Isra and Mi'raj

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Isra and Mi'raj
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{{Use dmy dates|date=January 2019}}{{short description|Two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islam, Muhammad took during a single night}}File:Miraj by Sultan Muhammad.jpg|thumb|300px|Ascent of Muhammad to Heaven (ca. 1539–1543), from the Khamseh of Nizami.]]{{Muhammad|miracles}}(File:Isra and Mihraj.png|thumb|Isra and Mihraj Calligraphy for all descriptive purposes)The Isra and Mi'raj (, {{transl|ar|al-’Isrā’ wal-Mi‘rāj}}) are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islam, the Islamic prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. Within Islam it signifies both a physical and spiritual journey.BOOK, Richard C., Martin, Saïd Amir, Arjomand, Saïd Amir Arjomand, Marcia, Hermansen, Abdulkader, Tayob, Rochelle, Davis, John Obert, Voll, Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, 2 December 2003, Macmillan Publishers (United States), Macmillan Reference USA, 978-0-02-865603-8, 482, The Quran surah al-Isra contains an outline account, while greater detail is found in the hadith collections of the reports, teachings, deeds and sayings of Muhammad. In the accounts of the Isra’, Muhammad is said to have traveled on the back of a winged mule-like white beast, called Buraq, to "the farthest mosque". By tradition this mosque, which came to represent the physical world, was identified as the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. At the mosque, Muhammad is said to have led the other prophets in prayer. His subsequent ascent into the heavens came to be known as the Mi‘raj. Muhammad's journey and ascent is marked as one of the most celebrated dates in the Islamic calendar.NEWS, A night journey through Jerusalem,weblink 18 August 2007, 27 March 2011, Bradlow, Khadija, The Times, Times Online, {{Dead link|date=December 2013}}

Islamic sources

The events of Isra and Mi'raj mentioned briefly in the Quran are further enlarged and interpreted within the supplement to the Quran, the literary corpus known as hadith, which contain the reported sayings of Muhammad. Two of the best hadith sources are by Anas ibn Malik and Ibn 'Abbas.{{Citation needed|reason=Your explanation here|date=April 2019}} Both were young boys at the time of Muhammad's journey of Mi'raj.BOOK, Colby, Frederick S., Narrating Muhammad's Night Journey: Teaching the Development of the Ibn 'Abbas Ascension Discourse, 2008, State University of New York Press, Albany, 978-0-7914-7518-8,

The Quran

{{Islamic Culture}}Within the Quran, surat al-Isra (chapter 17), contains a brief description of Isra in the first verse. Some scholars{{who|date=April 2017}} say a verse in surah an-Najm, also holds information on the Isra and Mi'raj.}}}}}}

Al-Masjid al-Aqsa

File:Palestine-2013-Jerusalem-Temple Mount-Al-Aqsa Mosque (NE exposure).jpg|thumb|Thought to be referred to in the Quran as "The farthest mosque", al-Aqsa is considered the third holiest Islamic site, after Mecca and MedinaMedinaFrom the tradition of Ibn Ishaq (ca. 704 - 761/770), the earliest biographer of Muhammad (ca. 570 - 632), the reference in the Quran to "the Farthest Masjid"QURAN, 17, 1, y, ns, (, {{transl|ar|al-Masjidi 'l-’Aqṣá}}), from surat al-Isra, has been wrongly interpreted to mean only the site or location of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. There is not ahadith (plural of hadith) support this interpretation. The Masjid in Jerusalem was built after Muhammad's lifetime in 690-691, the term used for mosque (masjid ()) literally means place of prostration and thus can imply any place of worship from a building to an open place.BOOK, Dictionary of Islam, by Patrick Hughes,, 329, Masjid: Lit. "Place of Worship", The mosque was built by the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in 690-691 with the Dome of the Rockweblink and finished by his son al-Walid I in 705. The building was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt, until the reconstruction in 1033 CE, by the Fatimid caliph ‘Ali az-Zahir, and that structure stands to the present day. Islamic scholars such as Heribert BusseHeribert Busse, "Jerusalem in the Story of Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) Night Journey and Ascension," Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 14 (1991): 1–40. and Neal Robinson,N. Robinson, Discovering The Qur'ân: A Contemporary Approach To A Veiled Text, 1996, SCM Press Ltd.: London, p. 192. believe that Jerusalem is the interpretation intended originally in the Quran. Muslims used to pray towards Jerusalem, but according to the following verses of their Quran, God changed this direction, the Qiblah, to instead direct to al-Masjid al-Haram:}}


