Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj

Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj: Miraculous Journey Amid Adversity in Islam

In the annals of Islamic history, the event of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj stands as a celestial testament to the resilience of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during a period of intense hardship. This remarkable journey unfolded against the backdrop of ridicule and oppression from the Quraysh, the Prophet’s own tribe and family. As he grappled with the challenges of the Year of Sorrow, marked by the loss of his beloved wife Khadijah (RA) and his uncle Abu Talib, Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj emerged as a divine solace and a testament to unwavering faith.

Divine Revelation in Surah Al-Isra

The celestial journey finds its mention in the sacred Surah Al-Isra. The first evidence is from Quranic scripture Chapter 17 verse one ( Surah Al-Isra) :

سُبۡحٰنَ الَّذِىۡۤ اَسۡرٰى بِعَبۡدِهٖ لَيۡلاً مِّنَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَـرَامِ اِلَى الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡاَقۡصَا الَّذِىۡ بٰرَكۡنَا حَوۡلَهٗ لِنُرِيَهٗ مِنۡ اٰيٰتِنَا ؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ السَّمِيۡعُ الۡبَصِيۡرُ

This article delves into the intricacies of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, exploring the journey’s stages, celestial encounters, and the profound lessons it imparts. Join us on a celestial odyssey that transcends time and space, offering insights into the resilience of faith amid adversity and the enduring connection between the earthly and divine.

Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj

The Essence of Isra

In the tapestry of Islamic history, the term “Isra” resonates with profound significance, translating to a “nocturnal journey.” Rooted in the Arabic words سرى (sara), it encapsulates the notion of “traveling at night.” However, its deeper connotation unveils the extraordinary night journey and transportation of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from his birthplace, Mecca, to the farthest mosque of Aqsa in Jerusalem. This celestial expedition marks the initial phase of the complete nightly ascension.

A Divine Unveiling

The celestial voyage commenced as the Prophet (saw) slumbered in the abode of Umm Hani (ra) in Makkah. In a moment of divine intervention, the roof of his house opened, and the Angel Jibril [as] descended, signaling the inception of an extraordinary journey (Bukhari). Scholars, harmonizing diverse narrations, affirm that the Prophet (saw) was then transported to the Hijr, the semi-circular wall of the Ka‘bah. Here, Jibril (as) performed a sacred act, opening the Prophet’s chest and cleansing it with Zamzam water.

This divine ritual continued as a golden tray filled with wisdom and faith was presented, its contents poured into the Prophet’s chest before it was securely closed (Bukhari).

Riding the Celestial Steed

The next chapter of this celestial odyssey unfolds with the introduction of “al-Buraq,” a white beast whose dimensions exceeded those of a donkey but fell short of a mule. With a stride spanning the eye’s reach, this extraordinary creature became the Prophet’s means of traversing the celestial realms (Muslim).

The celestial journey’s first leg showcases the intricate connection between the terrestrial and celestial, blending the extraordinary with the divine. The Prophet’s encounter with al-Buraq symbolizes the seamless transition from the earthly realm to the celestial expanse, setting the stage for a celestial odyssey like no other.

Insights Along the Journey

The Marvel of Buraq’s Submission

Anas (ra) narrates a captivating moment during the celestial journey, recounting how Buraq, though saddled and reined, hesitated when the Prophet (saw) approached. Jibril (as), recognizing the unique honor bestowed upon Muhammad (saw), reassured Buraq of the Prophet’s exceptional stature in the eyes of Allah. The celestial steed, overcome by reverence, started sweating profusely, exemplifying its acknowledgment of the Prophet’s elevated status (Tirmidhi).

Halting at Sacred Landmarks

Throughout this extraordinary odyssey, Jibra’eel (as) strategically paused at significant waypoints, each bearing spiritual weight.

1. The Place of Emigration (Madinah)

The celestial journey’s initial pause occurred at the ‘Place of Emigration’ in Madinah. A pivotal moment, as it foreshadowed the Prophet’s imminent encounter with the Ansar and the subsequent migration to Madinah.

