by Mehol K. Sadain
A quantum leap or a quantum jump is simply defined as a great development or advance in something. For instance, you can describe the present computer encoding desktop and laptop as a quantum leap from the typewriter, or the smartphone from the dial-type telephone of the 70s and earlier. In science it points to a sudden and abrupt huge transition from one discrete energy state to another, like when an electron becomes highly energized and jumps to another level.
In recent years, some meditative spiritual teachers have entertained the idea of an accelerated and elevated divine experience and began calling this a spiritual quantum leap, leading to a change in one’s spiritual perspective and predisposition.
Going now to the concept of time, which is the fourth dimension of space, the first three being length, width and depth, it is said that scientists, since the time of Einstein have theorized that time can be broken into slices known as time quanta which is defined as the period of time a process is allowed to run. According to an article by Richard John Anthony, the size of a time quantum can be selected when a particular process is allowed to run on a pre-emptive scheduler. He illustrates this with the way a movie works. The typical number of frames per second in a normal movie timeline is said to be 24 frames or more per second. When this is flashed before our eyes, we see the frames as a continuous naturally moving image. Anything less or more, will bring about irregular movements, either lazily slow or erratically fast. There are many quantum implications of this process, but the point we are interested in, is that the length of the quanta can be pre-determined to achieve the desired time and space interweaving, which can slow down or hasten time, or set time quanta one after another.
Going beyond the Newtonian absolute time concept, Einstein discovered that in relativity, time being an integral part of the fabric of the universe, cannot exist apart from the universe, but if the speed of light is invariable and absolute in the universe, then both space and time must co-exist as flexible and relative variables. As a result of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, space and time have merged into four-dimensional space-time, expanding from the earlier three-dimensional space. Modern physicists no longer regard time as “passing” or “flowing” and merely a sequence of events. They realized that past and present are “simply there”, laid out as part of a four-dimensional space-time continuum, some of which we have already visited, and some not yet. All of time (past, present and future) are constantly in existence even if we are not able to witness them. [Excerpted and paraphrased from Quantum Time – Exactly What is Time? www.exactlywhatistime.com ]
The statements above are simply mind-boggling, and even as modern science and erudite scientists try to explain them, questions still haunt the limited intellect of man. This brings us therefore to the experience of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) commemorated by the Muslims this 11th day of March: the Isra wa l-Mi’raj or the journey of the Prophet from the Masjid Al-Haraam in Mecca to the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, and his ascension to the Seventh Heaven, both of which defy our ordinary concepts of time and space, and precedes by more than a thousand years, the abovementioned quantum discoveries in modern times.
The Noble Qur’an mentions the Isra or journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in Surah 17, Verse 1, when ALLAH says: “Glory to Him who took His servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose precincts We blessed, in order that We might show him some of Our Signs, for He is the One who Hears and Sees (all things).” The narrations in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) state that after the Angel Gabriel opened the Prophet’s breast and cleansed his heart with water from the zamzam well, Gabriel mounted the Prophet on the Buraq which brought him from Mecca to the Mosque Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. After visiting different places and leading all the Prophets in prayer, the Prophet was taken by Angel Gabriel to the First Heaven up to the Seventh Heaven until he came to the farthest point in the Seventh Heaven, the Lote Tree or the Sidratu l-Muntaha, where he is said to have met God (or seen His Signs).
The Prophet’s meeting with ALLAH at the end of his Mi’raj is alluded in Surah An-Najm, Verses 13 to 18, as follows: “For indeed he saw him at a second descent, near the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary, near the Garden of Abode. Behold the Lote Tree was shrouded with what shrouds it. His sight never swerved nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!” Although, the earlier verses (Verses 5-12) of Surah Najm seem to indicate a meeting of the Prophet with Gabriel to receive ALLAH’s revelations, which may not have been during the Mi’raj, the verses quoted above specifically mention the Lote Tree twice and punctuate it with seeing “the Signs” of ALLAH, hence, closely resembling the Mi’raj experience of the Prophet.
When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) returned that same night, the skeptics naturally doubted his experience, and suspected that he was merely dreaming. For how could a man travel thousands of miles then go up to heaven, and return in a matter of hours? However, the Prophet correctly pointed out to them that in his Isra, he saw a caravan approaching Mecca, and true enough a caravan later arrived in Mecca.
This extraordinary experience of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) defied the Quraish’s ordinary notion of space and time, as the modern concept of quantum space and time also defy our usual and normal understanding of space and time. But unlike the past, when the Isra wa l-Mi’raj of the Prophet appeared like crazed hallucination to his detractors, today’s new discoveries on quantum space and time present a scientifically plausible explanation to the Night Journey of the Prophet of Islam. [More on this in the next column]