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    Isra and Miraj

    by Jamil Momand

    One night Prophet Muhammad was sleeping near the Ka'ba in Mecca when the Angel Jibreel came to him and nudged him with his foot. The Prophet sat up but did not see him, so he laid his head back down to sleep again thinking that perhaps it was only a dream. The Archangel again tried to wake the Prophet from his deep sleep and after a third try the Prophet actually stood up. The Angel Jibreel took his arm and led him to the Great Mosque. Waiting for him at the gate was a white beast that bore some resemblance to a gigantic horse. From its back sprang out two huge wings and each step the animal took was farther than the distant horizon.

    The Prophet climbed onto the beast, which was called the Buraq, and the Angel Jibreel stood beside them pointing the way northward toward the city of Jerusalem. Within a twinkling of an eye they were at the old city and were met there by a group of prophets: Ibrahim, Musa, Isa, and many others. Muhammad dismounted the Buraq and led all the prophets in prayer at the site of the Dome of the Rock. After the prayer, two vessels were brought before Muhammad--one was filled with wine and the other with milk. Muhammad only drank from the vessel containing milk. Jibreel then said, "Oh Muhammad, you enjoy what is pure and keep away from what is impure. Surely you will guide your people to the path of Allah."

    Led by the Angel Jibreel, Prophet Muhammad began his accent through the seven heavens where he saw many other prophets. There was Musa, Ibrahim, Nuh and many others. Muhammad also saw Yusef and was awed by how handsome he was. When he ascended to the top of the Universe he saw a mighty Throne. The Buraq stopped and Muhammad dismounted and found himself before a solitary Lote Tree. The Lote Tree marks the end of all earthly knowledge and beyond it no one knows what exists except Allah. Then Allah showered a Divine Light upon the Lote Tree that was extremely bright, yet the Prophet held his gaze on the tree and said, "I take refuge in the Light of your Grace--Oh Allah Almighty." At the Lote Tree Muhammad received for Muslims the instructions for salat, the last section of Surah al-Baqarah and the command from Allah that each Muslim should pray fifty times a day.

    Prophet Muhammad was also shown the depths of Hell and saw many horrible things. He saw people that had their stomaches enlarged so big that they could not stand. As they lay on the ground suffering the Prophet was told that these were the people who kept orphans away from the property that was rightfully theirs and used it for themselves instead. The Prophet also saw people that had two plates of meat before them. One had freshly cooked meat that was good to eat while the other had meat that was spoiled and stinking. These people were eating only the rotten meat. The Prophet was told that they were the ones who used to commit adultery and fornication. There was another set of people who tried to speak but every time they opened their mouths to do so a sharp knife was there to cut their tongues out. The Prophet was told that these were people that always spoke evil behind the backs of their fellow Muslims.

    The Prophet then began his descent back to Earth. As he passed downward Musa stopped him and asked, "How many prayers have been laid upon you?" "Fifty," Muhammad replied. Musa then said, "The congregational prayer is a heavy weight and your people are weak. Return to your Lord and ask Him to lighten the load for you and your people." Muhammad took the advice from his friend and went back to Allah to ask for a reduction in the number of daily prayers. Allah took away ten prayers and Muhammad again began his descent to Earth. Musa stopped the Prophet again and told him that the number of prayers was still too much. Muhammad returned to Allah several times to get the number of prayers reduced until it was down to only five daily prayers. Musa again said this was too much but Muhammad said, "I have returned to my Lord so many times and asked Him so much that I am ashamed. I will not go again, but I have His assurance that whoever performs the five daily prayers will be given credit for fifty."

    The Prophet continued his descent from Heaven to Jerusalem. From there the Prophet returned to Mecca. It was still night when he reached the place where he had been sleeping only a few hours before. The night journey to Jerusalem came to be called Al-Isra'a and Muhammad's ascent into Heaven is known as Al-Mi'raj.

    The next day Muhammad went to the Mosque and began telling the people of his miraculous journey. The Muslims that were weak in faith doubted the Prophet's word. They thought it was impossible for anyone to do all those things in one night. But sincere Muslims supported and defended him. One of the Prophet's best friends was Abu Bakr. After hearing about the Prophet's famous journey Abu Bakr said, "If Muhammad says it then it must be true. Why should we doubt him? He tells me that the Quran comes from Heaven all the time and I know him to be speaking the truth. That is more than what you are questioning him about today." After the night journey the Prophet had new strength and confidence. He was sure he could carry out his mission and guide people to the path of Islam. This was also the time that people in Medina heard about the new religion called Islam. They invited the Prophet to their city and a few years later he made the Hijra to that city. The wonderful night of Isra'a and Mi'raj helped the Prophet and the Muslims to become stronger in their faith which enabled them to overcome the idol-worshipping Meccans.

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    " when it is said to them; 'Make not mischief on the Earth', they say; 'We are only peace makers'. Indeed they are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive it not"

    (Al-Baqarah 2:11-12)


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