Allah (swt) mentions in the holy Qur’an:
“Glory be to the One Who took His servant (the Prophet ﷺ) by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram (in Makkah) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, whose surroundings we have blessed, to show him some of our signs. Indeed, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” [Quran 17:1]
The Isra and Mi’raj (the night journey and ascension) were the most miraculous and noble journeys undertaken by Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ), which took place in the month of Rajab before the migration to Madinah. This journey during which Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was transported from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa and subsequently ascended to the heavens was Allah’s (SWT’s) response to the Prophet’s (ﷺ) sad state in the year, which is commonly known as “Ayaam al-Huzn: the year of great sadness” in which the Prophet (ﷺ) lost his beloved wife Khadija and uncle Abu Talib, who served as the Prophet’s protectors against the hostile Quraysh in Makkah. During this time, the Prophet (ﷺ) was also mercilessly persecuted in the cruellest way by pagan Arabs in at-Ta’if, stoning and beating him when he invited them to Islam.
It was during these trying times, having gone through so much grief and suffering, that Allah (ﷺ) sent Angel Jibril to take Rasoolullah (ﷺ) on the most glorious journey ever experienced by anyone on earth. On that blessed night, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was taken physically from the Grand Mosque in Makkah to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. This part of the journey is called the Isra.
After reaching Jerusalem, the Prophet (ﷺ) entered Masjid al-Aqsa, where Allah had assembled for him all the Prophets, from Nabi Adam to Nabi Isa. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) led them in the prayer. The second part of the nocturnal journey, which is called the Mi’raj, took Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) from Jerusalem to the heavens, passing the boundaries of the physical universe to be in the divine presence of Allah and witness the Great Signs.
During the miraculous night journey, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) ascended through the heavens, meeting revered prophets at each stage, before the journey reached its pinnacle at the Sidratul Muntaha – the boundary demarcating tree beyond which no creature is ever permitted to cross over. After reaching the Sidratul Muntaha, Angel Jibril informed the Prophet (ﷺ) that this was the endpoint beyond which he (Jibril) was restricted and thus requested the Prophet (ﷺ) to proceed alone.
The Prophet (ﷺ) proceeded alone, and prayer 50 times a day was prescribed upon the Ummah of Muhammad (ﷺ) by Allah. Later, upon request from the Prophet (ﷺ), the number of prayer times was reduced to five times a day (with a reward of 50 times). During his heavenly journey, the Prophet (ﷺ) was shown, among other things, the Angel in charge of Hell, the punishment that awaits the sinners who devour the property of orphans, deal in interest, and commit adultery.
Significant lessons to learn from this Journey
The blessed journey of the Isra and Mi’raj holds immense significance in Islam, representing a transformative and miraculous journey undertaken by Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) during a period of intense hardship. This divine journey from the Grand Mosque in Makkah to the heavens symbolizes divine support and comfort in times of adversity. The establishment of the five daily prayers through the Prophet’s (ﷺ) intercession emphasizes the centrality of regular worship in a Muslim’s life. It is also important because it clearly shows Islam’s connection to and importance to Masjid Al-Aqsa, which is located in Jerusalem and is Islam’s third-holiest mosque. In one Hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Journeys should not be undertaken except to three mosques: this my mosque (in Madinah), the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah), and Al-Aqsa mosque.” (Bukhari).
The Isra and Mi’raj serves as a reminder of the ultimate goal of spiritual closeness to Allah, transcending the limitations of human understanding and showcasing the resilience and significance of faith amid life’s challenges.