“... in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.)” [17:1].
The Divine rules as regards the Prophets goes as follows:
“Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith with certainty.” [6:75]
To Moses, his Lord said:
“That We may show you (some) of Our Greater Signs.” [20:23]
In order that:
“He be of those who have Faith with certainty.”
The Prophets, after seeing Allâh’s Signs, will establish their Faith on solid certainty too immune to be parted with. They are in fact eligible for this Divine privilege because they are the ones who will bear burdens too heavy for other ordinary people to carry, and in the process of their mission, they will regard all worldly ordeals and agonies too small to care about.
There are simple facts that emanate from this blessed Journey, and flow along into the flowery garden of the Prophetic biography; peace and blessings of Allâh be upon its author, Muhammad. The story of ‘the Night Journey’ as we see in the Noble Qur’ân is epitomised in the first verse of the Sûrah Isra’(Chapter 17 — The Jourby Night) then there is a quick shift to uncover the shameful deeds and crimes of the Jews, followed by an admonition saying that the Qur’ân guides to that which is most just and right. This arrangement is not in fact a mere coincidence. Jerusalem was the first scene of the Night Journey, and here lies the message directed to the Jews and which explicitly suggested that they would be discharged of the office of leadership of mankind due to the crimes they had perpetrated and which no longer justified their occupation of that office. The message suggested explicitly that the office of leadership would be reinstituted by the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) to hold in his hand both headquarters of the Abrahamic Faith, the Holy Sanctuary in Makkah and the Farthest Mosque in Jerusalem. It was high time for the spiritual authority to be transferred from a nation whose history got pregnant with treachery, covenant-breaching and aggression to another nation blessed with piety, and dutifulness to Allâh, with a Messenger who enjoys the privilege of the Qur’ânic Revelation, which leads to that which is best and right.
There, however, remains a crucial question waiting to be answered: How could this foreseen transition of authority be effected while the champion himself (Muhammad) was left deserted and forsaken stumbling in the hillocks of Makkah? This question per se uncovered the secrets of another issue which referred to a phase of the Islamic Call and the appearance of another role it was about to take up, different in its course and noble in its approaches. The forerunners of that new task took the shape of Qur’ânic verses smacking of direct and unequivocal warning accompanied by a severe ultimatum directed to the polytheists and their agents:
“And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allâh and be righteous) to those among them [ or We (first) increase in number those of its population] who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction. And how many generations (past nations) have We destroyed after Noah! And Sufficient is your Lord as an All-Knower and All-Beholder of the sins of His slaves.” [17:16, 17]
Together with these verses, there were others revealed to show the Muslims the rules and items of the civilization upon which they could erect their Muslim community, and foreshadowing their ownership of a piece of land, exercising full freedom over it and establishing a coherent society around whose axis the whole humanity would rotate. Those verses in reality implied better prospects for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) comprising a secure shelter to settle in, and headquarters safe enough to empower and embolden him to communicate his Message to all the world at large; that was in fact the inner secret of that blessed journey. For this very wisdom and the like we deem it appropriate to suggest that ‘the Night Journey’ took place either before the First Pledge of ‘Aqabah or between the two; after all, Allâh knows best.