The month of Rajab contains one of the most notable and miraculous events in Islam. Although no one knows the exact date, many scholars have estimated that it was possibly the 27th of Rajab around the year 621 AD that Al-Isra’ wal Mi’raj took place.
The Isra and Miraj has two wondrous events that took place therein: Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, was taken from Makkah to Jerusalem in one night; from there, he then ascended to the heavens.
This miraculous event came at a time when the Prophet had experienced profound grief, adversity, and opposition. It was after what is called the “Year of Sorrow”, when the Prophet had lost his beloved wife Khadijah, may God be pleased with her, and his uncle Abu Talib, who had been a great source of protection for him.
Also, during this time, most of the people in his tribe, the Quraysh, not only rejected Islam, but actively sought to suppress his message and oppress him and his followers. Without the protection of his uncle Abu Talib, the Prophet was constantly under attack. One of the most painful incidents took place in Taif where the city sent the children out to drive him away by chasing and stoning him until he bled and was able to find refuge in an orchard.
The Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, was enduring these hardships with patience and increased Iman (faith). His miraculous journey began while visiting his cousin, Umm Hani or Fakhitah, daughter of Abu Talib. After making the evening prayer he retired for the night to sleep. It was during the night that the Angel Jibril came to him and took him on the magnificent journey to Jerusalem, and then to the ascension. By morning, he had returned to her house where he shared with her his miraculous story.
After the Angel Jibril came to him, he was taken to the Kaba and then, as reported in Hadith: “I was brought a white beast called al-Buraq, bigger than a donkey and smaller than a mule. Its stride was as long as the eye could reach” (Muslim).
It was upon this animal that the Prophet was spirited away. Along the way, the Angel Jibril stopped al-Buraq and instructed the Prophet to “dismount and pray”. The first stop was in Madinah, which would be where the Muslims would later immigrate to, although this was unknown to the Prophet at this time.
The second stop where he prayed was at Mount Sinai where the Torah was revealed to Prophet Musa, God’s peace be upon him. The third stop where the Prophet stopped and prayed was Bethlehem, the birthplace of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. At the fourth stop, the Prophet found himself at the grave of Prophet Musa, peace be upon him. In the oral tradition it was reported that he said, “I happened to pass by Musa on the night of my Night Journey by the red sandhill while he was standing praying in his grave” (Muslim).
After this the Prophet arrived in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) at Masjid Al-Aqsa. There were 124,000 prophets present and the Angel Jibril instructed Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to lead them all in prayer.
After this wondrous journey to Jerusalem, the second part of this miraculous event occurred as the Prophet ascended to heaven. At the lowest part of the heavens, he met Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. It is narrated that Prophet Adam greeted the Prophet with the greeting, ”Welcome Oh pious Prophet and pious son!” In another narration the words were, ”Welcome you are amongst family, Oh my son! What an amazing son you are!” (Bukhari).
As the Prophet continued to ascend higher through the heavenly levels, he met his “brother” Prophets. In the second heaven, he met Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) and Prophet Jesus; after that he met Prophet Joseph in the third heavens; then Prophet Idris in the fourth; Prophet Harun (Aaron) on the fifth, and Prophet Musa (Moses) on the sixth. Lastly, he met Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) in the seventh heaven who, like Prophet Adam, greeted him as father to a son by saying: “Welcome O pious Prophet and pious son!” (Bukhari). May God’s peace be upon all of the Prophets.
His journey continued on the seventh heaven to the “furthest lote tree” called the Sidrah al-Muntaha which is mentioned in the Quran (53:14). At the end of this journey, the Prophet is believed to have been in the presence of God, with unwavering faith and devotion where the Quran says “Then Allah revealed to his servant what He revealed” (53:10).
Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace be upon him, “Then Allah revealed to me what He revealed to me and then He made obligatory for me 50 prayers every day and night” (Sahih Muslim). It was through the advice of Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, that the 50 prayers were eventually reduced to just five times a day. Anas ibn Malik reported that “Fifty prayers were obligated upon the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when he was taken on his night journey. Then, it was reduced until it was set at five and an announcement was made, ‘Oh Muhammad, My word is never changed, so these five prayers will be counted as fifty’” ( al-Tirmidhī).
After all of these miraculous events, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was returned to Makkah, still on al- Buraq. As all of these wondrous events transpired during the small space of night, Allah allowed the Prophet to view caravans of travelers heading towards Makkah. This would serve as proof of his journey.
The Quran describes the night journey and ascension in Chapter 17, verse 1:
“Glory be to the One Who took His servant Muḥammad by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs.1 Indeed, He2 alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing