Night Journey

… Another voice came from an angel called Ismaïl, saying: “Heavenly stairs, show yourselves and descend!” upon which the ladder of heaven descended all the way from Firdaus, the loftiest paradise, until it reached the Temple of Solomon. The arms of the ladder shone with two heavenly lights, red amethyst and green jasper of the greatest perfection. Every believer is going to see that ladder and climb on it. It has one hundred steps and it goes from the temple to the first heaven.

Gabriel called Muhammad
[peace be upon him] and the heavenly creature called the buraq carried him up the first step. There Muhammad [pbuh] saw all kinds of angels red in colour. On the second step, Muhammad [pbuh] saw angels in yellow cloth, on the third step the angels were green and all of them were greeting him and giving him heavenly gifts which he took and gave to Gabriel to keep as a trust for the believers on earth. On the fourth step messenger-angels came and said: "Gabriel, keep rising for the Lord is waiting!" And Muhammad [pbuh] saw their subtle bodies shining and their faces glittering like mirrors in the sun.

Then he climbed the fifth step of the ladder and saw a huge world of angels that had no beginning and no end. All of them were praising Allah and their only words were: "There is no God but Allah." He asked Gabriel: "How many are these angels?" for he was awed by their numbers. Gabriel said: "If the skies and the earth and the moon and the sun and the stars and galaxies were crushed into dust and were all piled up, their dust particles would not be one tenth of the angels of this step of the ladder of paradise." Then the buraq climbed up to the sixth step and there a great surprise awaited Muhammad
[pbuh], and a great event took place which passed all description. An immense, white-upon-white angel sat on a chair of burnished white gold, accompanied by a great host of angels with wide, awe-struck gazes looking at the divine majesty. The white angel stood up and said: "Muhammad, welcome! I beg you to bless my seat by sitting on it." When Muhammad [pbuh] sat on the chair, it melted with love for him and became a cloud of multicolored light chanting the praise of Allah. Out of every drop of that cloud Allah created another throne and another great angel sitting upon that throne.

Then the buraq climbed to the seventh heaven and Muhammad
[pbuh] saw angels whose light replaced the light of his vision, as in the case when someone looks at the sun and his sight is stolen away. At that time, he became able to see whatever these angels were seeing. Then he climbed the eighth step of the ladder and saw nothing but angels in prostration. He quickly climbed to the ninth so as not to disturb them. On the ninth step of the ladder he saw angels which passed description and he stood in awe, unable to comprehend their creation. At that time their leader appeared and said: "Praise Allah! we are dressing you with the secret of our creation and enabling you to understand all things by Allah's permission."

Then Muhammad
[pbuh] went up to the tenth step of the ladder and saw the angels that praised Allah in all the languages that had been created since the beginning of creation. Muhammad [pbuh] wondered at the limitless creations of Allah. At the eleventh step, the angels numbered even more than the angels of the fifth step, and out of them an infinite number of colours glowed, different for each single one of them. At the twelfth step, Muhammad [pbuh] found angels with faces like moons and eyes like stars. The light of their faces were covering their words. On the thirteenth step, the most beautiful angels appeared and these were the angels of Allah, praising Allah with soft voices and revelling in other-worldly beauty. Their music did not resemble any other kind of music and if one tone of that music were heard on the earth everyone on it would faint.

On the fourteenth step Muhammad
[pbuh] saw the angel Ismail with seventy thousand angels riding on horses. Behind everyone of them was a battalion of one hundred thousand angels created from the attribute of Beauty. It is the duty of each and everyone of these angels to appear on earth at least one time to bring it the touch of his beauty. The fifteenth to the twenty-fourth steps were under the command of the angel Ruqyaïl, great and small, thin and wide. The twenty-fifth step to the ninety-ninth were presided by the angel Qalaïl. His right hand was under the first heaven. Between each two of his fingers there are seven hundred thousand angels continuously praising Allah. For each of the praises that they utter strings of pearls come out of their mouth. The diameter of every pearl is eighty-one miles. For each pearl Allah creates an angel that guards it and keeps it as a trust for human beings until they enter paradise.

Then Muhammad
[pbuh] saw a huge throne from a precious element other than gold standing on five posts. Each post has two wings and each wing encompasses the constellation of our world five times. On each wing rest fifty thousand angels, each of whom ask forgiveness for human beings in a different dialect and yet in complete harmony and with an angelic sound that melts the rocks of the seven earths. Out of each one of their tears Allah creates fifty thousand angels more whose task is to ask forgiveness in the same way as these angels do and in many times more dialects than they. Then the throne spoke to Muhammad [pbuh] and said: "I and the angels who guard me were created to carry human beings to their stations in paradise." Then, the throne invited Muhammad [pbuh] to sit on it, and when he sat he felt a pleasure he had never experienced before.

– Gisèle Besson & Michèle Brossard-André, trans.
Le Livre de l’échelle de Mahomet: Liber Scale Machometi. Préface de Roger Arnaldez. Lettres Gothiques. Paris: Livre de Poche, 1991. pp.109-13.

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