2. Mount Sinai – Revelation of the Torah

At Mount Sinai, the sacred site where Allah (swt) revealed the Torah to Musa (as), the Prophet (saw) received glimpses of divine wisdom embedded in the holy history of revelation.

3. Bethlehem – Birthplace of ’Isa (as)

The celestial caravan then descended upon Bethlehem, marking the birthplace of ’Isa (as). A sacred locale, resonating with the miraculous birth of another esteemed Prophet.

4. Musa’s Grave – A Prayerful Encounter

As the celestial journey continued, the Prophet (saw) passed by the grave of Musa (as), finding him engaged in prayer. This poignant moment underscores the ongoing spiritual vitality of Prophets even after their earthly departure.

5. Arrival in Al-Quds (Jerusalem)

The pinnacle of the celestial expedition unfolded in Al-Quds (Jerusalem), where Jibril (as) guided the Prophet (saw) to Bait al-Maqdis, another name for the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa. Jibril’s pointed gesture caused a crack in the rock, and the Buraq was tethered at the western wall of the noble sanctuary (Tirmidhi).

A Sacred Gathering

Within the hallowed precincts awaited a congregation of prophetic luminaries – all 124,000 Prophets (as). Jibril (as) led the Prophet (saw) to the forefront, and in this sacred space, the Prophet (saw) led the collective assembly in prayer. A celestial communion, transcending time and earthly bounds, as the echoes of their collective prayers resonated through the sacred expanse.

The Enigma of Al Mi’raj

The Essence of Al-Mi’raj

In the tapestry of Islamic spirituality, Al Mi’raj, an Arabic term denoting “ladder,” “elevation,” or “ascension,” unfolds as a celestial odyssey. It symbolizes the miraculous night journey of Prophet Muhammad, catapulting him to the divine presence of Allah The Almighty in Heaven.

A Miraculous Marvel in Islamic Faith

Embedded within the fabric of Islamic belief, Al Mi’raj stands as one of the paramount miracles bestowed upon the Prophet ﷺ. This extraordinary event comprises two distinct phases, with the second phase often sparking contention among the Arab polytheists of the time.

Scriptural Validation: Quranic and Prophetic Evidence

Contrary to skeptics, the legitimacy of Al Mi’raj finds robust affirmation in Islamic scripture, encompassing the Quran and the prophetic narrations, commonly known as Ahadith. This celestial journey is not a figment of imagination but a profound reality validated by the divine revelations.

Unraveling the Contested Phase

The focal point of contention among skeptics lies in the second phase of Al Mi’raj. However, prevailing scholarly consensus asserts the authenticity of this transcendent journey. According to dominant opinions, the Prophet (saw), accompanied by the archangel Jibril (as), ascended to the Noble Rock (as-Sakhrah al-Musharrafah). This sacred landmark finds its abode beneath the holy Dome of the Rock Masjid, situated at the heart of the revered sanctuary, al-Haram ash-Sharif, housing the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa.

In unraveling the enigma of Al Mi’raj, one encounters a celestial narrative etched in the annals of Islamic spirituality—a profound testament to the divine majesty and the elevated status of the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (saw).

Ascending Through the First Sky

As the Prophet Muhammad (saw) embarked on this celestial odyssey, the journey unfolded in awe-inspiring stages, with the initial ascent from the Dome of the Rock. This celestial portal marked the gateway to a realm beyond the known universe, where the Prophet (saw) would traverse the heavens.

The Messenger of Allah (saw) narrates this extraordinary experience, recounting the ascent through the layers of the celestial expanse. As they approached the first layer of the sky, Jibril (as) requested entry by knocking on its ethereal doors, ushering the Prophet (saw) into an unseen dimension.

The celestial custodians queried Jibril (as) about his identity, to which he responded, “Jibril [as].” The ensuing exchange illuminated the divine purpose of this celestial sojourn—Muhammad (saw) had indeed been sent for. With this proclamation, the gates of the first heaven swung open, revealing a realm beyond human comprehension.

