#29 – Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj
Feb 21 – 27, 2022
Rajab 20 – 26, 1443

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Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj

What have Allah and His Messenger said about

Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj

سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ
Exalted is He who took His Servant [i.e., Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ)] by night from al-Masjid al-Ḥarām to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

[Surah Al-Isra, Ayah 1]
Abu Dhar (ra) used to say that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “While I was at Makkah, the roof of my house was opened and Jibril descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith, and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the heaven. When Jibril reached the nearest heaven, he said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, ‘Open (the gate).’ The gatekeeper asked, ‘who is it?’ Jibril answered, ‘Jibril’. He asked, ‘Is there anyone with you?’ Jibril replied, ‘Muhammad (ﷺ) is with me.’ He asked, ‘Has he been called?’, Jibril said, ‘Yes’. So, the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven, and there we saw a man sitting with Aswida (a large number of people) of his right and Aswida on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked towards his left he wept. He said (to me), ‘Welcome, O pious Prophet and pious son’. I said, ‘Who is this man O Jibril?’ Jibril replied, ‘He is Adam, and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on the right are the people of Paradise, and those on the left are the people of the (Hell) Fire. So, when he looks to the right, he laughs, and when he looks to the left he weeps.’ Then Jibril ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and said to the gatekeeper, ‘Open (the gate).’ The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven has said, and he opened the gate.” Anas added: Abu Dhar mentioned that Prophet (ﷺ) met Idris, Musa (Moses), ‘Isa (Jesus) and Ibrahim (Abraham) over the heavens, but he did not specify their places (i.e., on which heavens each of them was), but he mentioned that he (the Prophet (ﷺ)) had met Adam on the nearest heaven, and Ibrahim on the sixth. Anas said, “When Jibril and the Prophet (ﷺ) passed by Idris, the latter said, ‘Welcome, O pious Prophet and pious brother!’ the Prophet (ﷺ) asked, ‘Who is he?’ Jibril said, ‘He is Idris.’ ” The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “Then I passed by Musa who said, ‘Welcome, O pious Prophet and pious brother!’ I said, ‘Who is he?’ Jibril said, ‘He is Musa.’ Then I passed by ‘Isa who said, ‘Welcome, O pious Prophet and pious brother!’ I said, ‘Who is he?’ He replied, ‘He is ‘Isa.’ Then I passed by the Prophet (ﷺ) Ibrahim who said, ‘Welcome, O pious Prophet and pious son!’ I said, ‘Who is he?’ Jibril replied, ‘He is Ibrahim’.” Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Haiyya Al-Ansari: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Then Jibril ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of pens.” Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik state the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah enjoined fifty Salat (prayers) on me. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Musa who asked me, ‘What has Allah enjoined on your followers?’ I replied, ‘He has enjoined fifty Salat (prayers) on them.’ On the Musa said to me, ‘Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction), for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ So, I returned to my Lord and asked for some reduction, and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Musa again and informed him about it, he once more said to me, ‘Go back to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ So, I returned to my Lord similarly as before, and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Musa and he said to me, ‘Go back to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ I again returned to my Lord and He said, ‘These are five (Salat-prayers) and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward), for My Word does not change.’ I returned to Musa, he again told me to return to my Lord (for further reduction) but I said to him ‘I feel shy of asking my Lord now.’ Then Jibril took me till we reached Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (i.e., lote tree of utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colors indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small tents (made) of pearls and its earth was musk (a kind of perfume).”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 3342]

Commentary

Described in this verse is the event of Mi’raj (the Ascent to the heavens, or al-‘lsra’, the midnight journey of the Holy Prophet which is a signal honor and distinctive miracle of our Messenger of Allah The word: أَسْرَىٰ (asra) is a derivation from: إسْرَىٰ (isra’) which literally means to make someone travel at night. After that, the introduction of the word: لَيْلًا (lailan) also makes this sense very clear. Then, by placing this word as a common noun, the indication released was that during this event the time spent was that of a part of the night – not even that of the whole night. The journey from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa mentioned in this verse is called al-‘lsra and the name Of the journey from here to the seven heavens is al-Mi’raj. Isra’ stands proved under the definitive textual authority of this verse and the Mi’raj finds mention in the verses of Surah an-Najm and is proved by Ahadith appearing in an uninterrupted succession. The word: بِعَبْدِهِ (bi’abdihi: His servant) used here for the Holy Prophet is special. It shows that, in this magnificent setting of honor and welcome, when Allah Ta’ala, on His own, elects to call someone ‘His servant’, a unique bond of love lies embedded therein and that this is the highest honor any man could ever have.

This is similar to what has been said in another verse:

وَعِبَادُ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ ٱلْجَـٰهِلُونَ قَالُوا۟ سَلَـٰمًا

The ˹true˺ servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the foolish address them ˹improperly˺, they only respond with peace. [Surah Al-Furqan, Ayah 63]

From here, we also learn that the highest achievement man is capable of is to become a perfect servant of Allah – for, on this eve of special honor, the quality of ideal servitude, out of his many attributes of perfection, was chosen. Then, the presence of this expression yields yet another beneficial outcome in that no one gets the wrong impression of divinity from this wonderful journey by night which, from its beginning to the end, is full of extra-habitual miracles. This is something like what happened with the Christians who fell into deception over the event of Sayyidna ‘Isa (AS) being raised unto the heavens. For this reason, by saying (‘abd: servant), it was declared that, despite all those attributes, achievements and miracles, the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) was still a servant of Allah, not god.

The Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma’ prove that the Mi’raj was physical

It is proved from the text of the Holy Qur’an, and from Ahadith coming in uninterrupted succession mentioned later that the entire journey of the Isra’ and Mi’raj was not simply spiritual, instead, it was physical – like the journey of anyone else. The very first word of the Holy Qur’an in this Surah: سُبْحَـٰنَ (Subhan: Pure is He!) carries a hint in this direction because this word is used to register wonder or introduce a great marvel. Had the Mi’raj been merely spiritual, just a matter of dream, what was there so unusual about it? As for a dream, every Muslim, even every human being, can see it and report that he or she went to the heavens, did this and did that. The second indication embedded in the word عَبْد (‘abd: Servent) also points out in the same direction because ‘abd is no spirit all by itself, instead, it is the name of the combination of body and spirit. In addition to that, when the Holy Prophet related the event of Mi’raj to Sayyidah Umm Hani (RA), she advised him not to mention it before anyone otherwise people would falsify it even more. Had this been the matter of a dream, what was there in it that needed to be falsified?

After that, when he did tell people about it, the disbelievers of Makkah called it a lie and made fun of him, so much so that some neo-Muslims became apostates (murtadd) after hearing the news. If this would have been the matter of a dream, the likelihood of such reactions was least warranted. And that he had experienced some spiritual Mi’raj in the form of a dream, before this or after that, does not become contrary to it. According to the majority of Muslim scholars, the word: ٱلرُّءْيَا (ar-ru’yā) in the verse of the Qur’ān: وَمَا جَعَلْنَا ٱلرُّءْيَا ٱلَّتِىٓ أَرَيْنَـٰكَ (And We showed you the scene – 17:60) means: رؤية (ruyah: seeing). But, it has been expressed through the word: رُّءْيَا (ru’yā, which is frequently used in the sense of seeing a dream). The reason for this expression could be that this thing has been called ru’ya in the sense of a simile. This is like someone seeing a dream. And if, ru’yā is taken to mean dream itself, then, it is also not too far out to say that the event of Mi’raj, in addition to its being physical, also transpired, before or after it, in the form of a spiritual Mi’raj as a dream as well. Therefore, the saying, that it was a dream, reported from Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (RA) and Umm al-Mu’minin Sayyidah ‘A’ishah (RA) is also correct in its place – but, it does not necessarily imply that physical Mi’raj did not take place.

[Maarif ul Quran Vol-5 (pg 453 & 455), Maktabah Dar al Uloom, Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim]

Spiritual Reminders

The Prophet (ﷺ) was in his home resting when Jibreel (AS), Mika’il (AS) and one more angel came to see him. They took the Prophet (ﷺ) to the Ka’bah, and there, the angels laid him down on his back and performed a surgical procedure in which he opened up his chest and extracted his heart. One of the angels went to the well of Zamzam which was there, brought a golden vessel filled with Zamzam water and washed the Prophet (ﷺ)’s heart with that. Then another vessel was brought which was not filled with any worldly substance. It was filled with strong faith, and they washed the Prophet (ﷺ)’s heart with this, restored his heart, closed his chest, and then the Prophet (ﷺ) sees that an animal has been brought which is unlike any other animal. It was white and not as large as a horse but not as small as a mule, and has wings close to its hind legs, with a bridle over its mouth and reigns and a mouth. The Prophet (ﷺ) is asked to be seated on this animal, Jibreel and Mika’il accompanied him, and the animal moved so fast that every step of it went as far as the eye can see.

Now, there is nothing strange about that because Allah (SWT) makes the earth spin 1,670 kilometres per hour. This is how fast it is spinning, and at the same time, it is also revolving around the sun, and that speed is even more incredible. The earth moves around the sun at a speed of 107,000 kilometres per hour. So, for Allah (SWT) to create an animal to move at that speed is easy. This is why Muslims never had any difficulty in understanding Isra and Mi’raj – it feels so normal. Some narrations mention that the Prophet (ﷺ) stopped at some places. Jibreel (AS) said,

انْزِلْ فَصَلِّ
Dismount and pray

The Prophet (ﷺ) got down and prayed, and then was asked, “Do you know where you prayed?” Jibreel (AS) said, “You have prayed in Taibah, which will be the place of the emigration” Then he said: ‘Dismount and pray,’ so he prayed. He said: ‘Do you know where you have prayed? You have prayed in Mount Sinai, where Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, spoke to Musa, peace be upon him.’ So he dismounted and prayed, and he said: ‘Do you know where you have prayed? You have prayed in Bethlehem, where ‘Eisa, peace be upon him, was born.’

