Have you ever been through a difficult time in life when you were surrounded with many hardships?
At that time, did you feel like all doors were closed and the whole world was against you?
That is how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) must have felt when he returned from Ta’if to Makkah. Prior to that, he had lost his two main supporters – his wife and uncle. But he never lost hope in the mercy and help of Allah.
And one night, Allah opened the doors of Heaven for him. It was indeed an amazing and miraculous night.
First was the miraculous Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem. Then, the ascension of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Heaven. And finally, his return to Makkah.
Some people claim that this journey was all a dream that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had. But the truth is that these two journeys, the Israa and the Miraj, occurred in both body and spirit. They were one of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) physical miracles.
Focus Issues for New Converts
There are many details of this miraculous journey which would be difficult to study all at once. For those interested, these details can be found in this special folder on the night journey.
As an introduction, what should be the main focus of new converts to Islam studying this miracle?
After outlining and describing the journey in this article, we will focus on Salah, the second pillar of Islam.
Al-Isra’: The Miraculous Night Journey to Jerusalem
As mentioned in authentic Hadiths, one night Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sleeping at the Ka’bah. Angel Gabriel descended with other angels. They first prepared him for the journey with open-heart surgery and washed his heart with Zamzam water. Then, Angel Gabriel accompanied him to Jerusalem.
At that time, it took a normal traveler around thirty days to reach Jerusalem from Makkah. The distance is more than 900 miles. But the speed of Al-Buraq, which the Prophet (peace be upon him) rode, got him there in no time. This animal could take a stride as far as it could see. With one leap, Al-Buraq could cover an incredibly vast distance.
In Jerusalem, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) tied Al-Buraq to a ring in the gate of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. Then, he (peace be upon him) said:
I was brought the Buraq; a tall, white beast bigger than a donkey, smaller than a mule. It could place his hooves at the farthest boundary of its gaze. I rode it until I arrived at Bayt Al-Maqdis. And I tied it to the ring where the prophets had tied it before (i.e., Buraq Wall or the Western Wall). I entered Masjid Al-Aqsa Sanctuary and prayed two rak’ahs there… (Muslim)
Read Also: Why Is Jerusalem So Important for Muslims?
When he (peace be upon him) entered, he was greeted by a number of the earlier prophets, whom he led in prayer.
Jerusalem is a very important city for believers. Many of God’s prophets lived and preached there. For Muslims, it was the first qiblah (direction for prayer) before Allah later commanded that it be changed to Makkah.
Allah mentioned it in the Qur’an in the context of the night journey. Allah also mentioned the Furthest Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa) by name. He (SWT) said:
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (17:1)
While in Jerusalem, Angel Gabriel presented Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with two drinks to choose from. They were wine and milk. He (peace be upon him) chose milk, and the angel said:
Thanks be to God, who guided you to the fitrah; if you had taken the wine, your followers would have gone astray. (Al-Bukhari)
The Ascension (Al-Mi’raj)
Together, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Angel Gabriel continued their amazing journey. Their Ascension to Heaven (in Arabic, Al-Mi’raj) started from Jerusalem. Their first stop was the gate of the first sky.
When Angel Gabriel asked permission to enter, the angels recognized Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and welcomed him. In the first sky, he met Adam (peace be upon him), the father of mankind. Adam greeted him and called him his pure son and prophet.
The journey continued through the seven skies in a similar pattern at each gate. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met a total of eight prophets, as detailed in Hadith. In the second sky, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met Prophet Jesus and Prophet John (peace be upon them both).
And in the third sky, he met Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him). In the fourth sky, he met Prophet Idris (Enoch) (peace be upon him). And in the fifth sky, he met Prophet Aaron (peace be upon him).
The last two prophets he met in his ascension were Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) in the sixth sky and Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) in the seventh sky.
Beyond the Seventh Sky
Angel Gabriel continued the journey with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) till they reached the Lote Tree (Sidrat Al-Muntaha). God mentions this briefly in the Qur’an:
Near Sidrat al-Muntaha (lote-tree of the utmost boundary). Near it is the Paradise of Abode. (53: 14-15)
From this place, Angel Gabriel could go no further. For him, it was the limit.
Sidrat Al-Muntaha is called the uttermost boundary. Everything that comes up from the earth or the heavens stops there, and everything that comes down stops there (Muslim). In addition, the knowledge of the angels stops at that point. No one has gone beyond it except Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). (An-Nawawi)
God gave Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) permission to ascend beyond that tree. We don’t know many details of what happened in that meeting. But we know that God commanded the Prophet (peace be upon him) and all Muslims to perform fifty daily prayers.
The Five Daily Prayers
On his return, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). He told him, from his experience as a prophet, that people would be unable to pray fifty prayers a day. He suggested that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ask God to reduce the number.
After consulting Angel Gabriel, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) returned to make this request. And God agreed. But Prophet Moses (peace be upon him, still found them to be too many. After returning for a further reduction, the number of daily prayers was commanded to be five in number. But they would be fifty in reward, as God multiplies good deeds by ten.
Many new Muslim converts may at first think that praying five times each day it too demanding. But they are golden opportunities.
The best way to approach Salah is to see it as a time for the soul to find peace. The soul of believers ascends to Allah during prayer, when the heart is focused on prayer.
So, forget the worries of this world five times each day and seek closeness to your Lord. And ascend in faith and spirituality, as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ascended to receive this command.
It’s a golden opportunity, so don’t miss or neglect your Salah. It will help you recharge your faith batteries and find peace.
What happened next?
More events from the Seerah will be detailed in the next part of this series, in sha’ Allah.
So please stay tuned…
Activities for New Converts Following this Series
1- The Spirituality of Salah
Check these resources to learn more about the spirituality of Salah:
Prayer: The Spiritual Ritual (Folder)
2- New Converts and Salah
3- Prophet Moses in Islam
4- Send us your questions on this series to: [email protected]
As this is a special series for new converts to learn about Islam in a comprehensive way through learning the Seerah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a gradual, chronological way, we will add a few more resources of other areas of Islamic knowledge in each part of the Seerah at the end of each article as extra learning resources.
We will add new videos to this series as we progress from Year 1 to Year 23 in sha’ Allah.
The references we use in each article are given for further details, so please feel free to send us any questions you may have to this e-mail: [email protected].
You may also wish to join our Facebook Group, Islam 101, for further learning and also to interact with fellow new converts and those who are new to Islam here.
The Sealed Nectar – Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri
The Night Journey: How It First Started
Journey to Al-Aqsa Mosque
Seerah of Prophet Muhammad – 21: Night Journey & Ascension to Heaven – 1 (Dr. Yasir Qadhi)
The Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension and Meeting with Allah – Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf