All the Prophets of Allah SWT happened to be highly influential and the most devoted individuals among the rest of the population. That is why they were also awarded with some miracles from the Almighty Lord to distinguish them even more than the normal ones. Our Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ also had extraordinary personality features like revelations of the Holy Quran, transforming lives of people around Him, placing Barakah into food items, splitting of the moon etc. One of such miracles of Rasulullah ﷺ is the occurrence of Isra (Visiting Bait al-Maqdas, Masjid al-Aqsa) and Miraj (Ascending to the Heavens and Meeting the Creator of the universe) only in one night time.
Isra (Journey to Jerusalem)
The Most Beneficent says in His Sacred Book:
“Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) [above all that (evil) they associate with Him] [Tafsir Qurtubi, Vol. 10, Page 204]
Who took His slave (Muhammad SAW) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem), the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad SAW) of Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” [Quran, 17: 1]
In this Ayah Kareema, the Gracious God tells about taking His Apostle ﷺ on the greatest journey from Khana Kaaba to Masjid al Aqsa in a matter of single night which took place on Buraq (A Heavenly Flying Horse). This shows that going on such a remarkable journey in a few hours of darkness which was even impossible to think about at that time was among the top miracles of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which Allah SWT gave Him.
Miraj (Rising up to Heavens)
The Almighty Lord says in the Holy Quran:
“While he [Jibrael (Gabriel)] was in the highest part of the horizon, Then he [Jibrael (Gabriel)] approached and came closer, And was at a distance of two bows’ length or (even) nearer, So did (Allah) convey the Inspiration to His slave [Muhammad SAW through Jibrael (Gabriel)]. The (Prophet’s) heart lied not (in seeing) what he (Muhammad SAW) saw. Will you then dispute with him (Muhammad SAW) about what he saw [during the Mi’raj: (Ascent of the Prophet SAW over the seven heavens)]. And indeed he (Muhammad SAW) saw him [Jibrael (Gabriel)] at a second descent (i.e. another time). Near Sidrat-ul-Muntaha [lote-tree of the utmost boundary (beyond which none can pass)],. Near it is the Paradise of Abode. When that covered the lote-tree which did cover it! The sight (of Prophet Muhammad SAW) turned not aside (right or left), nor it transgressed beyond (the) limit (ordained for it). Indeed he (Muhammad SAW) did see, of the Greatest Signs, of his Lord (Allah).” [Quran, 53: 12-18]
In these Quranic lines, the Most Merciful describes the account of Prophet ﷺ embarking on an emphatic trip right from all heavens into Paradise where He saw many of the Signs of Allah SWT, which is generally known as “Miraj”. He also met particular Prophets on all seven levels of heavens, i.e. Adam, Isa, Yousaf, Idris, Harun, Musa and Ibrahim (May Allah be pleased with them all) in an order of heavens from first to seventh.
According to various Scholarly traditions, this most auspicious travel of the Messenger ﷺ of God took place on 27th of Rajab (7th Month in the Islamic Calendar) in the 10th Year of Hirah (Migration from Makkah to Madina). When Rasulullah ﷺ told people about this unbelieving event, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddeeq (R.A) believed in Him without having a shadow of a doubt in his mind and told others that he (R.A) believed in each and every word Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ said. The Exalted One then Himself approved the truthfulness of His Messenger ﷺ in the above mentioned Ayats.
Gifting Muslims With Daily Prayers
Among the many related promising events that occurred on the night of Miraj up in the heaven, when the Messenger ﷺ met with Allah SWT Himself, He (PBUH) was awarded with a present of Salah (Obligatory Prayers that every believer has to perform five times a day).
“O Muhammad! These prayers need to be performed five times a day. However, there are ten rewards for each prayer!” (Muslim)
This Hadith Qudsi (Instruction given to Prophet PBUH by Allah Himself) indicates that He was directed to tell His followers about carrying out Namaz five times each day, i.e. Fajr, Duhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha. At first the command was to perform 50 prayers in a single day but then upon the advice of Hazrat Musa A.S (Moses) who told Him that His Muslims would not be able to bear such a huge burden. After several revisits from Rasulullah ﷺ in front of the Almighty Lord, finally He (PBUH) approved 5 Prayers for His nation although Prophet Moses still urged Him to reduce it further.
In this way, Muslims got the most favorable gift in the form of Salah from Allah SWT through which they communicate with Him, ask for His Mercy and gain many blessings as a result of performing Namaz.
Description Of Paradise And Hell
While the Messenger ﷺ of Allah was on His way to meet with His Lord, He (PBUH) was shown the residents of eternal living places, i.e. Jannah and Jahannam. There, Rasulullah ﷺ saw both sides of everlasting life as He witnessed people bearing great sufferings hell who used to commit different kinds of wrongdoings in their worldly life while He also observed the residents of paradise many of the blessings as promised in the Holy Quran.
Revelation of Last Two Ayats of Surah al-Bakarah
It is the very event during which Allah SWT disclosed His last two Verses of Surah Bakarah on the Holy Prophet ﷺ which direct Muslims to believe in all commandments which reach them through Rasulullah ﷺ, avoid making differences between Prophets, believe in Messengers, Books and Angels, asking for God`s Pardon and having faith of returning to Him. The Almighty Lord then discussed about not burdening anyone excessively, good return for noble deeds while bad return for evil one, supplication for the believers to ask the Most Merciful for any wrongdoing, not to overburden them like those of past nations or with what they have not the strength to bear, forgiveness of sins, and giving victory over the non believers. Hence, these two Ayats are great form of guidance for disciples of Islam.
Honoring This Great Occasion
Although it is not approved from the Prophetic (PBUH) traditions to specifically celebrate this night, but Muslims all over the globe pay huge tribute to this promising nighttime because of its positive effects on their lives. It is because the events of Isra and Miraj which took place in these solitary hours of darkness have great standing in Islam. Muslims got the gift of Daily Prayers in it which is great means of attaining righteousness. One can perform Nafl (Non Obligatory Salah) in these moments of blessings which could be from 2 to 12 rakats depending upon a person`s ability containing special invocations to Allah SWT like Praising His Name by saying Subhanallah, asking for His Mercy by articulating Istighfar and sending Durood e Pak on His Messenger ﷺ. There is no compulsion in any kind of worships but one can also observe “Soum” (Fasting) in these days.
In short, Isra and Miraj are two miracles of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which He was able to perform with the Grace of Allah SWT. This one night holds tremendous amount of blessings in itself for the believers who can benefit from it through worships of the Almighty Lord and asking for His Mercy.