Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur’an:” Glorified be He who carried His servant by night from Al-Masjid al-Haram (the inviolable place of worship) to Al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the far distance place of worship), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him or our token. Lo! He is the Hearer, and the Seer.” (Al-Isra’: 1)
When we talk about the occasion of Isra’, it means in general a night journey while it specifically it means the night journey of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) from Mecca to Jerusalem and back to Mecca in the same night. When we talk about mi’raj it means ascension of the Prophet from the mosque of the Rock in Jerusalem to the Upper Heavens and his dissension in the same night. The ascension was on the same night as that of the occasion of Isra’.
Historically this miraculous occasion took place eleven years after the start of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). He sacrificed everything for the love of Allah (swt). He was persecuted, tortured, threatened, jeered at, slandered, and taunted.
The year of the occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj was called “the year of sorrows” to the Prophet. In that year his uncle Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah Al-Khuwaild died. In that year also, the people of Taif not only did not welcome Muhammad (saw), but also forced him to leave their town and they threw stones at him.
At the end of the year Allah granted the Prophet (saw) a miracle, i.e., a night journey and ascension to the Upper Heavens and back to his house in one night.
The occasion was a physical and spiritual one, and it was not a dream. If it were to be a dream, it would unnecessary to be mentioned in the Qur’an with glorification to Himself. Through the occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj a bridge was established between the finite world of ours and the Upper Heavens of the Infinite Universe.
During this occasion, the five daily prayers were prescribed as one of the five pillars of Islam. Allah prescribed fifty prayers on Muslims. Through the requests of the prophets to Muhammad that he should request Almighty Allah (swt) to reduce them to five. Allah finally established the five daily prayers.
If anyone prays the five daily prayers, he or she will attain reward from Allah equal to fifty prayers. Allah (swt) said in the Qur’an:” Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit. And whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged.” (Al-An’am: 160)
During this occasion, the Prophet had met all the prophets of Allah and led the prayers with all of them behind him. Leading the prayers with all other prophets behind him is a sign of their acceptance of Muhammad message, of the universality of his message and of his leadership for all mankind to come. Since the previous prophets accepted Muhammad as their own Imam and leader, then each sincere and devoted religious person, who is still following those early prophets, has to accept Muhammad as his personal prophet. We have to believe in the message that he brought, and to believe that Muhammad is the last prophet and messenger of Allah to mankind.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) narrated the story of Isra’ and mi’raj to his wife and to the Muslims and the non-Muslims. He had full confidence in the truthfulness and the reality of the trip as a physical and spiritual one. Some pagans refused to believe him while Abu Bakr believed the story about the incident when it was narrated to him. With full confidence, he said to the narrators that he had believed in the Prophet about the unseen and the message that came to him from Heaven. Therefore, he would also believe in Isra’ and mi’raj because after all it is easy to be believed. Then he was given the title of being Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.
The occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj is a reminder of our pledge and commitment to fulfil our responsibility towards Allah (swt). It is a reminder that establishment of the five daily prayers as well as all other responsibilities are a must on every Muslim.
Let us try our best to utilize this occasion to purify our hearts, to enlighten our mind, to educate ourselves and to work hard for the love and pleasure of Allah (swt). Wallahu a’lam.
(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)