"Al Miraj - Journey Through The Symbolic, Ascent In The Real" with Mahbub Gani and Iman Poernomo

We are happy to share the video footage of "Al Miraj - Journey Through The Symbolic, Ascent In The Real" with Mahbub Gani and Iman Poernomo, delivered to The City Circle on Friday 24th July 2009.



The Night Journey, Al-Isra wal-Miraj, is a key event in the revelation of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). It involved the Prophet being carried by Buraq, "an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place its hoof at a distance equal to the range of vision", from Mecca to Jerusalem, where the Prophet led the previous messengers of Islam in prayer. He then ascended through the heavens and spoke with particular prophets. At the pinnacle of his ascent, Allah (swt) gave him the instructions regarding the number of compulsory salat we must make as Muslims.

Importantly, there are narrations in which the Prophet declared that this journey was a physical event, not a metaphysical vision. The majority of scholars in the past have agreed with this. However, it is also clear that, even amongst the Sahaba of the time, the miraculous, physical nature of this journey was cause for much debate.

In this modern age, science and digital logic ground so much of our daily lives. We unconsciously fall into a particular way of thinking about our psychological relation to reality. A kind of scientism is unavoidable, and Muslims are not immune to it: after all, both historically and recently, we have often played a central role in the development of the scientific world view.

Yet, a surprising conclusion of the presentation is that a deeper understanding of the way in which we do science - or in fact anything in life - is made possible by the physical reality of the Mir'aj.

Our presentation builds a bewildering bricolage, fusing ideas from the European thinkers Lacan and Deleuze with the poetic and metaphysical thoughts of Ibn Arabi and Allama Iqbal. The key message is that: a 'repetition' of Prophetic Islam is available to us all and requires our own Mi'raj through prayer, as the Prophet (pbuh) suggested in the report, 'The Mi'raj of the believer is the Salaah.'


Mahbub Gani is currently a lecturer in the Department of Electronic Engineering at King's College London. His primary research interests include the control and coordination of multi-agent systems and distributed signal processing. He is an active member of IMASE (International Muslim Association of Scientists and Engineers) and is a contributor to and the 1001 Inventions project run by FSTC(Foundation of Science, Technology and Civilisation). More recently he has been involved in running the Critical Reading Group - a constellation of Muslims from diverse backgrounds who meet on a weekly basis to engage critically and playfully with the works of important thinkers and scholars.

Iman Poernomo is a Lecturer in Computer Science at King's College London, where he specializes in software engineering and constructive logic. He holds a PhD on these subjects from Monash University Australia, where healso completed a BSc in Pure Mathematics and a BA in Philosophy and Critical Theory. He is the author of over 46 publications and one book, Adapting Proofs-as-Programs (Springer, 2005). He is also the producer for Suficore band, the Friends of Design.