1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet
We now know from the sayings of Muhammad that Allah projected visions of Heaven and Hell, which only he could see, at various times throughout the day, often during eclipses; and that at night, He took His spokesman on out-of-this-world tours of both places in palpable dreams.
When people die, they are not sent to Hell or allowed into Paradise— the exception being martyrs in Allah’s Cause—but rather sink into a hole in the ground beneath where they died to await Judgement Day. In many of Muhammad’s visions including the following, however, he reports seeing an unbeliever burning in Hell instead of being tormented in his grave. Lahai, one such man, is from what Islam calls the Time of Ignorance, a time before Islam. Luhai had the temerity to free animals as offerings to his god, as opposed to cutting their throats and letting them bleed to death, as is the Muslim tradition.
Once the sun eclipsed and Allah's Apostle stood up for the prayer and recited a very long Sura and then bowed for a long while and then raised his head and started reciting another Sura.
Then he bowed, and after finishing, he prostrated and did the same in the second Raka and then said, "These (lunar and solar eclipses) are two of the signs of Allah and if you see them, pray till the eclipse is over. No doubt, while standing at this place I saw everything promised to me by Allah and I saw (Paradise) and I wanted to pluck a bunch (of grapes) therefrom, at the time when you saw me stepping forward. No doubt, I saw Hell with its different parts destroying each other when you saw me retreating and in it I saw Amr bin Luhai who started the tradition of freeing animals (set them free) in the name of idols."
Instead of awaiting Judgement Day and his due process in the cramped confines of an underground tomb, Lahai is, according to Muhammad, dragging his intestines through Hell.
Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:
Al-Bahira was an animal whose milk was spared for the idols and other deities, and so nobody was allowed to milk it. As-Saiba was an animal which they (i.e. infidels) used to set free in the names of their gods so that it would not be used for carrying anything.
Abu Huraira said, "The Prophet said, 'I saw Amr bin Amir bin Luhai Al-Khuzai dragging his intestines in the (Hell) Fire, for he was the first man who started the custom of releasing animals (for the sake of false gods).'"
During a solar eclipse, Muhammad mentioned the interrogation that takes place in the grave where Amr bin Luhai should have been entombed.
Narrated Asma bint Abu Bakr:
I came to Aisha the wife of the Prophet during the solar eclipse. The people were standing and offering the prayer and she was also praying.
I asked her, "What is wrong with the people?"
She beckoned with her hand towards the sky and said, "Subhan Allah (Glorious is God)."
I asked her, "Is there a sign?"
She pointed out, "Yes."
So I, too, stood for the prayer till I fell unconscious and later on I poured water on my head.
After the prayer, Allah's Apostle praised and glorified Allah and said, "Just now I have seen something which I never saw before at this place of mine, including Paradise and Hell. I have been inspired (and have understood) that you will be put to trials in your graves and these trials will be like the trials of Ad-Dajjal (the false messiah), or nearly like it (the sub narrator is not sure of what Asma said). Angels will come to every one of you and ask, 'What do you know about this man?'
A believer will reply, 'He is Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, and he came to us with self-evident truth and guidance. So we accepted his teaching, believed and followed him.'
Then the angels will say to him to sleep in peace as they have come to know that he was a believer.
On the other hand a hypocrite or a doubtful person will reply, 'I do not know but heard the people saying something and so I said the same.'"
During a solar eclipse, Muhammad reached for some fruit from a most unlikely place, then thought better of it. The following may be an indication that he was experiencing what is akin to an all-encompassing illusion, a vision that led him to think he could grab a bite to eat from a garden in Paradise during the eclipse prayer.
Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:
One solar eclipse occurred during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle. He offered the eclipse prayer. His companions asked, "O Allah's Apostle! We saw you trying to take something while standing at your place and then we saw you retreating."
The Prophet said, "I was shown Paradise and wanted to have a bunch of fruit from it. Had I taken it, you would have eaten from it as long as the world remains."
A short narration about visions and eclipses:
Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:
The sun eclipsed and Allah's Apostle offered the eclipse prayer and said, "I have been shown the Hellfire (now) and I never saw a worse and horrible sight than the sight I have seen today."
One of the horrors that Muhammad saw during the eclipse of the sun was the number of ungrateful women who, like Lahai, should have been in their graves rather than burning in Hell.
Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:
During the lifetime of Allah's Apostle, the sun eclipsed. Allah's Apostle offered the prayer of (the) eclipse) and so did the people along with him. He performed a long Qiyam (standing posture) during which Surat-al-Baqara could have been recited; then he performed a prolonged bowing, then raised his head and stood for a long time which was slightly less than that of the first Qiyam (and recited Qur'an).
Then he performed a prolonged bowing again but the period was shorter than the period of the first bowing, then he stood up and then prostrated. Again he stood up, but this time the period of standing was less than the first standing.
Then he performed a prolonged bowing but of a lesser duration than the first, then he stood up again for a long time but for a lesser duration than the first.
Then he performed a prolonged bowing but of lesser duration than the first, and then he again stood up, and then prostrated and then finished his prayer. By then the sun eclipse had cleared.
