The two journeys

AL-ISRA WA AL-MI’RAJ   سراء والمعراج

WHAT IS AL-ISRA?

  • Literal: It is an Arabic word meaning “a journey by night.”
  • Islamic: It refers to the miraculous night journey of the Prophet ﷺ from Masjid Al-Haram (in Makkah) to Jerusalem, specifically, to the site of Masjid Al-Aqsa.
  • PROOF: “Glory to God who did carry 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. Lo! Only He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.“ [Al-Isra 17:1]

WHAT IS AL-MI’RAJ?

  • Literal: It is an Arabic word meaning an elevator, i.e. an instrument which lifts something up.
  • Islamic: It refers to the second part of the journey, from Masjid Al-Aqsa to a place over the seventh heavens.
  • PROOF: “By the star that goes down; your companion (Muhammad) is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is no less than an inspiration sent down to him. He was taught by One mighty in power; endued with wisdom; for he appeared clear to view; when he was at 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 reveal unto His servant what He (meant) to reveal. The (Prophet’s) mind and heart in no way falsified what he saw. Will you then dispute with what he saw? For indeed he saw him at a second descent; near the lote-tree beyond which none may pass; near it is the Garden of Abode; behold the lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable). His eye never swerved, nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the Greatest.” [An-Najm 53:1-18]

WHEN IT HAPPENED?

  • Al-Isra and Al-Mi’raj refer to two parts of a journey that the Prophet ﷺ took one night.
  • Considered to have taken place after the Prophet’s visit to the people of Taif.
  • Considered by some to have happened just over a year before the Hijrah, on the 27th of Rajab [621 CE].
  • Majority of scholars consider it a physical journey.

THE NIGHT JOURNEY (AL-ISRA)

  • Jibril (aleyhis salam) descended into the Prophet’s room and went over to him [in another tradition, he was in his cousin’s house, Umm Hani Bint Abu Talib].
  • Jibril opened his shirt, cut open his chest, then he removed his heart and washed its inside with Zamzam (a sacred spring in Makkah).
  • After washing it, he brought a gold container filled with Iman (faith) and Hikmah (wisdom), emptied it into the Prophet’s chest and then closed it up all again.

WHY HIS HEART WAS WASHED?

  • To increase his wisdom as well as the strength of his belief to prepare him for that which he had yet to see in the upper world from among the wonders of the creation of Allah.
  • Jibril then nudged him until he awoke and led him outside the house to the gate of K’abah. There he found a strange animal named Buraq which carried him on his journey.

THE FIRST JOURNEY

  • First stop: A land with palm trees called Yathrib and Taybah. He prayed two units there.
  • Second stop: Tur Sina. He prayed two units there.
  • Third stop: Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem), the birthplace of Jesus. He prayed two units there.
  • Finally, they reached Jerusalem. There, the Prophet ﷺ tied Buraq to the same ring on the wall of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa used by the prophets to tie their animals.
  • He entered the Masjid where Allah assembled for him all the prophets and messengers, from Adam to Isa. He then moved forward and led them in prayer. This is an indication that he is the highest in status than all the rest of thems; and that they were all brothers and their religion was one.

WHAT IS BURAQ?

  • Taken from the Arabic word ‘Barq’ meaning a flash of lightning which literally means beam or send out light
  • Named as ‘Buraq’ because of its fast pace
  • Smaller than a horse and bigger than a donkey
  • Light is the fastest traveling in the world at the speed of 700 million miles an hour – proof for the truthfulness of Islam and his prophethood.
  • The Buraq Wall حائط البراق is named as such because this is where he Buraq when he reached Bayt Al-Maqdis.

CHOOSING THE FITRAH AND THE LESSONS FROM IT

  • While in Jerusalem, Jibril brought 2 bowls (vessels) and presented them to the Prophet and requested him to choose one to drink.
  • One was filled with wine and the other with milk and he chose the latter means that the milk was a sign, being easy to drink, good and tasty and while the wine is the mother of all evil. Milk and wine is a symbolic way of saying good and evil.
  • Jibril said to him: “You have been guided to the Fitrah (compatible with nature)”  meaning that he had chosen the religion of Islam and Istiqamah (being steadfast on the straight path).
  • From that incident, it was clear that any intoxicant, whatever it may be, was prohibited in Islam forever. Why? Imbibing it befogged the mind which is the most precious gift Allah Almighty has endowed man with.

THE SECOND JOURNEY

HE MET SOME PROPHETS IN THE HEAVENS

All of them received him warmly and wished him well.

