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The Night Journey – Al-Isra’ and Al-Miraj

17 Jun


The Night Journey – Al-Isra’ and Al-Miraj

Al-Isra’ and Al-Miraj (the Night Journey and Ascension) refer to the miraculous journey that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) experienced. Unlike what some people claim, that journey involved both the body and soul of the Prophet. The main proof of the fact that the body of the Prophet was involved in the journey is that Almighty Allah began the first verse of Surat Al-Isra’ by the word subhan, which means exalted and glorified. This word indicates that a miraculous event is about to be mentioned in the sequel.

This journey was a decisive stage of the Prophet’s call in Makkah, because there were several cases of people embracing Islam and others leaving it after this incident. Abu Bakr, the Companion of the Prophet, received his title As-Siddiq (Arabic for the very sincere) after this incident. He was the first to believe in the truthfulness of all events of this journey as narrated by the Prophet. It is not known exactly when the Night Journey and Ascension took place, but it was certainly before the Hijrah (emigration from Makkah) to Madinah. It was said to have happened either three years or 18 months before the Hijrah.

On that night, Jibreel came to the Prophet and told him to circumambulate the Kaaba seven times. At the Kaaba, Jibreel told him that he (Prophet Muhammad) was going to Al-Aqsa Mosque, wherefrom they shall both ascend the seventh heaven to meet Almighty Allah.

Thus, his going to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the land of Prophets, from which came Prophets Ibrahim, Isaaq, Musa, and Isa (AS), was an indication that leadership of the world had moved to the new international message, Islam. Allah Almighty wanted Muslims to realize and deeply appreciate the relation between His Sacred House and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was from His Sacred House that the Night Journey began and to Al-Aqsa Mosque that it reached.

Prophet Muhammad was received by other Prophets of Allah Almighty in Al-Aqsa Mosque and he lead them in Salah (ritual Prayer) there. This was significant and it indicates that leadership was moved to a new nation and to a new Prophethood.

It is significant that Prophet Muhammad’s mission was not like the missions of the previous prophets. Each of all the other prophets (peace and blessings be upon them all) was sent to his own people, while Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent to all mankind [and jinn]. He (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent as a mercy to the worlds at all times. This was a sign of the eternity and internationality of His message (peace and blessings be upon him).

Allah Almighty has blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its neighborhood. He Almighty says in that regard:

“Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).” (Surah Al Isra’ 17:1)

Mind that Allah Almighty had blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its neighborhood and referred to it even before even the Prophet’s Mosque was built, as the Prophet’s Mosque was established after his immigration to Madinah. Mind also that when Prayer was ordained on the Muslims, Al-Aqsa Mosque was the qiblah to which they were to turn during Prayer. They would turn their faces in Prayer towards it for three years in Makkah, and for 16 months in Madinsh before the qiblah was changed to Allah’s Sacred House.

Besides, Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three mosques to which Muslims are required to dedicate time for visiting; the other two mosques are the Sacred Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. This shows that Jerusalem is the third sacred place after Makkah and Madinah in Islam.

  • Allah Almighty wanted to establish and emphasize the significance and sacredness of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Muslims’ hearts so that they do not cede it for anything. They are to hold it as sacred as both Allah’s Sacred House and His Prophet’s Mosque.

    Anas ibn Malik’s narration of the story of ascension continues. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

    “I prayed two rak’ahs in it [i.e. Al-Aqsa Mosque] and then went out, and Jibreel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Jibreel said, ‘You have chosen the natural thing.’” (Muslim)

    Milk represents Allah’s creation that is intact. On the other hand, wine is an example of human interference in the creation of Allah. It is produced by fermenting the juice of grapes and thus requires human interference. In many cases, such interference can spoil what Allah has created.

    The Prophet’s choice emphasizes that fitrah or pure nature of what Allah has created is one foundation for the Muslim Ummah. One must search for this pure nature within oneself.

    Almighty Allah says,

    “Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). We gave Moses the Book, and made it a Guide to the Children of Israel, (commanding): “Take not other than Me as Disposer of (your) affairs.” O ye that are sprung from those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah! Verily he was a devotee most grateful.” (Surah Al Isra’ 17:1–3)

    These verses talk about three generations in a descending chronological order: the generation of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), that of Prophet Musa (Moses) (peace be upon him), and that of Prophet Nuh (Noah) (peace be upon him). All three generations have a common bond: love for Almighty Allah, belief in the same message, and endeavor to achieve the same goal.

