Rasūlullāh (SAW) then made his way up to the Heavens with Jibrīl (AS). In some narrations it mentions that Rasūlullāh (SAW) made his way up on the Burāq whilst other narrations say that a ladder was sent down from Heaven which he ascended. Ibn Isḥāq (RH) mentions that Abū Saʿīd Al-Khudrī (RA) narrates that he heard Rasūlullāh (SAW) say, “When I finished from the commands in Bayt al-Maqdis, a ladder was brought down. I have never seen a more beautiful ladder than this. It was that ladder which the souls of the children of Ādam (AS) ascend on the way up to the Heavens. When a person is passing away, it is this ladder they look towards”.
“My Companion Jibrīl (AS) made me climb the ladder until I reached a door from the doors of the Heavens called ‘Bāb alḤafaẓāh’. There was an Angel from the Angels on this door who was called Ismāʿīl. He had 12,000 Angels under him. And under each of these Angels, were another 12,000 Angels!”
When he was being entered through the door, the Angel asked, “Who is this O Jibrīl?”. Jibrīl (AS) said “Muḥammad”. The Angel said, “Has he been sent for?” Jibrīl (AS) replied “Yes”. The Angel then welcomed him and supplicated for him.
The First Heaven
Rasūlullāh (SAW) entered the first heaven and saw a venerable person, meaning a respected wise person. Jibrīl (AS) told Rasūlullāh (SAW) that this is your father Ādam (AS). Jibrīl (AS) told Rasūlullāh (SAW) to greet him, and he did. Ādam (RA) replied and then said: “Welcome pious son and pious Messenger.” He then supplicated for Rasūlullāh (SAW).
The Second Heaven
Rasūlullāh (SAW) and Jibrīl (AS) then made their way to the 2nd Heaven. The Gatekeeper again asked Jibrīl (AS) who he was with. Again, he replied it was Muḥammad (SAW). The door was opened, and they were welcomed inside. Here Rasūlullāh (SAW) saw Yaḥyā’ (AS) and ʿĪsā’ (AS). Jibrīl (AS) again told Rasūlullāh (SAW) to greet them, and he did, and they replied. They then said: “Welcome pious brother and pious Messenger”
The Rest of the Heavens
Rasūlullāh (SAW) then proceeded to the other Heavens, one after another. Each time, the Gatekeeper of the Heaven would ask Jibrīl (AS) who he was and whether his Companion had been sent for. Upon receiving the answer, Rasūlullāh (SAW) would be welcomed inside.
Rasūlullāh (SAW) and Jibrīl (AS) went up to the 3rd Heaven and saw a person whose face was like the full moon. He enquired, who this person was and Jibrīl (AS) told him it was his Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb (AS).
They then proceeded to the 4th Heaven and there was a person also present there. Rasūlullāh (SAW) enquired, who is this person. Jibrīl (AS) said it is Idrīs (AS). When Rasūlullāh (SAW) heard who it was he mentioned the following verse: “We raised him to a high place”.
Rasūlullāh (SAW) then proceeded to the 5th Heaven with Jibrīl (AS) and saw an elderly man with white hair and a large white beard. He had never seen an elderly person more beautiful than him. Once again Rasūlullāh (SAW) enquired as to who this person was and he was told it was he who was loved by his people, Hārūn ibn ʿImrān (AS). Rasūlullāh (SAW) then proceeded to the 6th Heaven with Jibrīl (AS) and saw a person with a dark complexion. He appeared as he was from the people of Shanū’ah.
Rasūlullāh (SAW) asked Jibrīl (AS) who this person was, and he was told it was his brother, Mūsā ibn ʿImrān(AS). Rasūlullāh (SAW) then proceeded to the 7th Heaven with Jibrīl (AS). They saw an elderly person who was sat on a chair near the door of the Bayt al-Maʿmūr.
The Bayt al-Maʿmūr or the ‘Frequented House’, is directly above the Kaʿbah, and is the Qiblah of the Angels. Every day 70,000 Angels perform the Ṭawāf of the House and they will not return to it until the Day of Qiyāmah. This shows how many Angels have been created by Allāh (SWT).
Rasūlullāh (SAW) said, that he had not seen a person who looked so like himself. He then asked Jibrīl (AS) once again, who this person was. He was told, it was his father, Ibrāhīm (AS). Jibrīl (AS) then told Rasūlullāh (SAW) to greet him. Rasūlullāh (SAW) greeted Ibrāhīm (AS) who replied and then said: “Welcome pious son and pious Messenger”
Sidrat al-Muntahā’ (The Farthest Lote-Tree)
Rasūlullāh (SAW) then went to the Sidrat al-Muntahā’, the furthest Lote-Tree.
Rasūlullāh (SAW) said “Then I was made to ascend to Sidrat alMuntahā’ (the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary) Behold! Its fruits were like the jars of Hajr (a place near Madīnah) and its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Jibrīl (AS) said, ‘This is the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary. Behold! There ran four rivers, two were hidden and two were visible, I asked, ‘What are these two kinds of rivers, O Jibrīl (AS)?’ He replied,’ As for the hidden rivers, they are two rivers in Paradise and the visible rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.”
This tree is a boundary. Everything that comes up from below stops here, and everything that comes down from above, also stops here. It was here that Rasūlullāh (SAW) saw Jibrīl (AS) in his true form.