  • The lowest heaven: Adam
  • The second heaven: Isa Ibn Maryam (Jesus) and Yahya (John The Baptist)
  • The third heaven: Yusuf (Joseph). The Prophet told him: “You are given half of the beauty.” (The other half was given for the whole world)
  • The fourth heaven: Idris (Enoch)
  • The fifth heaven: Harun (Aaron)
  • The sixth heaven: Musa (Moses)
  • The seventh heaven: Ibrahim (Abraham)

SOME OF THE CREATIONS THAT HE SAW

  • He saw examples and bounties of the inhabitants of Paradise and how their situation would be. Most of them are the poor people

  • Hur-ul-Ain—females specially created who will be married to men whom Allah willed them to marry
  •  Wildan-ul-Mukhalladun—beautiful creations whose appearance is like laid-out pearls who are servants of the inhabitants. The least in status of its inhabitants will have 10,000 Wildan-ul-Mukhalladun to serve him. Each one of them will carry a tray of gold in one hand and a tray of silver in the other hand .
  • He saw 4 rivers, 2 manifest (Nile and the Euphrates in this world) and 2 hidden (Kawthar and Zanzabil in Paradise).
  • He saw the world (Dunya) like an old woman, who was wearing a great deal of jewelry.
  • He saw Iblis on the side of the road which did not dare to stand in his way or speak to him.
  • He smelled a very pleasant scent coming from the grave of a pious woman whose duty was to comb the hair of Pharaoh’s daughter.
  • He saw people planting crops in one day and harvesting in the following day. They are those who fought for justice and freedom.
  • He was also taken to Hellfire and saw Malik, the angel-in-charge there, who did not smile at him when he saw him.
  • He saw people whose lips and tongues were clipped with scissors made of fire. They are the speakers of sedition (Fitnah) who call people to misguidance.
  • He saw a bull which exited from a very small outlet, then was trying in vain to return through that small outlet. This is the example of the bad word that once spoken, it cannot be returned.
  • He saw people grazing like animals, with very little clothing on their private parts. These are the ones who refused to give Zakat.
  • He saw angels smashing some people’s heads with rocks then would return to the original shape, and then the angels would smash their heads again, and so on. These are the ones whose heads felt too heavy to perform prayer, the ones who used to sleep without praying.
  • He passed by a group of people who had in their positions saucepans of well-cooked and good-looking meat and other utensils. They had odious and repulsive foul raw meat.
  • He passed by people whose genitals and buttocks were partly parched up. They were grazed like camels and cattle and their food was cow dung, palm-tree oil, kneepan and pebbles from hell fire. Upon asking about them, he was told that they were the people who begrudged the poor and indigent their rights.
  • He also passed by a group of people who had fingernails made of copper. They scratched their faces and chests continuously. Archangel, Gabriel, informed him that those people used to engage in slander and gossip and by so doing defamed others.
  • He passed by people whose genitals and buttocks were partly parched up. They were grazed like camels and cattle and their food was cow dung, palm-tree oil, kneepan and pebbles from hell fire. Upon asking about them, he was told that they were the people who begrudged the poor and indigent their rights.
  • He also passed by a group of people who had fingernails made of copper. They scratched their faces and chests continuously. Archangel, Gabriel, informed him that those people used to engage in slander and gossip and by so doing defamed others.

SIDRAT-UL-MUNTAHA (LOTE TREE OF THE UTMOST BOUNDARY)

  • Jibril lead him to this very big tree of Sidr, having leaves like the ears of elephant and fruits like large earthen-ware jugs of Hajar (i.e. near Madinah). Extremely beautiful tree, visited by butterflies made of gold.
  • This is the spot, beyond which Jibril could not go further. So they parted from each other because Jibril was afraid lest his wings be burnt. The Prophet was permitted to go beyond it.

HE THEN ASCENDED BEYOND 7 HEAVENS (PARADISE)

  • It was reported that he saw in it domes of pearls and its soil was made of musk.
  • He reached a place where he heard the creaking of the pens used by the angels who are copying from the Preserved Tablet.
  • This is where he heard the  speech (Kalam) of Allah which does not resemble our speech.
  • So it is neither something that occurs bit after bit nor a letter after letter nor a word that comes after another word. It has neither silence nor interruptions.
  • Rather, it is an attribute of Allah, which is eternal and everlasting and does not resemble the attributes of His creation.
  • Allah legislated the 5 daily prayers. It was initially 50 prayers reduced gradually to 5. If one performs the five daily prayers, he will be rewarded as though he performed 50 prayers

THE DAY AFTER THE JOURNEY

THE DISBELIEVERS’ REACTION

  • When he told the Makkans about this journey, they did not believe him. They argued saying that it took them a month to travel on camels to the Ash-Sham (today Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine).
  • They forgot that Allah cannot be restricted by time and space (distance).
  • They went further to challenge him to describe the Bayt Al-Maqdis.
  • They asked him about the caravan coming from Ash-Sham.

