By Dr. `Ali Al-Salabi
The following are a number of lessons to be learned from the story of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raj that happened to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a serious stage of His preaching mission.
1- Every trial or tribulation is followed by some form of relief or reward. The three years that followed the seventh year of the Messenger of Allah’s Prophethood were replete with trials and hardships for the Prophet.
First he (peace be upon him), his followers, and even his fellow clansmen were besieged in a mountain pass that belonged to Abu Talib.
Second, the Prophet lost in the span of a few months his uncle, Abu Talib, his greatest protector from humankind, and his wife, Khadijah, his human source of comfort.
Third, the Quraish took advantage of Abu Talib’s death, taking it as a sign that they could persecute and harm the Prophet more severely than ever before.
Fourth, the people of At-Ta’if, to whom the Prophet went seeking their support and help, rejected the Prophet’s message and treated him in a vile and despicable manner.
Yet, despite all of these hardships, the Prophet continued on course, patiently inviting people to Islam, not minding the hardships he had to continually face. It was then that the time was ripe for a great reward and consolation, one that took the form of a blessed and miraculous night journey first to Jerusalem and then upwards to the unseen world of the heavens.
2- The Prophet’s miraculous night journey was a precursor of a new stage in the Prophet’s Da`wah, for it occurred shortly before the Prophet’s migration to Al-Madinah. That new stage in the Prophet’s Da`wah involved the establishment of a Muslim country. Now, to be sure, Allah wanted the foundations of that country to be strong and firm; and the Prophet’s night journey helped achieve that end. For Allah made the night journey a test for the Muslims, to purge from their ranks those who had doubts and those whose hearts were diseased, and to make firm the believers who were sincere and strong in their faith.
3- As Muslims, we should be sure of our faith, so sure that we are willing to speak the truth even when we are afraid that others will make fun of us. Consider the faith and bravery of the Prophet, who openly described an event to the disbelievers that their perverse and limited minds could not even imagine, never mind accept. Even with the certainty of rejection and mockery from his people, the Prophet spoke without hesitation or fear, setting an ideal example for his nation, in terms of openly speaking the truth in front of the people of falsehood.
4- After the Prophet, the person who shined most after Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raj was Abu Bakr. When the polytheists told him that the Prophet had just informed them about this night journey – and Abu Bakr had not yet heard about it – he did not in the least hesitate or waver in his faith, but instead immediately said, “If he said that, then he has spoken the truth. I indeed believe him concerning that which is more amazing than that. I believe him about news from the heavens, which comes in the morning or at the end of the day.’’ This statement sheds light not only on Abu Bakr’s strong faith, but also on his understanding and wisdom. Based on Abu Bakr’s response, he truly deserves the title, As-Siddiq (the most truthful).
5- That the Prophet led the Prophets in prayer proves that they submit to and agree upon his leadership; also, that they submit to the fact that the laws of Islam abrogate the laws that were sent down with all previous Prophets. In this there is a clear message for non-Muslims, whether Jews or Christians, that they should accept what their Prophets have accepted, by following the Seal of Prophets, the Prophet who was sent to all of mankind, and whose Shari`ah is binding and applicable until the Day of Resurrection.
6- In the Prophet’s miraculous night journey, a clear and strong link is established between Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah. That link has far-reaching implications for Muslims, such as the following:
Jerusalem is of great importance to Muslims. It is one of the three inviolable Masjids; it is the place to which the Prophet was taken on his night journey; and it was the Qiblah (prayer direction) of the Muslims throughout the Makkan era of the Prophet’s biography. All Muslims should therefore love Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, which is both blessed and sanctified.The link that is established in the Prophet’s journey and elsewhere instills a sense of responsibility in Muslims towards Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa – the responsibility to keep it pure from all forms of polytheism and safe from falling into the hands of the enemies of Islam.
The link also instills into Muslims the sense that a threat to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is a threat to Al-Masjid Al-Haram, and an attack on Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is the precursor to an attack on Al-Masjid Al-Haram. This principle is not an imagined one, but rather is established through historical fact. During the crusades, Arnat, ruler of the Al-Kurk kingdom, sent some of his people on a mission to desecrate the grave of the Prophet and to remove his corpse from the Prophet’s Masjid. More recently, the Portuguese tried to accomplish what the crusaders before them failed to accomplish: To enter with their army into Makkah and Al-Madinah. But the strong resistance of the Mamalik and `Uthmaniyin (Ottomans) prevented them from reaching their infernal goal.
To be continued…
Source: Taken with modifications from the author’s The Noble Life of the Prophet Muhammad.