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Isra and Mi'raj, and the obligation of salat (prayer) in 10 BH

Isra and Mi'raj, and the obligation of salat (prayer) in 10 BH

After the Prophet (peace be upon him) had experienced the painful and difficult events he passed through: his uncle dying and then his wife Khadijar, the rejection of the people of Taif to his call, and then the harm he received from Quraysh, which was continuous from when he first started to call people openly to Allah in Mecca, Allah wanted to reward the Prophet (peace be upon him) and comfort him by sending him some great miracles. These miracles were the journey to Jerusalem (Al-Isra) and the ascension into heaven (Al-Miraj). This trip made the Prophet’s heart steadfast and calm, and removed the pain he felt from the grief and harm he received from his people when they refused his call and even attacked him because of it.

The scholars differ as to when Al-Isra and Al-Miraj actually occurred. Below are their different views:

  • Al-Isra happened the same year Allah (Glorified is He) first sent the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the people. Tabari favoured this view.
  • It was in the fifth year of the call. An-Nawawi and Al- Qurtoby believed this view was the more correct opinion.
  • It was on the night of the 27th of the month of Rajab in the 10th year of the call. The reknowned Al-Mansour Fori preferred this view.
  • It occurred 16 months before the immigration to Medinah, i.e. in Ramadan in the 12th year of the call.
  • It happened one year and two months before the immigration, i.e. in the month of Muharram in the 13th year of the call.
  • It was one year before the immigration to Medinah, i.e. in the month of Rabi Al-Awwal In the 13th year of the call.

However, the first three opinions are not correct, as Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) died in Ramadan in the 10th year of the call, and at that time the five Daily Prayers had not been made obligatory, and there is no difference of opinion between the scholars about when the five Daily Prayers were made obligatory. All of them stated that they were made obligatory on the night of Al-Isra. As for the remaining three opinions, there is no proof to state that any one of them is more correct than the others; it is only known from the context of Surah Al-Isra that Al-Isra happened towards the end of the Prophet’s stay in Mecca [adapted from The Sealed Nectar].

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained to us the details of this blessed journey in great detail, as though it happened in front of our eyes. There is no account of this night which is more detailed than the Prophet’s description of it in the authentic hadith that related him saying, <A hole opened in the roof of my home and Gibrael (peace be upon him) came down to me. He opened my chest and washed it with zamzam water. Then he brought a gold container filled with wisdom and faith, and poured it all into my chest. Next, he closed my chest and sewed it (closed)> [related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

After that, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, <‘Then he brought a white animal to ride called Al-Buraq; it was bigger than a donkey but smaller than a mule. Its strides reached the farthest point one could see on the horizon, [and I rode it] until I reached Jerusalem.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) continued, ‘I then tied it up with a special ring which the Prophets use. Next, I entered the mosque and led the Prophets and Messengers in pray’ [see: The Journey and the Ascension by Al-Albani]. The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained, ‘I then left, and Gibrael (peace be upon him) came to me with a container filled with wine and another container filled with milk. I chose the milk. To this, Gibrael said, “You have chosen what is in line with the pure state of your nature”’> [related by Muslim].

This is where the journey of Al-Isra ends, travelling from the mosque in Mecca to the blessed mosque in Jerusalem in Palestine. Al-Isra and Al-Miraj happened on the same night, one after each other, as recorded in the nobble Quran and the authentic sunnah (sayings) of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Al-Isra is mentioned in the beginning of Surah Al-Isra. Allah (Glorified is He) says, {Glory be to He (Allah) who transported His slave by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing} [Surah Al-Isra: 1].

As for Al-Miraj, it entails the Prophet (peace be upon him) being transported to the heavens, reaching the lote tree at the furthest boundary (Al-Muntaha, beyond which creation cannot travel), to clearly see and experience, with his own eyes and senses, the major signs of Allah. The noble Quran mentioned the story and its fruitful consequences. Allah (Glorified is He) says, {And he certainly saw him in another descent, at the lote tree of the furthest boundary. Near it is the Garden of Refuge. When there covered the lote tree that which covered [it]. The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]. He certainly saw [some] of the greatest signs of his Lord} [Surah An-Najm: 13-18].

