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Aug 17 2012

The Lowest Heaven

Muslim celebrated Shab-e-Qadr or the night of Destiny or the night of Power on the last Wednesday. Shab-e-Qadr is believed to be the night when the Quran was first revealed. Muslims believe that revelation of the Quran occurred in two phases, first revelation of the entire Quran came from Allah to the angel Gabriel in the lowest heaven , then the verses were transmitted through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, a camel driver on Earth. Muhammad received revelations while he was sitting at the cave of Hira on Mount Nur in Mecca, in 610 CE. Millions of Muslims pray as much as they can on the night of Shab-e-Qadr. It is believed to be the night when God descends to the lowest heaven and decides the destiny of everyone.

I have been very curious to learn what the lowest heaven is, and where it is located.
The Quran says, ‘Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?(Quran 021.030), And we have made the sky a roof withheld (from them). Yet they turn away from its portents. (Quran 021.032),,And the sky He hath uplifted; and He hath set the measure.(Quran 055.007), Allah it is Who raised up the heavens without visible supports. (Quran 013.002), He raised the height thereof and ordered it. (Quran 079.028)’

There are seven heavens. Allah descends to the lowest heaven every night. The Sahih hadith says: ‘the prophet said : The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’(al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Tawheed, 6940; Muslim, Salaat al-Musaafireen, 1262)

Not only during Shab-e-Qadr, during Shab-e-Barat, or Mid-Sha’ban, Allah descends to the lowest heaven to see what is happening on Earth, whether everyone praying to him. Allah writes the destinies of all for the coming year by taking into account the deeds committed by them in the past. It is believed that the lowest heaven is the most nearest heaven to earth. Allah can see what is going on Earth much better from the lowest heaven. From his arsh or throne, the place where he stays in most of his times, Allah doesn’t see things well. Shab-e-Barat or the night of records, or the night of assignment or the night of deliverance, or the night of observance involves a festive nightlong prayers. Muslims believe that on that particular night the doors of mercy and forgiveness are opened wide, and those who sincerely grieve over and repent for their past sins and seek forgiveness from Allah are pardoned and forgiven. The night of Shab-e-barat is the greatest night for sinners and criminals because all their crimes are forgiven by the almighty merciful Allah. They do not care much about judicial system on Earth. Life on Earth is temporary anyway. A night-long prayer and Allah’s assurance of forgiveness give them the strength to go on committing further crimes until the next Shab-e-Qadr or Shab-e-Barat, the great nights of prayers and forgiveness arrive.

Yesterday I asked some educated and clever Muslims, where is the lowest heaven?
They said, nearest.
I asked again, nearest to what? earth?
They said, yes.
-Somewhere between moon and earth?
(silence)
-On the Asteroids passing close to Earth?
(silence)
I said, okay, leave it.
They were happy.
But I was not happy. I asked, why does Allah need to descend to the lowest heaven to see who are praying and who are not? Can’t he see them clearly from the place he lives?
One of them said, probably..
I asked, probably what?
He smiled nervously.
I said, man, use your brains!
After a few minutes he looked more confident. He said, Allah descends to the lowest heaven because it is night, it’s too dark outside to see things. In this kind of situation it is better to come closer to the objects you want to see.
I smiled and said, you are right.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    David Hart

    “revelation from Garbiel to Muhammad”

    Is this an accidental typo, or are you suggesting that the Quran got a bit Garbled in the process of transmission?
    :-P

    1. 1.1
      darsanic

      Myth is ignorance while true insight into reality is knowledge. There are myths galore in this modern civilization at the beginning of the third millennium after Christ, the pride of place goes to the myth about god communicating with man in human language. It blocked every inquiry as useless since God could always choose a new spokesman whenever He felt the need to correct us. How elegantly simple! The reality, too, is simple thanks to biology and psychology. My talking to god is prayer; God talking to me is schizophrenia – a mental disorder.

  2. 2
    alok

    the last line is the best
    I smiled and said, you are right :D
    I had the same experience once. It was about “BHAGWAT GITA AS IT IS”. There were some pictures in it about rebirth, e.g. one who is watching erotica becomes tree in next birth and one who eat non-veg becomes tiger etc. A strong devotee, a boy of around 10 yr age, objected on my comments that the book being worthless. Once i was astonished by his devotion. I asked him whether any tree has told the writer that it was a human, fond of erotica in his previous life. Or any tiger has claimed similarly.
    He replied, Poonch ke bataaunga (I shall answer you after asking my preacher.)

  3. 3
    fork

    Whose night?
    Are we using Mecca Time or something? For North American muslims, is allah descending during their night or day?

    1. 3.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      A very valid question. As far as I know Allah does not have much knowledge of the Earth that he created in 6 days. He has to learn more about how it revolves around the sun. He fixed the time for Ramadan fasting from sunset to sunrise. I think he needs to study more about the countries of midnight sun. I am afraid his fanclub prevents him from learning basic science. .

      1. md dawood alam

        assalamo alaikum.. dear taslima madam.
        i know you are born as a muslim and still allah loves you very much rather whatever you say about allah’s knowledge.. he knows everything you show or you hide and even in your heart please think once who is greater creator or creating things? ask allah for true guidance by reading “ya hadi ya raheem”.. please do it you will get the right path don’t focus what other say about your thoughts… plz before death try to get the real path so that you will get success in both world.. thank you

      2. uzma

        Hi Taslima, Have always heard about you. But couldn’t get enough about your ideaologies. Lately, just started going through your blogs and have managed to jot down two of your aspirations – Liberty for women and right to speech. I fully concur to the idea of women liberty. However, since the topic here relates more or less to freedom of speech and more specific to a relegion, will keep my comments directed towards the same. Honestly speaking, i kind of pity the so called ‘clever muslim’ u had been in converstaion with. All he was trying to do was asnwer you from the limited knowledge he possessed. Its funny at times, to see some muslims fumbling and trying very hard to answer certain things when asked about relegion. The simplest thing would have been to confess that they do not know much. We neednt have information about the entire world as it is too damm vast to keep in one’s possesion. The question about lowest heaven. From a verse stated above – ” the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them”. Our earth as per science has various categories of divisions. Right? Lattitudnal, longitudanl. Lets add up one more such division for the sake of almighty – heaven and earth. So when some one says its the lowest heaven, it means a part of the sky closest to the earth. It is said so far that the sky is divided into seven layers. If you have scientific evidences to negate this, i would think of an alternative thought (apart from seven skiy). So the lowest heaven implies to the seventh layer of the sky. Now close to earth? not close to earth? or between the moon and sun? etc etc? Not aware of the same. For the second question of yours, as to why the Almighty has to come down the lowest heaven to hear out for your prayers? :) You are going in for the LITERAL meaning of the statement. Like you say, Bengali is a beautiful language and when translated it looses its charm and the real essence of your ideas. The same injustice has been done by you for the Arabic language :) . Anyways, Almighty coming down to lowest heaven does not imply his inablity to keep a track of humans and their prayers. It just symbolises a Great king, who, for the sake of his people, would get down from his grand throne to address their issues and listen to their prayers. The reason why Almighty would get so close to his believers is because, that particular segment of the night is where we humans are in deep sleep. But when a believer deprives himself of that soothing slumber, and awakens to call Almighty, the Great king comes down from his great throne and more closer to his believer. Which by no means is the inablity of Almighty. Thats the ideology behind the prayer at night.

        For the other commentors who have questions like how about day and night in different parts of the world? How does he manage that? Well an advice. Its Almighty’s responsblity alone to feed his pepople and take care of their issues. And since you and i are no where close to that responsblity, lets not interfere with his ways of working. Let him do his task and you can carry on with your due tasks and responslbities rather more proficiently :) ..

        Good day all!!

        1. shakil faras

          Wonderful comment !
          Some of the so called thinkers have seemingly lost the aptidude of analysing the doctrine being followed by million and millions of fellow humans and are resorting to cheap gimmics in criticizing.

    2. 3.2
      Winterwind

      I think Allah must be in a geostationary orbit above Mecca, and his angels are probably zipping around in low Earth orbits.

  4. 4
    Albert Bakker

    Apart from His poor eyesight, descending to somewhere where one weren’t before is hard to rhyme with omnipresence isn’t it? I thought it was a feature of Allah too, especially since not being omnipresent makes one slightly less akhbar. Intolerably so in the presence of Gods who do.

  5. 5
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    You know, that might explain why His smiting aim has been so off target lately, and why He needs His followers to shout and threaten so loudly and be so violent in defense of His almighty Ego.

