Thaqofah: Al-Israa wal Mi’raaj

Thaqofah: Al-Israa wal Mi’raaj

Topic: الإسراء والمعراج  The nocturnal journey of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to Al-Qudus and Ascension to the heavens.

Preamble

This topic is carefully chosen for discussion since the majority of scholars agree that this miraculous journey took place in this month of Rajab (notably on the 27th), therefore it is appropriate and timely to walk through this essential part of our history and take lessons from it.

Definitions

It is the miraculous journey that Allah took his messenger (prophet Muhammad ﷺ) from the holy mosque of Makkah (Masjid Al-Haram) to the holy mosque of Jerusalem (Masjid Al-Aqsa) and from there to beyond the seven heavens physically with body and soul while awake and return to Makkah. All of these happened in only part of a night. The first part of the journey from Al-Haram to Al-Aqsa is referred to as Al-Israa while the second part of the journey which was the ascension to the heavens was referred to as Al-Mi’raaj. This is the second biggest miracle that Allah supported the prophet ﷺ with after the Qur’an.

Al-Israa in the Qur’an

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّه هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a 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 All-Hearing and All-Seeing.

Al-Mi’raaj in the Qur’an

وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى (١٣) عِنْدَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى (١٤) عِنْدَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَى (١٥) إِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى (١٦) مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى (١٧) لَقَدْ رَأَى مِنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرَى (١٨)

  1. For indeed he saw him (Jibril) at a second descent, 14. near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass, 15. near it is the Garden of abode. 16. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded, 17. (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! 18. for truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the Greatest!

