The Isra and Mi’raj Journey
Dr. Sharif AminAbushammala
Al-Isra wa Al-Mi’raj (TheNightJourney) was a milestone in thePropheticbiographyandthehistory of Islam. Thejourney has takenplace on thetwenty-seventh of Rajab in theyearbeforetheHijrah. Thejourneywasone of God’smiraclesbestowedupontheProphet (PBUH)
Isra referstotheProphetMuhammad’s (PBUH) miraculousnighttravelfrom Masjid Al-Haram in Meccato Masjid Al-Aqsa in Al-Quds. ThejourneywasaccompaniedbyGabriel on a steedknown as Buraqwhichtraveledthedistancebetweenthetwomasjids in a verybrief time. On theotherhand, Mi’rajreferstotheeventfollowingthe Isra wheretheProphet (PBUH), stillaccompaniedbyGabriel, ascendedtotheheavensuntil “Sidrat al-Muntaha.”
Thejourney is one of themetaphysicalphenomenathatMuslimsshouldbelieve in based on theevidencesfromtheQuranandprophetictradition.
Priortothe Isra andMi’raj, theProphet (PBUH) had had severe grievesandsaddays. His uncleandprotector, Abu Talib had died; shortlyafter, his belovedwife, KhadijahbintiKhuwaylidalsopassedaway. WithProphet’suncleout of theirway, Quraysh had increasedtheirinsultsandatrocitiesagainstProphet (PBUH). Therefore, Prophet (PBUH) sought a newrefuge in al-Taif, but thelocalsrespondedbyhurtinghim, which had intensifiedProphet’sdistress. Thatyearwaslaterknown as the “Year of grief.” So, Allah thealmightyrelievedhim of his painbygrantinghimthemiracle of Isra andMi’raj. Thismiracle has increased his determinationandstrengthtoendurethehardshipsandtocontinuepreaching His message.
ThejourneystartedwithGabrielwakingupProphet (PBUH) whowasasleep at the Stone of Ismail in Masjid al-Haram. Gabrieltookhim in the Isra journeyto Masjid al-Aqsa on al-Buraq, whichprophet (PBUH) described as “a longwhitebeast, slightlybiggerthan a donkey but smallerthan a mule…Whentrotting, [it] wouldplaceitsnext step as far as itseyesightcouldsee. I mounted it until I reached al-Quds. There I tied it uptothesame ring usedbytheProphets.”
There, theProphet (PBUH) met withthepreviousprophetsandledthem in a congregationalprayer. Afterthat, Gabrielbroughthim a vessel of wineand a vessel of milk; he chosethelatter. Gabrielsaid, “Youhavechosenyournaturaldisposition, guidedyourpeople, andforbadewine.”
Fromthis, we can concludethat Al-Aqsa is a witnesstoone of themostmomentousevents in thehistory of Islamfor a couple of reasons: theprayersbecameobliged on thatday, andProphet (PBUH) ledthecongregationalprayer of allthepreviousprophets, symbolizingtheirpledgetoProphet (PBUH). Afterthat, theprophetascendedfrom al-Aqsa totheheaven, where he (PBUH) receivedthecommandmentfortheMuslimstopray. TheMi’rajjourneywasfull of othereventsanddetailswhichwereillustrated in theliteratures of propheticnarrations.
Thewholejourneytooklessthan a night. TheProphetreturnedtobed in thesamenightand, in themorning, he recounted his experienceto his peoplewhom, as a result, weresplitintobelieversanddeniers. Therefore, theProphet PBUH describedthedetails of al-Aqsa toprovethevalidity of his journeytothe Masjid.
Dr. Mustafa Sibaisaidthattherearemanysecrets in the Isra andMi’raj, some of them in regardto Masjid al-Aqsa. He said, "Itassociatesandrelatestheissue of al-Aqsa anditssurrounding [Palestine] totheIslamicworld. Palestine, aftertheera of Prophet (PBUH), becamethecenter of Muslimworld, itsunity, anditsgoals. DefendingPalestine is synonymoustodefendingIslamitself. It is theduty of everyMuslimaroundtheglobe. Giving it up is likegivinguppart of theIslam. It is a crimethatwillincurthepunishmentfromGodiftheygiveup on liberatinganddefending it."
Emphasizingtherelationshipbetween Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Al-Aqsa
Thejourney of Isra andMi’rajhaveassertedtheassociationbetween Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Al-Aqsa. However, therelationshipbetweenthesetwomasjids is as old as Adam and his children. This is manifested in theHadith of Abu Dzar Al-Ghafari: “O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid wasbuiltfirst on earth"? TheProphet (saw) replied, "Al-Masjid Al-Haram". Abu Dzaragainasked, "Whichwasnext"? TheProphet (saw) said, "Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa". Abu Dzarfurtherasked, "How longwastheperiodbetweenthebuilding of thetwoMasjids"? TheProphet (saw) said, “Fortyyears.”” [NarratedbyBukhari]
Thisassociationwasagainasserted in theQuran, where Allah theAlmightysays,
“Exalted is Hewhotook His Servantbynightfrom al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whosesurroundingsWehaveblessed, toshowhim of Oursigns. Indeed, He is theHearing, theSeeing” [Al-Isra: 1]
TheassociationbetweenthetwoMasjids in Islam is not confinedwithintheJourney of Isra only; it wasalsomanifested in thegreatestworship in Islam – theprayer –when Allah commandedtheProphet (PBUH) tomake al-Aqsa as theqiblah. Itcontinuedforsixteenmonthsuntil Allah commandedtochangetheqiblahto Masjid al-Haram as mentioned in theQuran, “Wehavecertainlyseentheturning of yourfacetowardtheheaven, andWewillsurelyturnyouto a qiblahwithwhichyouwill be pleased. So, turnyourfacetoward al-Masjid al-Haram. And whereveryouare, turnyourfacestoward it [in prayer]” [Al-Baqara: 144]
ThescholarshavesaidthattheassociationbetweenthetwomasjidsshouldmaketheMuslimsfeeltheirresponsibilitytowardstheliberation of Masjid al-Aqsa. TheyelaboratedthatthisassociationmustalsocausetheMuslimstofeelthatthethreattowards al-Aqsa is a threattowards Masjid al-Haram andthesubjugation of al-Aqsa is a step towardssubjugation of Masjid al-Haram, since al-Aqsa is thegatetotheSacred Mosque. If al-Aqsa fallsfromthehands of theMuslimsintotheJewishhands, it willbecome a threattothe Grand mosqueandtheland of Hijaz.
Thesignificance of Mi’rajto Masjid al-Aqsa
ProphetMuhammad’sMi’rajtotheheavensfromtheland of al-Aqsa and his returnto it indicatesthat Masjid al-Aqsa is thegatebetweenheavenandearth. Thisassertsthesignificance of the Masjid as a responsibility of everyMuslim. Previously, it has beensmearedbytheinvaders’ greedtoconquered Al-Aqsa because it is theMuslims’ gatethatprotectsthenation, maintainsitsidentity, andpreventtheraids of crusadersandtheirlikes on Masjid al-Haram.