The Story of the Prophet’s Night Journey (1/2)

The Story of the Prophet’s Night Journey (1/2)

Al Israa’ and al-Mi`raj in Islam refer to the miraculous night journey of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Jerusalem followed by his ascension into heavens.

Al Israa’ and al-Mi`raj in Islam refer to the miraculous night journey of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Jerusalem followed by his ascension into heavens.

What is Al-Israa’?

Israa’ and sara in Arabic language refer to traveling in the night(1)  and Israa’ here denotes the miraculous night journey of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah to Bayt Al-Maqdis in Jerusalem with Angel Gabriel on al-Buraq, a white and long animal larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule. This journey is called al-Israa’ that took place merely by the power and order of Allah the Almighty. This was mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an in a Surah named “Al-Israa’”(2)

What is Al-Mi`raj?           

Al-Mi`raj was derived from the Arabic root-word `uruj that denotes ascending or climbing. In Islamic theology, the word Al-Mi`raj denotes the miraculous travel of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Jerusalem to the heavens and skies to see the sublime and unique beautify of the divine worlds and to be blessed with conversation with his Lord and to observe the divine beauty within minutes or hours or a small part of the night that did not take even the whole night.

Al-Mi`raj was derived from the Arabic root-word `uruj that denotes ascending or climbing.

Al-Mi`raj was derived from the Arabic root-word `uruj that denotes ascending or climbing.

The Mi`raj followed the Israa’ in the same night and the story of al-Mi`iraj was mentioned in brief in Surat An-Najm according to the opinion which says that the verses of Surat An-Najm describe the Prophet’s ascension to heavens, beside many other Prophetic traditions. Bothe the Israa’ and the Mi`raj were in awakening not in dream.(3)

When Did the Miraculous Event Happen?

According to the most famous opinion, the Israa’ and the Mi`raj took place on Rajab 27th, about a year before the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Madinah. No doubt, there are other views in this regard. However, Muslims in the world celebrate this precious occasion on Rajab 27th every year.(4)

The Story of Al-Israa’

It is narrated on the authority of Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said that he was brought al-Buraq that is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, which would place its hoof on a distance equal to the range of its sight. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mounted it and came to Bait Al-Maqdis in Jerusalem, then he tethered it to the ring used by the prophets before him. He entered the mosque and prayed two rak`ahs in it, and then came out and Gabriel brought him a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk but the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) chose the milk, then Gabriel said: You have chosen the natural thing.

The Story of Al-Me`araj

 

After that the miraculous and heavenly journey started as Gabriel took the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to the nearest heaven and asked the gate of heaven to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied: Gabriel. He was again asked: Who is with you? Gabriel said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? Gabriel replied: He has indeed been sent for. The door of the heaven was opened for them and at once they saw the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) who welcomed him and prayed for his wellbeing. Then they ascended to the second heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked the door of heaven to be opened, and he was asked who he was. He answered: Gabriel; and was again asked: Who is with you? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened, when he entered the Prophets `Isa ibn Maryam and Yahya ibn Zakariya (peace be upon both of them), cousins from the maternal side welcomed him and prayed for his wellbeing.

On the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Heavens

Then he was taken to the third heaven and Gabriel asked for the opening (of the door). He was asked: Who are you? He replied: Gabriel. He was again asked: Who is with you? He replied Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened for them and he met the Prophet Yusuf (peace of be upon him) who was very beautiful rather he had been given half of the beauty of the world. He welcomed him and prayed for his wellbeing. Then he ascended with him to the fourth heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked for the gate to be opened, and it was said: Who is he? He replied: Gabriel. It was again said: Who is with you? He said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened for them, and suddenly he met the Prophet Idris (peace be upon him) who welcomed him and prayed for his wellbeing. It is noteworthy that Allah (Glory be to Him) mentioned the Prophet Idris in the Glorious Qur’an and said: “We elevated him (Idris) to the exalted position.” (Maryam 19:57)

Then he ascended with them to the fifth heaven and Gabriel asked for the gate to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied Gabriel. It was again said: Who is with you? He replied: Muhammad. It was said has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened for them and then he was with the Prophet Harun (Aaron) (peace be upon him) who welcomed him and prayed for his wellbeing.

On the Sixth and Seventh Heavens

Then he was taken to the sixth heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked for the door to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied: Gabriel. It was said: Who is with you? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened for them and there he was with the Prophet Musa (Moses) (peace be upon him) who welcomed him and prayed for his wellbeing. Then he was taken up to the seventh heaven. Gabriel asked the gate to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He said: Gabriel It was said. Who is with you? He replied: Muhammad (may peace be upon him.) It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened for us and there he found the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (peace be upon him) reclining against al-Bait al-Ma`mur “the Frequented House” (that is situated in the 7th heaven, directly above the Ka`bah on earth and seventy thousand angels enter into al-Bait al-Ma`mur every day who never gets the chance to visit this place again.

Sidrat al-Muntaha

The Sidrat al-Muntaha is a very large Lote Tree beyond the seventh heaven. It was named Sidrat al-Muntaha because whatever ascends from the earth and whatever descends from heaven terminates there.

Then the angel Gabriel took the Prophet (peace be upon him) to Sidrat al-Muntaha whose leaves were like elephant ears and its fruit like big earthenware vessels. When the Lote tree was covered by the command of Allah, it underwent such a change that none amongst the creation has the power to praise its beauty.

The Gift of the Prayers

Then Allah (Glory be to Him) revealed to him a revelation and He made obligatory for him and his followers fifty prayers every day and night. Then he went down to Moses (peace be upon him) who asked him: What has your Lord enjoined upon your followers? He said: Fifty prayers. The Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) said to him to return to his Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for his community shall not be able to bear this burden. As he has put to test the children of Isra’il and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden). The Prophet (peace be upon him) went back to his Lord and asked his Lord to make the prayers lighter for his nation. The Lord reduced five from the fifty prayers for him. He went down to Moses and said the Lord reduced five prayers for him, He said: Verily your nation shall not be able to bear this burden; return to the Lord and ask Him to make the prayers lighter. He then kept going back and forth between his Lord Exalted be He and Moses, until He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammad! each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. (Muslim)

 

Leading the Prophets and Messengers in Prayer

Some authentic narrations say that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met the prophets in the heavens, then he returned to Jerusalem again and the prophets (peace be upon them) came down with him then he led them in the prayer in Bayt Al-Maqdis, after that he rode Al-Buraq again and returned to Makkah. In fact, Allah (Glory be to Him) made Adam and other prophets alive for him and he met them and led them in prayer.(5)

                                                                                           To be continued…

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 (1) Az-Zamakhshari, Tafseer Al-Kashshaf, Dar Al-Ma`rifah, Beirut, edit.3rd, 2009, p. 589.

(2) See: `Abdul-Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi, Madarij An-Nubuwwah, Urdu translation by Mufti Sayyid Ghulam Mu`eenu-ddin Na`imi, Shabbir Brothers, Urdu Bazar 2004, vol.1st p.209.

(3) See: Abu-Ja`far At-Tahawi, Al-`Aqidah At-Tahawiyyah, Dar Ibn Hazm, Beirut 1995, p.15.

(4) See: Abul Hassan An-Nadawi, As-Seerah An-Nabawiyyah, Dar Ibn Kathir, Damascus, 1425 A.H., p. 216.

(5) See: Al-Bayhaqi, Dala’il An-Nubuwwah, vol. 3, p. 113., Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 5, p. 29 and As-Suyuti, Al-Khasa’is Al-Kubra, vol. 1, p. 404.

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