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The Lote-Tree of the Furthest Boundary[]

In the Two Sahihs, Sidrat Al-Muntaha (the tree in the seventh heaven) is described as:

«فَإِذَا وَرَقُهَا كَآذَانِ الْفِيَلَةِ، وَنَبْقُهَا مِثْلُ قِلَالِ هَجَر»

(...its leaves were like the ears of elephants and its Nabir fruits resembled the clay jugs of Hajar.)

The Two Sahihs also collected a Hadith from Ibn `Abbas, who said, "The sun was eclipsed

and Allah's Messenger led the people in the Eclipse prayer. They asked, `O Allah's

Messenger, we saw you reach out for something while standing (in prayer), but then

you stepped

back .' He said,

«إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ الْجَنَّةَ فَتَنَاوَلْتُ مِنْهَا عُنْقُودًا، وَلَوْ أَخَذْتُهُ لَأَكَلْتُمْ مِنْهُ مَا بَقِيَتِ الدُّنْيَا»

(I saw Paradise and reached out for a cluster of fruit from it. Had I done so, you would have kept

eating from it for the remainder of the life of the world.)

Imam Ahmad recorded that `Utbah bin `Abd As-Sulami said, "A bedouin man came to

the Messenger of Allah and asked him about the Hawd and Paradise. The bedouin asked,

`Does Paradise have fruits' The Prophet said,

«نَعَمْ، وَفِيهَا شَجَرَةٌ تُدْعَى طُوبَى»

(Yes, and it also has a tree called Tuba.) ﴿

(He ) said something more saying but I could not recall it﴾. The bedouin asked,

`Does it look like any of the trees that grow in our area' The Prophet said,

«لَيْسَتْ تُشْبِهُ شَيْئًا مِنْ شَجَرِ أَرْضِك»

(There is nothing resembling it among the trees in your land.)

The Prophet then asked him,

«أَتَيْتَ الشَّامَ؟»

(Have you traveled to Ash-Sham area)

The bedouin said: `No.' The Prophet said,

«تُشْبِهُ شَجَرَةً بِالشَّامِ تُدْعَى الْجَوْزَةَ، تَنْبُتُ عَلَى سَاقٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، وَيَنْفَرِشُ أَعْلَاهَا»

(It looks like a tree that grows in Ash-Sham area and is called Al-Jawzah, which stands

on one stem but its branches grow all around to the fullest extent.)

The bedouin asked, `How big is the cluster of its fruits' The Prophet said,

«مَسِيرَةُ شَهْرٍ لِلْغُرَابِ الْأَبْقَعِ وَلَا يَفْتُر»

(The distance that the crow flies in one month without rest.)

The bedouin asked, `How huge its trunk is' The Prophet said,

«لَوِ ارْتَحَلَتْ جَذَعَةٌ مِن إِبِلِ أَهْلِكَ مَا أَحَاطَتْ بِأَصْلِهَا، حَتْى تَنْكَسِرَ تَرْقُوَتُهَا هَرَمًا»

(If a four-year old she-camel that your family owns travels it, it will not

completely pass its trunk until its shoulders break from old age.)

The man asked, `Does it bear grapes' The Prophet answered in yes.

The bedouin asked, `How big are the grapes' The Prophet said,

«هَلْ ذَبَحَ أَبُوكَ تَيْسًا مِنْ غَنَمِهِ قَطُّ عَظِيمًا؟»

(Has your father ever slaughtered a ram) The bedouin answered, `Yes,' and the Prophet

asked him,

«فَسَلَخَ إِهَابَهُ فَأَعْطَاهُ أُمَّكَ فَقَالَ: اتَّخِذِي لَنَا مِنْهُ دَلْوًا؟»

(And then he skinned it and gave the skin to your mother and asked her to

make a hanging bucket out of it)

The bedouin again said yes and said, `This grape would suffice for me and my family!'

The Prophet agreed and said,

«نَعَمْ، وَعَامَّةَ عَشِيرَتِك»

(Yes, and also for the rest of your clan.)


