How did the splitting open of the chest of the Prophet (pbuh) take place and what does it mean?

Details of the Question

How did the splitting open of the chest of the Prophet (pbuh) take place and what does it mean?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The slitting of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) Chest

It was a beautiful spring day and the mid-morning sun was emitting life everywhere. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) whose face was filled with noor (light), and his foster brother, Abdullah, were grazing their sheep in a meadow that was near their home. They sat on a carpet of grass as they were having a nice conversation underneath a tree. After a while, Abdullah fell asleep on the tree’s cool shadow while the Pride of the Universe (PBUH) thought about the Creator who encompassed the universe with incomparable beauty.

In the meantime, the sheep had dispersed far away. In order to have them turn back, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) walked away from Abdullah. After a while, he saw two men clothed in white garments. Both of them had smiling faces and were pleasant. One of them had a golden bowl that was filled with snow in his hand. They quietly approached the Holy Prophet (PBUH).  They held him; they laid him on top of the standing grass that was like a Divine carpet. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) made no sound and no fuss. He knew that these pleasant people with clean and smiling faces would not hurt him.

In the meanwhile, Abdullah, who had fallen asleep on the tree’s cool shadow, was now awake.  When he saw the scene, he immediately began to run home in a hurry. He explained what he saw to his parents. Out of their excitement and worry, Halima and her husband did not notice how they rushed out of the house, as they hastily ran towards the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They reached the Holy Prophet (PBUH)’s side; however, the situation was not as Abdullah had described since nobody could be seen. In an instant, the men fulfilled their appointed duty and left. The Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) face had gone pale, and he lightly smiled as he stood on his feet.

Halima and her husband who were in too great of a flap, asked:

“Sweetie, what happened to you?”

The Pride of the Universe (PBUH) narrated the following:

“Two people with white garments approached me. One of them had a golden bowl filled with snow in his hand. They held me, slit my chest, took out my heart, and slit my heart as well. From my heart, they took out a black blood clot and threw it aside. They left after they cleaned my heart and chest with that snow”.1

He would be given the duty of Prophethood after many years passed. One day, some of the Companions (Sahaba) had asked:

“Oh Messenger of Allah, could you describe yourself to us?”

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered: I am the supplication of my father, Ibrahim. I am the glad tidings of my brother, Isa (Jesus). I am my mother’s dream. When she was pregnant with me, she saw a noor that rose from itself and lightened the castles of Damascus”.  After his answer, he explained the aforementioned situation in this way:

“I was nourished and brought up next to the sons of Sa’d bin Bakr. One day, I was grazing the sheep with my foster brother behind our home. In the meantime, two men in white garments approached me. One of them had a golden bowl filled with snow in his hand. They held me, slit my chest, took out my heart, and slit my heart as well. They took out a black blood clot from my heart and threw it aside. They cleaned my chest and heart with that snow”.2

In this phenomenon, our Beloved Messenger’s (PBUH) holy heart was widened with a soul and tranquility by the Divine Light and Allah Almighty. At the same time and from that day on, the nafs (soul) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was filled with holy emotions. And with the testifying of Divine lights (noor), his nafs was cleaned from every type of apprehension and doubt. It should be remembered here that the heart should not be thought of as some piece of meat. It is a dominical subtle faculty, Latifa -Rabbaniyya. To become better enlightened on this topic, it is beneficial to look at Hazrat Badiuzzaman’s explanation of the heart:

"What is meant by the heart is not just a piece of meat like a pine cone. Instead, it is a dominical subtle faculty (Latifa Rabbaniyya), and the conscience, the purpose of feelings, intentions, and ideas, are its intellect. Therefore, an amenity has resulted from interpreting this piece of meat that contains the dominical subtle faculty: the dominical subtle faculty, the service that one does for his own spirituality, is like the service that is performed by the physical body.  Yes, just as the One who has endowed this physical body with life is like a life-producing machine and this material life is extant because of His handiwork, the physical body reaches degradation when its material life is halted. He animates and illuminates the dominical subtle faculty with deeds and circumstances; and when the light of faith diminishes, its true essence will be left remaining like a lifeless and inanimate statue."3

It is understood that the faith, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion of the material heart are closely connected to spirituality. In the same way, the relation between material and spiritual cleanliness is extant. In this regard, the filling of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) heart with knowledge, wisdom, Divine light, and enlightenment after the cleansing of his material heart, should not be seen as unreasonable.4

Footnotes:

1. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 174; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 112; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 128.
2. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, a.g.e., V. 1, p. 175; Tabari,ibid, V. 2, p. 128.
3. Badiuzzaman Said Nursî, İşaratü’l-İ’caz, p. 79.
4. See M. Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, V. 8, 5911-5915.

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