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.
The Israa’ and the Mi’raaj (The Night Journey and the Ascension)
It is in this period that the Prophet’s night journey (Israa’) from Al-Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah to Al-Masjid al-Aqsaa in Jerusalem, and his ascension (Mi’raaj) from there through the heavens took place. He was accompanied in this journey by Angel Jibreel, and was taken on a wonderful animal called al-Buraag, which was bigger than a donkey and smaller than a mule, and whose stride reached as far as his eye could see.
The Night Journey and the Ascension were physical experiences, of both the body and the soul. Arriving at al-Aqsaa, he fastened his mount at the gate, entered the mosque and led the Prophets in prayer. Then Jibreel took him through the heavens. He reached the first heaven. He spoke to Adam, whom he found in the company of the souls of the dead, divided in two groups: the good and the bad.
In the second heaven he met Prophet Zakariyyaa, Prophet Isa and Prophet Yahyaa ssau In the third heaven he met Prophet Yousuf. In the fourth heaven, he met Prophet Idrees. In the fifth heaven, he met Prophet Haroon. In the sixth heaven, he met Prophet Musa and in the last heaven he met Prophet Ibraaheem.
Every time they reached a heaven, Jibreel asked for the gate to be opened and so it was. Each Prophet greeted him and expressed faith in his prophethood.
After that the Prophet (pbuh) was carried to Sidrat al-Muntahaa (the farthest lote tree) and was shown Al-Bait al-Ma’moor (the much frequented House). He was also presented to the Divine Presence. There Almighty Allah enjoined on him and his followers fifty daily prayers. On the advice of Prophet Musa who was in the sixth heaven, the Prophet (pbuh) kept praying to Allah to make them fewer in number until they were reduced to five prayers a day.
On this journey, he also met Maalik, the angel in charge of Hell with a cheerless face. He also saw the Hellfire and some terrible sights in there, including the following:
- He saw the people who take ribaa (usury) with bellies far too big to be able to move around.
- He saw those who unjustly eat up the orphans property with lips similar to those of camels, swallowing large stones that issue out of their backsides.
- He saw people who were eating rotten, smelly meat and were throwing away cooked and wholesome meat. Jibreel said, “They are the adulterers who had wives but had illicit relationships with women who were not their wives.”
- He saw some people who were eating rotten human flesh. These were those who engage in slurs and slanders, defaming others by spreading vicious rumours about them.
- He saw women being hung by their breasts. Jibreel told him that these were married women who bore and gave birth to children of men who were not their husbands.
The Prophet (pbuh) then returned to Makkah, having be absent for a part of the night. He returned just before dawn. He was taken on this unique journey from the house of his cousin Umm Haanee, where he was staying that night. It was to her house that he returned. He told her about his journey. A firm believer, she accepted and believed what the Prophet (pbuh) had said to her
The People of Makkah and the Night Journey
The next morning, the Prophet (pbuh) told this incident to the Makkans, but they accused him of lying and used this incident as another reason to make fun of him. The Prophet (pbuh) gave many proofs of the truth of his account. He told them of a caravan he had met on the way to Jerusalem and back, and of a stray camel of some Makkans and how he had directed them to where it was! He also described Al-Aqsa Mosque in great detail!
The believers were very impressed and rejoiced. The wonderful event deepened their faith. When the news was first broken to Abu Bakr, he asked, “Did he really tell of these things?” “Yes,” they replied. “If he reported this news,” he said, “then he has told the truth, because he never tells lies.”
Because of this response, Abu Bakr was given the title of as Siddeeq, the sincere believer – the one who affirms the truth.