    Also, it is worth mentioning that Prophet Muhammad passed by three important sites during his Night Journey: Mount At-Tur in Sinai, which witnessed a number of events mentioned in the story of Prophet Musa (Moses) and the Children of Israel; the city of Bethlehem where Prophet Jesus was born; and the road between modern-day Palestine and Makkah, which was trod by Prophets Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael) in their way to the place where they built the Kaaba.

    Prophet Muhammad started his journey of ascension from Al-Miraj Rock. In company with Angel Jibreel, he reached the seventh heaven within seconds. Today, a spacecraft traveling at a speed of 7,000 KPH takes three years to reach the nearest planet.

    In a hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari, Prophet Muhammad said,

    “Then he [Jibreel] took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven. When I reached the nearest heaven, Jibreel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, ‘Open [the gate].’ The gatekeeper asked, ‘Who is it?’ Jibreel answered, ‘Jibreel.’ He asked, ‘Is there anyone with you?’ Jibreel replied, ‘Yes, Muhammad is with me.’ He asked, ‘Has he been sent for?’ Jibreel said, ‘Yes.’ So, the gate was opened and we went over to the nearest heaven, and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked toward his right, he laughed, and when he looked toward his left, he wept. Then he said, ‘Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.’ I asked Jibreel, ‘Who is he?’ He replied, ‘He is Adam, and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise, and those on his left are the people of Hellfire; when he looks toward his right, he laughs, and when he looks toward his left, he weeps.’”

    Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) is the father of humanity. This confirms the idea of unity of humans everywhere. Anyone can easily notice the recurrent emphasis on this notion throughout the journey of Al-Isra’ and Al-Miraj.

    Now, why is Prophet Adam laughing and crying? He is happy with those who learned from his experience and, at the same time, sad for those who did not. As we already know, his experience with Satan resembles a mathematical problem that has a model answer; it is something that one has to learn to resolve similar problems. Although other problems may appear different, the idea is the same: Keep away from the whispers of Satan.

    Prophet Muhammad continued the narration. He said,

    “Then, we ascended to the second heaven. Jibreel (peace be upon him) demanded that the gate of heaven be opened, and he was asked who he was. He answered, ‘Jibreel.’ Again, he was asked, ‘Who is with you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has he been sent for?’ He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.’ The gate was opened.”

    “When I entered, Jesus, son of Mary, and Yahya, son of Zakaria (peace be upon them) — cousins from the maternal side, each is the son of the other’s aunt — welcomed me and prayed for my well-being.”

    “Then, I was taken to the third heaven and Jibreel asked for the opening [of the gate]. He was asked, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘Jibreel.’ He was asked, ‘Who is with you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has he been sent for?’ He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.’ The gate was opened for us, and I saw Yusuf (Joseph) (peace be upon him), who had been given half of [world's] beauty. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being. Then, he ascended with us to the fourth heaven.”

    “Jibreel (peace be upon him) asked for the gate to be opened, and it was said, ‘Who is it?’ He replied, ‘Jibreel.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has he been sent for?’ He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.’ The gate was opened for us, and lo Enoch was there. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being. Then, he ascended with us to the fifth heaven.”

    “Jibreel demanded that the gate be opened. It was said, ‘Who is it?’ He replied, ‘Jibreel.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has he been sent for?’ He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.’ The gate was opened for us, and then I was with Aaron. He welcomed me prayed for my well-being.”

    “Then, I was taken to the sixth heaven. Jibreel (peace be upon him) asked for the door to be opened. It was said, ‘Who is it?’ He replied, ‘Jibreel.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has he been sent for?’ He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.’ The gate was opened for us, and there I was with Musa (Moses) (peace be upon him). He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being.”

