Jerusalem24 – Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj (the Night Journey & Ascension) is a miracle second only to the revelation of the Qur’an, according to Islam, it was a journey that the prophet Muhammad (570–632) took during a single night around the year 621. Within Islam, it signifies both a physical and spiritual journey.
The Isra’ and Mi’raaj is a momentous occasion that occurred at a very crucial stage in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). This uplifting (mi’raj = ascend) experience took place in the year the Prophet lost two of his valuable pillars of support; his uncle Abu Talib (whose political authority and care for the Prophet prevented the Makkans from harming the Prophet) and Khadijah (Prophet’s beloved wife, confidante, partner and financier of the nascent Islamic movement). It was after the mi’raaj that the Prophet had to leave Makkah, yet that departure marked a turning point for the nascent Muslim community and changed the course of history.
The Isra’ wal Mi’raj occurred at a most trying time of Prophet’s challenging life. The people of Makkah; who had called him as-Sadiq /truthful and al-Amin/trustworthy, had rejected his message; ostracized his followers and victimized his family. He and a handful of followers endured three years of relentless persecution and boycott from the Makkans and he eventually went to Taif to preach his message. There they mocked him and stoned him till bled profusely. He turned to Allah with the words; “Oh, Allah, I appeal to you for the weakness in my strength, the limitation of my power, and the treatment of disrespect and humiliation from people. To you, the Most Merciful of all the merciful ones I turn for You are the Lord of the oppressed, and you are my Lord…”
Then at this most difficult and trying time of the holy Prophet’s illustrious life, he experiences the ‘am al-huzn (year of sorrow) in which he witnessed the passing of two significant people in his life. One was his protective uncle Abu Talib, who was his guardian and political protector and the other was Khadijah, his most beloved wife, his confidante, mother of all his children (except Ibrahim). She was the first to embrace his faith, the financier of the nascent Islamic movement and Mother of the Faithful. It was at this time that the Isra’ wal Mi’raj (Night Journey and Ascension) took place.
The Israa and Miraj refer to, two parts of a miraculous journey that Prophet Muhammad took in one night from Makka to Jerusalem and then an ascension to the heavens.
Israa is an Arabic word referring to Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous night journey from Makka to Jerusalem – specifically, to the site of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – as referred to in Surah Al-Israa in the Quran.
It is believed to have been followed by the Mi’raj, his ascension to heaven. According to some of the Hadith scholars this journey is believed to have taken place just over a year before Prophet Muhammad migrated to from Makka to Madina, on the 27th of Rajab.
Muslims celebrate this night by offering optional prayers during this night, and in many Muslim countries, by illuminating cities with electric lights and candles.