In this celestial realm, the Prophet (saw) found himself in the company of the first Prophet, Adam (as). A moment transcending the bounds of time and space, as Adam (as) extended a welcoming embrace to his spiritual descendant. The celestial meeting was not only marked by hospitality but also by the supplication of Adam (as) for the well-being and goodness of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). This interplay of celestial beings and revered prophets set the stage for the unfolding wonders in the subsequent layers of the heavens.

Unveiling the Second to Sixth Sky

Continuing his celestial ascent, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) journeyed through the layers of the sky under the guidance of Jibril (as). At each celestial threshold, they sought permission to enter, and the celestial guardians welcomed the chosen Messenger of Allah (saw) with joy.

Second Sky: Encounter with Prophets Isa and Yahya

As they crossed into the second sky, the Prophet (saw) was greeted by his maternal cousins, the esteemed Prophets Isa (as) and Yahya (as). The celestial reunion unfolded, offering a glimpse into the interconnected tapestry of prophethood.

Third Sky: Meeting Prophet Yusuf

Ascending further, the Prophet (saw) encountered Prophet Yusuf (as) at the third sky. Described as possessing extraordinary beauty, Yusuf (as) symbolized the divine grace bestowed upon him. The Prophet Muhammad (saw), already blessed with unparalleled beauty, acknowledged this celestial magnificence with the phrase “ma sha’ Allah!”

Fourth Sky: Encounter with Prophet Idris

The journey through the layers of the sky led the Prophet (saw) to Prophet Idris (as) at the fourth sky. Recognized for his lofty position, as praised in the Qur’an, Idris (as) embodied the divine elevation granted to chosen servants of Allah.

Fifth Sky: Meeting Prophet Harun

In the fifth sky, the Prophet (saw) encountered Prophet Harun (as), marking another celestial rendezvous. The celestial gathering unveiled the interconnectedness of prophethood, transcending earthly boundaries.

Sixth Sky: Reunion with Prophet Musa

The sixth sky welcomed the Prophet (saw) to a meeting with Prophet Musa (as), the brother of Harun. This celestial encounter enriched the tapestry of divine narratives, showcasing the continuum of prophetic legacy across the celestial realms.

These celestial meetings underscore the unity of prophethood and serve as a testament to the interconnected journey of the chosen messengers through the layers of the heavens.

Encounter with Prophet Ibrahim at the Seventh Sky

Ascending to the seventh sky, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) reached the pinnacle of his celestial journey. Here, he encountered his greatest ancestor, the revered Prophet Ibrahim (as). In this celestial meeting, Ibrahim (as) was found in a tranquil posture, reclining against al-Bait al-Ma‘mur.

Bait al-Ma’mur: The Much-Visited House

Situated in the seventh heaven, Bait al-Ma’mur holds a unique significance. It is described as ‘the much-visited House,’ a celestial counterpart to the earthly Ka‘bah. Every day, seventy thousand angels enter this celestial sanctuary, and once admitted, they never depart.

This heavenly abode directly mirrors the sacred Ka‘bah on Earth, symbolizing the divine interconnectedness between the celestial and terrestrial realms. The encounter with Prophet Ibrahim (as) at this elevated station underscores the unity of prophetic lineage and the continuity of divine blessings across the heavenly spheres.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) witnessed the celestial grandeur of Bait al-Ma’mur, gaining insights into the heavenly rituals and divine manifestations that transcend human comprehension. Additionally, this encounter with Prophet Ibrahim (as) serves as a poignant reminder of the celestial bond shared by the messengers of Allah across the cosmic expanse.

Sidrah al-Muntaha

Sidrah al-Muntaha: The Boundary of Divine Revelation

Situated at the culmination of the seventh heaven, Sidrah al-Muntaha is a colossal Sidr tree that marks the celestial boundary. According to Islamic beliefs, this sacred site was traversed only by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) accompanied by the angel Jibreel. At this celestial juncture, Allah communicated a profound decree to the Prophet.

The Divine Decree: An Offering of Prayer

In this celestial realm, Allah enjoined upon Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Muslim believers the obligation of performing prayers fifty times a day. The Prophet, in humble acceptance, initially carried this divine directive. However, on his return to Earth, he encountered Prophet Moses, who offered sagacious counsel.