Heaven, Hell & Ṣarīf al-Aqlām
After going to the Sidrat then went to Heaven. After he visited al-Muntahā, Rasūlullāh (SAW then went to Heaven. After he visited Heaven, he was then shown Hell. After this Rasūlullāh (SAW) was again raised to Ṣarīf al-Aqlām where he could hear the pens writing. At that place, the pens were busy writing destiny. After this a throne was brought for Rasūlullāh (SAW) and he went to Allāh (SWT).
There is a narration in Khaṣāiṣ Kubrā’ where Anas (RA) narrates that Rasūlullāh (SAW) said he saw the light of Allāh (SWT) and then Allah (SWT) sent Revelation to him whatever He wished i.e. He spoke to Rasūlullāh (SAW) directly.
Gift from Allah (SWT)
On this night Allāh (SWT) gave Rasūlullāh (SAW) three gifts which are mentioned in the following hadith:
ʿAbdullāh ibn Masʿūd (RA) narrates: “When Rasūlullāh (SAW) reached Sidrat Al-Muntahā, He said: ‘There terminates everything that ascends from the earth, and everything that descends from above’. He said, there Allāh gave him three, which He did not give to any Prophet before him: He made five prayers obligatory upon him, He gave him the last Verses of Sūrah alBaqarah, and He pardoned the grave sins for those of his Ummah who do not associate anything with Allāh”.
Initially 50 Ṣalāt had been made obligatory on Rasūlullāh (SAW). Rasūlullāh (SAW) began to return with the commandments. He first met Ibrāhīm (AS) who did not ask him about what Allāh (SWT) had commanded him. He then met Mūsā’ (AS) who asked him, what Allah (SWT) had commanded him to do. Rasūlullāh (SAW) said he had been commanded to read 50 Ṣalāh, day and night. Mūsā’ (AS) said that he had experienced the Banū Isrā’īl and that the Ummah of Rasūlullāh (SAW) was weak, they would not be able to complete this command, therefore go back to Allāh (SWT) and ask Him if He can lessen the amount.
Rasūlullāh (SAW) went back to Allāh (SWT) and asked for a reduction. Allāh (SWT) reduced it by 5 to 45. Again, and asked him how many it had been reduced to. Again, on the way down Mūsā’ (AS) saw Rasūlullāh and asked him how many it has been reduced to. When Rasūlullāh (SAW) answered, Mūsā’ (AS) advised him that this was still too much, so go back to Allāh (SWT). Rasūlullāh (SAW) went back again to Allāh (SWT), and it was reduced by another 5, so now 40 Ṣalāh were obligatory. Again Mūsā’ (AS) advised him to go back to get it reduced.
This process carried on. Rasūlullāh (SAW) would go to Allāh (SWT) who would reduce it by 5, then Mūsā’ (AS) would send him back and Allāh (SWT) would then reduce it by another 5.
35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10 until eventually Allāh (SWT) reduced the number to 5 obligatory Ṣalāh a day. Mūsā’ (AS) again advised Rasūlullāh (SAW) to go back but this time Rasūlullāh (SAW) said “I have asked time and time again but now I am embarrassed”. He gave this answer to Mūsā’ (AS) and left.
Allāh (SWT) had reduced the number of Ṣalāh from 50 to 5, however the Ummah of Rasūlullāh (SAW) were to be blessed with no reduction in the reward.
Anas ibn Mālik (RA) narrated, “On the Night of Isrā’, fifty prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet. Then it was decreased until it was made five. Then it was called out: ‘O Muḥammad! Indeed, My Word does not change; these five prayers will be recorded for you as fifty.'”
Rasūlullāh (SAW) made his way back to Bayt al-Maqdis and then mounted on the Burāq and reached Makkah before Dawn.
In the morning, Rasūlullāh (SAW) told the Quraysh about this amazing journey. They were shocked at what they heard. Some of them placed their hands on their heads and some started to clap. The Quraysh started to say “He has gone and come back from Bayt al-Maqdis in one night! It takes one month to go from Makkah to Shām and one month to come back again, and he says he got there in one night and came back to Makkah as well!”. The people who had been to Bayt al-Maqdis started to test Rasūlullāh (SAW) by asking him about the features of the Sacred Place. Allāh (SWT) brought a vision of Bayt al-Maqdis in front of Rasūlullāh (SAW) and he was able to answer them. When they ran out of things to ask him, they said tell us something about the journey.
Rasūlullāh (SAW) said that he had met a trading caravan which was returning from Shām who had lost one of their camels, which they had later found. They will be back in Makkah after 3 days, Inshā’ Allāh. There will be an ashen coloured camel who will be at the front. After 3 days, the caravan entered Makkah and told the Quraysh how they had lost their camel. Upon hearing this, Walīd ibn Mughirah said that this was magic, and the people agreed with his opinion.
Abū Bakr Ṣiddīq (RA)
Some people went to Abū Bakr (RA) and said to him, what is with your friend, he claims that he went to Bayt al-Maqdis last night, prayed there and come back to Makkah. Abū Bakr (RA) asked them if that was what Rasūlullāh (SAW) had said. They replied that Rasūlullāh (SAW) is talking about it to the people. Abū Bakr (RA) said to them, “By Allāh, if he has said it, then it is the truth, so what makes it so astonishing to you? By Allāh, he tells me that news comes from Allāh from the Heavens to the earth in a moment, either in the day or the night. And I believe him. And this is further than what you have been astonished with”. From that day on, Abū Bakr (RA) became known as Aṣ-Ṣiddīq.
(Sirah of Muhammad Part 7-The Night Journey and Ascension by Maulana Ebrahim Noor)