By E-Da`wah Committee
Allah (Glory be to Him) says in the Glorious Qur’an what means:
Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (Al-Israa`a’ 17:1)
The Date of Al-Isra’ Wal-M`iraj
There is no doubt that Al-Israa` (the night journey) followed by Al-Mi`raj (the heavenly ascension) was one of the miracles in the life of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). According to the most accepted view, it happened on the 27th of Rajab, the seventh month of the Hijri calendar, in the tenth year of Muhammad’s prophethood.
It is reported in Hadith literature, that the Messenger of Allah was carried from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the “Farthest Mosque” (Al-Masjid al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem on a creature called Al-Buraq in the company of the archangel Gabriel (peace be upon him). There he led a congregational prayer of the prophets of God.
Then Gabriel took him to the heavens where he met the prophets Adam, John, Jesus, Idris, Aaron and Moses (peace be on them all). In the seventh heaven, he met Abraham (peace be on him). He was then brought to the Divine Presence. The details of this meeting are beautifully detailed in the beginning of Surah An-Najm: 52.
Prayer A God-Given Gift
During this time, Allah ordered for his nation fifty daily Prayers. However, on the Prophet’s return, he was told by Prophet Moses (peace be on him) that his followers could not perform fifty Prayers. Thus, he went back and eventually it was reduced to five daily Prayers. After this, the Prophet returned to Makkah on the same night itself.
Therefore, Muslims should be thankful to Allah for this gift. They should take care of it and never neglect it. The prayer is the worship that allows a Muslim to communicate with the Creator five times every day.
Lessons from Al-Isra’ and Al-M`iraj
One major lesson of that miraculous event was that the system of the space and time is at the command of Allah the Almighty. On that night, the time and space were bridged for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he traveled this auspicious journey to the heavens by the will of Allah the Almighty.
The implications of the night journey cannot be overstated. The miraculous nature of the Prophet’s journey established his divine-stated legitimacy as the seal of all prophets and messengers. Allah brought the Prophet to His blessed court to show us his true worth and dignity in the sight of Allah.
Miracles as Divine Support for the True Prophets
All religious traditions share the concept of miracles that accepts and believes in some supernatural events that surpass logic, nature or the established constitutions in this world.
We will limit our discussion to legitimate miracles from Allah, which are the only true miracles. When the forces of disbelief are strong, typically the prophetic miracles that oppose them are stronger and more powerful. The Prophet Moses was given several miracles, which included his stick that turned into a massive snake and helped him in his parting of the Red Sea, as a divine response to the extreme infidelity of Pharaoh.
Similarly, the Prophet Jesus was given even the power to raise the dead, in order to establish his legitimacy before the Jews who ultimately tried to kill him for blasphemy. Nevertheless, his miracles were undeniable by their nature, and it was only the obstinacy and arrogance of his people that led them to deny him.
The Reaction of the People of Makkah
The Prophet Muhammad’s night journey was obviously not easy for the pagan Makkans to believe. Nevertheless, the Prophet proved it logically by describing the approaching caravans that he overtook on his miraculous return. Thus, this particular prophetic miracle not only established the Prophet’s eminence for Muslims as discussed above, but it also helped to prove his prophethood to the non-believers of his time.
Celebrating the Event
As far as the Muslims are concerned, there is no particular celebration, fast or prayer to commemorate Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raj. However, in some places, the Muslims themselves have started to have commemorative functions, where the story of the night journey is told in poetry or lectures. There are scholars who maintain that gatherings meant to remind the Muslims of the importance of Al-Mi`raj in the history of Islam, or to remind us of the importance of love for the Prophet and the significance of the city of Jerusalem, are permissible.