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THE NIGHT OF ASCENT – SHAB E MAI’RAJ

The history of Islam is rich with all kinds of miracles, which took place in the life of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Although Muslims believe in the miracles of other Prophets before Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) as well, however, for them Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is the prime personality who in His every action and every deed was no less than a miracle and the number of miracles that came only from His personality is far greater than any of the earlier Prophets.

Among various miracles of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), one of the most renowned miracles is the miracle of Isra and Mairaj. It is the miracle where Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) ascended to heaven at night and met Allah Almighty. The lines below discuss a brief detail of what this event was, what were the major happenings of the whole journey.

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION:

The event of Isra and Mairaj took place on the 27 night of the Islamic month of Rajab when Allah Almighty sent Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) to bring him to Allah. First Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was taken to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and from there He ascended to skies and the higher journey began.

‘Isra’ means “walking in night” and ‘Mairaj’ means to “ascend“. Therefore, the Isra and Mairaj event represent the whole journey of Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) from His house to the higher skies and from there on backwards. In Quran, Allah Almighty says:

“Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for 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).”
(Qur’an: 17: 1)

PROPHET (SAWS) LEADS ALL PROPHETS IN PRAYER AT AQSA:

The Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was carried in body from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on a mount called Al-Buraq in the company of Angel Gabriel. There Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) led all the other prophets in prayer.

The reason why the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was made to go forward to lead the other Prophets in prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqsa, which is the home of the Prophets from Ibraaheem al-Khaleel (peace be upon him) is that our Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is the greatest leader, as was stated by al-Haafiz ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) at the beginning of his commentary on Soorat al-Isra’. He also said, when discussing how the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) led the other Prophets in prayer: “Then his honourable status and superiority to them was manifested when he was made to go forward to lead them in prayer, when Jibreel (peace be upon him) indicated to him that he should do so.”

Undoubtedly our Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is the foremost among the Prophets. He (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “I will be the leader of the sons of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and the first for whom the grave will be opened and the first to intercede and the first whose intercession will be accepted.”

Narrated by Muslim, 2278.

One of the scholars suggested another reason why he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was made to go forward to lead the Prophets in prayer. He said: The Prophet’s words, “I led them (in prayer)” indicate – and Allaah knows best – that this ummah took over the position of leading mankind.

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Further to that, learning from the Holy Quran, at another place Allah Almighty gives brief details of the Isra and Mairaj event in the following way:

“While he was in the highest part of the horizon: Then he approached and came closer, And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; So did (Allah) convey the inspiration to His Servant (conveyed) what He (meant) to convey. The (Prophet’s) (mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw. Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw? For indeed he saw him at a second descent. Near the Lote-tree beyond which non may pass: near it is the Garden of Abode. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!) (His) sight never swerved nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see of the Signs of His Lord the Greatest.”
(Qur’an: 53: 7-18)

This ayah refers the peak of Mairaj where Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Allah Almighty in person. Every Muslim is aware of this particular happening during the night, however, there are three other major things that happened on the night of Isra and Mairaj. The lines below give a brief detail the three major happenings on the night of Mairaj.

MEETING WITH PROPHETS:

The first major happening of the night of Isra and Mairaj is of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) meeting various Prophets while ascending to higher skies. A brief description of the Prophets He met is as follows:

1. At the FIRST HEAVEN, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Hazrat Adam (AS). Prophet Adam (AS) had bodies on his left and right. When he would look on the left he would cry and when he would look at the right he would laugh. These bodies were the souls of humans, on the left were the ones who were disbelievers and for them there was punishment, while on the right were the believers the good Muslims, for whom there was reward.

2. At the SECOND HEAVEN, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Hazrat Isa (AS) and Hazrat Yahya (AS). They both were maternal cousins and Prophets of their time. They both greeted Him and made supplications full of good tidings for Him.

3. At the THIRD HEAVEN, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Hazrat Yusuf (AS). Yusuf (AS) was known for His beauty and Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) witnessed to it during His meeting with him. Yusuf (AS) gave the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) a warm welcome and supplicated for Him.

4. At the FOURTH HEAVEN, Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Hazrat Idris (AS), who also greeted Him cordially and supplicated for Him.

5. At the FIFTH HEAVEN, Hazrat Harun (AS) brother of Hazrat Musa (AS) greeted Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and supplicated for Him.

6. At the SIXTH HEAVEN, Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Hazrat Musa (AS) who also greeted Him and supplicated for Him.

7. At the SEVENTH HEAVEN, Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) was the one who greeted Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) was standing with his back rested on Bayt al-Mamur, which is the replica of Kabah on the seventh heaven around which the angels do the Tawaf in the same way as Muslims do around the Qibla in the world. It was at this point that Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) also saw Sidra-tul-Muntaha which is the tree which marks the end of the heavens and from there on there is the Abode of Allah Almighty.

FIVE TIME PRAYERS:

When Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) met Allah Almighty, besides other things the one thing that Allah Almighty spoke about to Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was the prayers. Allah Almighty made the five prayers compulsory for Muslims, although the prayers very fifty for the first time, but Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) requested Allah Almighty to reduce the prayers, which were then reduced to five. Regarding, this, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said in His hadith that Allah Almighty said:

“O Muhammad! These prayers need to be performed five times a day. However, there are ten rewards for each prayer!”
[Muslim]

Thus, from this hadith it is clear that although the prayers we offer are five, however, they contain the reward of 50 prayers for a Muslim.

SHOWING OF PARADISE AND HELL:

In addition to meeting Allah Almighty, the Prophets and the commandment about prayer, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) also visited paradise and hell during the Isra and Miraj. In hell He saw all kinds of people receiving different kinds of punishments, like there were adulterers who were eating fatty meat with rotten smell, the usury takers were having large bellies making it impossible for them to move, then there were those who usurped the property of orphans, they were eating red-hot stones.

On the other hand, in Paradise Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) saw all kinds of blessings and gifts that the dwellers of heaven enjoyed. He also saw Hur ul Ayn who are the damsels of paradise and will be married to the believers who are given heaven by Allah Almighty.

CONCLUSION:

In short, the night of Isra and Mairaj is one of the most reverended and respected nights for Muslim and the journey of Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is looked upon as one of the sacred and greatest miracles that Allah Almighty provided to only Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and no one else.