    “Then, I was taken up to the seventh heaven. Jibreel demanded that the gate be opened. It was said, ‘Who is it?’ He said, ‘Jibreel.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has he been sent for?’ He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.’ The gate was opened for us, and there I found Abraham (peace be upon him) reclining on Al-Bayt-ul-Ma`mur [Arabic for the much-frequented fane], and there enter it 70,000 angels everyday; they never visit [this place) again." (Al-Bukhari)

    It is narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said:

    "I was brought al-Buraq Who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of version. I mounted it and came to the Mosque (Bait Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak'ahs in it, and then came out and Jibreel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Jibreel said: "You have chosen the natural thing." Then he took me to heaven. Jibreel then asked the (gate of heaven) to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied: "Jibreel." He was again asked: "Who is with you?" He (Jibreel) said: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" Jibreel replied: "He has indeed been sent for." And (the door of the heaven) was opened for us and lo! we saw Adam. He welcomed me and prayed for my good.

    Then we ascended to the second heaven. Jibreel (peace be upon him) (asked the door of heaven to be opened), and he was asked who he was. He answered: "Jibreel;" and was again asked: "Who is with you?" He replied: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" He replied: "He has indeed been sent for." The gate was opened. When I entered 'Isa b. Maryam and Yahya b. Zakariya (peace be upon both of them), cousins from the maternal side. welcomed me and prayed for my good.

    Then I was taken to the third heaven and Jibreel asked for the opening (of the door). He was asked: "Who are you?" He replied: "Jibreel." He was (again) asked: "Who is with you?" He replied: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" He replied: "He has indeed been sent for." (The gate) was opened for us and I saw Yusuf (peace of Allah be upon him) who had been given half of (world) beauty. He welcomed me prayed for my well-being. Then he ascended with us to the fourth heaven.

    Jibreel (peace be upon him) asked for the (gate) to be opened, and it was said: "Who is he?" He replied: "Jibreel." It was (again) said: "Who is with you?" He said: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" He replied: "He has indeed been sent for." The (gate) was opened for us, and lo! Idris (peace of Allah be upon him) was there. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being (About him) Allah, the Exalted and the Glorious, has said: "We elevated him (Idris) to the exalted position" (Quran, Surah Maryam 19:57).

    Then he ascended with us to the fifth heaven and Jibreel asked for the (gate) to be opened. It was said: "Who is he?" He replied: "Jibreel." It was (again) said: "Who is with thee?" He replied: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" He replied: "He has indeed been sent for." (The gate) was opened for us and then I was with Harun (Aaron) (peace of Allah be upon him). He welcomed me prayed for my well-being.

    Then I was taken to the sixth heaven. Jibreel (peace be upon him) asked for the door to be opened. It was said: "Who is he?" He replied: "Jibreel." It was said: "Who is with thee?" He replied: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" He replied: "He has indeed been sent for." (The gate) was opened for us and there I was with Musa (Moses peace be upon him) He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being.

    Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven. Jibreel asked the (gate) to be opened. It was said: "Who is he?" He said: "Jibreel." It was said: "Who is with thee?" He replied: "Muhammad." It was said: "Has he been sent for?" He replied: "He has indeed been sent for." (The gate) was opened for us and there I found Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) reclining against the Bayt-ul-Ma'mur and there enter into it seventy thousand angels every day, never to visit (this place) again. Then I was taken to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha whose leaves were like elephant ears and its fruit like big earthenware vessels. And when it was covered by the Command of Allah, it underwent such a change that none amongst the creation has the power to praise its beauty.

    Then Allah revealed to me a revelation and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Musa (peace be upon him) and he said: "What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah?" I said: "Fifty prayers." He said: "Return to thy Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your community shall not be able to bear this burden. as I have put to test the children of Bani Israel and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden)." He (the Holy Prophet) said: "I went back to my Lord and said: My Lord, make things lighter for my Ummah." (The Lord) reduced five prayers for me. I went down to Musa (peace be upon him) and said: "(The Lord) reduced five (prayers) for me," He said: "Verily thy Ummah shall not be able to bear this burden; return to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter." I then kept going back and forth between my Lord Blessed and Exalted and Musa (peace be upon him), till He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammad, each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. I then came down and when I came to Musa (peace be upon him) and informed him, he said: "Go back to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter." Upon this the Messenger of Allah remarked: "I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed before Him."" (Sahih Muslim, Book #001, Hadith #0309)

    But, where are the rest of the Prophets? Why didn't Prophet Muhammad meet Prophet Nuh (Noah)? The fact is that the presence of those particular Prophets in the seven heavens is symbolic.

