What is isra’ and mi’raj (the night journey and ascension of Prophet Muhammad)?
isra’ and mi’raj is the night journey and ascension of Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, from Mecca to Jerusalem then to the Farthest Boundary in Heaven. Specifically:
- israa’ which means night journey in Arabic, is the land-to-land Prophet’s night journey from the Sacred House in Mecca to the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (mentioned in Quran 17:1).
- mi`raaj which means ascension in Arabic, is the land-to-heaven Prophet’s ascension from the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to the farthest boundary of the highest heaven (mentioned in Quran 53:11-18), that occurred right after the israa’. The highest heaven is the 7th heaven, and its farthest boundary is marked by a lote tree of extremity (sidrat al-muntahaa) where the Archangel Gabriel, peace be upon him, stopped and couldn’t pass. Only the Prophet was able to go beyond it. The lote tree (also called sidr tree) is a deep-rooted, strong, beautiful, large, and massive tree with several medicinal benefits. That is the one on earth but the one in heaven is definitely a lot better; God knows best!
When did the night journey and ascension of Prophet Muhammad occur?
The approximate date when the Prophet’s night journey occurred is the 27th of Rajab (7th month of the Islamic calendar), about 12 years after the start of revelation, which is about 1 year before the Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina, considered the starting point of the Islamic calendar.
How long did the night journey and ascension of Prophet Muhammad last?
It is not known how long exactly the Prophet’s night journey lasted other than it was all completed during a single night.
How did the Prophet travel in his night journey and ascension?
In his night journey, Prophet Muhammed, God bless him and grant him peace, travelled physically while awake (not while asleep in a dream) on a speedy pure white beast, a special heavenly horse called al-buraq. He was accompanied by Archangel Gabriel, peace be upon him.
What was the hardest year on Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace?
The hardest year on Prophet Muhammed, God bless him and grant him peace, is called the year of sorrow when he lost his first beloved wife Lady Khadija, God be pleased with her, and his uncle and protector Abu Talib. During such year, which was after 12 years of preaching in Mecca, he was rejected by his Meccan tribesmen. Then, when he went to the city of Taif (about 50 miles southeast of Mecca) seeking support and protection, not only was he rejected and insulted by its leaders but also assaulted and even injured by its slaves and kids.
In the midst of all these hardships, Prophet Muhammed, God bless him and grant him peace, did not give up and was in very much need of support to further strengthen his faith, hence came the night journey as a gift and a sign of such support from his Lord Almighty.
What day was harder on the Prophet than the day of the lost battle of uhud?
Narrated Lady ‘Aisha, God be pleased with her, that she asked the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, “Have you had a day harder than the day of the battle of uhud?” He said, “Your tribes caused me a lot of suffering the most of which occurred on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself (with the message of Islam) to Ibn `Abd Yaaleel Ibn `Abd Kulaal (one of the chiefs of Ta’if) but he did not respond to my call. So, I departed with deep sorrow and did not relax until I arrived at qarn ath-tha‘aalib where I raised my head and saw a cloud shading me. Then, I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me and said, ‘God has surely heard what your people said to you and what their response was to you, and He has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do to them what you wish.’ Then, the Angel of the Mountains called me, greeted me, and said, ‘O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will bring al-akhshabayn (two mountains standing opposite to each other at the extremities of Mecca) down to crush them in between.’ But the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, said, “No, I rather hope that God will raise from among their descendants those who will worship God Alone, and will worship none other than Him.” (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim)
Why did God Almighty bless His Prophet with a miraculous night journey and ascension?
God Almighty blessed His Prophet with a miraculous night journey to comfort him (after the aforementioned hardest year and day on him), support him in heaven (after he was rejected on earth), further strengthen his faith (by reaching and seeing no one else can reach or see), and so prepare him for a new challenging mission, which was the migration from Mecca to Medina to establish the first Islamic state.
Why is the night journey and ascension of Prophet Muhammad important?
The Prophet’s night journey and ascension is important because the night journey is the name of an entire chapter of the Quran, Chapter 17: al-israa’, and it is mentioned in the Quran twice:
First, God Almighty says: “Glorified is He (subhana) Who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Aqsa Mosque whose environs We have blessed, so that We let him see some of Our signs. Surely, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.”
- “subhana” means “Pure, Perfect, and Powerful is He” (in addition to “Glorified is He”) which implies that God is the only One Who has the unmatched power to do that which no one else can do, such as this miraculous night journey and ascension. “subhana” also implies that what is going to be stated is a marvelous, masterful, and miraculous event, another proof that this journey was physical not spiritual (i.e., just a good dream which is not considered a miracle).
- “Who carried” implies that the Prophet did not plan for this journey; instead, it was a gift from his Lord Almighty.