The Prophet then said, "The sun and the moon are two signs among the signs of Allah, and they do not eclipse because of the death or birth of someone, so when you observe the eclipse, remember Allah (offer the eclipse prayer)."
They (the people) said, "O Allah's Apostle! We saw you stretching your hand to take something at this place of yours, then we saw you stepping backward."
He said, "I saw Paradise (or Paradise was shown to me), and I stretched my hand to pluck a bunch (of grapes), and had I plucked it, you would have eaten of it as long as this world exists. Then I saw the (Hell) Fire, and I have never before, seen such a horrible sight as that, and I saw that the majority of its dwellers were women."
The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the reason for that?"
He replied, "Because of their ungratefulness."
It was said. "Do they disbelieve in Allah (are they ungrateful to Allah)?"
He replied, "They are not thankful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors done to them. Even if you do good to one of them all your life, when she seems some harshness from you, she will say, "I have never seen any good from you.' "
(For more or less the same story told by a different narrator see A Palace in the Sky.)
Returning to the idea that Muhammad may have been hallucinating, in the following hadith he asks God why a woman in Hell is being lacerated by a cat.
Narrated Asma bint Abi Bakr:
The Prophet once offered the eclipse prayer. He stood for a long time and then did a prolonged bowing. He stood up straight again and kept on standing for a long time, then bowed a long bowing and then stood up straight and then prostrated a prolonged prostration and then lifted his head and prostrated a prolonged prostration. And then he stood up for a long time and then did a prolonged bowing and then stood up straight again and kept on standing for a long time. Then he bowed a long bowing and then stood up straight and then prostrated a prolonged prostration and then lifted his head and went for a prolonged prostration.
On completion of the prayer, he said, "Paradise became so near to me that if I had dared, I would have plucked one of its bunches for you and Hell became so near to me that [I] said, 'O my Lord I will be among those people?' Then suddenly I saw a woman and a cat was lacerating her with its claws. On inquiring, it was said that the woman had imprisoned the cat till it died of starvation and she neither fed it nor freed it so that it could feed itself."
In the absence of eclipses, Muhammad was often distracted at the most opportune—or inopportune—times by visions of Heaven and Hell, such as during the following question and answer session:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle came out as the sun declined at mid-day and offered the Zuhr prayer. He then stood on the pulpit and spoke about the Hour (Day of Judgment) and said that in it there would be tremendous things. He then said, "Whoever likes to ask me about anything he can do so and I shall reply as long as I am at this place of mine."
Most of the people wept and the Prophet said repeatedly, "Ask me."
Abdullah bin Hudhafa As-Sahmi stood up and said, "Who is my father?"
The Prophet said, "Your father is Hudhafa."
The Prophet repeatedly said, "Ask me."
Then Umar knelt before him and said, "We are pleased with Allah as our Lord, Islam as our religion, and Muhammad as our Prophet."
The Prophet then became quiet and said, "Paradise and Hell-fire were displayed in front of me on this wall just now and I have never seen a better thing (than the former) and a worse thing (than the latter)."
In another hadith, undoubtedly a variation of the previous one, it is clear that Muhammad was not always pleased to be pelted with questions.
Once the people started asking Allah's Apostle questions, and they asked so many questions that he became angry and ascended the pulpit and said, "I will answer whatever questions you may ask me today."
I looked right and left and saw everyone covering his face with his garment and weeping.
Behold! There was a man who, on quarreling with the people, used to be called as a son of a person other than his father. He said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is my father?"
The Prophet replied, "Your father is Hudhaifa."
And then Umar got up and said, "We accept Allah as our Lord, and Islam as (our) religion, and Muhammad as (our) Apostle; and we seek refuge with Allah from the afflictions."
Allah's Apostle said, "I have never seen a day like today in its good and its evil for Paradise and the Hell Fire were displayed in front of me, till I saw them just beyond this wall."
Even prayers were not free from Divine interruptions.
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet led us in prayer and then went up to the pulpit and beckoned with both hands towards the Qibla of the mosque and then said, "When I started leading you in prayer, I saw the display of Paradise and Hell on the wall of the mosque (facing the Qibla). I never saw good and bad as I have seen today."
He repeated the last statement thrice.
Bukhari 12. 716
The sun was eclipsed on the day Ibrahim, the son of Muhammad, died.
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu'ba:
"The sun eclipsed in the lifetime of Allah's Apostle on the day when (his son) Ibrahim died. So the people said that the sun had eclipsed because of the death of Ibrahim.
Allah's Apostle said, "The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e. birth) of someone. When you see the eclipse pray and invoke Allah."
Eclipses are just one more way Allah frightens the ones He loves into offering even more prayers.
Narrated Abu Bakra:
Allah's Apostle said: "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah and they do not eclipse because of the death of someone but Allah frightens His devotees with them."
Narrated Abu Bakra:
The solar eclipse occurred while we were sitting with the Prophet. He got up dragging his garment (on the ground) hurriedly till he reached the mosque. The people turned (to the mosque) and he offered a two-Rak'at prayer whereupon the eclipse was over and he traced us and said, "The sun and the moon are two signs among the signs of Allah, so if you see a thing like this (eclipse) then offer the prayer and invoke Allah till He removes that state."