The Story of Laylat al-Miraj

crystalina is licensed under  CC BY 2.0
crystalina is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Muslims observe Laylat al-Miraj today.

Isra and Mi’raj (also known as Lailat al Miraj, Laylat al-Miraj, or Al Isra’wal Miraj) is an Islamic holiday that celebrates the Night Journey taken by Prophet Muhammad[/tweetit] around 621 A.D. in one night. The nighttime voyage has two parts, a spiritual and a physical journey. The Surah al-Isra of the Qur’an has an outline of the story, the rest of the details are contained in the deeds, teachings, and sayings of Muhammad in the Hadith literature.

The Story of Laylat al-Miraj.[/tweetthis]

The Journey

In the Qur’an’s 17th chapter, Surah al-Isra, there is a brief description of the physical journey in the first verse.

“Glory to Him Who carried his servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Furthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, to show him Our wonders! He it is Who is All-Hearing, All-Seeing!

Remember when we said to you that your Lord encompasses mankind in His knowledge. Nor did We make the vision We showed you except as a test to people, as also the accursed tree in the Qur’an.”

From the teachings of different hadiths more is learned about the Journey. The voyage to Jerusalem from Mecca by the Prophet is considered as the Isra part of the journey. It commenced in the Great Mosque where Muhammad met the Archangel Jibrīl (or Gabriel, Jibrā'īl) who had brought Buraq, the traditional divine spirited horse of the prophets, with him. The steed took the Prophet to the "farthest mosque," al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem. Muhammad disembarked from Buraq and tethered it to the Temple Mount.

He then performed a prayer, and God commanded Gabriel to test him. Anas ibn Malik, a popular associate of Muhammad, said that Muhammad said, "Jibrā'īl brought me a vessel of wine, a vessel of water and a vessel of milk, and I chose the milk. Jibrā'īl said, “You have chosen the Fitrah (or common sense, primordial human nature, instinct).

Mir’aj, the second part of the voyage, was a spiritual one where Muhammad went to heaven on the back of Buraq. Mir’aj in Arabic is a ladder in its literal meaning. In the skies, he explored the seven stages of heaven and interacted with the seers who came before him such as Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), ʾIbrāhīm (Abraham) and Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā (John the Baptist). Muhammad was also taken to sacred tree in the seventh heaven, Sidrat al-Muntaha. The tree indicates the end of the seventh heaven. It also marks the border where no creation can go through. Muhammad was then allowed through and met with Allah where he instructed Muhammad that Muslims should pray five times a day.

Current Celebrations

Some Muslims today honor and celebrate this event by offering prayers during this night while others in other nations celebrate the night by lighting up cities with candles and electric lights. Believers congregate into mosques and perform supplication and prayer. Others also decide to honor this day by passing down their knowledge about ‘the journey’ explaining how Jibrā'īl purified Muhammad's heart in preparation for his spiritual journey to the seventh heaven. After the spiritual, physical and mental worship, they are served with foods and treats. 

This event is celebrated on the 27th day of the month of Rajab on the Islamic calendar. Lariat al Miraj 2017 falls on Monday, April 24, 2017.


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