The Ascension of Muhammad

After eleven years outside Mecca, Muhammad, Islam’s founder, experienced an Ascension, in which he journeyed to heaven.

After praying, Muhammad was approached by the angel Gabriel. They mounted a winged steed called the buraq and traveled to Jerusalem, where the spirits of many prophets appeared. Muhammad led them in prayer. Then he remounted the buraq and ascended with Gabriel to heaven.

Muhammad said that heaven was difficult to describe. He said it was a combination of lights and sounds and flowing energy.

What does the word heaven mean to you? What do you imagine heaven looks like?

Allah Prescribes Prayer

During Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven, he was led into the presence of Allah. Allah said that Muslims were to pray fifty times each day.

On Muhammad’s way back to Earth, he met with Moses, who asked, “What has Allah told your followers to do?”

Muhammad answered that Allah wanted the faithful to pray fifty times a day. Moses urged Muhammad to return to Allah and ask Him to reduce the number of prayers, as Muhammad’s followers would not be able to pray that many times.

So Muhammad went back to Allah, and Allah reduced the number of prayers to forty each day. Moses insisted that this was still too much, and sent Muhammad back to Allah.

This happened several times; each time, Allah reduced the number of prayers, until the requirement stood at five prayers a day. Moses insisted that this was still too much, as he had tried to get people to pray in the past, and they could not accomplish this.

Muhammad replied, “I have already returned to my Lord till I am ashamed. I am satisfied, and I submit.”

What do these events tell you about the prophets and their followers?

Lao Tzu

The legendary founder of Taoism was a philosopher named Lao Tzu who lived in China around 600 B.C.E. (His name is also sometimes spelled Laotse.) Once story about Lao Tzu says that Confucius, another Chinese philosopher, once visited him. Asked about the visit, Confucius said:

Of birds I know they have wings to fly with,
of fish they have fins to swim with,
of wild beasts that they have feet to run with.
For feet there are traps, for fins nets, for wings arrows.
But who knows how dragons surmount wind and clouds into heaven?
This day I have seen Lao Tzu and he is a dragon.

What do you think Confucius meant by this?