In order to prove the physical ascension of Jesus Christ(as) to the heavens, non-Ahmadi Muslim scholars argue that the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) also ascended bodily to the heavens during M`erāj. Therefore, they say that it is not impossible for a human being to physically go to the heavens.
Contrary to this claim, the Holy Qur`ān and Hadīth prove that the ascension of the Holy Prophet(sa) was spiritual and not physical. Many ahadīth also prove that al-Isra and M`erāj are two separate incidents. The incident of M`erāj happened in 5th year of his prophethood at the time when the Holy Prophet(sa) was sleeping in Ka`aba. Whereas, the Isra incident happened in 11th year of Prophethood while the Holy Prophet(sa) was sleeping in his cousin Ummi Hānī’s(ra) home. The fact that he was sleeping in both cases clearly demonstrates that these incidents were spiritual and not physical.
NOT EYES BUT HEART SAW
If the Holy Prophet(sa) had ascended physically, he would have seen God with his physical eyes. But the Holy Qur`ān and Hadīth mentions that he saw God through his heart.
“The heart of the Prophet lied not in seeing what he saw.” (53:12)
“…And We made not the Vision which We showed thee but as a trial for men…” (17:61)
“Ibni Abbas(ra) relates that the Holy Prophet(sa) saw Allah two times through his heart.” (Muslim Kitab-ul-Īman)
Hazrat Ayesha(ra) says:
“Whosoever thinks that Prophet Muhammad(sa) saw his Lord, he surely attributed a great lie on God…Haven’t you heard that Allāh says that the eyes do not reach Him but He reaches the eyes.” (Muslim Kitab-ul-Īman – Book of Faith)
DEMAND OF MAKKAN DISBELIEVERS
Disbelievers of Makka said to the Holy Prophet(sa) that they wouldn’t believe him unless he ascended to the heavens and then descend a book upon them. Upon this demand, Allāh asked the Holy Prophet(sa) to tell them that Allāh is free from any defect. It means that He has not ever raised anyone physically to the heavens and that the Holy Prophet(sa) is nothing but a human and a Prophet. Therefore, if non-Ahmadi Muslims consider Jesus Christ (as) to have ascended physically to the heavens, then they must believe that he is not a human and a Messenger.
“…or you ascend up into heaven; and we will not believe in your ascension until you send down to us a Book that we can read.’ Say, ‘Holy is my Lord! I am but a mortal sent as a Messenger.’ (17:94)
SLEPT IN KA`ABA—WOKE UP IN KA`ABA
The following hadīth mentioned in Bukhari categorically proves that this journey was spiritual. In the beginning this hadīth states that the Holy Prophet (sa) was sleeping in Ka`aba and it ends with the words that when he woke-up, he was still in Ka`aba. This shows that the whole vision was seen by his heart that was awake while his eyes were sleeping.
“And he was sleeping in Ka`aba…His heart was awake but his eyes were sleeping but his heart was not sleeping…and when he woke-up, he was in Ka`aba.” (Bukhari Kitab-ul-Tauheed)
HIS BODY DID NOT DISAPPEAR
Hazrat Ayesha(ra) states, swearing to God, that during M`eraaj, the body of the Holy Prophet(sa) did not disappear.
“By God, the body of the Holy Prophet(sa) did not disappear, but he was raised spiritually. (Tafseer Kashāf)