Prophetic Discernment: Dialogue with Prophet Moses

Prophet Moses, recognizing the weightiness of fifty daily prayers, advised Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to seek a reduction. Responding to Moses’ counsel, the Prophet retraced his celestial journey, beseeching Allah for a reduction in the number of obligatory prayers. Allah, in His infinite mercy, reduced the count by five, making it forty-five prayers a day.

Despite the reduction, Prophet Moses maintained his concern, prompting further supplications by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This cycle repeated nine times, each instance witnessing a reduction of five prayers. Eventually, the divine decree was settled at five prayers a day.

Gift of Compulsory Salah: A Divine Blessing to Ummah

The encounter at Sidrah al-Muntaha bestowed upon the Ummah the gift of compulsory Salah, a daily spiritual tether that serves as a source of strength and a means of communication with Allah. Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), guilt-ridden by the frequent appeals for reduction, expressed gratitude for the final allocation of five prayers.

Return to Earth: Divine Display and Mockery

Transported back to Earth on the Buraq, the Prophet observed caravans heading towards Makkah. This observation would later serve as tangible proof when the Quraysh skeptically cross-examined him in the Hijr of the Ka‘bah. Allah, reinforcing the miraculous nature of the journey, displayed Bait al-Maqdis to the Prophet, validating his extraordinary experience.

Reflection on Al-Isra wal Mi’raj: A Source of Solace

As believers commemorate the night of 27th Rajab, the lessons from Al-Isra wal Mi’raj resonate. The journey, encompassing diverse celestial experiences, serves as a reminder of Allah’s promise in the Quran – “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease” (Quran, 94:5-8). During adversity, this event inspires solace, reinforcing the profound connection between earthly tribulations and divine reassurance.

Significance of Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj (27th Rajab*)

The night journey, Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj, holds profound lessons and virtues, particularly as Ramadan approaches. Occurring during a challenging period for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, it unfolded against the backdrop of personal losses and hardship.

  • Loss of Beloveds:
  • Prophet Muhammad ﷺ experienced the passing of his beloved wife, Khadijah (RA), and his unwavering supporter, uncle Abu Talib. The Year of Sorrow marked a period of intense tribulation.
  • Ta’if Rejection:
  • The people of Ta’if cruelly rejected the Prophet ﷺ as he sought to spread the message of Islam. This rejection added to the difficulties he faced.
  • Miraculous Night Journey:
  • Following these hardships, the miraculous night journey took Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to the furthest mosque in Jerusalem. The subsequent discussions led some to renounce their faith, testing the resilience of believers.
  • Abu Bakr’s Unwavering Belief:
  • Abu Bakr’s unwavering belief in the Prophet’s words, including the night journey, earned him the title “al-Siddiq” (the Truthful). His trust in the miraculous event showcased profound faith.

Celebrating Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj

Many Muslims commemorate this significant event, considering it one of the most important dates in the Islamic calendar. Additionally, celebrations involve increased Quranic recitation, Salawat, decorating homes or mosques with lights, and communal gatherings to share the story of the night journey.

Duas for Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj

On this virtuous night, Muslims intensify supplications, seeking Allah’s blessings and mercy for themselves and their global community. Additionally, additional voluntary prayers, Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ, and increased Quranic recitation are encouraged.

Fasting on 27th Rajab

Fasting on the day of Isra and Mi’raj is a way for Muslims to commemorate the blessed event, earning additional rewards. The sacred month of Rajab amplifies the significance of fasting during this period.

Virtues of the Night of 27th Rajab

The night holds immense spiritual importance, impacting daily lives. It marks the occasion when the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to establish Salaah, underscoring the centrality of prayer in Islam. Moreover, the miraculous journey reveals the unseen heavenly world, emphasizing Allah’s infinite power and the Prophet’s ﷺ dearness to Allah.

On 27th Rajab*, Muslims pray, give, and reflect, drawing lessons from the night of Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj. It serves as a reminder of the spiritual realm, urging believers to contemplate the unseen world reserved for the righteous.

Through these practices, believers find inspiration from Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj, deepening their connection with Allah, preparing for Ramadan.

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