- “His servant” refers to Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, highly honoring him with such description, implying that there is unique and strong bond of love of God Almighty towards His most beloved Messenger; that the Prophet was a devout servant to His Lord Almighty; and that he is still a servant of God, (a human being, not divine) despite this extraordinary journey full of divine miracles (in addition to his many extraordinary virtues, attributes, achievements, and miracles). The fact that God Almighty chose this quality of His Prophet being a servant of Him to describe him (among his countless qualities) implies the high honor a
nd elevated status of being a devout servant of God. Also, the word “servant” is another indication that this journey was physical not spiritual, in both body and soul.
- “Aqsa Mosque whose environs We have blessed” implies both spiritual and worldly blessings. The spiritual blessings include the fact that the Aqsa Mosque is the second house of God built on earth and the first direction of prayer (qibla) of past Prophets, peace be upon of them. The worldly blessings include the green and fertile lands, streams, and rivers surrounding the Aqsa Mosque.
Second, God Almighty says: “The heart (of the Prophet) did not deny what he saw. Do you then dispute with him in what he saw? And he (the Prophet) certainly saw him (archangel Gabriel in his real massive form) descend a second time, by the lote tree of the Farthest Boundary (sidrat al-muntahaa), near which is the Garden of Residence, when the lote tree was covered by that which covered it (e.g., God’s Light, angels, and amazing colors). The eye (of the Prophet) did not go wrong (i.e., did not turn right or left) nor did it transgress beyond the limit. He (the Prophet) certainly saw some of the greatest signs of his Lord.”
Also, the Prophet’s night journey and ascension are important because:
- It is a major divine miracle that further confirmed the unmatched high status of Muhammed Ibn Abdullah as God’s final Prophet. He went beyond the utmost boundary of the farthest heaven, a point no one else could pass! And God Almighty blessed him with seeing the unseen that no one else could see! The fact that the night journey was all completed during one night is an undisputable proof that it was a major divine miracle because at the time, it would take people a whole month to travel from Mecca to Jerusalem and another month to return. This does not even take into account the travel time from Jerusalem to the utmost boundary of the 7th heaven, which cannot even be quantified!
- It is when God Almighty commanded the 5 daily prayers, the second of the five pillars of Islam.
- It is when it was further confirmed that Prophet Muhammed, God bless him and grant him peace, is indeed the seal and leader of all prophets and messengers. When he arrived at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, he was the leader (Imam) of the prayer attended by all the prophets and messengers, peace be upon them.
- It is considered a transformational event that prepared Prophet Muhammed, God bless him and grant him peace, for his second major phase of his prophetic mission: establishing the first Islamic state, in Medina. The first major phase was tarbiya (education and spiritual growth), in Mecca for about 13 years.
What lessons can you draw from the night journey and ascension of Prophet Muhammad?
The main lessons that you can draw from the Prophet’s night journey include:
Trust and Certainty in God:
Despite the extreme hardship the Prophet went through, he did not give up or lose his trust in his Lord Almighty Who not only supported him but also honored him and prepared him for something even bigger: the next phase of his mission, which was to establish the Islamic state in Medina. So, you too should have full trust and certainty in God’s infinite ability to support you no matter how difficult or impossible the hardship you are going through seems. He is the Omnipotent!
Praising and Glorifying God:
The aforementioned verse (Quran 17:1) on the Prophet’s night journey starts with the word subhana which means “glory be to God” Who blessed His beloved prophet with such amazing miraculous journey. So, always praise and glorify God for His countless blessings on you.
Prior to his night journey, when the Prophet was in deep sorrow and distress, and so in great need of much support, he made an emotional and powerful supplication (see below). So, you too should supplicate to your Lord Almighty all times especially in time of great need and distress.
Ritual Prayer (salat):
Given its utmost importance, salat was commanded by God to His Prophet beyond the utmost Boundary of heaven, with a tenfold reward. Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud narrated that Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, said: “Golden butterflies. The Messenger of God was given three things: He was given the five obligatory prayers, he was given the concluding verses of Chapter 2 of the Holy Quran (The Cow; 2:284-286), and remission of major sins for those among his Umma who do not associate anything with God.” So, you should perform it five times a day, on time, with proper ablution, and in congregation preferably in the mosque, whenever possible.
Even in heaven, Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, practiced shura and listened to the expert for the best interest of the umma. The expert in this case was Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, who kept advising him to go back to his Lord Almighty and request that the number of daily obligatory prayers be reduced from 50 until they were only 5 (with the full reward of 50). So, you too should consult with and listen to the experts in the field, with the intention of doing what is best for the group even if it is opposite to your own individual opinion.
The Aqsa Mosque is of utmost importance and so all Muslims should continue to strive to liberate it because the initial destination of the Prophet’s night journey was the Aqsa Mosque; the prayer in which the Final Prophet lead all previous Prophets took place in the Aqsa Mosque; and the Prophet’s ascension to the Farthest boundary of heaven took place from the Aqsa Mosque.
Universality and Eternity of Islam:
The Aqsa Mosque was the place of worship of several Prophets such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus, peace be upon them. So, the fact that the Final Prophet led all previous Prophets in the Aqsa Mosque (not in the Sacred Mosque, the birthplace of Islam and its local audience), shows the universality and eternity of Islam. What an honor for us, Muslims, that we belong to the umma of the Final Prophet and leader of all Prophets!