The reason for Al-Isra, as the ayah (verse of Quran) states, is for Allah to show some of His signs to His slave (the Prophet). After that, the ayah of Al-Miraj clarifies that the Prophet (peace be upon him) actually saw some of these major signs [adapted from Fiqh of the Prophet’s Biography by Al-Ghazaly].

Moreover, the sunnah of the Prophet explained Al-Miraj; the trip of Al-Miraj was a journey to the heavens. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, <He (Gibrael) then took me by my hand and travelled to the sky of the world. When I reached the nearest heaven, Gibrael said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, “Open.” He replied, “Who are you?” Gibrael said, “Gibrael.’ He then asked, “Is there anyone with you?” Gibrael said, “Yes, Muhammed is with me.” Next, he said, “Did he receive revelation?” Gibrael said, “Yes.” The door was opened and we went across the nearest heavens, where there was a man sitting with a group (of people) on his right, and a group (of people) on his left. Whenever he looked on his right, he laughed, and when he looked to his left, he cried. He said, “Welcome, Oh righteous Prophet and righteous son.” I asked Gibrael, “Who is that?” He answered, “He is Adam. And the group of people on his right are the inhabitants of paradise, and the group of people on his left are the inhabitants of the hell-fire. Therefore, when he (Adam) looks to his right, he laughs, but when he looks to his left, he cries.” The Gibrael went up with me to the second heaven, and he asked for it to be opened. It was said, “Who are you?” He replied, “Gibrael.” Then he was asked, “Who is with you?” He replied, “Muhammed.” He was then asked, “Did he receive revelation?” to which Gibrael answered, “Yes.” Next, it was said, “Welcome to him; the blessed visitor has arrived.” He then opened the door. After entering, I saw Yahyah and Issa, two cousins on the mother’s side. Gibrael said, “This is Yahyah and this is Issa, so greet them with peace.” Therefore, I greeted them with peace, and they returned the greeting. Then they said, “Welcome to the righteous brother and the righteous Prophet.” Next, Gibrael went up with me to the third heaven. He asked for it to be opened, and it was said, “Who are you?” Gibrael answered, “Gibrael.” And it was then asked, “Who is with you?” He said, “Muhammed.” He was asked, “Did he receive revelation?” And Gibrael replied, “Yes.” Next, it was said, “Welcome to him; the blessed visitor has arrived.” And the door was opened. After entering, I saw Yusuf. Gibrael said, “This is Yusuf, so greet him with peace.” Therefore, I greeted him and he returned the greeting. Then he said, “Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.” Then Gibrael went with me to the fourth heaven, and he asked for it to be opened. It was said, “Who are you?” He replied, “Gibrael.” It was then asked, “Who is with you?” Gibrael replied, “Muhammed.” Next, he was asked, “Did he receive revelation?” He replied, “Yes.” It was then said, “Welcome to him; the blessed visitor has come.” And after entering, I saw Idrees. Gibrael said, “This is Idrees, so greet him with peace.” Therefore, I greeted him, and he returned the greeting. Then he said, “Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.” Next, Gibrael went up with me to the fifth heaven, and he asked for it to be opened. He was asked, “Who are you?” He answered, “Gibrael.” He was then asked, “Who is with you?” And he replied, “Muhammed.” Next, he was asked, “Did he receive revelation?” Gibrael replied, “Yes.” It was then said, “Welcome to him; the blessed visitor has arrived.” I entered, and there was Haroun. Gibrael said, “This is Haroun, so greet him with peace.” So I greeted him, and he returned the greeting. Then he said, “Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.” Next, Gibrael went up with me to the sixth heaven, and he asked for it to be opened. He was asked, “Who are you?” He answered, “Gibrael.” He was then asked, “Who is with you?” And he replied, “Muhammed.” Next, he was asked, “Did he receive revelation?” Gibrael replied, “Yes.” It was then said, “Welcome to him; the blessed visitor has arrived.” I entered and there was Moses. Gibrael said, “This is Moses, so greet him with peace.” Therefore, I greeted him, and he returned the greeting. Then he said, “Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.” When I left him, he started to cry. He was asked, “Why are you crying?” He replied, “I am crying as someone has been sent after me who managed to lead more people to paradise than me.” Then Gibrael went