The Story of al-Isra’ and al-Mi’raj

Or: The Miraculous Night-Journey from Makkah to the Farthest Mosque in Jerusalem and Ascension through the sphere of Heavens

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The story of “The Night Journey” as we see in the Noble Qur’ân is epitomised in the first verse of the Sûrah Isra’ (Chapter 17 — The Journey by Night):

“Glorified be Allah Who enabled His slave [Muhammad], for a journey by night from Masjid al-Haram [in Makkah] to Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem], the neighborhood whereof We blessed, in order that We might show him(Muhammad) of our Ayat [proofs, evidences, signs etc.]. Verily, He is the All-Hearer ,the All-Seer.”

This journey is also confirmed in the sahih (authentic) hadith. As such, there is scholarly consensus (ijma) that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) journeyed in body and soul on the night of al-Isra’ from Masjid al-Haram in Makkah to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and to the heavens beyond. One does not need a Washington DC cosmetic surgeon to confirm the truth of this miraculous event.

As for its exact date, it is still controversial and no common consent has been reached. However, the majority of jurists is in favour of a date between 16-12 months prior to migration to Madinah. The following is a epitome of the details of that miraculous event narrated on the authority of Ibn Al-Qayyim.

The Messenger of Allâh (peace and blessings be upon him) was carried in body from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the Distant Mosque in Jerusalem on a horse called Al-Buraq in the company of Gabriel(Jibraeel-alaiyhis salaam), the archangel. There he alighted, tethered the horse to a ring in the gate of the Mosque and led the Prophets in prayer. After that Gabriel (Jibraeel, alaiyhis salaam) took him to the heavens on the same horse. When they reached the first heaven Gabriel (Jibraeel, alaiyhis salaam) asked the guardian angel to open the door of heaven. It was opened and he saw Adam (peace be upon him), the progenitor of mankind. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saluted him and he welcomed him and expressed his faith in Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)’s Prophethood. He saw the souls of martyrs on his right and those of the wretched on his left.

Gabriel (Jibraeel, alaiyhis salaam) then ascended with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to the second heaven, asked for opening the gate and there he saw and saluted John the Baptist, son of Zachariya (Yahya bin Zakariya, peace be upon him)) and Jesus-Isa(Peace be upon him), son of Mary. They returned the salutation, welcomed him and expressed their faith in his Prophethood. Then they reached the third heaven where they saw Joseph (Yusuf, peace be upon him)) and saluted him. The latter welcomed the Prophet (peace be upon him) and expressed faith in his Prophethood. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), in the company of Gabriel (Jibraeel, alaiyhis salaam), then reached the fourth heaven where he met the Prophet Enoch (Idris, peace be upon him) and saluted him. Prophet Enoch (Idris, peace be upon him) returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Then he was carried to the fifth heaven where he met the Prophet Aaron (Harun, peace be upon him) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. In the sixth heaven he met Moses (Musa, peace be upon him) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Muhammad (peace be upon him) on leaving, saw that Moses (Musa, peace be upon him) began to weep. He asked about the reason. Moses-Musa(Peace be upon him) answered that he was weeping because he witnessed a man sent after him as a Messenger (Muhammad) who was able to lead more of his people to the Paradise than he himself did. Then Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reached the seventh heaven and met Abraham (Ibrahim, peace be upon him) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Then he was carried to Sidrat-al-Muntaha (the remotest lote tree) and was shown Al-Bait-al-Ma’mûr [(i.e, The Most-Frequented House) which is like the Ka’bah (Sacred House) encompassed daily by seventy thousand angels, so that the angels who once encompassed it would not have their turn again till the Resurrection]. He was then presented to the Divine Presence and experienced the thrill of witnessing the Divine Glory and Manifestation at the closest possible propinquity. There the Lord revealed unto His servant that which He revealed, and ordained fifty daily prayers for him. On his return, he spoke to Moses (peace be upon him) that his followers had been enjoined to pray fifty times a day. Moses (peace be upon him) addressing the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Your followers cannot perform so many prayers. Go back to your Lord and ask for a remission in number.” The Prophet(Peace and blessings be upon him) turned to Gabriel (Jibraeel, alaiyhis salaam) as if holding counsel with him. Gabriel(Jibraeel-alaiyhis salaam) nodded, “Yes, if you desire,” and ascended wih him to the Presence of Allâh. The All-Mighty Allâh, Glory is to Him, made a reduction of ten prayers. He then descended and reported that to Moses (peace be upon him), who again urged him to request for a further reduction. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once more begged his Lord to reduce the number still further. He went again and again in the Presence of Allâh at the suggestion of Moses (Musa, peace be upon him) for reduction in the number of prayers till these were reduced to five only. Moses (Musa, peace be upon him) again asked him to implore for more reduction, but he said: “I feel ashamed now of repeatedly asking my Lord for reduction. I accept and resign to His Will.” When Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) went farther, a Caller was heard saying: “I have imposed My Ordinance and alleviated the burden of My servants.”

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