There are several occasions that are deemed as a blessing and gift from Allah Almighty other than Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adhaa in Islamic societies all around the world, and one such revered occasion is Isra or Me’raj that occurs on 27th of Islamic month of Rajab (the 7th month according to Islamic calendar). This year, Isra/Me’raj will fall on 17th of 2012.
Isra or Me’raj, according to Islamic theology, concerns establishment and acknowledgement of Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) miraculous journey from Mecca through Jerusalem and his eventual ascension to Heavens before the all mighty all powerful Allah (SWT).
Isra, Me’raj and Qur’an
Some people refer to this revered event as a fabrication because of its details that do not concede with common human intellect. In fact, the ascension of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Heavens is the truest of events as there are narrations of it in a source as authentic and eternal as Holy Qur’an:
“Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allaah) [above all that (evil) they associate with Him] Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al‑Masjid Al‑Haraam (at Makkah) to Al‑Masjid Al‑Aqsa (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer”[al-Isra’ 17:1]
In fact, that is why learning Qur’an is seen as a religious obligation on Muslims ever since its revelation, as it contains knowledge and information on everything that people might ever need. Today, one can even recite and read holy Quran online, getting high quality assistance needed to do so while sitting within the comforts of their own homes.
Fact of the matter is that Isra/Me’raj is not described in detail in Qur’an. The details come to us from hadith and other authentic Islamic traditions that explain this miraculous journey in fine details. According to those details, this journey comprised of two parts:
Isra – First part of the journey
Islamic scholars are of the view that this miraculous journey comprised of two parts; the first one referred as Isra that involves Muhammad’s (PBUH) visit to Jerusalem in company of Archangel Gabriel (may peace be upon him) where he prayed with all the Prophets including Adam, Jesus, Moses, and others. Gabriel presented Muhammad (PBUH) with Burraq, a special kind of ride bestowed to them by Allah Almighty that travelled lightening fast to enable them complete this multidimensional journey merely in a matter of one night.
According to Islamic traditions, Burraq was a ride specially sent from heavens for Muhammad (PBUH) to help him travel at lightening speeds. Many scholars also believe it resembled a horse, which by the way, should not matter, because the point lies in its lightening fast speed rather than its size, shape, or nature.
Me’raj – Second part of the journey
Islamic theology states that Me’raj constitutes the latter half of this revered journey when Muhammad was ascended to Heavens where he practically witnessed hell and heaven by wish and will of Allah Almighty. The word Me’raj equates to “ladder” in Arabic that is also expressive of the nature of this journey. Different levels and intensities of hell and heaven were shown to Muhammad (PBH) during this phase of journey as well.
Incumbency of daily prayers
It is also through Me’raj that Muslims were granted the gift of 5 daily prayers by Allah Almighty. As a matter of fact, Allah initially awarded 50 prayers a day to Muhammad (PBUH), which was later on reduced to 5 times a day. This is another great significance of Me’raj.
How Muslims honor Isra/Me’raj
Muslims commemorate this gracious event by praying to Allah Almighty and praising Muhammad (PBUH). They try to pray as much as possible this day to appease Allah (SWT). Muslims try to recite as much of Qur’an this day as possible. As stated earlier, one can also perform Quran recitation to express their love, respect, and gratitude to The One Who deserves all praise and worship, i.e. Allah Almighty.
This revered occasion bestows Muslims with great opportunity of not only thanking Allah Almighty and His beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but it also serves as a reminder to them about the power and might of Allah (SWT) Who is capable of showing us anything He wants. May Allah Almighty bestow us with all the blessings this Isra/Me’raj and set our direction right.