Israa and Miraaj

– Dr. Bilal Philips

Israa literally means a journey by night and Miraaj literally means an elevator, i.e., an instrument which lifts something up.

But, in Islaam, Israa refers to a miraculous night-journey made by the last Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) from Makkah to Jerusalem, and Miraaj refers to the vehicle which took the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) from Jerusalem, up and out of the universe, through the seven heavens, and into the direct presence of Allaah.

Towards the end of a calm night, one year before the Hijrah, the roof of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) house split open and angel Jibreel (Gabriel) descended into the Prophets (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) room. He went over to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), opened his shirt and cut open his chest.

He then removed his heart and washed its inside with Zam Zam water. After he had completed washing it, he then brought a gold dish filled with Eemaan (faith) and Hikmah (wisdom), emptied it into the Prophets (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) chest and then closed it all up.[1]

Jibreel then nudged the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) until he awoke. When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) got up, Jibreel took a hold of his hand and lead him outside of his house to the gate of Kabah.

There the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) found a strange unearthly animal. It was smaller than a mule but larger than a donkey, white in color and having a wing on either of its hind legs. He was informed that its name was “Buraaq”, a name taken from the Arabic word Barq which means a flash of lightning.

Jibreel helped the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) mount it and they set off to the north. Each stride of the Buraaq took it to the horizon, and, in no time they reached Jerusalem. There the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) dismounted and tied the animal to the same ring on the door of al-Masjid al-Aqsaa used by the prophets.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) entered the Masjid and prayed two Rakahs. When he finished he noticed a group of other prophets also making Salaah there. He saw among them Prophet Moosaa, Prophet Eesaa and Prophet Ibraaheem.

Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) was then told to lead them all in Salaah. When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) finished this Salaah, someone said to him, “This is Maalik, the guardian of the Hellfire, so give him Salaams.” When he turned around to greet him, the angel gave him Salaams before he had time to do so.[2] Jibreel then brought two vessels and presented them to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). One was filled with wine and the other filled with milk. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) chose the vessel filled with milk and drank from it.
Jibreel then said, “You have been guided to the Fitrah.”[3]

The Ascent (Miraaj)

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) then left the Masjid and the Miraaj was brought for him. Jibreel helped him get into it, and it shot up into the heavens and out of the solar system. Traveling at a tremendous rate, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) and Jibreel soon left our galaxy and raced past the other galaxies until they reached the end of the universe.

At the end of the universe, they arrived at the boundary of the lowest heaven. Jibreel then requested that its gate be opened for them. Jibreel was then asked who he was and who was with him. When he informed the guardian angel who they were, he was asked if the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) had been sent for. When he said that that was so, the guardian said, “Welcome! His coming is good,” and the gate was opened.

When they went into the lowest heaven the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) saw a man sitting with a large group of people on his right and a large group on his left. When the man looked at those on his right he laughed, and when he looked at those on his left he wept.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) asked Jibreel who the man was and Jibreel replied, “This is your father Aadam, so greet him,” When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) did so, Prophet Aadam returned his Salaams and said, “Welcome! Oh good son and good Prophet.”

Jibreel then said, “These people on his right and left are the souls of his descendents. Those of them on his left are the inhabitants of Hell, so when he looks on his right side he laughs and when he looks on his left he cries.”

Jibreel then took him up to the second, heaven where he met and greeted Prophets Eesaa and Yahyaa, up to the third where he met and greeted Prophet Yousuf; up to the fourth where he met and greeted Prophet Idrees, up to the fifth where he met and greeted Prophet Haaroon, and up to the sixth where he met Prophet Moosaa.

When he went on past Prophet Moosaa, Moosaa wept, and when he was asked why he wept he replied, ‘I am crying because more followers of a young man, who was sent as a prophet after my time, will enter paradise than my followers.’

He then went on up with Jibreel to the seventh heaven, requested entrance and they came upon Prophet Ibraaheem leaning with his back against the house of worship called al-Bayt al-Ma’moor.[4]

Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) observed approximately seventy thousand angels, entering this heavenly house of worship without seeing any of them leave.