    But if He is so near-sighted, why do pictures offend Him so? Jealousy? He can’t see them so Thou Shalt Not make them?

  6. 6
    lpetrich

    They could say that Heaven and Hell have a metaphysical sort of existence, that they don’t exist in the physical context of our Universe, but in some parallel realms.

    But some of those views seem like a throwback to what many medieval Europeans thought, as one can see from Dante’s Divine Comedy. He pictures Hell as being in the Earth’s interior, Purgatory as being on the other side of the Earth, and Heaven as being the Solar System according to Ptolemaic cosmology.

    Thomas Aquinas, the official philosopher of the Catholic Church, agreed. In his Summa Theologica, he asks “Whether the fire of hell is beneath the earth?”, and answers that indeed it is, just like Dante. It’s less clear what he thought about heaven, but he seems to have thought what Dante did.

  7. 7
    Kausik Datta

    After a few minutes he looked more confident. He said, Allah descends to the lowest heaven because it is night, it’s too dark outside to see things. In this kind of situation it is better to come closer to the objects you want to see.

    Post-hoc rationalization FTW!!!eleventyone1111
    (Not really)

  8. 8
    Aysh

    Where is the lowest heaven?

    Answer:

    Its talking about the distance. Allah s.w.t is telling us that the distance between Allah s.w.t and us decreases.
    Closer to us asking where the lowest heaven is same as asking where exactly is the electron during a chemical bond.
    Its moving like the entire universe like our galaxy itself you can predict it maybe there at a certain time likewise you can predict lowest heaven is just where the stars begin. Coming back to an electron you know its there because of its effect likewise you know heaven is up there because of its effect just because you cant see it does not mean its not there or its effect has lessen.

    More easily explained someone asks you where is your heart and you say towards the left side of my chest then they say but how do you know its there because the scientist said everyone’s heart is towards the left side and you can hear it beat yh? But you cant see it though but you know its there you just know it to deny people might think you are mad so you believe Maybe in science or people so they don’t say you are mad for denying a fact. Its something called trust and faith that you put in people or science. Likewise heaven is up there it might me covered by a veil jus like in the body heart is covered by your skin does not mean its not there. Light travels fast and what travels faster then light is invisible to our naked eyes.

    Why does Allah have to descend to lowest heaven?

    When you really like something or love something you want it you want to touch it hold it and make it yours the more closer you get to it the more happier you feel. Like a destination when you are getting close or you are exhausted from the journey every step closer to your destination makes you happy. Correct?
    Yes, without doubt! So people who love Allah s.w.t for them this is like a Special gift from Allah s.w.t that every night you get chance to be more closer to Allah the ONE you love so you can ask not that Allah is far from you but when physically more closer to you the effects will be greater the happiness will be better human nature is to feel happier when things you love are even closer.
    Come on you know if it’s a house you really want you ll try and visit it at least twice even though you might think about it all the time. Like wise Allah s.w.t. Come closer for people who really want HIM. To give them the special feeling it like when you have a crush on someone and that person you can see from far but imagine the happiness when they come sit next to you or hold your hand its just more satisfaction.

    Allah s.w.t. is closer to us then our jugular vein
    So why does Allah ta’la have to descend because its coming even more closer to us for the people of imaan . When you fall in love with someone they are always in our hearts you constantly think about them you feel close to them but when that person is near you physically you are even more at peace so Allah s.w.t every night is helping us achieve that peace because after all HE is The Most Giving.

    “After a few minutes he looked more confident. He said, Allah descends to the lowest heaven because it is night, it’s too dark outside to see things. In this kind of situation it is better to come closer to the objects you want to see.
    I smiled and said, you are right.”

    If you ask a 10-year-old child what’s 2+2 and after minutes he looked more confident and he said 9 and YOU believe them its not that child’s fault its your fault that you couldn’t use your brain to ask at least 5 other Muslims for their answers. You can’t judge God by what one human has said. If you really want an answer go read the Quran where GOD answers all your questions.

    1. 8.1
      shabnam

      Subhan’Allah ,Dear Aysh, i am very impressed by your reply. May Allah bless you with all happiness of and life and here after.

  9. 9
    O H

    “Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe.”

    “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?”

    “Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god), and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah? Will you not then remember?”

    Above are verses from the Qur’an.

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