Like this, he saw many things, and in some narrations, the Prophet (ﷺ) stopped and saw caravans coming towards Makkah. He stopped by one caravan and drank the water that they had, and there were different signs that he left behind so that when the caravan comes back, they would tell the people of the strange things that happened. Finally, he reaches Bayt Al-Maqdis. There, Jibreel (AS) shows him around and takes him to the sakhra – the Rock over which we have the famous mosque structure known as the Dome of the Rock. Many people think that this Dome of the Rock is Masjid Al-Aqsa, because often times, when you do a search for it, the Dome of the Rock is shown, but that is in fact just a dome that has been constructed around this rock. This rock has always been here and has some significance, and the rock is such that it is massive and it has a cavern underneath. In the cave, there are places that have been made for salah. According to some narrations, the Prophet (ﷺ) entered Bait Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) where the Prophets, peace be upon them, were assembled for him (ﷺ), and Jibril brought him forward to lead them in prayer. The Prophet (ﷺ) lead all the prophets in salah, and this was showing that the Prophet (ﷺ) was not just the prophet of his people, but the prophet of all prophets and the leader of all prophets. Then, he met some of the prophets and interacted with them. The Prophet (ﷺ) and Jibreel (AS) ascend to the heavens, to which Jibreel (AS) opens the door to the heavens.
Then the Prophet (ﷺ) was taken up to the first heaven, where he saw Adam, peace be upon him. Then he was taken up to the second heaven where he saw the maternal cousins ‘Eisa and Yahya, peace be upon them. Then the Prophet (ﷺ) was taken up to the third heaven where he saw Yusuf, peace be upon him. Then he was taken up to the fourth heaven where he saw Harun, peace be upon him. Then he was taken up to the fifth heaven where he saw Idris, peace be upon him. Then he was taken up to the sixth heaven where he saw Musa, peace be upon him. Then he was taken up to the seventh heaven where he saw Ibrahim, peace be upon him. Then the Prophet (ﷺ) was taken up above seven heavens and he came to Sidrah Al-Muntaha and he was covered with fog. This is where Allah (SWT) speaks to Muhammad (ﷺ), and Allah (AWJ) gives him the gift of salah. They converse, and eventually, the Prophet (ﷺ) makes his way back down.

The Prophet (ﷺ) comes down and back to Earth, sees many things, sits around the Ka’bah telling his companions, and the people of Makkah start making all kinds of noise. They said, “You have been there in one night? How many doors and windows are there in Bayt Al-Maqdis?” Allah (SWT) gave the image of Bayt Al-Maqdis to the Prophet (ﷺ), to which he correctly gave the description of it. Abu Bakr (RA) is making his way to the masjid, Al-Masjid Al-Haram, and Abu Jahl also overhears the Prophet (ﷺ), and is disgusted and angry. He starts leaving and meets Abu Bakr along the way. He has the idea to tease Abu Bakr (RA), so he says to him, “Tell me something; if someone told you that they went from Baitullah to Bayt Al-Maqdis, then the heavens, and came back all in one night, would you believe it?” Abu Bakr (RA) responded with a response of Iman. He said, “It depends on who is saying it.” Now, Abu Jahl is stuck, and nods with his head to the Prophet (ﷺ). Abu Bakr then says, “There is nothing to think about. If he has said it, it is true; that is the end of it.””

People have limitations, but Allah (SWT) does not have any limitations; this is why he says,

سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ
Exalted is He who took His Servant

He is free of the limitations of the human mind and dimensions and is beyond all of these things.

[Adapted from a talk delivered by Mufti Aasim Rashid – The Origin of Al-Quds: The Journey of Isra and Mi’raj]

YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF

Sirah

The Prophet (ﷺ) Describes Masjid Al-Aqsa
The disbelievers, however, found it a suitable opportunity to jeer at the Muslims and their creed. They pestered the Prophet [pbuh] with questions as to the description of the Mosque at Jerusalem, where he had never gone before and, to the astonishment of many, the Prophet’s replies furnished the most accurate information about that city. He supplied them with all the news about their caravans and the routes of their camels. However, all this increased in them nothing but flight from the Truth, and they accepted nothing but disbelief.

For the true Muslims, however there was nothing unusual about the Night Journey. The All-Mighty Allâh, Who is Powerful enough to have created the heavens and the earth by an act of His Will, is surely Powerful enough to take His Messenger beyond the heavens and show him those signs of His at firsthand which are inaccessible to man otherwise. The disbelievers on their part went to see Abu Bakr on account of this event, and he readily said: “Yes, I do verify it.” It was on this occasion that he earned the title of As-Siddiq (the verifier of the truth). [Ibn Hisham 1/399]

[Al-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, page 130 – 131, Issam Diab’s English Translation]

Sunnah Acts

The Virtue of Praying in Baitul Maqdis
It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin ‘As that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Do not prepare a mount (travel) to visit any mosque except three: the Sacred Mosque, Aqsa Mosque, and this mosque of mine.”

[Sunan Ibn Majah 1410]

Adhkar/Dua

Dua For Steadfastness
رَبَّنَآ أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَٱنصُرْنَا عَلَى ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ
Our Lord, pour upon us patience and plant firmly our feet and give us victory over the disbelieving people

[Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 250]

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