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01 April 2019

Al-Isra' Wal-Mi'raj: The Story of the Miraculous Night Journey

Safa Faruqui

The night of Tuesday 2nd April (27th Rajab) will mark the anniversary of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, the Night Journey and Ascension. Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj is a miracle second only to the revelation of the Qur’an, and it is therefore important that we don’t let this night slip by without reflecting on its lessons and its significance.

Many of us only know the basic story of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj - that the Prophet (saw) was transported from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, from where he (saw) ascended to heaven. In fact, there were many stops along this incredible journey, and the story is packed with wonders and miracles. There are far too many to include here, but we’ve done our best. Enjoy!

Context of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj

Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj took place during a time when the Prophet (saw) was facing intense hardship and pain. The Quraysh, who were his tribe and his family, constantly ridiculed, humiliated and oppressed the Prophet (saw) and his followers. Moreover, the Prophet (saw) had just faced the Year of Sorrow, during which he (saw) lost his beloved wife Khadijah (ra), and his uncle Abu Talib, who was his protector and ally.

In addition to all these burdens, when the Prophet (saw) had travelled to Ta’if in search of allies, the people of Ta’if had rejected him in the most cruel way, sending their children into the streets to stone him until he left the city.

Having gone through so much grief and suffering, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was given a truly beautiful and comforting gift. He was transported not only to the Sacred Sanctuary and through the skies, but ultimately into the Divine Presence, the source of all comfort and hope. One of the most important lessons of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, therefore, is that ‘with every hardship [there will be] ease’ (Surah 94).  

Al-Isra’: From the Ka’bah to Al-Aqsa

When the Prophet (saw) was sleeping in the Hijr, the Angel Jibra’eel (as), or Gabriel, came and woke him up, and led him to a white beast named Buraq (from the Arabic word barq, meaning lightning). The Prophet (saw) mounted this other-wordly creature and they began to fly towards Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

At several points along the journey, Jibra’eel (as) stopped Buraq and told the Prophet (saw), ‘Dismount and pray’. The first stop was at ‘the place of emigration’ i.e. Madinah - and soon after this night the Prophet (saw) would meet the Ansar and migrate to Madinah. The second stop was at Mount Sinai, where Allah (swt) revealed the Torah to Musa (as). The third stop was at Bethlehem, where ‘Isa (as) was born. The fourth stop was the grave of Musa (as), ‘a stone’s throw’ from the Sacred Land, ‘below the red sand hill’ (Bukhari).

Finally, the Prophet (saw) reached al-Masjid al-Aqsa. Waiting inside were all 124,000 Prophets (as). Jibra’eel (as) led the Prophet (saw) to the front, and he (saw) led them all in prayer in this blessed space.

Al-Mi’raj: From Al-Aqsa through the Skies

Allah then ascended the Prophet (saw) from the Dome of the Rock through the skies, where he not only saw many miraculous sights and numerous angels, he also met many of the past Prophets (as). Along the way, he (saw) was greeted with excitement and delight, as his arrival had been much-anticipated.

It is hard to imagine how he (saw) must have felt upon meeting his brothers (as), all of whom had gone through trials and difficulties, as they met him with the warmth and love his own tribe had isolated him from. ‘Welcome,’ they all said to him, ‘O pious Prophet and pious brother!’ (Bukhari). (Adam (as) and Ibrahim (as), however, welcomed him as a ‘pious son’).

After all the hardships that he (saw) and his followers had been tested with, the Prophet (saw) was now witnessing countless beauties of Paradise which he would later narrate to his Companions. At the end of this journey, he was brought into the Divine Presence, the ultimate source of strength and relief. It is impossible to imagine the beauty of this scene, or how honoured and humbled the Prophet (saw) must have felt.

It was here that Allah gave this ummah the gift of compulsory Salah, a daily source of strength to Muslims because it gives us the opportunity to communicate with Allah and draw closer to Him. As we approach the anniversary of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, let us take the time to deeply appreciate the gift of Salah and increase our voluntary prayers and night prayers.

Returning Home

Finally, the Prophet (saw) was taken back down to Al-Aqsa and returned to Makkah. As he was transported home, he saw various caravans heading towards Makkah, which he would later describe to the Quraysh as proof that he really had made this miraculous journey. The entire journey had taken place in less than a night, and there were many who would mock the Prophet (saw) for making such a claim.

For the Muslims, however, the story was a source of wonder and hope, as it continues to be for us today. On this night, the best of creation (saw) was given the honour of travelling to Paradise and being welcomed into the Divine Presence, and both the Muslims on earth and the residents of the heavens were amazed and delighted by the event. It is truly an incredible story.

Commemorating Al Isra’ wal-Mi’raj

Considering its significance, it is important for us to commemorate this night by reflecting on the lessons of its story and maximising our worship and good deeds.

To mark the anniversary, Muslim Hands is inviting you to a unique Sadaqah Jariyah opportunity to light the lamps of the entire Qibali Masjid Grand Prayer Hall at Masjid Al-Aqsa - where the Prophet (saw) led thousands of Prophets (as) in prayer. For the first time in over 30 years, new lighting will be installed in the Qibali Masjid to replace hazardous old lighting, illuminating this blessed space for worshippers for generations to come, in sha’ Allah.

We are holding a special Live Appeal at Islam Channel for Al-Aqsa on Tuesday from 8pm. What better way to commemorate Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj than by preserving the site of this miracle?

The chance to light a lamp in Masjid Al-Aqsa may not be available again in your lifetime. We hope you and your loved ones will take advantage of this historic opportunity. May Allah (swt) put barakah in all our actions during this blessed night, Ameen.

 


Muslim Hands UK

Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an aid agency and NGO helping those affected by poverty, conflict and natural disaster in over 20 countries worldwide.