once in the mirror of his spirit all the Divine Names manifested in the universe, Almighty God displayed, through the manifestation of His Essence and at the greatest level of the Most Beautiful Names, in the member of the human race who reflected them most comprehensively the greatest manifestation of those Names. This display and manifestation is the inner meaning of the Ascension of Muhammad (PBUH), by which his sainthood became the source of his messengership.
Sainthood proceeds through shadow and resembles the first man in the Second Comparison. While in messengership there is no shadow, it looks directly to the oneness of the All-Glorious One and resembles the second man in the Second Comparison. As for the Ascension, since it was the greatest wonder of Muhammad’s sainthood and also its highest degree, it was transformed into the degree of messengership. The inner face of the Ascension was sainthood, it went from creation to Creator. While its apparent face was messengership, it came from Creator to creation. Sainthood is spiritual journeying in the levels close to God; it needs a certain amount of time and many degrees must be traversed. While messengership, whose light is greatest, looks to the mystery of uncovering Divine immediacy, for which the passing instant is sufficient. It was for this reason that it is said in the Hadith: “He went and returned in an instant.”1
Now we say to the atheist who is in the position of listener: “Since the universe resembles a most orderly country, magnificent city, and adorned palace, it surely must have a ruler, owner, and builder. And since there is such a magnificent, All-Glorious Owner, All-Perfect Ruler, and All-Beauteous Maker; and since there was a human being whose view was universal and who demonstrated a relationship with the entire world, country, city, and palace and was connected to all of them through his senses and faculties of perception; certainly, the Magnificent Maker would have an elevated relationship to the fullest degree with that human being, whose view was universal and consciousness comprehensive, and would favour him with an exalted and sacred address.
Among those who manifested this relationship from the time of Adam (Peace be upon him) up to now, Muhammad the Arabian (Peace and blessings be upon him) demonstrated it at the very fullest degree according to the testimony of his achievements, that is, his having taken half the globe and a fifth of mankind under this direction and control and having transformed and illuminated the spiritual shape of the universe. This being so, the Ascension, which comprised the very fullest degree of that relationship, is most worthy and suitable for him.
Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-Kubra, i, 439, 444; Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa’, 190, 192.