Posts

Reflections on Isra’ (Night Journey) and Mi’raj (Ascension) – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

This article is sourced from Muwasala: Click here for the original post

Every created thing longed to have its portion of Allah’s Beloved (Peace be upon him). It was not until he (Peace be upon him) made his Mi’raj that the heavens got their portion of him.
— Al-Habib- Abdul Qadir Al Saggaf

Importance of Isra’ and Mi’raj

We are approaching the night on which the Islamic world traditionally celebrates the Isrā’ (Night Journey) and Mi`rāj (Ascension) of our Prophet, the Chosen One ﷺ. The Isrā’ and Mi`rāj was a great sign and an immense miracle which Allah gave to the Master of the people of the heavens and the earth, to demonstrate his superiority over mankind, jinn-kind, angels and the whole of creation. There are great lessons in the events that took place and a means of increasing in belief and certitude.
The scholars say that the best night in relation to the Ummah as a whole was the night on which the Prophet was born, whereas the best night in relation to the Prophet himself was the night of the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj.

Trials and Tribulations

Prior to this night the Prophet had displayed great patience in the face of hardship and it is one of Allah’s wisdoms that He bestows His gifts accompanied with hardships.
Allah says: They encountered suffering and adversity and were shaken such that the Messenger and those of faith who were with him said: “When will Allah’s assistance come?” Truly Allah’s assistance is always near.[1]
At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah said that the worst treatment that he received from the disbelievers was his violent rejection at the hands of the people of al-Ṭā’if. Most of the scholars of the Sīrah say that that the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj took place shortly after this, a year prior to the Hijrah on the 27th night of the month of Rajab.[2]

Preparation & Journey

The Prophet ﷺ saw some of the events of the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj in his dreams as a preparation for them before the events actually occurred. Some people claim that all the events of the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj took place in a dream state but this is not the case: the Prophet experienced them with his body and soul. Had the Isrā’ been merely something the Prophet experienced in his dream, the disbelievers of Quraysh would not have had difficulty accepting it. They would not have asked: “How can you have travelled to Jerusalem last night and be with us in Makkah this morning?”
Allāh says: Transcendent is the One Who caused His slave to travel by night from al-Masjid al-Ḥarām to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā.[3] Allāh tends to express His transcendence before mentioning a great affair which is beyond what people are accustomed to.
When Allāh wished to speak to Sayyidunā Mūsā, He told him to wait thirty days and then a further ten days: We appointed for Mūsā thirty nights and we completed (the period) with ten more.[4]
Allāh, however, did not tell His Beloved to wait. Rather His order came suddenly, without any warning. The Prophet’s chest was split open and his heart was washed and filled with knowledge and forbearance. The Burāq was then brought to him. Allāh could have caused him to travel without the Burāq, but it was a means of honouring and ennobling him. Jibrīl said to the Burāq after some initial obstinacy: “Are you not ashamed, O Burāq? By Allāh, no one more noble in the sight of Allāh has ever ridden you!”
The Prophet stopped in a number of places on the Isrā’ to emphasise the importance of visiting the places in which Allah bestowed His bounties upon His pious slaves. He was ordered to seek to draw close to Allah by praying near the tree where Allah spoke to Mūsā, by praying at Mount Ṭūr, where Allah gave revelation to Mūsā, and at Bayt Laḥm, where Īsā was born.
The whole earth was made a place of prayer and prostration for the Prophet so what was the significance of him praying in those places if it was not seeking blessings (tabarruk) and spiritual assistance from them? It is also narrated in Saḥīḥ Muslim that he visited the grave of Mūsā and witnessed him praying in his grave. He said to his Companions: “If I was there I would have showed you his grave.” He was thus teaching his Ummah the importance of knowing the location of the graves of the Prophets and thus the importance of visiting them.
While on his journey, someone called him on his right side but he did not respond. Jibrīl informed him that this was the caller of the Jews, and had he responded, his Ummah would have followed the way of the Jews. Then someone called him on his left side and once again he did not respond. Jibrīl informed him that this was the caller of the Christians, and had he responded, his Ummah would have followed the way of the Christians. Thus, in spite of all the efforts of the Christians to convert people to Christianity, the Ummah remains in Allāh’s care and protection due to the steadfastness of the Prophet ﷺ.
He was called a third time, and once again he did not respond. Jibrīl informed him that it was the dunyā or the material world calling him, and had he responded, his Ummah would have chosen this life over the next. The dunyā then appeared to him in the form of an old woman. Jibrīl informed him that all that remained of the life of this world before the Day of Judgement is like the time this old woman had left to live. We witness all the wars and struggles that take place and in reality this life is like an old woman on the verge of death and ahead of us is the next life! May Allāh give us the best of endings! Due to the Prophet’s refusal to respond to the callings of the dunyā, there remain to this day people who know its worthlessness.

