Glorified (Pure & Free from all defects) is He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) for a journey by night, from Al-Masjid-al-Haram (in Makkah) to the farthest Masjid (in Jerusalem), Whose neighbourhood We have blessed; in order that We might show him of Our Ayaat (Power proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. (The Holy Qur’an – Sura: 17. Ayah: 1 Revealed in Makkah)
The above Ayaat clearly mentions that Allah Ta’ala took Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam during one night on a journey from Masjid-ul-Haram to Masjid-ul-Aqsa. This night-journey to Al-Aqsa is called Israa.
Details of the incident of Méraj has been narrated by nearly twenty-five Sahabah Radhiyallaahu Anhum
Concerning this great event, some say, it had occurred ten years after the Nubuwwah (prophethood), whilst others believe that it took place 12 or 16 months before Hijrah.
Allah Ta’ala begins the Ayat with the word “Subhaana” in order to dispel the misgivings of those Muslims who may doubt the occurrence of this great event. The expression “Took His (devoted) servant” describes the status of servitude of Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam to Allah Ta’ala. One wisdom in using the term “Abd” (Slave) here is that, none should be misled into attributing Divinity to Hazrat Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, as was done by the Nasaara with regards to Eesa Alayhis Salaam. Allah I in His kindness decreed that such misguidance should not overtake the Ummah of his beloved Nabi Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam.
The word “Aqsa” is used to denote – something very far away. In ancient times, it would usually take over forty days for one to reach Masjidul Aqsa by camel from Makkah. Musjidul Aqsa is also referred to as Baitul Maqdis and Baitul-Muqaddas. Regarding Musjidul Aqsa, Allah Ta’ala says:” The Masjid whose precincts we have blessed” This blessing is both religious as well as mundane. The Deeni blessing is that many Ambiyaa Alayhis Salaam used to worship Allah Ta’ala there and face in its direction. It is also surrounded by the graves of many Ambiyaa Alayhis Salaam. One Mundane blessing of Aqsa is that it is a lush and picturesque region of many rivers and trees. (These lush olive farms and gardens have been destroyed by the tyrannical Zionists Jews who now occupy Jerusalem)
Allah Ta’ala then says: “So that we may show him some of our signs” (Clear manifestation). For Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam to undertake such a long journey in only a part of a single night and to meet all the Ambiyaa Alayhimus Salaam and then lead them in Salaah and to witness all the strange things there, all forms part of the strange manifestations and the Qudrat (Power) of Allah Ta’ala. The Mufassireen (the commentators of the Holy Quran) state that Allah uses the term As-Samee to show that only Allah listens to all Duas; and the term Al-Baseer shows that Only Allah is All Seeing and Protector in the darkness of the night.
It is a fundamental belief of the Ahlus Sunnah (people of Sunnah) that Allah Ta’ala took Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam in one night from Masjid-ul Haram to Masjid-ul Aqsa and then into the seven heavens. And thereafter back to Makkah in the same night. This journey has been discussed in great detail in the Ahadith. This travelling to and fro took place in a state of complete wakefulness and with both body and soul.
We shall now briefly discuss the events of the 27th night of Rajab commencing in Makka.
Hazrat Maalik Bin Sa’sa Radhiyallaahu Anhu reports that Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, “I was near the Ka’bah in a state of half wakefulness, when the roof of my house was split open. Jibraeel Alayhis Salaam came down and took me to the Hateem (Kaaba semi circular wall). Here my chest was slit open, from here to here” (from the hollow of his throat to the bottom of his stomach). “My heart was removed and washed in a golden bowl (brought from Jannah) with Zamzam water. My heart was then filled Imaan and wisdom, the heart returned and chest closed” “Thereafter, a white animal was brought before me which was shorter than a mule and taller than a donkey.” This animal was known as the Buraaq – white lightening” .It has been narrated about the Buraaq that its every step forward is as far as its eye can see. (Bukhari)
Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said “When the Buraaq was brought before me bridled and saddled, it began to prance. Jibraeel said to it, “How dare you prance before Muhammad, nobody more honoured and beloved to Allah than Mohammed has ever ridden on your back before him”. When it heard this, the Buraaq immediately began to perspire heavily (out of embarrassment) (Tirmizi) (The scholars explain: ‘the prancing was due to-Burraaq being ridden by such an august and honorable rider)
“We travelled on the Buraaq until we reached the Baitul Maqdis. Jibraeel carved a hole in the wall with his finger and tied the Buraaq around it”. (Ibn Katheer). The same ring which the various Ambiyaa Alayhimus Salaam had used to tie their animals. They entered the Masjid and found people engaged in the motions of Salaat. They too performed two rakaats Salaah each. “The sound of Azaan was heard, followed by the entire crowd getting into rows, in anticipation of someone to be the Imaam. Then Jibraeel Alayhis Salaam took my hand and led me to the front and I led all those that were present in Salaah”. (Ibn Katheer)
“When I completed the Salaah, Jibraeel Alayhis Salaam said “O Muhammad! Do you know the people who were behind you in Salaah?” When I replied, “No”, Jibraeel Alayhis Salaam said that these are all the Ambiyaa whom Allah had sent on earth”
Some Ulama inform us that, as a mark of respect to Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, the Ambiyaa Alayhis Salaam were present with their physical bodies in order to perform Salaat behind Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam and to also meet him personally.
Prominent Ambiya Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam delivered a short Khutbah praising Allah for gracing them with special favours.