From various hadiths we learn much greater detail. The Isra is the part of the journey of Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem. It began when Muhammad was in the Great Mosque, and the Archangel Jibrīl (or Jibrāʾīl, Gabriel) came to him, and brought Buraq, the traditional heavenly mount of the prophets. Buraq carried Muhammad to al-Aqsa Mosque, the "Farthest Mosque", in Jerusalem. Muhammad alighted, tethered Buraq to the Temple Mount and performed prayer, where on God's command he was tested by Gabriel.WEB, Momina, isra wal miraj,weblink chourangi, 16 June 2012, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 June 2012, WEB,weblink Meraj Article,, It was told by Anas ibn Malik that Muhammad said: "Jibra'il brought me a vessel of wine, a vessel of water and a vessel of milk, and I chose the milk. Jibra'il said: 'You have chosen the Fitrah (natural instinct).'" In the second part of the journey, the Mi'raj (an Arabic word that literally means "ladder"),weblink" title="">Mi'raj — The night journey Jibra'il took him to the heavens, where he toured the seven stages of heaven, and spoke with the earlier prophets such as Abraham (ʾIbrāhīm), Moses (Musa), John the Baptist (Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā), and Jesus (Isa). Muhammad was then taken to Sidrat al-Muntaha – a holy tree in the seventh heaven that Gabriel was not allowed to pass. According to Islamic tradition, God instructed Muhammad that Muslims must pray fifty times per day; however, Moses told Muhammad that it was very difficult for the people and urged Muhammad to ask for a reduction, until finally it was reduced to five times per - Isra and Mi'raj, The - The Meaning of Isra' and Mi'raj in IslamBOOK, Vuckovic, Brooke Olson, Heavenly Journeys, Earthly Concerns: The Legacy of the Mi'raj in the Formation of Islam (Religion in History, Society and Culture), 30 December 2004, Routledge, 978-0-415-96785-3, BOOK, Mahmoud, Omar, Muhammad: an evolution of God,weblink 27 March 2011, 25 April 2008, AuthorHouse, 978-1-4343-5586-7, 56, The Journey to Meet God Almighty by Muhammad—Al-Isra,

The Mi‘raj

There are different accounts of what occurred during the Mi‘raj, but most narratives have the same elements: Muhammad ascended into heaven with the angel Gabriel and met a different prophet at each of the seven levels of heaven; first Adam, then John the Baptist and Jesus, then Joseph, then Idris, then Aaron, then Moses, and lastly Abraham. After Muhammad meets with Abraham, he continues on to meet Allah without Gabriel. Allah tells Muhammad that his people must pray 50 times a day, but as Muhammad descends back to Earth, he meets Moses who tells Muhammad to go back to God and ask for fewer prayers because 50 is too many. Muhammad goes between Moses and God nine times, until the prayers are reduced to the five daily prayers, which God will reward tenfold.BOOK, al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari volume VI: Muhammad at Mecca, 1989, State University of New York Press, 0-88706-706-9, That again, Moses told Muhammad to ask for even lesser but Muhammad felt ashamed and said that even with lesser prayer times, his followers might not even perform diligently and said he is thankful for the five.Al-Tabari is a classic and authentic source for Islamic research. His description of the Mi’raj is just as simplified as the description given above, which is where other narratives and hadiths of the Mi’raj stem from, as well as word of mouth. While this is the simplest description of the Mi’raj, others include more details about the prophets that Muhammad meets. In accounts written by Muslim, Bukhari, Ibn Ishaq, Ahmad b. Hanbal and others, physical descriptions of the prophets are given. Adam is described first as being Muhammad's father, which establishes a link between them as first and last prophets.BOOK, Vuckovic, Brooke Olsen, Heavenly Journeys, Earthly Concerns: The Legacy of the Mi'raj in the Formation of Islam, 2005, Routledge, 0-415-96785-6, Physical descriptions of Adam show him as tall and handsome with long hair. Idris, who is not mentioned as much as the other prophets Muhammad meets, is described as someone who was raised to a higher status by God. Joseph, is described as the most beautiful man who is like the moon. His presence in the Mi’raj is to show his popularity and how it relates to Muhammad's. Aaron is described as Muhammad's brother who is older and one of the most beautiful men that Muhammad had met. Again, the love for Aaron by his people relates to Muhammad and his people. Abraham is described with likeness to Muhammad in ways that illustrate him to be Muhammad's father. Jesus is usually linked to John the Baptist, who is not mentioned much. The physical descriptions of Jesus vary, but he is said to be tall with long hair and either red or white skin. Moses is different than the other prophets that Muhammad meets in that Moses stands as a point of difference rather than similarities.Some narratives also record events that preceded the heavenly ascent. Some scholars believe that the opening of Muhammad's chest was a cleansing ritual that purified Muhammad before he ascended into heaven. Muhammad's chest was opened up and water of Zamzam was poured on his heart giving him wisdom, belief, and other necessary characteristics to help him in his ascent. This purification is also seen in the trial of the drinks. It is debated when it took place—before or after the ascent—but either way it plays an important role in determining Muhammad's spiritual righteousness.Many Muslim scholars like Saeed bin Khalfan Alkhalili, Nasir Kharousi, Farqad Alqazwini and Zakariya bin Khalifa Almahrami rejected the story of Mi'raj for not being mentioned in the Quranweblink

