Mu'jizāt of Prophet Muhammad sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam
The miracles of the previous Prophets 'alayhimus salām were mainly of a practical nature and were limited to their lifetime only. The miracles of our Nabee sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam on the other hand were practical in nature as well as intellectual and some of them exist up to this day, well after his demise. Because Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam is superior amongst all the Prophets 'alayhimus salām, similarly his miracles are also not only greater in number but are more superior.
One of the greatest and very well-known miracles of Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam is his ascension to the heavens and beyond, known as Mi'rāj (ascension). This journey apart from being a miracle is a conglomeration of miracles and has been recorded in the Qur'ān as well as various books of Hadīth.
Mi'rāj in Hadīth
Hāfiz Ibne Katheer rahmatullahi alayh has recorded the incident of Mi'rāj from twenty-five Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir) The well-known muhaddith, Allāmah Zurqāni rahmatullahi alayh states that the incident of Mi'rāj is narrated by forty-five Sahābah radhiAllāhu anhum comprising of the Ansār and the Muhājireen. One may ask as to how the Ansār narrated this incident whilst it took place in Makkah before migration? The answer is that this event was so important and well-known amongst the Muslims that the Ansār requested its details directly from Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam as is evident from a Hadīth reported by Shaddād Ibne 'Aws radhiyallāhu 'anhu. He reports: "We said, 'O Messenger of Allāh! How were you taken for a journey by night?'" (At-Tirmidhi) The words 'We said' also indicate that the conversation of Mi'rāj used to take place in the midst of a large gathering. Another Ansāri, Mālik Ibne Sa'sa'ah radhiAllāhu anhu narrates the story of Mi'rāj in the following words: "The Nabee sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam related to them . . ." (Al-Bukhāri) It is clear that the incident of Mi'rāj was well-known amongst the Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum and is narrated in authentic Ahādeeth.
Mi'rāj - Physical or Spiritual
The Mi'rāj of Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam was physical i.e. with body and soul. He ascended the seven heavens and proceeded beyond that to the Sidratul Muntahā and further physically. In the mind of a mu'min (true believer), a doubt concerning the possibility of a physical ascent to the heavens does not occur. For a believer this is a fact which requires no logical reasoning. What doubt can there be concerning Allāh's power to do as He wishes? Nowadays with the advancement of modern technology the man is orbiting satellites and landing on the moon. If man has advanced so much, is it not possible for the Creator of man to carry His Beloved Prophet sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam physically with body and soul into the heavens and back within a very limited part of the night? Of course it is possible!
Mi'rāj was Physical
1. "Glorified be He who carried His servant by night . . ." (17:1) This verse from the Qur'ān describes the initial stages of the miraculous journey of our Beloved Nabee sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam. One can clearly ascertain from the words of this verse that the Mi'rāj was physical: a. Allāh ta'ālā initiates the verse with the word subhān which means glorified be He Whose Self is pure from all defects and frailties and is above all kinds of weakness and helplessness. He is not dependent upon any means and He is not bound by any physical laws. Those things which look extremely strange to our imagination and which our imperfect wisdom think as quite impossible are not a bit difficult before the Power and Will of Allāh. Thus, from the very outset, the event of Mi'rāj has been described as extraordinary and the word subhān belies the misconception that the event was only a dream. b. The journey of Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam is further expressed by the verb asrā which is used for a journey of body and soul in the state of consciousness by night. This same verb is used elsewhere in the Qur'ān too. In Soorah Hood and Hijr, the instruction given to Prophet Loot 'alayhis salām by the Angels is: "So take away your people in a part of the night." (11:81, 15:65) Similarly, Prophet Moosa 'alayhis salām is ordered by Allāh, "Take away my slaves by night." (44:23, 20:77) In both cases, the Prophets 'alayhimus salām are ordered to take their people physically with body and soul and not spiritually in dream. c. The word 'abd (servant) is used to mean either the body only or body and soul together. It is not used to mean soul only.
2. Another verse of the Qur'ān regarding Mi'rāj is: "We appointed the vision which we showed thee as an ordeal for mankind." (17:60) The word ru'yā (vision) is used for two meanings: dream or vision / view / sight. The Commentators of the Qur'ān have given examples from Arabic poetry where ru'yā is used to mean vision/seeing and not dream. Imām Bukhāri rahmatullahi alayh has narrated from Abdullah Ibne Abbās radhiAllāhu anhuma the meaning of the word ru'yā in this verse with the following words: "It (the ru'yā) was an actual eye-witness (account) which was shown to Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam the night he was taken on a journey (through the heavens)". (Al-Bukhāri)
3. It is an accepted fact that when one relates a story or an event but does not say that it was a dream, it is naturally taken as an incident of consciousness. The verse of the Qur'ān describing the miraculous journey and the Ahādeeth do not mention or indicate that it was a dream. Hence this incident will be considered physical in the state of awakening.
4. When the kuffār (disbelievers) of Makkah heard the details of the incident of Mi'rāj, they rejected it. They jeered at the Muslims, made fun of Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam and called him a liar. They asked him to describe the masjid in Jerusalem, which he had never seen before. Had it been only a dream they would neither have mocked at him, nor asked for any evidence. Similarly, there was no reason for their rejection as people often dream of strange things. It is apparent that they were asking for further details knowing that the journey was physical. Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam too, did not say that it was only a dream. Instead he substantiated his physical journey with another miracle which is reported by Bukhāri and Muslim from Jābir Ibne Abdullah radhiAllāhu anhu that Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, "When the disbelievers of Makkah rejected my night journey to Baytul Maqdis and made queries about the details of Baytul Maqdis, I stood in the Hateem and Allāh ta'ālā opened the veils (between myself and) Baytul Maqdis. I was looking at it and informing them of the details they were asking for.
5. The incident of Mi'rāj has been listed amongst the miracles of Nabee sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam. What is so extraordinary about travelling such long distances in a mere dream? This is sufficient to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Rasūlullāh sallalāhu 'alayhi wasallam travelled from Makkah to Al-Masjidul Aqsa and then ascended the heavens physically with body and soul in the state of awakening within a very limited part of the night.