The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, did what he did and suffered a lot because he cared about all creation. He was given the chance to punish and destroy those who had insulted and assaulted him, but he did not. His main concern was to guide the creation to God. So, you too should be caring and have the same main concern. Guiding to God is the best way of caring about others!
When the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, returned from his night journey and ascension, his companion Abu Bakr, God be pleased with him, was asked if he believed that such journey had really taken place. He replied: “If he (the Prophet) said it then he said the truth. And I shall definitely believe in that which is even more serious than this that (this miraculous journey).”
You too should believe that whatever Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, said or did is the truth and that it in your best interest both in this life and the next.
God Almighty took His Prophet from earth to heaven, showing the importance of the hereafter. This life is but a test and an important bridge to the hereafter, however, the latter is better and a lot more important because it is your everlasting final destination.
What was the Prophet’s emotional supplication prior to his night journey?
Upon being rejected and assaulted in Taif and while being abused and bruised with his blood thickening as it was seeping onto his sandals, Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, went under the shade of a tree and performed a two-unit prayer, then made the following emotio
nal and powerful supplication to his Lord the Omnipotent:
“Oh God, To You, I complain of my weakness, lack of my resources, and my humiliation before mankind. Oh God, the Most Merciful of those who show mercy! You are the Lord of the weak, and You are my Lord. To whom do You entrust me? To a distant person who attacks me? Or to an enemy You gave control over my affairs? If I do not incur Your wrath then I do not care, but your protection is much sufficient for me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which darkness is illuminated and all affairs of this life and the hereafter become righteous, against incurring your wrath or earning Your dissatisfaction with me. To You I appeal until You are pleased. And there is no change or strength except by You.”
This hadith was narrated by ‘Abdullaah ibn Ja‘far, God be pleased with him and reported by Tabarani. Some scholars consider it as weak, but others consider it as good (hasan) with a stronger chain of narration. In either case, it can be used for virtuous deeds such as this supplication whose meaning is good.
How can you ascend as the Prophet ascended?
Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, was blessed with the miraculous ascension to the farthest boundary of the highest heaven to meet his Lord Most High.
You cannot ascend physically as the Prophet did, but you can ascend spiritually towards achieving nearness to your Lord Most High every day at every time you perform your ritual prayer (salat). Salat is ascension. That is because during salat you meet with your Lord to glorify him, thank Him, praise Him, recite His words, seek His support and guidance, ask Him for forgiveness, supplicate to Him, seek His love and satisfaction, bond with Him, hence ascend and achieve nearness to Him.
 Some scholars say that lote tree of extremity is in the 6ht heaven, some say it is in the 7th, and others say it is beyond the 7th. But the most accurate is that it is in the 6th heaven but extends to the 7th (given its giant size); God knows best!
 Quran 17:1 [سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًۭا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ ١]
 Quran 53:11-18 [مَا كَذَبَ ٱلْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَىٰٓ ١١ أَفَتُمَـٰرُونَهُۥ عَلَىٰ مَا يَرَىٰ ١٢ وَلَقَدْ رَءَاهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَىٰ ١٣ عِندَ سِدْرَةِ ٱلْمُنتَهَىٰ ١٤ عِندَهَا جَنَّةُ ٱلْمَأْوَىٰٓ ١٥ إِذْ يَغْشَى ٱلسِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَىٰ ١٦ مَا زَاغَ ٱلْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَىٰ ١٧ لَقَدْ رَأَىٰ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِ رَبِّهِ ٱلْكُبْرَىٰٓ]. This chapter 53 called The Star (an-Najm) is the first chapter in which a prostration was revealed; Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, recited it in Mecca and prostrated, as narrated by Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud and reported by Bukhari.
 Reported by Muslim. [لَمَّا أُسْرِيَ برَسولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلَّمَ، انْتُهي به إلى سِدْرَةِ المُنْتَهَى، وهي في السَّماءِ السَّادِسَةِ، إلَيْها يَنْتَهِي ما يُعْرَجُ به مِنَ الأرْضِ فيُقْبَضُ مِنْها، وإلَيْها يَنْتَهِي ما يُهْبَطُ به مِن فَوْقِها فيُقْبَضُ مِنْها، قالَ: “إِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ ما يَغْشَى” النجم 16 قالَ: فَراشٌ مِن ذَهَبٍ، قالَ: فَأُعْطِيَ رَسولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلَّمَ ثَلاثًا: أُعْطِيَ الصَّلَواتِ الخَمْسَ، وأُعْطِيَ خَواتِيمَ سُورَةِ البَقَرَةِ، وغُفِرَ لِمَن لَمْ يُشْرِكْ باللَّهِ مِن أُمَّتِهِ شيئًا، المُقْحِماتُ.]
 [“اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس، يا أرحم الراحمين، أنت أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي، إلى من تكلني؟ إلى عدو يتجهمني؟ أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري؟ إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي، أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة، من أن ينزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك، لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك”]