Ibn ‘Abbas' Primitive Version

Ibn ‘Abbas' Primitive Version narrates all that Muhammad encounters throughout his journey through heaven. This includes seeing other angels, and seas of light, darkness, and fire. With Gabriel as his companion, Muhammad meets four key angels as he travels through the heavens. These angels are the Rooster angel (whose call influences all earthly roosters), Half-Fire Half-Snow angel (who provides an example of God's power to bring fire and ice in harmony), the Angel of Death (who describes the process of death and the sorting of souls), and the Guardian of Hellfire (who shows Muhammad what hell looks like). These four angels are met in the beginning of Ibn ‘Abbas' narrative. They are mentioned in other accounts of Muhammad's ascension, but they are not talked about with as much detail as Ibn ‘Abbas provides. As the narrative continues, Ibn Abbas focuses mostly on the angels that Muhammad meets rather than the prophets. There are rows of angels that Muhammad encounters throughout heaven, and he even meets certain deeply devoted angels called cherubim. These angels instill fear in Muhammad, but he later sees them as God's creation, and therefore not harmful. Other important details that Ibn ‘Abbas adds to the narrative are the Heavenly Host Debate, the Final Verses of the Cow Chapter, and the Favor of the Prophets.BOOK, Colby, Frederick S, Narrating Muhammad's Night Journey: Tracing the Development of the Ibn 'Abbas Ascension Discourse, 2008, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-7518-8, These important topics help to outline the greater detail that Ibn ‘Abbas uses in his Primitive Version.Some debates that Ibn ‘Abbas' narrative brings about have to do with his description of Muhammad's encounter with God. Ibn ‘Abbas illustrates God as anthropomorphed being who touches and speaks to Muhammad as a human would. This is seen as an abomination and thus takes away Ibn ‘Abbas's authenticity. In an attempt to reestablish Ibn ‘Abbas as authentic, it seems as though a translator added the descent of Muhammad and the meeting with the prophets. The narrative only briefly states the encounters with the prophets, and does so in a way that is in chronological order rather than the normal order usually seen in ascension narratives. Ibn ‘Abbas may have left out the meeting of the prophets and the encounter with Moses that led to the reduction of daily prayers because those events were already written elsewhere. Whether he included that in his original narrative or if it was added by a later translator is unknown, but often a point of contention when discussing Ibn ‘Abbas's Primitive Version.