Al-Israa wal Miraj — As described by the Prophet himself

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: «أُتِيتُ بِالْبُرَاقِ، وَهُوَ دَابَّةٌ أَبْيَضُ طَوِيلٌ فَوْقَ الْحِمَارِ، وَدُونَ الْبَغْلِ، يَضَعُ حَافِرَهُ عِنْدَ مُنْتَهَى طَرْفِهِ»، قَالَ: «فَرَكِبْتُهُ حَتَّى أَتَيْتُ بَيْتَ الْمَقْدِسِ»، قَالَ: «فَرَبَطْتُهُ بِالْحَلْقَةِ الَّتِي يَرْبِطُ بِهِ الْأَنْبِيَاءُ»، قَالَ ” ثُمَّ دَخَلْتُ الْمَسْجِدَ، فَصَلَّيْتُ فِيهِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ خَرَجْتُ فَجَاءَنِي جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ بِإِنَاءٍ مِنْ خَمْرٍ، وَإِنَاءٍ مِنْ لَبَنٍ، فَاخْتَرْتُ اللَّبَنَ، فَقَالَ جِبْرِيلُ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: اخْتَرْتَ الْفِطْرَةَ، ثُمَّ عُرِجَ بِنَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ، فَقِيلَ: مَنَ أَنْتَ؟ قَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ، قِيلَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: َ قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا، فَإِذَا أَنَا بِآدَمَ، فَرَحَّبَ بِي، وَدَعَا لِي بِخَيْرٍ، ثُمَّ عُرِجَ بِنَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الثَّانِيَةِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ، فَقِيلَ: مَنَ أَنْتَ؟ قَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ، قِيلَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا، فَإِذَا أَنَا بِابْنَيْ الْخَالَةِ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ، وَيَحْيَى بْنِ زَكَرِيَّاءَ، صَلَوَاتُ اللهِ عَلَيْهِمَا، فَرَحَّبَا وَدَعَوَا لِي بِخَيْرٍ، ثُمَّ عَرَجَ بِي إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الثَّالِثَةِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ، فَقِيلَ: مَنَ أَنْتَ؟ قَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قِيلَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا، فَإِذَا أَنَا بِيُوسُفَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، إِذَا هُوَ قَدِ اُعْطِيَ شَطْرَ الْحُسْنِ، فَرَحَّبَ وَدَعَا لِي بِخَيْرٍ، ثُمَّ عُرِجَ بِنَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الرَّابِعَةِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ، قِيلَ: مَنْ هَذَا؟ قَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ، قَالَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا فَإِذَا أَنَا بِإِدْرِيسَ، فَرَحَّبَ وَدَعَا لِي بِخَيْرٍ، قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: {وَرَفَعْنَاهُ مَكَانًا عَلِيًّا} [مريم: 57]، ثُمَّ عُرِجَ بِنَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الْخَامِسَةِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: مَنْ هَذَا؟ فَقَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ، قِيلَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا فَإِذَا أَنَا بِهَارُونَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَرَحَّبَ، وَدَعَا لِي بِخَيْرٍ، ثُمَّ عُرِجَ بِنَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ السَّادِسَةِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ، قِيلَ: مَنْ هَذَا؟ قَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ، قِيلَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا، فَإِذَا أَنَا بِمُوسَى صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَرَحَّبَ وَدَعَا لِي بِخَيْرٍ، ثُمَّ عُرِجَ بِنَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ السَّابِعَةِ، فَاسْتَفْتَحَ جِبْرِيلُ، فَقِيلَ: مَنْ هَذَا؟ قَالَ: جِبْرِيلُ، قِيلَ: وَمَنْ مَعَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُحَمَّدٌ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قِيلَ: وَقَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ؟ قَالَ: قَدْ بُعِثَ إِلَيْهِ، فَفُتِحَ لَنَا فَإِذَا أَنَا بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مُسْنِدًا ظَهْرَهُ إِلَى الْبَيْتِ الْمَعْمُورِ، وَإِذَا هُوَ يَدْخُلُهُ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفَ مَلَكٍ لَا يَعُودُونَ إِلَيْهِ، ثُمَّ ذَهَبَ بِي إِلَى السِّدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى، وَإِذَا وَرَقُهَا كَآذَانِ الْفِيَلَةِ، وَإِذَا ثَمَرُهَا كَالْقِلَالِ “، قَالَ: ” فَلَمَّا غَشِيَهَا مِنْ أَمْرِ اللهِ مَا غَشِيَ تَغَيَّرَتْ، فَمَا أَحَدٌ مِنْ خَلْقِ اللهِ يَسْتَطِيعُ أَنْ يَنْعَتَهَا مِنْ حُسْنِهَا، فَأَوْحَى اللهُ إِلَيَّ مَا أَوْحَى، فَفَرَضَ عَلَيَّ خَمْسِينَ صَلَاةً فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ، فَنَزَلْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَالَ: مَا فَرَضَ رَبُّكَ عَلَى أُمَّتِكَ؟ قُلْتُ: خَمْسِينَ صَلَاةً، قَالَ: ارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ التَّخْفِيفَ، فَإِنَّ أُمَّتَكَ لَا يُطِيقُونَ ذَلِكَ، فَإِنِّي قَدْ بَلَوْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَخَبَرْتُهُمْ “، قَالَ: ” فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى رَبِّي، فَقُلْتُ: يَا رَبِّ، خَفِّفْ عَلَى أُمَّتِي، فَحَطَّ عَنِّي خَمْسًا، فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى، فَقُلْتُ: حَطَّ عَنِّي خَمْسًا، قَالَ: إِنَّ أُمَّتَكَ لَا يُطِيقُونَ ذَلِكَ، فَارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ التَّخْفِيفَ “، قَالَ: ” فَلَمْ أَزَلْ أَرْجِعُ بَيْنَ رَبِّي تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى، وَبَيْنَ مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ حَتَّى قَالَ: يَا مُحَمَّدُ، إِنَّهُنَّ خَمْسُ صَلَوَاتٍ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ، لِكُلِّ صَلَاةٍ عَشْرٌ، فَذَلِكَ خَمْسُونَ صَلَاةً، وَمَنْ هَمَّ بِحَسَنَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا كُتِبَتْ لَهُ حَسَنَةً، فَإِنْ عَمِلَهَا كُتِبَتْ لَهُ عَشْرًا، وَمَنْ هَمَّ بِسَيِّئَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا لَمْ تُكْتَبْ شَيْئًا، فَإِنْ عَمِلَهَا كُتِبَتْ سَيِّئَةً وَاحِدَةً “، قَالَ: ” فَنَزَلْتُ حَتَّى انْتَهَيْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَأَخْبَرْتُهُ، فَقَالَ: ارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ التَّخْفِيفَ “، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” فَقُلْتُ: قَدْ رَجَعْتُ إِلَى رَبِّي حَتَّى اسْتَحْيَيْتُ مِنْهُ “[1]