Jibreel then led the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) to the lote-tree of the boundary, which he described as having leaves like the ears of elephants and fruits like large earthen-ware jugs. The lote-tree marked the spot, beyond which even Jibreel could not go, but Allaah permitted Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) to go beyond it and spoke to him directly.

Allaah swt revealed to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) the last verses of Soorah al-Baqarah and promised him that the major sins of his followers would be forgiven if they did not commit Shirk. Allaah also made Salaah compulsory fifty times per day for the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) and his followers.

On the Prophets (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) return he passed by Prophet Moosaa who asked him what worship had been prescribed for him. When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) informed him, Moosaa said, “Your people are not capable of doing fifty daily prayers. I swear by Allaah that I have tested men before your time and tried my best with the Israelites, so go back to your Lord and ask Him to make things lighter for your people.”

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) did so and Allaah reduced it by ten, but Moosaa suggested that he return and request a further reduction for the same reason, so he returned.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) continued going back and forth between his Lord and Moosaa until Allaah said, “They are five prayers everyday, Muhammad, each being rewarded as ten, so that makes fifty times of prayer. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him, and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do it will have nothing recorded against him, and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded against him.”

When he came down and Moosaa told him to go back, he replied, “I have asked my Lord till I am ashamed to face Him. I am now satisfied and I submit.”[5]

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) was then taken into Paradise and he reported that he saw in it domes of pearls and that its soil was made of musk.[6] He was also taken to Hell and Allaah showed him scenes from the future. He saw in the Hellfire people receiving terrible punishments for various sins.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) then took the Miraaj and descended with Jibreel to al-Masjid al-Aqsaa. From there he mounted the Buraaq and returned to his home in Makkah where he found his bed still warm.

The Return

The following morning, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) went to the Quraysh tribal meeting place, and when Abu Jahl came up to him, he informed him of his journey.

Abu Jahl then called all the people to hear the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) story, and when he related it to them, they stared at him in amazement and disbelief.

Some Muslim converts whose Eemaan was weak left Islaam and returned to Kufr, because of the incredible tale which the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) had told.Some of the people ran to Abu Bakr and told him that his companion, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), claimed that he went to Jerusalem, made Salaah there, and returned to Makkah in one night. Abu Bakr told them that they were lying about the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), because the story was too strange, but they told him that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) was at the Kabah telling it to the people.

When they told him that, they were sure that he would also leave Islaam, because it was obvious to them that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) must be lying. But Abu Bakr told them “By Allaah, if he actually said that, he has told the truth. There really is nothing to be amazed about, for he has told me that information comes to him from Allaah, from the sky to the earth, in an instant during the night or day and I believe him. And that is even more strange.”

Because of that statement of Abu Bakr, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) gave him the title of “as-Siddeeq (the truthful).”

The people then demanded from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) proof of what he said. They knew that he had never traveled to Jerusalem, so some of them demanded that he describe it. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) became worried, as he had forgotton most of its details. He had only been there at night and had not paid much attention to its details.
But, Allaah blessed him with a vision in which he saw Jerusalem as if he were there. So he was able to describe even its smallest details for them.[1] 1.

For the others, he told them that on his way to Jerusalem he passed by a stray camel belonging to one of the clans which had camped in a valley. It had escaped from a group of them and he led them to it. He also told them that on his return he passed by the same clans caravan and found them all sleeping. They had a drinking vessel with some water in it which they had covered, so he uncovered it, drank its contents and put the cover back on the same way it was.

He then informed them that the caravan was on its way to Makkah and he further described its lead camel. So the people rushed out to meet the caravan and found it as he had described it. They then asked the clan about the stray camel and the drinking vessel, and they replied, “By Allaah! He told the truth, we had camped in the valley which he mentioned and one of our camels had run off. We heard a mans voice calling us to it until we caught it.”

They also mentioned that they had left water in their jug and were surprised to find that it was all gone the next morning.

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