ISRA AND MI’RAJ – May 9, 2021
History of Isra and Mi’raj
There is some dispute among scholars as to whether “the farthest mosque,” the Al-Aqsa, was a literal brick-and-mortar mosque or just a simple place of prayer, but adherents to the Muslim faith agree that Muhammed’s journey was truly a miracle, because in order to travel by normal methods between Mecca and Jerusalem, it would take more than a month, not the single night of Isra and Mi’raj.
A bit of background on Isra and Mi‘raj — the events occurred at a time when Muhammad was faced with deep difficulty. He had been tested with the passing of two of the dearest people in his life, the year these events took place becoming known as ‘Am al-Huzun, the Year of Sorrow. His uncle Abu Talib, an indispensable mentor, had passed on, along with his wife, Khadijah, who had been the comfort of his life.
Although there are different accounts of what occurred during the Mi’raj, most Islamic narratives have the same elements. Allah ascended the Prophet Muhammad from the Dome of the Rock through the skies or heaven, with the Angel Jibreel or Gabriel. Muhammad not only saw many miraculous sights and numerous angels, he also met a different prophet at each of the seven levels of heaven. First Adam, then John the Baptist and Jesus, then Joseph, then Idris, then Aaron, then Moses, and lastly Abraham.
After Muhammad meets with Abraham, he continues on to meet Allah without the Angel Gabriel. It is here when Allah gave the ummah (Muslims) the gift of compulsory salah or prayer. Allah tells Muhammad that his people must pray 50 times a day, but as Muhammad descends back to Earth, he meets Moses who tells Muhammad to go back to Allah and ask for fewer prayers because 50 is too many. Muhammad goes between Moses and Allah nine times until the prayers are reduced to the five daily prayers, which Allah will reward tenfold.
Finally, the Prophet Muhammad was taken back down to Al-Asqa and returned to Makkah. As he was transported home, he saw various caravans heading towards Makkah, which he would later describe to the Quraysh as proof that he really had made his miraculous journey. The entire journey had taken place in less than a night, and there were many who would mock Muhammad for making such a claim. For Muslims, however, the story was a source of wonder and hope, as it continues to be for many Muslims today.