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺled the Prophets in prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Jibrīl informed him that the soul of every prophet sent by Allāh from the time of Ādam to the time of Īsā was brought to pray behind him so that they would come to know the station of their master, Muḥammad. He was the imām who led all the prophets and angels in prayer. Why do we not make him our imām?
SONY DSC

The Ascent to Heaven

The Prophet then ascended from heaven to heaven. The angels in the heavens had been informed that he would come and it was their opportunity to be honoured by meeting him just as his Companions had that honour on the earth. The people of the earth threw stones at him and insulted him but the people of the heavens gave him the warmest of welcomes. In the Prophet’s meeting with his father Ādam and the other Prophets in the various heavens there is a lesson. In spite of the Prophet’s superiority over them, he was still ordered to greet them. There was no-one less in need of anyone else than him but he met them and displayed great etiquette and manifested his slave-hood to his Lord.
Among the things he witnessed was people who turned down freshly cooked meat and chose to eat putrid rotting meat. He was told that this was like those who leave that which is lawful and choose that which is unlawful. He saw people’s heads being smashed with rocks. As soon as their heads were smashed they would be restored and then smashed again and so on. He was told these were the people who were too lazy to pray the obligatory prayer.
He ascended to al-Bayt al-Ma`mūr, which resembles the Ka`bah above the seventh heaven. It lies directly above the Ka`bah, and every day 70,000 angels enter it. The Prophet entered it and prayed in it, along with the spirits of some of the elect of Allah. Then he came to al-Sidrat al-Muntahā, a tree whose size and beauty is indescribable. Were one of its leaves to fall it would cover the heavens and the earth. This is the end point of the knowledge of creation.
It was here that Jibrīl stopped. He said that if he went any further, he would burn but he told the Prophet to continue his journey alone.

The Divine Meeting

He duly ascended to the Throne of Allah and fell into prostration. Mūsā had been ordered to remove his sandals when Allah spoke to him, but the Beloved was not ordered to do so. Allah then ordered him to raise his head and he addressed Allah: “Greetings, blessings and the best of prayers to Allah.”
Allah responded: “Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.”
At this point, when Allah was manifesting Himself to him, the Prophet wished to remember the pious members of his Ummah and the previous nations. He said: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious slaves.”
The angels of the heavens then cried out: “We testify that there is no deity other than Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.”
When Allāh spoke to him, He said: “I have taken you as My beloved and I have expanded your heart and raised high the esteem in which you are held so that whenever I am mentioned you are mentioned with Me. I made your nation the best of nations and I made them the last and the first on the Day of Judgement. I made you the first prophet to be created and the last to be sent.” Allāh thus spoke gently to His Beloved and reminded him of His blessings upon him. He said things to Him which only He knows.

