لَقَدْ رَأٰى مِنْ اٰيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرٰى
Indeed, he saw (one or some among) the supreme signs of His Lord. (An-Najm 53:18)
This verse is in the sūrah that describes our master Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension, and it relates to the Ascension. In addition to its particular relation to the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, it contains many other truths.
It is a favor and result of the Prophet’s Ascension that he saw the signs and proofs of God’s existence and Unity and of all other truths of faith in the universe and in humanity and observed and perceived them in his heart and spirit. Since that most illustrious person had a universal vision and observation, he saw and observed those signs and proofs, which the verse under discussion calls the “supreme signs.” He saw or observed Divine manifestations explicitly without any veils. Other people cannot say any-thing in opposition to the sayings and description of one who had such uni-versal vision and observation. Even the vision and observation of those who observe the heavens from the earth and those of the people who cannot detect even what is before them will be utterly different.
The verse has a structure which can give rise to two meanings. The preposition “min” may either be used in the meaning of “from among,” or it functions as an explanatory word. In the first case the meaning is, “Indeed, he saw (one or some among) the supreme signs of His Lord.” In the second case, the meaning is, “Indeed, he saw the supreme signs of His Lord.” No mat-ter which meaning is preferable, the truth in either case is that during his Ascension or travel through and beyond time and place, that matchless person with a universal vision and hearing saw such supreme signs, proofs, and miracles of God Almighty’s Lordship and such marvels of creation that it is not possible to express or describe the Divine manifestations he saw in the realms through which he traveled. Only he saw, heard, and felt the mysteries and lights in the horizons that he traveled, and it is not possible for anyone else to be able to achieve such a universal vision and observation. For one who is not as great as that person, namely Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, cannot see or observe the “supreme signs,” for this observation is exclusive to his matchless rank.
What is meant by the “supreme sign” is not the Divine Being, the Unique and Eternally Besought One. Therefore our Prophet did not see the Divine Himself, but he saw His supreme signs—the most comprehensive and universal signs and proofs of His existence and Unity and other truths of faith. He observed the whole creation in its physical and metaphysical dimensions and its dimension of time and place. Even though it is abso-lutely impossible to comprehend the Divine Being, as it is stated in, “The eyes cannot comprehend and perceive Him” (Al-An‘ām 6:103), in one respect it is possible to “see” God with the eye of the heart or have vision of God. However, what our Prophet saw or observed during his Ascension was not Him but His supreme or the greatest or most comprehensive signs.
The vision and observation of God’s Messenger can also be viewed as his reading of his own truth as if a book or observation of the roots, trunk, branches, blossoms, leaves, and fruit of his universally developed nature. For his nature or truth is the ink in which the book of the universe has been written, and his Light is the seed of creation. This miraculous travel continued as far as the point beyond time and space where he heard the sounds given by the Pen of Destiny, passing through the shadow of the Divine Supreme Throne. At its final point the blessed traveler, upon him be peace and blessings, was crowned with God’s eternal good pleasure with and approval of him.
O God! Show us the truth as being true and enable us to follow it; and show us falsehood as being false and enable us to refrain from it.