ISRA AND MIRAAJ
Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Isra # 1
Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far Distant Place of Worship the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the Seer.
This journey of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) consisted of two parts. The first part consisted of a night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and is called Isra. The second part of this journey is an ascension from the Masjid-al-Aqsa to the heavens and is called the Miraaj. It is necessary to review the circumstances preceding this journey in order to understand the significance of Isra and Miraaj.
Many things happened a year and half before this journey. First of all the disbelievers accelerated their persecution and torture of the believers. At that time the Muslims were not allowed to fight back even in extreme circumstances. Allah (SWT) instructed in The Quran: Al-Baqarah #109
Forgive and overlook till Allah brings His command.
It so happened that during this period Prophet Mohammad’s (SAS) uncle Abu Talib died. Abu Talib was a good worldy protection for Prophet Mohammad (SAS) against the disbelievers. This made the disbelievers even more bold. Soon after this, Prophet Mohammad’s (SAS) beloved wife, Khadija (RUA), died. It was a matter of great grief and sadness for Prophet Mohammad (SAS). Because of the several sad events which took place this year it was called “the year of sadness”عام الحزن . Under these circumstances, Prophet Mohammad (SAS) decided to go to another town called Taif for the propagation of Islam. He expected some support from the leaders of this town since they were distant relatives of his mother. These leaders gave a very cold shoulder to Prophet Mohammad (SAS) on his arrival there. The local leaders let the children loose on him who injured the Prophet badly with stones. So much so that the shoes of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) were filled with blood trickling from his head. He took refuge in a garden in the outer skirts of this town. The owner of this garden took pity on him and scared off the mischievous children. It was here that the angel appeared and said to Prophet Mohammad (SAS), “Indeed people of this town are very cruel. If you like we can turn this town upside down and totally ruin it.” Prophet Mohammad (SAS) replied, “I have come as a mercy for the whole universe رحمة للعالمين and not as a punishment. May be the future generations of this town will see the truth.” As Prophet Mohammad (SAS) came back to Makkah he was not allowed to enter Makkah any more because he was now considered a non resident of Makkah. After several attempts and negotiations he was allowed to go into Makkah provided that he did not preach anybody in Makkah. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) preached only to the people in fairs and festivals held outside Makkah. This explains the difficult time, the level of patience and steadfastness of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). Allah (SWT) gave Prophet Mohammad (SAS) a big reward for this extreme patience and took him to this journey of Isra and Miraaj.
Let us now describe Isra. Angel Gabriel came to Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah and asked the Prophet (SAS) to do his ablution with Zam Zam. He took Prophet Mohammad (SAS) on a very fast horse called “Burrak” from Masjid-al-Haram to Masjid-al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) offered two rakkat salat. Then angel Gabriel offered him a cup of milk and a cup of wine. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) chose the cup of milk. Gabriel (AS) said, “You have chosen that which is pure and which is clean. You are rightly guided and your people too. If you had chosen wine, your ummah would have been misled.” We know that wine leads to corruption and is called mother of all evils. Hence, Islam is committed to purity, truth and goodness.
After this Miraaj took place. Gabriel (AS) took Prophet Mohammad (SAS) on Burrak upwards to different heavens. There Prophet Mohammad (SAS) met some other prophets. He saw Prophet Adam (AS) on the first Heaven, Prophet John (AS) and Prophet Jesus (AS) on the second, Prophet Joseph (AS) on the third, Prophet Idris (AS) on fourth, Prophet Aaron (AS) on fifth, Prophet Moses (AS) on sixth and Prophet Abraham (AS) on the seventh sky. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) offered salam to all these forefathers.
At one place, Prophet Mohammad (SAS) saw angel Malek, the guardian of hellfire. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) requested Gabriel (AS) to let him view Hell. Angel Malek lifted the lid. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) saw roaring flames of fires which would consume everything. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) was shown the examples of punishments for those who commit sins.
He (SAS) saw some people whose lips were like camels and they had fire balls in their hands. He (SAS) saw them thrusting these fireballs in their mouths and then these balls came out of their posteriors. Angel Gabriel explained that these were the people who were dishonest in the trust put in their hands.
He (SAS) saw some people with very big bellies and mad and thirsty camels were running over them. It was explained that these are the people who engaged in usury.
He (SAS) also saw some people who had good fresh meals and also rotten stinking meals lying close to them. They ate rotten meals rather than good fresh meals. He (SAS) was explained that these were the people who forsake their lawful spouses.
He (SAS) also saw some women hanging by their breasts. He (SAS) was explained that these women betrayed their husbands.
During this ascension Prophet Mohammad (SAS) even went beyond seventh sky where no angel has ever gone. It was there that Prophet Mohammad (SAS) saw various signs of Allah (SWT) in this unique environment. Allah described this in Surah An-Najm: # 17,18
Neither the eye turned aside nor it became overbold. Verily he saw the greatest signs of his Lord.
This describes the personality, composure and self control of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). He saw what he was supposed to see and for as long as he was intended to see. He was not overbold and unnecessary inquisitive while he was looking at the greatest signs of his Lord.
During this closeness with Allah (SWT) he was given following three gifts.
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) was informed that whosoever will recite Shahada sincerely will eventually go to paradise by the Grace of Allah (SWT).
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) received last two verses of surrah Al- Baqarah.
He (SAS) was initially given fifty prayers to perform per day. It was reduced to five as a special concession to his ummah. They will, however, receive the reward of fifty salats per day by performing only five a day. Allah (SWT) is extremely kind to the ummah of Mohammad (SAS). ( Muslim)
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said:
“Prayer is the Miraaj of a believer.” Prayer is the direct and closest communication between Allah (SWT) and his obedient servant.
After this unique gift Prophet Mohammad (SAS) came back to Masjid Al Aqsa. Other Prophets came there too. They all offered salat in a congregation led by Prophet Mohammad (SAS). This indicated oneness of the message of all the prophets and distinction of Prophet Mohammad over other prophets.
After this Angel Gabriel brought Prophet Mohammad (SAS) to Makkah during the same night. When the disbelievers heard about the journey of Prophet Mohammad from Makkah to Jerusalem and further to the seventh sky and back to Makkah in the part of a night, they made fun of it. The disbelievers went to Abu Bakr (RU) and said to him “Do you see what your friend claims about his night journey?” Abu Bakr inquired. “Did he really say so?” The disbelievers answered, “Yes.” Abu Bakr remarked, “He is definitely truthful in his claim.” Prophet Mohammad (SAS) called Abu Bakr as Siddique from that point onwards.
The first verse of Surah Al-Isra has many lessons for us.
1. Allah (SWT) is using the word Abdعبد) ) or the most obedient servant for Prophet Mohammad (SAS) in stead of any other name for him.
2. It indicates that in spite of such closeness to Allah (SWT) he remains the most obedient servant and is no way a partner of Allah (SWT). It was to teach us that we should not make partners of Allah (SWT) as the People of the Book did.
It also indicates that the journey took place in body and soul because of the use of the word Al Abd (العبد) in this verse. Note that “Al-Abd” consists of body and soul and not one or the other.
3. It also teaches us that we must love Masjid Al Aqsa whose surrounding is blessed by Allah (SWT).
4. The word Lailan(ليلا) is a common noun indicating a part of the night only. Hence the whole journey took place only during part of the night.
5. Allah is indeed Hearer and Seer. He heard the supplications of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) and saw his extreme patience. Consequently He (SWT) rewarded him by this unique journey of Isra and Miraaj indicating that finally he was going to be successful.
I pray to Allah (SWT) that He enables us to understand the true significance of Isra and Miraaj. Ameen