It was narrated on the authority of Anas bn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

I was brought al-Buraq which was an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, it would place its hoof a distance equal to the range of its vision. I mounted it and came to the House (Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak’ahs, and then came out and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriel said: You have chosen the natural thing. Then he took me to heaven. Gabriel then asked the (gate of heaven) to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied: Gabriel. He was again asked: Who is with you? He (Gabriel) said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? Gabriel replied: He has indeed been sent for. And (the door of the heaven) was opened for us and we saw Adam. He welcomed me and prayed for my good. Then we ascended to the second heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) (asked the door of heaven to be opened), and he was asked who he was. He answered: Gabriel; and was again asked: Who is with you? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened. When I entered ‘Isa bn Maryam and Yahya bn Zakariyya (peace be upon them both), cousins from the maternal side[2] welcomed me and prayed for my good Then I was taken to the third heaven and Gabriel asked for the opening (of the door). He was asked: Who are you? He replied: Gabriel. He was (again) asked: Who is with you? He replied Muhammad (pbuh). It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and I saw Yusuf (peace of Allah be upon him) who had been given half of (world) beauty. He welcomed me prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken to the fourth heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked for the (gate) to be opened, and it was said: Who is he? He replied: Gabriel. It was (again) said: Who is with you? He said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The (gate) was opened for us, and Idris was there. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being (About him) Allah, the Exalted and the Glorious, has said:” We elevated him (Idris) to the exalted position” (Qur’an 19:57). Then he ascended with us to the fifth heaven and Gabriel asked for the (gate) to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied Gabriel. It was (again) said: Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and then I was with Harun (Aaron – peace of Allah be upon him). He welcomed me prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken to the sixth heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked for the door to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied: Gabriel. It was said: Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and there I was with Musa (Moses – peace be upon him) He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven. Gabriel asked the (gate) to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He said: Gabriel It was said. Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammad (may peace be upon him.) It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and there I found Ibrahim (Abraham – peace be upon him) reclining against the Bait-ul-Ma’mur and there enters into it seventy thousand angels every day, never to visit (this place) again. Then I was taken to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha whose leaves were like elephant ears and its fruit like big earthenware vessels. And when it was covered by the Command of Allah, it underwent such a change that none amongst the creation has the power to praise its beauty. Then Allah revealed to me a revelation and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Moses (peace be upon him) and he said: What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah? I said: Fifty prayers. He said: Return to thy Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your community shall not be able to bear this burden. I have put to test the children of Isra’il (Isreal) and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden). He (the Holy Prophet) said: I went back to my Lord and said: My Lord, make things lighter for my Ummah. (The Lord) reduced five prayers for me. I went down to Moses and said. (The Lord) reduced five (prayers) for me, He said: Verily thy Ummah shall not be able to bear this burden; return to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. I then kept going back and forth between my Lord Blessed and Exalted and Moses, till He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammad, each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. I then came down and when I came to Moses and informed him, he said: Go back to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. Upon this the Messenger of Allah remarked: I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed[3] before Him.[4]

Some Scenes of Al-Israa

  1. From Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, Allah enabled him to see some of the wonderful aspects of His creations. He saw the Dunya (earth) like an old woman; but this old woman was adorned with the most attractive jewelleries; underneath you can see the reality of the world.
  2. He saw Iblis by the side of the road who did not dare to stand in his way or speak to him.
  3. On his journey, the Prophet (ﷺ) perceived a very nice odour. He asked Jibril (A. S.) about this pleasant scent and Jibril (alayhi salaam) informed him this beautiful smell was coming from the grave of the woman who used to comb Pharaoh’s daughter’s hair. This woman was a pious believer. One day, as she was combing Pharaoh’s daughter’s hair, the comb fell out of her hand. She said, “Bismillah.” Pharaoh’s daughter asked her, “Do you have a god other than my father?” The woman said, “Yes. My Lord and the Lord of your father is Allah.” Pharaoh’s daughter told her father what happened. Pharaoh demanded that this woman should renounce her faith, but she refused. Pharaoh threatened to kill her children. He brought a huge pot of water and built a massive fire under it. When the water was boiling, Pharaoh brought her children and started to drop them into that pot one after the other. Throughout all this, the woman remained strong in faith. When Pharaoh reached her youngest child – a little boy still breast feeding – she felt saddened for him. Allah enabled this child to speak. He said to his mother: “O Mother, be patient. The torture of the Hereafter is far more severe than the torture of this life, and do not be reluctant, because you are right.” The woman requested from Pharaoh to collect her bones and the bones of her children and bury them in the same grave. Pharaoh promised that he would – he then dropped her into the boiling water. She died as a martyr. The good odour the Prophet perceived was coming from her grave and is an indication of her high status in Paradise.
  4. The Prophet also saw people whose lips and tongues were clipped with scissors made of fire. Jibril told the Prophet, “These are the carriers of sedition (fitna) who call people to misguidance.”
  5. He also saw a bull that exited a very small door; the bull was then trying to return back inside through that small opening. Jibril told the Prophet, “This is the example of the bad word -once spoken, it can never be retracted.”
  6. The Prophet saw people grazing like animals, with very little clothing on their private parts. Jibril told the Prophet, “These are the ones who refused to pay Zakat.”
  7. The Prophet saw the Angels smashing some people’s heads with rocks. These heads would return to the shape they were, and then the angels would smash their heads again–and so on. Jibril told the Prophet, “These are the ones whose heads felt too heavy to perform prayer – the ones who used to sleep without praying.”
  8. The Prophet saw people who were fighting to eat some rotten meat – ignoring fresh sliced meat nearby. Jibril told the Prophet, “These are people from your nation who leave out that which is permissible, and consume that which is forbidden.” This was in relation to fornicators and Adulterers, the ones who left out the permissible (marriage and wives) and committed sins (fornication and adultery).
  9. He also saw people who were drinking from the fluid coming from the bodies of the fornicators, (water mixed with blood). Jibril indicated to the Prophet these were the ones who were drinking the alcohol which is prohibited in this world.
  10. The Prophet saw people scratching their faces and chests with brass finger nails. Jibril said, “These are those who commit gossips.”

Some Scenes from the Al-Mi’raaj

  1. The Prophet ﷺ also saw as he went on people in whose mouth balls of fire were crammed. He asked Jibril who they were and he answered, “These are the ones who took the property of orphans unlawfully”.
  1. He also saw people with brass nails with which they scratched their faces and chests. He asked Jibril who they were and he answered, “These are the ones who gossip about people in their absence and whose speech disgrace a woman’s honour.”
  • Then the Prophet entered Jannah (paradise) and saw examples of how the people of Jannah would live. Most of the people in Jannah were the poor people on earth.
  1. In Paradise, the Prophet saw some of the bounties Allah prepared for the inhabitants of Paradise. He saw the Hur ul-In: the females Allah created, who are not humans or jinn. They are in Paradise and will be married to the pious believers.
  2. He also saw Maalik, the angel in charge of Hell. Maalik did not smile at the Prophet when he saw him, and the Prophet asked why. Jibril responded and said, “Maalik did not smile since the day Allah created him. Had it been possible he should smile to anyone, he would have smiled to you.”

[1] Sahih Muslim no. 259 (Arabic reference)

[2] Isa (Christ) and Yahya (John) were cousins from the maternal side.

[3] Meaning I cannot return to Him again because I’m too ashamed to do that.

[4] Sahih Muslim, The Book of Faith (Book 1), Hadith 318

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