“When we came outside, Jibraeel Alayhis Salaam presented me with two vessels, one of which contained wine and the other milk. When I took the milk, Jibraeel Alayhis Salaam remarked, “You have chosen nature”. (Muslim)
QURAISHI DENIAL OF THE MERAJ AND THE PROOF AGAINST THEM
The Israa and Me’raaj and the return to Makkah all took place in one night. Whilst returning journey, they passed a trade caravan which was returning from Syria. In the morning, when Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam shared his Israa experience with the Quraish, they immediately rejected his claim as impossible. Abu Jahl even went to Abu Bakr Radhiyallaahu Anhu and informed him of Muhammad’s Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam claim. Hadhrat Abu Bakr Radhiyallaahu Anhu without hesitation declared: “If he (Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ) said it, then he has indeed spoken the truth”. The people asked Abu Bakr Radhiyallaahu Anhu in amazement, how could he believe it? He replied, “I believed in something far more astonishing than this, I believe in whatever revelation that comes to him from the heavens”. On account of this, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Radhiyallaahu Anhu received the title of “Siddiq” (The Truthful) (Baihaqi).
Knowing very well that Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam had never been to Al-Aqsa, they asked him to describe in detail the building, its doors pillars etc. Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam says, “Allah Ta’ala showed me such a distinct vision of Baitul Maqdis that I was able to easily answer whatever signs they questioned me about” (Sahih Bukhari) They were compelled to admit that his description of al-Aqsa was undeniably true.
Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam also told the Quraish, that during the journey “I saw a certain trade caravan of a particular tribe in a certain valley when one of their camels had broken loose and fled. So I directed them to where their camel was. This was when I was on my way to Baitul Maqdis.
Thereafter, when I was returning, I stopped at a camp and found the same people sleeping there. There was water in one of their containers which had been covered with a lid. I drank the water, and replaced the lid exactly as it was.
Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam also informed them that the caravan was at that very moment about to emerge from “Tan`eem”. At the head of the camels was a brown one laden with two bundles, one black and the other, white. When Quraish heard this, they immediately went towards Tan`eem and (to their astonishment) discovered that there really was a caravan on its way and that, it was being led by the same Camel described by Rasoolullah. When they were satisfied it was the same Caravan, they asked the people about the container. They replied, “Yes, we had covered our water container and later found that it was still covered but all the water was finished.
They then asked the people of the Caravan if any of their Camels had fled. They replied that one of their camels had broken loose and “then we heard someone call to us”, ‘here is your Camel’. Hearing this, we caught the camel”. In some narrations it is mentioned that Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam had even greeted the people of the Caravan with Salaam. Some of those who listened to the voice immediately responded: “This is the voice of Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam”.
Umme Hani’ said, “Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam was taken on the Night Journey the night he was in my house. He had prayed Esha and slept. At the time of Fajr, Rasoolullah r woke us up. Then he prayed Fajr with us. He said, ‘Umme Hani’! I prayed Esha with you as you saw then I went to Jerusalem and prayed there. Then I prayed Fajr with you as you see.” (Ibn Ishaq, at-Tabarani and Ibn Jarir) This makes it clear that he went in his physical body.
TESTIMONY OF A PRIEST BEFORE HERACULIUS EMPEROR OF ROMAN EMPIRE
In the 7th year of Hijra, Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam had sent letters to kings inviting them to Islam. Among these was Heracles, the Emperor of Rome in whose control was Syria. Heracle asked his people to see if there were any people from Arabia around who could be brought before him to tell him more about this person Muhammad. Soon a Makkan delegation was brought before him. He asked them, “Who amongst you is the closest relative to that person (Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) who claims to be the prophet of Allah”?
Abu Sufyan Radhiyallaahu Anhu who was also part of this delegation replied that he was. Heracles said to him that he was going to ask him some questions and he would have to give correct answers. Abu Sufyan Radhiyallaahu Anhu was at that time not a Muslim and strongly opposed Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. Abu Sufyan intended to say such things about Nabi r that would influence Heracles to reject Muhammad’s Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam claim as false.
After much deliberation, Abu Sufyan mentioned that Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam claimed that in one night he travelled from Makkah to Baitul Maqdis and returned to Makkah before the break of dawn. Abu Sufyaan’s Radhiyallaahu Anhu intention was to mention something regarding Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam which would immediately lead him to have reservations about Rasoolullah e.
But what happened instead, was that when one of the Christian priests standing nearby heard the words of Abu Sufyan, he exclaimed, “yes, I know which night it was”. (when some people came there and performed their Salaah), looking at him Heracle said: “What do you know of him?” he replied that every night before sleeping, he would close the door of Baitul Maqdis. That night, while closing all the doors, “I was unable to close one of them”. Some of the people around there helped me. But when we all tried to close it, it just wouldn’t move. It seemed as if we were trying to move a mountain from its place. In the end I left the doors open. But when I returned in the morning, I saw, in the corner of the Masjid, a hole carved in the stone and evident signs of an animal having been tied to it. Seeing all this, I said to my companions, ‘that it seemed as if this door had been deliberately kept open for the coming/arrival of a prophet and that he had performed Salaah in this Masjid”. (Tafsir Ibn Katheer).
Virtues of Masjidul Aqsa
Abu Dharr Radhiyallaahu Anhu reports, “I asked, “Ya Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam! Which Masjid was built first?” He replied, “Al-Masjid al-Haram.” I asked, “Which (was built) next? He replied, “al-Masjid al-Aqsa (i.e. Jerusalem).” I asked, “What was the period in between them?” He replied, “Forty (years)” He then added, “Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for the entire earth is a place of worship for you.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 4636)
Ummul Mu’minin Umm Salmah Radhiyallaahu Anha, narrates, “She heard Rasoolullah say: If anyone puts on Ihram for Hajj or Umrah from Masjidul Aqsa to the sacred mosque , his former and latter sins will be forgiven, or he will be guaranteed Paradise.” The narrator Abdullah doubted which of these words he said. (Abu Dawud 1737)