Al Isra-Wa-Miraj (22 March) – the Night Journey and Ascension of the Prophet of Islam

On the 27th day of the month of Rajab (this year 22 March), Muslims remember the Night Journey of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from the mosque al Haram in Mecca to the mosque al Aqsa in Jerusalem. This journey is a miracle from God.

The journey was the first part of a night full of surprises and wonders which culminated in the ascension of the Prophet through the heavens that led him in the presence of God.

” Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship [al Haran mosque] to the Far distant place of worship [al Aqsa mosque] the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the Seer.” (Quran 17.1)

This journey was a comfort offered by God to his Prophet after much suffering and in particular the loss of his wife Khadijah whom he loved dearly and of his uncle Abou Talib (whom had supported him in front of his tribe). The comfort after through which the faith of the believer has been tested is a promise given by God and emphasized in Surat 94:

” After every difficulty there is relief. Certainly, after every difficulty there comes relief.” (94. 5-6)

A white animal was brought to the Prophet whom described it as smaller than a horse and larger than a donkey and known under the name al Buraq. This animal was able to make strides as long as the sight of the Prophet. After crossing the huge distance to Jerusalem riding al Buraq and discovering the marvels of the universe, he reached al Aqsa mosque which he entered after having fastened al Buraq. He entered the mosque where he was welcomed by some of the prophets God had sent before him. He was then granted the great honor to lead the prayer. God rewarded his messenger by showing him that other prophets before him had also gone through trials and sufferings as they preached the truth to their people.

The fact that this event took place in Jerusalem is meaningful because it is the land of God’s prophets, the land of Abraham, Isaac, Moses and Jesus. God was thus establishing a link between his sacred house (Ka’aba) in Mecca and al Asqa mosque in Jerusalem.

Later, the Prophet told that during his ascension he met Adam in the 1st heaven, the 2 cousins John (whom Christians call the Baptist) and Jesus in the 2nd heaven, Joseph in the 3rd heaven, Idris described by God in the Quran as having a hi position (19.57) in the 4th heaven, Aaron, Moses brother in the 5th heaven, Moses in the 6th heaven and Abraham in the 7th heaven.

It is in the 7th heaven that God commanded the Prophet and the faithful to accomplish the daily prayers. Advised by Moses Muhammad negotiated with God the number of 5 daily prayers instead of 50 originally required by God. It is the only commandment given by God to the Prophet in the heavens. The other ones were given on earth.

The night journey and the ascension were a great blessing granted to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It started in the sacred mosque in Mecca to al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and continued through the seven heavens in the presence of God the Almighty. The teachings and the commandment of the daily prayers received during this journey are a foundation of Islam.

Hadj Khababa, Muslim Chaplain at Paris-CDG