    Some prophets were ordered by Allah to construct new societies and this was what Prophet Mohammad was going to do when he immigrated to Madinah. Other prophets migrated from their homelands and returned, like Prophets Yusuf (Joseph) and Musa (Moses). In fact, this was a prediction of what Prophet Muhammad was going to do two years after immigration to Madinah.

    Some other prophets were subjected to persecution, while others were even subjected to murder or attempts of murder by their people. It was as if Almighty Allah had selected a number of Prophets whose lives foreshadowed future events in the life of Prophet Muhammad.

    Al-Bayt-ul-Ma`mur is a place in the seventh heaven. It is located exactly above the Kaaba and is identical to it. We perform Tawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba) on earth, and right above us, the angels perform Tawaf around Al-Bayt-ul-Ma`mur. Above both of these is Allah's throne. Those who visit Makkah for Hajj or Umrah feel this. The Kaaba is the holiest place on earth and a point directly connected to the holiest of places ever.

    But, why is Prophet Ibrahim reclining on the wall of Al-Bayt-ul-Ma`mur? This is because he and his son, Ismail (Ishmael), built the Kaaba. The rule is that one reaps the fruits of his or her labors. He is leaning on it because he labored enough in his life, and now he can rest in the hereafter.

    We should labor in this life so that Almighty Allah would allow us to rest on the Day of Judgment. That is life: We want to rest, but there is no comfort in it. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was once asked, "When does a person get to relax?" He replied, "It is the moment when he [or she] sets his [or her] foot in Paradise.” There is no repose before that.

    We should not let comfort be our purpose in life. We live this life to farm, learn, reform our societies, reproduce, worship Allah, help people, and take initiatives. Almighty Allah says,

    “Verily We have created man into toil and struggle.” (Surah Al Balad 90:4)

    Thus, work, toil, and accept your destiny.

    Prophet Muhammad said, “Seventy thousand angels enter into it [Al-Bayt-ul-Ma`mur] daily and, after they come out, they never return again.” Can anyone imagine the number of angels? One cannot even compare the number of human beings to the number of angels. Look at this evocative hadith: Prophet Muhammad said,

    “The heavens resound yearningly — worthy it is to sound yearningly and proudly — as no place in them is without an angel prostrate in adoration and worship before Almighty Allah.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

    However, Allah does not need our worship. We are the ones who need to worship Him to save ourselves from Hellfire. We need to kneel and prostrate ourselves before Him. The angels are many. Prophet Muhammad saw scores of them as he ascended through heavens. They are true worshippers who perform Prayer thoroughly. Now, can you see the kingdom of Allah? Do you understand what the Omnipotent, Almighty, Owner of the Kingdom, and Possessor of Majesty and Bounty mean?

    On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who said:

    “Allah (mighty and sublime be He), had said: ‘I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for. When the servant says: ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbi l-alamin’ (“Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.”), Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says: ‘My servant has praised Me.’ And when he says: ‘Ar-rahmani r-rahim’ (“The Merciful, the Compassionate.”), Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says: ‘My servant has extolled Me,’ and when he says: ‘Maliki yawmi d-din’ (“Master of the Day of Judgement.”), Allah says: ‘My servant has glorified Me’ – and on one occasion He said: ‘My servant has submitted to My power.’ And when he says: ‘Iyyaka na budu wa iyyaka nasta in’ (“It is You we worship and it is You we ask for help.”), He says: ‘This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.’ And when he says: ‘Ihdina s-sirata l- mustaqim, siratal ladhina an amta alayhim ghayril-maghdubi alayhim wa la d-dallin’ (“Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favors, not of those against whom You are angry, nor of those who are astray.”), He says: ‘This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.’” [Hadith Qudsi, Muslim]

    The journey of Al-Isra’ and Al-Miraj was a bounty and honor bestowed on Prophet Muhammad by Almighty Allah. It relieved his grief over the incident of At-Ta’if and the persecution of Quraysh. Truly, Allah is Most Great and his kingdom is boundless.
    Source : http://navedz.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/the-night-journey-al-isra-and-al-miraj/#comment-6309

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    One response to “The Night Journey – Al-Isra’ and Al-Miraj

    1. jahan kumkum

      June 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      nice

       

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