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Lailat al-Miraj ‘The Night of Ascent’ – the miraculous journey of Prophet Muhammad to Heavens

ReligionLailat al-Miraj ‘The Night of Ascent’ - the miraculous journey of Prophet Muhammad to Heavens

The events of Isra and Miʿraj mentioned briefly in the Quran are further elaborated and interpreted within the supplement to the Quran, the literary corpus known Hadith (prophet’s sayings)

The Night Journey, also known as Shab e Miraj (in Urdu and Persian) and Lailat al-Miraj (in Arabic), Isra and Miraj or Al Isra wal Miraj, is observed on the 27th day of the month of Rajab (7th month of Islamic Calendar).

Lailat al-Miraj ‘The Night of Ascent’

This event is celebrated as the night when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) ascended to the Heavens from Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. One of the great gifts of this night was that obligatory Prayer (Fardh Salah) was instituted on Muslims.

Similar to other events and occasions of the blessed life of the Prophet (PBUH), the Night Journey is a rich source of inspiration and lessons for the entire humanity.

Background of ‘The Night of Ascent’

Isra and Miraj took place approximately 10-12 years after Prophet (PBUH) received revelation from Allah. This was a time of great sorrow and grief for the Prophet (PBUH) because of the recent deaths of his beloved wife Khadijah (R.A.) and his uncle Abu Talib. However, in these difficult times, Prophet (PBUH) was honored with direct contact with Allah through this blessed journey.

Story of ‘The Night of Ascent’

This miraculous journey of Miraj took place in two parts. First, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) went from Makkah (Kaaba) to Jerusalem (Masjid Al-Aqsa) and then he (S.A.W) ascended to the heavens by the will of Allah.

The night started off with the leader of all Angels Jibrael (A.S.) appearing before the Prophet (PBUH). Subsequently, he took Mohammad (S.A.W.) from the Masjid Al-Haram (Kaaba) to the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. This part of the Prophet’s journey is mentioned in Quran:

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Surah Al-Isra 17:1)

The mode of transportation used for this commute in the middle of the night was an animal, similar to a horse, called Al-Burraq which was sent by Allah from Jannah (Paradise). After riding this heavenly ride, he (PBUH) reached Masjid Al-Aqsa from Masjid al-Haram in just a second. On reaching Masjid Al-Aqsa, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) realized that all the other Prophets, who came before him, were already present there. These Prophets include Ibrahim (A.S.), Isa (A.S.), Musa (A.S.), and all other Prophets. Over here Mohammad (S.A.W.) led all of the Prophets in two Rakat prayers.

After that, two cups were brought to the Prophet (PBUH). One cup was filled with wine and the other with milk. He (PBUH) looked at them and chose the milk. Jibrael (A.S.) said to the Prophet:

‘Praise be to Allah Who has guided you to the Fitrah (purity and innocence). If you have chosen the wine, your Ummah would have gone astray.’ (An-Nasai: 5657)

Prophet’s Ascension to Heavens:

In the second part of Isra and Miraj, Jibrael (A.S.) took Prophet (PBUH) to the heavens. Through his ascension, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) stopped by all seven layers of the heaven/sky.  Messenger of Allah (PBUH) met the following great Prophets on each heaven:

  1. On first heaven, Prophet Adam (A.S.)
  2. On second heaven, Prophet Isa (A.S.) and Prophet Yahya (A.S.) [Prophet Jesus and Prophet John]
  3. On third heaven, Prophet Yusuf (A.S.) [Prophet Joseph]
  4. On fourth heaven, Prophet Idris (A.S.) [Prophet Enoch]
  5. On fifth heaven, Prophet Haroon (A.S.) [Prophet Aaron]
  6. On sixth heaven, Prophet Musa (A.S.) [Prophet Moses]
  7. On seventh heaven, Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) [Prophet Abraham]

(Ref: Sahih Bukhari: 3207)

Bait Al-Mamur and Sidrat Al-Muntaha:

Prophet (PBUH) then was shown Al-Bait Al-Mamur (Allah’s House on top of all heavens). Upon inquiring about this place, Jibrael (A.S) told Prophet (PBUH),

‘This is Al Bait- Al-Mamur where 70,000 angels perform prayers daily and who attends it never will never be able to again attend this blessing.’ (Sahih Bukhari: 3207)

The Prophet (PBUH) was carried to Sidrat Al-Muntaha (a large Lote-Tree that marks the end of the heavens). Sidrat Al-Muntaha is the boundary that no creation of Allah can pass. Jibrael (A.S.) stopped at this tree whereas Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the only being who was allowed by Allah to pass this boundary.

Ordination of Five Daily Prayers:

During the Devine Presence of Allah, Prophet (PBUH) was ordained 50 daily prayers for him and his Ummah. After receiving this order from Allah, Prophet (PBUH) returned and on his way back but Prophet Musa (A.S.) advised him to ask Allah to reduce the number because the Muslim Ummah would not be able to perform such a large number of prayers. Prophet (S.A.W.) went again and again to Almighty Allah till the prayers were reduced to five only but Allah Has promised his beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) that the reward from Allah of these five Prayers for His slaves will be equal to fifty prayers (SubhanAllah).

Gifts of Isra and Miraj:

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was given three things during this blessed journey:

1-     Five daily Prayers (which equal to the reward of fifty daily Prayers). (Sahih Bukhari: 7517)

2-     Concluding verses of Surah Al-Baqarah (Last Two Verses).

3-     Allah’s Promise that the sins of the Ummah of Mohammad (PBUH) would be forgiven except those who died associating partners with Allah. (Sahih Muslim: 173)

Prophet shown Paradise and Hell

During this journey of Miraj, the Prophet (PBUH) was also taken to Jannah (Paradise) and Jahannum (Hell) by Angel Jibrael (A.S.). During this visit, Prophet (PBUH) saw the blessing which will be received by the inhabitants of paradise but also saw the tortures and torments which will be inflicted on the people who will enter hell.

The prophet comes back to Makkah

After completing his journey, Prophet (PBUH) mounted Al-Buraq and returned to Makkah. The Shab e Miraj took place during one night.

The next morning, Prophet (PBUH) went to Masjid Al-Haram and told people about his journey. The disbelievers found this situation suitable to humiliate the believers. They knew that Prophet (S.A.W.) had never been to Masjid Al-Aqsa so they asked him about its description. Disbelievers were amazed with the Prophet’s (PBUH) answer and exact description of the Mosque. They said to Prophet (PBUH): ‘By God, you perfectly and correctly described it.’ Nevertheless, they still did not embrace Islam and asked for more proof.

Lailat al-Miraj holds great significance in the lives of Muslims across the globe. It is considered one of the most sacred miracles of Allah, which He chose to bestow upon Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and only him.

Although this journey has religious significance in Islam, the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) never celebrated it nor did he ever instruct his Ummah to celebrate it. However, we can commemorate this great event by asking Allah for His blessings, helping the needy, and by doing good deeds which Allah and His Messenger (PBUH) have advised/taught us to do.

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