Saturday, September 03, 2005

israq mi’raj and the parable of a white ant journey

In the Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

Glory be to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a journey from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precinct We did bless, - in order that We might show him some of Our Signs for He is the One Who Heareth and Seeth (all things)

(Translation Al Isra 17:1)
Haji Shukri was a man full of good jokes and interesting anecdotes, despite his seemingly serious nature. But that is the way it is. A man is different to a different person. One of his good story, that kind of stick to me was the story of a journey of a white ant.

There was a white ant, perhaps the tiniest of the ants in the ant’s kingdom. This particular white ant live in the house of a corporate man, let’s say somewhere in Kuala Lumpur. One fine day, he went up alone into the man’s closet, climbed up the wall, crossed the hanger rail and found himself in the coat pocket of a Zegna. That particular day, the corporate man was to go on a business trip to Europe and America.

So the ant, in the two weeks that follows, went on a Gulfstream private jet, hopped across the vast Pacific, paid stops in London, Paris and New York, experienced the biting cold winter and soon after find himself back in the closet. In the fortnight, he had seen places, people and environment beyond his comprehension. He had been on journey across the globe, seen things no other ants, white, black, or red had ever seen. If he were to tell the story of his journey to other ants, few would believe him. They were too preoccupied with their world, that any other world they had not seen, for them never exist. The tale of the strange people, places and sights would be laughed at and the poor little red ant will be the butt of jokes. He would be called a joker, a story-teller, a liar and a mad-ant. But the white ant related his story all the same. There were few who believe. They were ants of greater faculty, for they could see the possibility of the vast world.

Israq Mi’raj was a journey of a man, across the sand from the al-Haram in Mekah to al-Aqsa in Jurusalem and ascending thereon to the seven heavens and beyond it to Sidratul-Muntaha. All in the span of a night. That man was Muhammad the Prophet of Islam. That journey was the Israq Mi’raj,

When the story of the journey was first told, Muhammad was ridiculed and called all sorts of names. He was called a joker, a story-teller, a liar and a mad-man. One of the few who believe was man like Abu Bakar. For his firm belief in Muhammad he was called As-Siddiq – The Truth; for he was able to see truth way beyond the faculty of ordinary man.

Today, it was time for Israq Mi’raj again, celebrated every 27th Rejab in every Islamic calendar. It was time the story of the night journey would be told and marveled for the umpteenth time. The believers will believe it and the skeptics will be forever skeptical about it.

Israq Mi’raj is to me a time for reflection, of looking beyond the boundary of the ordinary. Trained as architect, I could not but look at the journey in comparative measure – in scale and in parables. Like the journey of the tiny white ant, Muhammad ascension to heaven would be beyond comprehension if measured in the scale of man. Muhammad was just a man, tiny and insignificant in the scale of the universe, what more if measured in the scale of the Knowledge of Allah. But he was the Prophet of Allah. By design, that journey was for him to witness the vastness of universe and the timelessness of Allah’s plan for His creation. It too was most significant for in it he accepted the command of the five daily prayers, the microcosm of the ascension to all obedient servants.

Now that we easily traveled across the globe, the journey of the white ant in the coat pocket could be believable. It was all a matter of scale and relative experience – essence of a parable. Against that relative parable of the journey of white ant, the journey and the ascension of Muhammad and the whole of Israq Mi’raj would be easily believed and comprehended.

For telling the story Tuan Haji Shukri, thank you.

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