The Blessed Gift

He made fifty prayers compulsory on his nation. This was eventually reduced to five with the reward of fifty. Are those who are unable to perform the five not ashamed of their Lord? What would they have done if it was fifty prayers that they had to perform? Allāh made five prayers compulsory upon His slaves, in which there is the opportunity to converse with Allāh and draw close to Him. “The closest the slave is to his Lord is when he is in prostration.”
The Prophet was blessed with the vision of his Lord, a blessing which no-one else will receive until they enter Paradise. The vision cannot be understood in a conventional way since Allah is transcendent and cannot be limited to a place or direction. Some Muslims deny that the vision of Allah is possible and we agree with them that the vision of Allah in a conventional sense is impossible. However, we understand the vision of Allah to be something far greater than that, a pure manifestation of Allah’s light, which is indescribable.
Sayyidunā Mūsā was keen to receive some of the light that was on the face of the Prophet ﷺ who himself had just seen his Lord. Mūsā had asked to see Allah while on the earth but his request was not granted. He thus took as much light as he could from the Prophet’s face. The Prophet ﷺ informed us that there will come a time when the Muslims will seek victory through people who had seen him, and later through people who have seen people who have seen him.[5] This shows us that secrets are transmitted through the vision of people’s faces.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺremained firm while witnessing all the things that he witnessed: His vision did not stray, nor did it go wrong[6]; His heart did not lie about what it saw, for truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the greatest.[7]
All of this took place in a few instants. So little time had elapsed that the place where he had been sleeping was still warm. All of these are amazing examples of divine power. We are so accustomed to the pattern of cause and effect and the laws of creation that we tend to forget the presence of divine power in everything. In reality the things which we regard to be normal are miraculous – our sitting and standing, our eating and drinking.
Allah says: Do you see the water which you drink? Did you bring it down from the clouds or did We?[8]
May Allah bestow prayers upon the one who made this awesome journey and may He resurrect us with him. Make us among those who are truthful in their following of him. Do not deprive us of the vision of him in this life, the Barzakh and the next life. Allow us to see the face of the one who You allowed to see Your countenance so that we are ready to see Your countenance in the abode of Your pleasure.

[1] Al-Baqarah, 2:214
[2] In the Islamic calendar the night precedes the day, so what is meant is the night before the 27th day
[3] Al-Isrā’ 17:1
[4] Al-A`rāf, 7:142
[5] Narrated by al-Bukhāri
[6] Al-Najm, 53:17-18
[7] Al-Najm, 53:11
[8] Al-Wāqi`ah, 56:68


Reflections on the Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascension – By Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this video, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin highlights the great virtue, rank and special uniqueness of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) through the tremendous event of the night journey and ascension (Isra’ and Mi’raj). He calls us to recognize these meanings about the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and try our utmost to connect ourselves with him by following the beauty of his character and worship.

Prayers on the Prophet for the Night Journey

Poet Novid Shaid reflects on one of the most significant events in Muslim history.

On the 27th night of Rajab, the Prophet ﷺ was taken on the Isra wa Mi’raj – The Night Journey and Ascension to the Heavens. This was a glorious night, as is known to most Muslims, in which the Prophet ﷺ met his Lord and was given the commandment to perform the five daily prayers.

Oh Allah send Your prayers and peace upon him

And upon his companions and kin

By the number of pearls of sweat on al buraq

Which cascaded as the sage ascended him

By the number of prayers the rider invoked

And the flutters of wings of his companions

By the number of sand stones at Al Aqsa

Which intoned his praise as he dismounted

By the number of Prophets that humbly stood

As the chosen one led with equilibrium

And the number of contours in the rock

And the streams of wind as the travellers took off

By the number of times the wise one was hailed

By each Prophet as the levels he scaled

And the number of shimmering branches on Al Muntaha

Ad infinitum they communed Lover and Beloved

From the day You made this life

To the end when we arise

Every day a thousand times!

Resources on the Isra wa Mi’raj, The Night Journey

The First Prayer After the Night Journey: Why Was it Dhuhr and not Fajr?

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: I was asked this question by a friend and don’t really know the answer. Why was the first prayer prayed after the Prophet’s ascent (mi`raj) Zuhr and not Fajr?

Answer: As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

We pray this reaches you in the best of health and imaan.

There is no clearly-stated reason in the primary sources of Islam as to why Dhuhr was the first official congregational prayer after the Night Journey, and not Fajr. However, scholars over the centuries have proposed various explanations as to the wisdom behind this.