ABU BAKR WAS CALLED “AS-SIDDIQ”

  • It would be difficult for anyone to describe precisely any edifice he visits unless someone warns him beforehand that he would be interviewed.
  • Even if you are keen to notice everything, still it would be difficult to describe it meticulously. He started describing the mosque exactly as it was, while Abu Bakr was confirming the description.

A SOLACE FOR HIM AFTER 3 TRAGIC INCIDENTS

  1. The death of his paternal uncle, Abu Talib (the full brother of his father)
  2. The death of his beloved wife, Khadija Bint Khuwaylid
  3. Taif’s obstinate rejection of his mission as he tried to explain Islam to them

WHY IT HAPPENED?

1. During this night journey, Allah wanted to show the Prophet ﷺ the link between Makkah and Jerusalem.

  • Many prophets and messengers were born in Jerusalem
  • They came with the same message from the same source – to worship Allah (The One True God) alone and to refrain from associating Him with partners. – “… all messengers are brothers and their religion is one.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

2. By His ascension, Allah wanted to teach him a lesson that no matter how much he suffered; he had Allah’s protection from malicious and mischievous pagans.

  • Life is full of ups and downs, which play a very big role in shaping man. – “…so, verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” [Ash-Sharh 94:5-6]
  • If you abide by the commandments of God, He will come to your rescue no matter how powerful your enemies might be.

MORAL LESSONS

  • Belief in  God gives you self-confidence that saves you from wicked people. If you are in trouble, resort to God for succor and solace.
  • No matter how much you suffer for your faith, time will come when you will be victorious if you are sincere
  • In whatever situation you may be, act within the parameters of the commandments of God
  • If the whole world gathers to harm you, they can’t unless God wills
  • Do not be overwhelmed by human power. Be always closer to God. Aim high, trust in God and never surrender
  • Seek what is beneficial to you and avoid evil. Use your time wisely and keep away from slander and gossip
  • It is also a highly significant reminder to us of the special gift from God in terms of 5 daily prayers

LINK/S

  • Seerah of Prophet Muhammad by Dr. Yasir Qadhi – Night Journey and Ascension to Heavens (Part 21, Part 22, Part 23)

REFERENCES

  1. “Islamic Studies” Book I by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, published by IIPH
  2. “The Miracle of Al-Isra and Al-Mi’raj” published by IPC/Kuwait
  3. Article on “Al-Isra and Al-Mi’raj” researched by Hassan Taha Bwambale, Education Manager, AWARE Center
  4. Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) by Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri

Tahmid

The exclusive praise ALHAMDULILLAH comes from the root HA-MIM-DAL (ح م د) which means: to praise, laud with deep feelings of adoration and submission; to praise one for something done by that one’s own will; to speak well of, honor, commend; to eulogize.

TAHMID is by saying “ALHAMDULILLAH.” The word HAMD means “praise” and the “AL” in ALHAMD makes the praise definite and implies exclusivity. If ALHAMD means ‘thanks,’ then ALHAMDULILLAH means ‘Thanks to Allah.’ However, ALHAMD is larger in meaning than thanks. ALHAMD means “all types of praise and every manner of thanks at all times is due to Allah alone.”  We can never say ALHAMD to any person, it is to be said only to Allah ﷻ in all cases, either in prosperity or adversity, healthy or sick, good or bad.   It is a deeper feeling than thanks; indicating pure faith by being satisfied in all with what Allah ﷻ brings you.

ALHAMDULILLAH means all thanks are due purely to Allah alone, not to any of the objects that are being worshiped instead of Him, nor any of His creation. – Abu Jafar bin Jarir

The believers say ALHAMDULILLAH each day in prayer in Surah Al-Fatihah. The first word of Adam (Aleyhis Salam) was ALHAMDULILLAH and ALHAMDULILLAH will be the last call of the people of Paradise: Their call therein will be, “Exalted are You, O Allah,” and their greeting therein will be, “Peace.” And the last of their call will be, “Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds!” [Yunus 10:10]


When somebody asks you how are you doing… as a believer, reply by saying “ALHAMDULILLAH” or “ALHAMDULILLAH ALA KULLI HAL.”