Modern Muslim observance

The Lailat al-Mi'raj (, {{transl|ar|Lailatu 'l-Miʿrāj}}), also known as Shab-e-Mi'raj (, {{transl|ur|Šab-e Mi'râj}}, , {{transl|fa|Šab-e Mi'râj}}) in Iran, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and Miraç Kandili in Turkish, is the Muslim holiday celebrating the Isra and Miʿraj. Some Muslims celebrate this event by offering optional prayers during this night, and in some Muslim countries, by illuminating cities with electric lights and candles. The celebrations around this day tend to focus on every Muslim who wants to celebrate it. Worshippers gather into mosques and perform prayer and supplication. Some people may pass their knowledge on to others by telling them the story on how Muhammad's heart was purified by the archangel Gabriel, who filled him with knowledge and faith in preparation to enter the seven levels of heaven. After salah, food and treats are served.WEB,weblink BBC - Religions - Islam: Lailat al Miraj,, WEB,weblink WRMEA - Islam in America, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Al-Aqsa Mosque marks the place from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven. The exact date of the Journey is not clear, but is celebrated as though it took place before the Hegira and after Muhammad's visit to the people of Ta'if. It is considered by some to have happened just over a year before the Hijrah, on the 27th of Rajab; but this date is not always recognized. This date would correspond to the Julian date of 26 February 621, or, if from the previous year, 8 March 620. In Twelver Iran for example, Rajab 27 is the day of Muhammad's first calling or Mab'as. The al-Aqsa Mosque and surrounding area, marks the place from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven, is the third-holiest place on earth for Muslims.BOOK, Jonathan M. Bloom, Sheila Blair, The Grove encyclopedia of Islamic art and architecture,weblink 26 December 2011, 2009, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-530991-1, 76, BOOK, Oleg Grabar, The Dome of the Rock,weblink 26 December 2011, 1 October 2006, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-02313-0, 14, Many sects and offshoots belonging to Islamic mysticism interpret Muhammad's night ascent – the Isra and Mi'raj – to be an out-of-body experience through nonphysical environments,Brent E. McNeely, "The Miraj of Prophet Muhammad in an Ascension Typology", p3Buhlman, William, "The Secret of the Soul", 2001, {{ISBN|978-0-06-251671-8}}, p111 unlike the Sunni Muslims or mainstream Islam. The mystics claim Muhammad was transported to Jerusalem and onward to the Seven Heavens, even though "the apostle's body remained where it was.""MEMBERWIDE"> FIRST1 = DENNIS FIRST2 = STEPHEN, Rhinegold Eeligious Studies Study Guides, A Student's Guide to A2 Religious Studies: for the AQA Specification,weblink year = 2003 location = London, UK isbn = 978-1-904226-09-3 chapter = Religion and Human Experience,weblinkEsoteric interpretation of the Quran>Esoteric interpretations of the Quran emphasise the spiritual significance of Miʿraj, seeing it as a symbol of the soul's journey and the potential of humans to rise above the comforts of material life through prayer, piety and discipline.

Historical issues related to this event

The issue with these verses and story lies in that the Temple was built by Solomon and later destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army in 586 BC. Furthermore, Roman general Titus and his Roman soldiers leveled the Second Temple in AD. 70, more than five centuries before this alleged night journey to Jerusalem took place. However, after the initially successful Jewish revolt against Heraclius, the jewish population resettled in Jerusalem for a short period of time from 614-630 and immediately started to restore the temple on the Temple Mount and build synagogues in Jerusalem.BOOK, Jerusalem Today: What Future for the Peace Process?, Ghada, Karmi, 1997, 115-116, BOOK, History of the Byzantine Jews: A Microcosmos in the Thousand Year Empire, Kohen, Elli, 36, 5, Furthermore, after the jewish population was expelled a second time from Jerusalem and shortly before Heraclius retook Jerusalem (630), a small Synagogue was already in place on the Temple Mount. This synagogue was demolished after Heraclius retook Jerusalem.BOOK, R. W. THOMSON Historical commentary by JAMES HOWARD-JOHNSTON Assistance from TIM GREENWOOD. (1999). The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos. Liverpool University Press.ISBN 9780853235644. pp. 208-212, The place that was eventually called masjid al-Aqsa was not constructed until AD 690-691 when ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan built the Mosque known as the Farthest Mosque (Masjid-ul-Aqsa) with the structure known as Dome of the Rock. The word masjid, which is used in the surah above literally translates as a 'place of prostration/worship' and thus indicates any place of worship, not necessarily a building.BOOK, Watt/Welch: Der Islam I. 1980, p. 288-291.,

See also



Further reading

  • Colby, Frederick, "Night Journey (Isra & Mi'raj)'', in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014, Vol II, pp. 420–425.

External links

{{Commons category|Isra and Mi'raj}} {{Muslimholidays}}{{Public holidays in Indonesia}}{{Public holidays in Malaysia}}{{Public holidays in Pakistan}}

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