When and how did the miracles of Isra and Miraj, which are among the greatest miracles of the Prophet (pbuh) take place? How did the Prophet (pbuh) narrate this incident?

Details of the Question
When and how did the miracles of Isra and Miraj, which are among the greatest miracles of the Prophet (pbuh) take place? How did the Prophet (pbuh) narrate this incident?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Isra* and Miraj**, one of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) greatest miracles, occurred on the 27th night of the month of Rajab, a year and a half before the migration (hijra.)

Jibril  came that night and took our Holy Prophet (PBUH) from the Masjid-al-Haram*** to the Masjid-al-Aqsa**** on Buraq. Then, he was ascended to the skies so that he would be shown the wonderful activities and the signs that indicate the power of Allah Almighty one by one. He was allowed to meet all of the prophets in the layers of the sky. Then, the Messenger of Allah was taken to the station of Sidra al-Muntaha (Lote Tree). Then, he went up to the station of Two Bows’ Length (Qab Qawsayn) in "the middle of possibility and obligation." He was shown many weird and bizarre things. He heard the speech of Allah Almighty, who is free from time and place, in a form that we cannot know or understand; and he saw His face. On the same night, he returned home. 

Allah Almighty narrates this miracle, which is related to the personality of His beloved Messenger, as follows in the Quran:

“Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose precincts We did bless― in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the one Who heareth and seeth (all things)”1

This verse also declares the wisdom behind the miracle Isra and Miraj.

The section regarding the Miraj in Badiuzzaman Said Nursi’s work entitled “The Words” states:

“The Ascension is a question that results from the essentials and pillars of belief, and follows on after them, a light that draws strength from the lights of the pillars of belief. For sure, the Ascension cannot be proved independently to irreligious atheists who do not accept the pillars of belief, because it cannot be discussed with those who neither know Allah, nor recognize the Prophet, nor accept the angels, and who deny the existence of the heavens. Firstly those pillars must be proved.” (Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, The Words)

Our Beloved Prophet’s (PBUH) Explanation of the Isra and Miraj:

Since the miracle of Isra and Miraj is a tremendous miracle of the Messenger of Allah full of secrets about material and spiritual realm outside the conditions of time and space, it was reported from the Prophet (pbuh) through various ways by distinguished Companions. According to the narrations of these distinguished Companions,

One night when our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was sleeping at the Hatim section of the Kaaba, Hazrat Jibril came and slit his chest. After washing our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) chest with zamzam water, Hazrat Jibril filled his chest with wisdom and restored it to its previous state. Afterwards he brought a white mount, (Buraq), had our Holy Prophet (PBUH) climb upon it, and escorted the Master of the Universe (PBUH) on the journey.

Buraq’s leaps went beyond what the eye could see. Along with Hazrat Jibriil by his side, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) went to the Bayt-al-Maqdis. He saw all the prophets gathered there. He led them in prayer as they all prayed in congregation.

By leading them in prayer, it showed that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was the inheritor of the origin of their Sharia (divine law.) 2

Three Cups That Were Offered

Three cups, one full of milk, the second full of sherbet, and the third full of water, were presented to our Holy Prophet (PBUH.) During this offering, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) heard a voice saying,

“If he chooses the cup filled with water, then both he and his ummah will be free of any needs and will be content. If he takes the cup filled with sherbet, then he and his nation will fall into deprivation. If chooses the cup filled with milk then he and his nation will be given guidance.”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) took the cup containing milk and drank from it. Upon this Hazrat Jibril said,

“O Muhammad, you have chosen the true and natural way. You have been given guidance, and so has your nation.” 3

The Ascension to the Skies and the Meeting with the Prophets

During the Miraj, a staircase was built so that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) could ascend to the high stations in the Baytu’l-Maqdis. Both our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Jibril (Gabriel PBUH) were placed upon it and they ascended together. They finally reached the Earth’s skies. Hazrat Jibril knocked on its door:

Someone asked, “Who is it?”
“Jibril!”
“Who is next to you?”
“Muhammad.”
“Has he been sent for?”
“Yes.”

Upon this, the sky’s door opened and they ascended upon these skies. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) saw someone seated there who had sets of shadows to his right and left. He laughed when he looked to his right and cried when he looked to his left. He said to our Holy Prophet (PBUH),

“Welcome, O Noble Prophet, O Noble Son!”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked Hazrat Jibriil (PBUH),
“Who is he?”
Hazrat Jibril answered,

“He is your father, Adam. The shadows to his right and left are the souls of his children. The ones on his right are destined for Heaven and the ones on his left are destined for Hell. When he looks to his right, he laughs. When he looks to his left, he cries."4

They ascended to the second station from there. The door opened and our Holy Prophet (PBUH) encountered Hazrat Yahya and Hazrat Isa (Jesus PBUH).

Hazrat Jibril said, “The men you see here are Yahya (John the Baptist PBUH) and Isa.  Greet them.”

They exchanged greetings; Hazrat Isa and Hazrat Yahya said,

“Welcome Noble Prophet, Noble Brother,” to our Holy Prophet (PBUH.)

Afterwards our Holy Prophet (PBUH) met Hazrat Yusuf (Joseph PBUH) on the third level, Hazrat Idris (Enoch PBUH) on the fourth, Hazrat Harun (Aaron PBUH) on the fifth, Hazrat Musa (Moses PBUH) on the sixth, and Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham PBUH) on the seventh level. They all welcomed him and congratulated him on his miraj.

Sidra al-Muntaha

Jibril (PBUH) took our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and rose from the seventh level. Afterwards, the Sidra- al -Muntaha’s (the seventh heaven) court opened.

“Here, this is Sidra-al- Muntaha. I will burn if I move forward by the length of a finger tip,” said Hazrat Jibriil and did not take one step forward.”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) saw Sidra-al-Muntaha’s four rivers flowing.

Furthermore, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) again saw Jibriil (PBUH) in his true shape and form. Before, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had seen Hazrat Jibril covering the skies with his majestic wings in the spot called Jiyad in Mecca where a revelation was revealed.

After that, the Messenger of Allah reached the station "indicated by qab qawsayn (distance of two bow lengths) between imkan (possibility) and wujub (necessity)" without Hz. Jibril. Then, he was honored by the talk and vision of the Owner of Majesty (Allah), who is free from space.

Hazrat Sulayman Chelebi, the author of the “Mawlid” describes this incident very clearly:


While talking with Jibriil

A Heavenly Mount came before him and saluted him.


It took the King of the World then

From Sidra and left quickly


At that moment, a space was seen

There was neither place, nor the Earth nor skies


That place was neither empty nor full

The mind cannot understand that situation


Seventy thousands curtains were opened

The light of oneness drew the curtain on his face


Whenever he passed a curtain,

He was summoned, “O Muhammad, come here”


He proceeded after seeing all of them

He reached that High Personality


That Lord of Majesty, who is free of six directions

Showed him His face in an indescribable manner


Anyway, the Sultan who saw everything truly

Looked at Allah Almighty carefully


He saw the Lord of Majesty clearly

His ummah will see him like that in the hereafter


Without any letters or sentences, the Sultan

Said to following to him

 

The 5 Daily Prayers are Made Obligatory:

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) witnessed many Divine manifestations, received many compliments, and was addressed several times with many kinds of titles. He saw with his eyes the realities of the pillars of faith; he witnessed the angels, Heaven, Hell, and the manifestation of Allah’s Self.

Furthermore, the order to pray five times a day was given that night. At first, Allah gave the order to pray 50 times a day. However, as our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was leaving, he stopped by Hazrat Musa (Moses), who asked,

“What did Allah enjoin upon your nation?”
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered,
“Allah decreed them to pray 50 times a day.”
Hazrat Musa responded:
“Your followers cannot do that; Go back so that your Lord may reduce it for them.”
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) returned and begged Allah and Allah reduced the daily prayers by ten.
When our Holy Prophet (PBUH) came back to Hazrat Moses he said,
“Allah reduced 50 daily prayers by ten.”
Hazrat Moses responded,
“Your followers cannot do that either; Go back and beg your Lord.”
Our Beloved Prophet (PBUH) returned to Allah again and begged. Allah reduced 10 more daily prayers.
Upon the reduction, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) returned to Hazrat Musa and said "Allah reduced 10 more prayers."
Hazrat Musa reiterated his words:
“Your followers cannot do that either; Go back and petition to your Lord.”

Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) begged Allah again and Allah reduced 10 more prayers. Until the daily prayers were reduced to 10, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) continued petitioning.

When it was reduced to 10, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) went to Hazrat Musa and explained what had been said. Hazrat Musa repeated his words:

“Go back and beg your Lord! Your nation will not be able to fulfill this.”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) went back and begged once more. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) went back to His Mighty Lord and pleaded. Allah then decreed:

"O Muhammad, the Laws that come from My station do not change! They are five daily prayers. There are ten rewards for each prayer, and this equals to 50 rakahs."

Upon this, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) returned to Hazrat Musa who asked,

“What were you appointed with?”
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied, “I was appointed with five daily prayers”
Hazrat Musa (Moses) said,

“Your ummah cannot perform five daily prayers. I tried people and Sons of Israel before you; I know it. Return and ask your Lord to decrease it.”

Nevertheless, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered,

“I pleaded too much. I feel ashamed now of repeatedly asking my Lord for reduction.” (Sira, 2/50)

In this manner, the five daily prayers were made obligatory and our Holy Prophet (PBUH) presented them as a gift from his miraj to the jinn and humanity.

Sources:

* “Isra” means night walk or travel.
** Miraj: Is a name derived from the word “ascension.” Miraj also means “ladder”. With this in consideration, the Miraj signifies the means through which our Holy Prophet (PBUH) ascended to the high stations of the skies. A hadith describing the Miraj states that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had ascended; therefore this miracle is called the Miraj.
*** Masjid-al- Haram: The masjid of Mecca encompassing the Kaaba, the spot where the tawaf (circumambulation) takes place today. This holy area is called the Haram-ash-Sharif. It is called the “Haram” to demonstrate that it is “wajib” to honor this zone.
**** Masjid-al- Aqsa: The Masjid of Quds, its other name is Bayt-al-Maqdis. The Kaaba was the first building to be built on Earth and the Masjid-al-Aqsa was the second. It takes a month to get to the Masjid-al-Aqsa from Mecca by foot.

1. al-Isra, 1
2. Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, The Words
3. Ibn Hisham, Sirah: 2/38
4. Muslim: 1/102

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