up with me to the seventh heaven, and he asked for it to be opened. He was asked, “Who are you?” He answered, “Gibrael.” He was then asked, “Who is with you?” And he replied, “Muhammed.” Next, he was asked, “Did he receive revelation?” Gibrael replied, “Yes.” It was then said, “Welcome to him; the blessed visitor has arrived.” I entered and there was Ibrahim. Gibrael said, “This is your father, so greet him with peace.” Therefore, I greeted him, and he returned the greeting. Then he said, “Welcome to the righteous son and the righteous Prophet.” After that, I was raised to the lote tree at the furthest boundary (a tree beyond which the knowledge of the angels cannot reach, and no one has gone beyond it but the Messenger of Allah). Its fruits are like the pitchers of Hajr (a place near Medina, and those who were being addressed knew about it). Its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Gibrael said, “This is the lote tree at the furthest boundary.” There were four rivers near it; two rivers were hidden and two rivers were clear. I asked, “What are those, Gibrael?” He replied, “The two hidden rivers are the rivers of paradise. And the two clear rivers are the River Nile and the Euphrates.” Then Bayt Al-Ma’mur (the Sacred House) was raised to me. I was brought a container of wine, a container of milk, and a container of honey. I took the milk. He (Gibrael) said, “This is the natural pure state (Islamic religion) which you and your nation follow.” After that, 50 prayers were made obligatory every day. I returned to Moses, and he said, “What were you ordered to do?” I said, “I was ordered to perform 50 prayers every day.” Moses said, “Your nation are not able to perform 50 prayers a day, as I have experience with the people before you, and I tried hard with Bani Israel (but in vain). Therefore, return to your Lord and ask Him to lighten this for your nation.” Consequently, I returned, and it was made 10 less. I then returned to Moses, and he said the same as before. Therefore, I returned and it was made 10 less. Then I returned to Moses, who said the same as he had said earlier. So I returned and it was made 10 less. I then returned to Moses, and he said the same as he had said before. Therefore, I returned (to my Lord) and I was ordered to perform 10 prayers every day. I returned (to Moses), who said the same as he had said earlier. Consequently, I returned (to my Lord) and was ordered to perform five prayers every day. I returned to Moses, and he asked, “What were you ordered to do?” I replied, “I was ordered to perform five prayers every day.” He replied, “Your nation will not be able to perform five prayers every day. I have experience with the people before you. And I tried hard with Bani Israel (but in vain). Therefore, return to your Lord and ask Him to lighten it for your nation.” I said, “I asked my Lord many times until I am now too shy (to ask again). I am satisfied and have submitted to this (order).” When I left, I heard a voice say, “I have laid down My obligatory acts, and I have lightened matters for My slave”’> [related by Al-Bukhari].

Al-Isra and Al-Miraj happened in the same night, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was awake, in his body and spirit. The proof that Al-Isra and Al-Miraj were by body and spirit is Allah’s saying, {Glory be to Allah who transported His slave by night}, using the word ‘slave’, which refers to a man in the normal sense of the word, with both body and spirit.

Moreover, the disbelievers of Quraysh were shocked by the events of Al-Isra and Al- Miraj. They were amazed by this news and were quick to deny it happened. But if the event only happened with the Prophet’s soul, they wouldn’t have been amazed by it and wouldn’t have denied it. Furthermore, they wouldn’t have asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the mosque in Jerusalem, how it looks, its doors and pillars.

More proof and benefits of Al-Isra and Al-Miraj is that this journey was a form of honour from Allah (Glorified is He) to the Prophet (peace be upon him), as it happened after the Prophet had suffered from great difficulties, and it aimed to renew the Prophet’s determination and make him steadfast. It was as though he was sent the message: if the people on the earth have abandoned you, the heavens have opened their doors to you. The aim of the journey was also to change his weakness to strength, and lack of solutions to a wealth of ideas, and also the disrespect he suffered from the people to the respect from Allah (Glorified is He) [adapted from The Sealed Nectar].