Lotus Tree

The Prophet and Gabriel travelled once more until they reached the absolute limit of the created intellect, named sidrat al-muntaha: "The Lote-Tree of the Furthest Boundary." There they saw nothing which the tongue could describe. The effect of the sight they beheld on the Prophet is a secret which took place in his heart. A sound came to them from above which dissipated some of the Prophet's astonishment. At that time he saw a large tree which does not resemble any of the trees of Paradise, a tree without description, covering all the Paradises, heavens, and universes. The trunk of the Tree was a huge angel named Samrafil. The Prophet could see nothing else besides it. It grew from an infinite, unimaginable, indescribable ocean of musk. The tree had an infinite number of branches, created from a heavenly element that has no name in a created language. The distance between one branch and another was five hundred thousand light-years. On every branch there was an infinite number of leaves. If all the created universes were placed on a single one of these leaves they would disappear, like an atom disappears inside an ocean of water. On every leaf sat a huge angel in a multi-colored light. On his head was a crown of light and in his hand a staff of light. Written on their forehead was the inscription: "We are the inhabitants of the Lote-Tree." Their praise was: "Praise be to God Who has no end." Their names are the sarufiyyun or Seraphim, "The Secret Ones," because they are created from the absolute secret of their Lord. From the trunk of the tree four absolute springs issued. The first was a pure, transparent, crystal water; the second was a river of white milk; the third was a river of pleasurable, untarnished wine that elevates without abasing; the fourth was a river of pure honey mixed with gold. Inside the trunk was the prayer-niche of Gabriel, and his constant words of praise are: Allahu Akbar: God is Great! to which the reply always comes from above: Ana Akbar: I am Greater!
Ana Akbar: I am Greater! Gabriel entered his prayer-niche and he called for the prayer. All the seraphim stood in rows and the Prophet led them in prayer. The prayer finished and all the seraphim were ordered to give their greetings to the Prophet one after the other. After this, a great angel came out from behind Gabriel's prayer-niche and asked the Prophet to approach. The Prophet and Gabriel entered the trunk of the tree and reached in a glance the entire sight of creation. On the top of the tree they saw Adam and Eve and Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all the other prophets whom they had just visited. With them they saw all their respective nations, sitting with them in spirit together with those of the Prophet's nation who had already left this world. All were sitting there together, happy, basking in the love and beauty of their Lord's mercy and praising Him. That Lote-Tree carries the knowledge of all of God's creation from the beginning of its sequence in time. Whatever is created is part of it and contained in it. It was called the tree "of the furthermost boundary" because everything ends in it and after it begins a new life. God decorated it with the light of His own essence. It has three characteristics: a continuous shade of light extending over every creation, a continuous pleasure reaching everyone from the fruit of its branches, and a continuous fragrance from its flowers scenting with beauty the life of creation. Then the Prophet and Gabriel moved forward. A stern and severe angel appeared and covered the horizon before them. Gabriel said: "O Prophet! this is the angel of death Azra'il." The angel of death said: "Welcome, O Muhammad! you who bear goodness, and welcome to all the Prophets and their nations. This is the place from which I gaze at the destinies of every person and seize the spirits of those whom I am commanded to bring to eternal life." The Prophet asked: "Tell me how you take the souls of the dying." The angel of death revealed to the Prophet: "When God orders me to take the spirit of a human being at the last hour of his life and the first hour of his afterlife, I send to him my deputies who carry with them the smell of Paradise and a branch from the tree of paradise which they put between his eyes. When that sweet smell reaches him and he catches a glimpse of that heavenly branch, his spirit is attracted and his soul begins to ascend to paradise, until it reaches his throat. At that time, I descend from my place and I take his spirit with the greatest care, because God wants this moment to be easy on His servant. I then carry his soul to Paradise. On the way, whenever I pass by angels, then angels will greet this soul and salute it until it reaches the presence of its Lord. God the Exalted says to that soul at that time: "Welcome to the good spirit which I created and placed in a good body! O my angels! write the upper layer of Paradise as a reward for that person." Then angels take him up to Paradise, where he will see what God has prepared for him and he will be happy to stay there. However, God orders the spirit to go back to his body on earth, where he can see the people washing him, crying for him, and all those who love him standing around him until they take the body to the grave. There the soil says to him: "Welcome, O my beloved one! I was always yearning for you when you were above me. Now you are in me and I will show you what I am going to give you." Immediately, his grave will be enlarged beyond sight, until the two angels of the grave come and ask him about his Lord and about his belief. He will give them the correct answers by God's permission. At that time they will open for him a door leading to Paradise and his spirit will go back upward to the same place where God first called him to His presence." "I remember when death had separated us.
I consoled myself with the thought of the Beloved Prophet. I said: All of us go on this way one day.
Who does not die today, he will die tomorrow.