A narration in the Musannaf of `Abdur Razzaq explicitly tells us that Gabriel (peace be upon him) visited the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the morning after the Night Journey in which the five daily prayers had been made an obligation. The Companions were gathered at Dhuhr, and Gabriel showed the Prophet (peace be upon him) the exact timings, postures, order and number of cycles of each prayer by praying with him, while the Prophet (peace be upon him) immediately taught the same to the Believers by leading them in prayer. This continued for each prayer over two days till the obligatory prayers were learned and established.

Does this mean that Fajr that morning was not prayed at all, and because of that, Dhuhr was the first prayer?

Allamah Binnori says in his commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhi:

“Some claimed in regards to the descending of Gabriel (peace be upon him) during Dhuhr rather than for the Fajr prayer… that the Prophet (peace be upon him) slept through Fajr, and so Gabriel did not descend… this claim is a great mistake and the one who opined this got mixed up…

Our Shaykh said, ‘The reason for starting with Dhuhr, in my view, is that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) already used to pray Fajr and `Asr before the obligation to pray the five daily prayers, so it wasn’t as critical to start by teaching the Fajr prayer. Some scholars even opined that Fajr and ‘Asr had been obligatory even before the Night Journey, and many Qur’anic verses have indicated towards [the early emphasis on] these two prayers…” [Binnori, Ma’`rif al-Sunan]

Hence, this opinion tells us that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not miss Fajr that morning, but that he prayed it in the way he was usually would, namely by himself, but since Dhuhr was being introduced for the first time to the Ummah, Gabriel was sent to demonstrate and enjoin it first out of the five obligatory prayers to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Muslims.

Others who did not necessarily hold that Fajr and ‘Asr were obligatory before the Night Journey have opined that although the five prayers had been announced as an obligation the night before, the Fajr of that day was not obligatory on the Muslims since the timing and the way of praying it had not been revealed to them, nor were most Muslims even aware of the obligation at that early hour in the morning right after the Night Journey, and so if the instruction had not been conveyed, there was no moral responsibility on them if they didn’t pray it. [al-Mubarakpuri, Sharh Mishkat]

Ibn Hajar in his commentary on al-Bukhari cites Qadi `Iyad’s view that the obligation of prayer on the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Muslims was indeed announced on the Night Journey, but since it was dependant on the news being publicized, the obligation on the entire Ummah only came into effect after the first group prayer was performed and everyone was made aware if it.  [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari tells us a fourth viewpoint, perhaps the most beautiful:

“Because there is a sense of secrecy or hiddeness at the time of Fajr [since most people were asleep], if the announcement had occurred at that time, there would be no sense of bold manifestation like there was in Dhuhr; with its symbolizing that the Prophet’s religion (peace be upon him) would likewise boldly manifest itself over all other religions, the time of Dhuhr is manifest and apparent [in broad daylight] over all the other prayer timings. But the obligation of performance is dependant on the knowledge of how to perform an act, and that couldn’t have happened except at Dhuhr [when everyone could be informed]…” [al-Qari, Sharh Mishkat]

Practically speaking, it would have been difficult to gather the Muslims at such an early hour and explain the significance of the previous night’s events, since Muslims could not worship very freely in those times and many were slaves or Muslims in secret. Also, in an age without lights and lamps, to teach the prayer by example in the dark would have been unduly challenging. This way also left Fajr to be taught last, as it is usually the most challenging to attend since one must sacrifice one’s sleep to stand before Allah.

Hence, as Imam Alusi said in his tasfir, the entire incident was commanded in the chapter on the Night Journey [al-Isra] in the Qur’an:

“And establish the prayer [O Prophet, peace be upon him] after the sun has fallen from its zenith [Dhuhr then ‘Asr], until the dusk of the night [Maghrib then ‘Isha], and [establish] the recitation at Fajr – indeed the Qur’an recited during Fajr is witnessed!” [17:78]

May Allah Ta’ala keep us firm on our daily prayers and accept them, Ameen!

-Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani