ascension of the Prophet to Heaven, in accordance with the Verse of the Quran (xvii. I) : "Glory to him who carried His servant by night from the sacred temple (of Mecca) to the temple that is more remote, whose precinct We have blessed, that We may show him our signs." The second volume of Majlisi's Hayatu-l-Kulub has been translated into English under the title the .Life and Religion of Muhammad,' by Rev. James L. Merrick, Majlisi says (P. 190) that both Shia and Sunnee traditions declare that the Ascension was bodily, and not merely in the Spirit; in the state of wakefulness, not of sleep. On this point, among the old Ulama of the Shias there is no disagreement. The doubts which some have entertained on whether the Ascension was in body or merely in spirit have arisen from lack of knowledge of the subject, or from lack of belief in its Divine Attestations, and from listening to people who are without faith themselves.
In his portrayal of all that the Holy Prophet Muhammad heard and saw on this great night journey through the seven heavens, Majlisi mentions what was heard and seen of Ali : "It is related that Muhammad declared that on the night of Ascension, the Most High commanded me to inquire of the past prophets for what reason they were exalted to that rank, and they all testified, "We were raised up on account of your Prophetical Office, and the Imamate of Ali ibn Abu Talib, and the Imams of your posterity". A divine voice then commanded, 'look on the right side of the empyrean'. I looked and saw the similitude of Ali, and Hasan, and Husain, and Ali ibn al-Husain, and Muhammad Bakir, and Jafar as-Sadiq, and Musa Kazim, and Ali ibn Musa-ar-Reza, and Muhammad Taki, and Ali Naqi, and Hasan Askhari, and Mahdiall performing prayers in a sea of light. 'These', said the Most High, -are my proofs, Vicegerents, and friends, and the last of them will take vengeance on my enemies." "The Prophet declared that when he performed the Ascension, the angels inquired very particularly about Ali. 'When I arrived,' he continued, 'at the fourth heaven, I saw the angel of death, who said that it was his office to take the soul of every creature by God's command ; but in the case of you and Ali, I will have to take your consent.' When I came under the empyrean, I saw Ali ibn Abu Talib standing there, and said to him, '0 Ali have you got there before me ?' 'Whom are you addressing'. asked Gabriel. 'My brother', I replied. 'This is not Ali,' said he, 'but an angel of the Merciful God, whom he created in the likeness of Ali and when those of us privileged to approach near the Deity wish to behold Ali, we visit this angel." And so Jesus and Moses and Abraham all inquired about Ali and congratulated Muhammad on having left so good a Caliph in his place. The Apostle further related, "On the night of MERAJ, on every one of the curtains of light and on every one of the pillars of the empyrean to which I came, I saw written, There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Apostle of God, and Ali ibn Abu Talib is the commander of the Faithful."
Adapted from: "Ali, the Magnificent" by: "Yousuf N. Lalljee"
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