Be happy, O my soul, because your Lord is waiting for you And the beloved one is calling you." Then Gabriel moved forward another five hundred thousand light-years, mounted on the Buraq, until they reached a place where Gabriel began to slow down. The Prophet said: "O Gabriel! why are you slowing down? Are you leaving me?" Gabriel replied: "I cannot go further." The Prophet said: "Gabriel, don't leave me alone." "O Muhammad!" Gabriel said, "you now have to step down from the Buraq and move to a place which no-one has entered before you." At that moment the Buraq stopped and was unable to move further. The Prophet stepped down and moved hesitantly. Gabriel said: "O Prophet, move forward without fear. If I were to continue with you I would be annihilated for the greatness of the Light." The Prophet moved, and moved, and moved. He saw Michael standing ahead of him, afraid and trembling. The light of his face was changing quickly from one color to another. The Prophet asked: "Michael, is this your station?" "Yes," Michael answered, "and if I were to trespass it I would be annihilated. But you go on and don't stop." The Prophet moved, and moved, and moved. Then he found Israfil with his four huge wings, one of which covered his face to veil him from the light which came from the horizon of everything. The Prophet asked him: "Is this your station, Israfil?" Israfil said, "Yes. If I trespassed it that light would burn me. But you move on and do not fear." And the Prophet moved, and moved, and moved. He saw the Spirit to whom God gave the power of earth and the heavens. From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet and from every cell of his there were faces with traits of subtle light, the number of which no-one knows but God, and from the each of which God creates an angel-spirit which looks like the Spirit, whom He then takes to himself as the spirit-angels of the Divine Presence. Every day the Spirit looks into hell three times, and because of the cool light of his angelic gaze the fire of hell melts until it becomes as a rainbow. The Spirit also looks into Paradise three times every day and extends to it the divine light which God gives him. If God gathered the tears of the eyes of the Spirit it would flood all the created universes and make Noah's flood seem like the drop gathered by an needle dipped into the ocean. This is the Spirit whom God mentioned in the Koran: "The day when the Spirit and the angels rise, no-one shall speak except with permission from His Lord." The Prophet said: "O Spirit! is this your station?" The spirit replied: "Yes, and if I trespass it I will be annihilated by the light which I am receiving. O Muhammad! move forward and do not be afraid. You are invited and you have permission." The Prophet moved forward. God inspired his heart with the following discourse: "I the Lord, have veiled myself from the inhabitants of Paradise, as I have veiled myself from the inhabitants of the earth. As I veiled Myself from their minds, I veiled myself from their vision. I am never in anything, and I am never away from anything." The Prophet then moved through one veil after another until he passed through one thousand veils. Finally he opened the Veil of Oneness. He found himself like a lamp suspended in the middle of a divine air. He saw a magnificent, great and unutterable matter. He asked his Lord to give him firmness and strength. He felt that a drop of that presence was put on his tongue and he found it cooler than ice and sweeter than honey. Nothing on earth and the seven paradises tasted like it. With this drop, God put into the Prophet's heart the knowledge of the First and the Last, the heavenly and the earthly. All this was revealed to him in one instant shorter than the fastest second. He was ordered to move forward. As he moved he found himself elevated on a throne that can never be described, now or later. Three additional drops were given to him: one on his shoulder consisting in majesty, one in his heart consisting in mercy, and an additional one on his tongue which consisted in eloquence. Then a voice came from that presence, which no created being had heard before: "O Muhammad! I have made you the intercessor for everyone." At that moment the Prophet felt his mind enraptured and taken away to be replaced with an astonishing secret. He was placed in the Fields of God's Eternity and Endlessness. In the first he found no beginning and in the second he found no end. Then God revealed to Him: "My end is in My beginning and My beginning is in My end." Then the Prophet knew that all doors were absolutely closed except those that led to God, that God cannot be described within the confine of a place in speech, and that God encompasses the everywhere of all places. This is a secret that no tongue can be stirred to express, no door opened to reveal, and no answer can define. He is the Guide to Himself and the Lord of His own description. He is the Beauty of all beauty and the speech by which to describe Himself belongs to Him alone. O God My Creator, in Your infinity do I stand amazed.
In Your ocean of unity do I drown submerged.
O God, at times You closet me in familiar intimacy.
At times You leave me without, veiled and strange,
Hidden in Your sovereign Majesty.
Give me to drink the wine of Your love,
For only drunk from it am I able to say:
My Lord! Let me see You. The Prophet then looked on his right and saw nothing except His Lord, then on his left and saw nothing except his Lord, then to the front, to the back, and above him, and he saw nothing except his Lord. He hated to leave that honored and blessed place. But God said: "O Muhammad, you are a messenger to My servants as all messengers, if you stay here you would never be able to communicate My Message. Therefore descend back to earth, and communicate My message to My servants. Whenever you want to be in the same state as you are now, make your prayers, and I shall open this state for you." This is why the Prophet stated: "Prayer is the apple of my eyes," and he called it also: "Our rest." Then the Prophet was ordered to go back to earth, but he left the self in heaven and his spirit at the Lote-tree, and his heart in the unutterable divine presence while his secret was left suspended without place. His self wondered: "Where is the heart?" and the Heart wondered: "Where is the spirit?" and the spirit wondered: "Where is the secret?" and the secret wondered where it was. And God revealed: "O self of the Prophet! I granted you the blessing and the forgiveness, and O spirit! I granted you the mercy and the honor, and O heart! I granted you the Love and the Beauty, and O secret, you have Me." God then revealed to the Prophet the order to recite: "He is the one who sends blessings on you, together with His angels, in order to bring you out from darkness into light" (33:43). "O Muhammad! I have ordered the angels of all My heavens, those created and those yet uncreated, to send blessings on you and My creation unceasingly, with My own praise. I am your Lord Who said: My Mercy has taken over My anger. And all My angels I have created for you human beings." And God ordered the Prophet to descend with this angelic message back to earth.

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