When somebody did you a favor… as a believer, say “JAZAK-ALLAHU KHAIRAN” (May Allah reward you with good).

[From different sources]

Glorifying God

A man said: “O Messenger of Allah! The teachings of the faith have become many upon me, so tell me of something which I can adhere to.” To which Prophet Muhammad replied: “That your tongue remain moist with the remembrance of Allah, The Exalted.” [Tirmidhi]

The Only One True God worthy of worship, i. e. Allah ﷻ deserves the most and best respect from us. When we say His name ALLAH, we should follow it with SUBHANAHU WA TAÁLA (سبحانه و تعالى) meaning “Glory to Him, The Exalted.” It can be said in other ways like “JAL JALALAH,” “AZZU WAJAL,” or simply “TAÁLA” which all mean the same: Almighty, Exalted, The Most High.

Good side of things

Being able to see the good side of things even at the toughest of times is really a blessing from Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said that the believer is a positive thinker and not a negative thinker. To further emphasize that quality, he quoted Allah as saying, “I am as my servant thinks of Me.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

We should have good thoughts about Allah, as well as about whatever happens in life according to the permission of Allah. – Dr. Bilal Philips

People of the Book

The term People of the Book (Ahl Al-Kitāb) is used to refer to followers of certain monotheistic faiths (which have a revealed scripture called Al-Kitab in Arabic which pre-date the advent of Islam. In particular, it refers to the Christians, Jews and Sabians.

“Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [Al-Baqarah 2:62]

The Sabians of Middle Eastern tradition were a monotheistic Abrahamic religious group. They used to live in Musal (Iraq) and say “LA ILAHA ILL-ALLAH” (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) and used to read Az-Zabur (The Psalms). They are converts to Islam, while their identity in later Islamic literature became a matter of discussion and investigation.

[The Noble Qur’an by Muhsin Khan]

I missed my past

Years ago, I attended a seminar-workshop. An unexpected question from the speaker – “HOW LONG DO YOU TALK TO YOUR FAMILY IN A DAY?” I found myself dumbfounded. And I guess everyone was hit bull’s eye. No one really gave a satisfactory answer. People often overlook important things around them, only to find out their worth when they no longer exist.

I missed those days…

I could have kissed my father’s hand. I don’t remember saying “I love you” to my mother (though I love her). I could have played and talked more with my siblings. I missed the smell of the rice coffee (rice fried until black and boiled until it gets the color of a coffee), if times get better, there was a Liberty condensed milk to go with it and few pieces of hot Pan-de-sal (salt bread). I grew up mostly with just fish anchovy and oil mixed with rice. If times get better, a small can of Ligo sardines was already a luxury…

By the time you reach your future, you will be missing your present. Right now, you are fed up with your situation but someday, how you wish you could go back in time and could have done more, you could have done better.

Tasbih

The Arabic word TASBIH is derived from the root SIN-BA-HA (س ب ح) which means “to glorify.” TASBIH is by saying SUBHAN-Allah (سبحان الله‎). It is a form of praising the Absolute Perfection of Allah ﷻ, and admitting no lack or no imperfection in Him.

SUBHAN-ALLAH means all of the following:

  • Glory be to Allah
  • Praise be to Allah
  • May Allah be exalted
  • Allah is exalted
  • May Allah be raised
  • May Allah be free of what they attribute to Him
  • May Allah be free of any deficiency

SUBHAN-ALLAH implies rejection of:

  • any attribution of human characteristics
  • any association with any false gods
  • any attribution of mistakes or faults to Him

The disbelievers attributed deficiencies to Allah ﷻ, He says:

  • But they have attributed to Allah partners – the jinn, while He has created them – and have fabricated for Him sons and daughters without knowledge. Exalted is He and high above what they describe. [Al-An’am 6:100]
  • Exalted is He and high above what they say by great sublimity. [Al-Isra 17:43]
  • Allah has not taken any son, nor has there ever been with Him any deity. If there had been, then each deity would have taken what it created, and some of them would have sought to overcome others. Exalted is Allah above what they describe concerning Him. [Al-Mu’minun 23:91]
  • Or have they a deity other than Allah? Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him. [At-Tur 52:43]

We say SUBHAN-ALLAH when we see something strange or extremely beautiful, expressing  our amazement  by something or taken by it. As a Muslim, say SUBHAN-ALLAH instead of Wow! Amazing! Unbelievable!