Within Islam, Isra and Mi’raj, celebrated on the 27th day of the 7th month of the Muslim calendar, refers to a miraculous nighttime journey undertaken by the Prophet Muhammad, in two legs. First from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then from Jerusalem to the heavens. Believers consider it both a physical and a spiritual journey that was assisted by Allah himself — for example, by providing Muhammad with a pegasus-like steed, the Buraq, to ride during the first part of the journey.
History of Isra and Mi'raj
There is some dispute among scholars as to whether “the farthest mosque,” the Al-Aqsa, was a literal brick-and-mortar mosque or just a simple place of prayer, but adherents to the Muslim faith agree that Muhammed’s journey was truly a miracle, because in order to travel by normal methods between Mecca and Jerusalem, it would take more than a month, not the single night of Isra and Mi’raj.
A bit of background on Isra and Mi‘raj — the events occurred at a time when Muhammad was faced with deep difficulty. He had been tested with the passing of two of the dearest people in his life, the year these events took place becoming known as ‘Am al-Huzun, the Year of Sorrow. His uncle Abu Talib, an indispensable mentor, had passed on, along with his wife, Khadijah, who had been the comfort of his life.
Although there are different accounts of what occurred during the Mi’raj, most Islamic narratives have the same elements. Allah ascended the Prophet Muhammad from the Dome of the Rock through the skies or heaven, with the Angel Jibreel or Gabriel. Muhammad not only saw many miraculous sights and numerous angels, he also met a different prophet at each of the seven levels of heaven. First Adam, then John the Baptist and Jesus, then Joseph, then Idris, then Aaron, then Moses, and lastly Abraham.
After Muhammad meets with Abraham, he continues on to meet Allah without the Angel Gabriel. It is here when Allah gave the ummah (Muslims) the gift of compulsory salah or prayer. Allah tells Muhammad that his people must pray 50 times a day, but as Muhammad descends back to Earth, he meets Moses who tells Muhammad to go back to Allah and ask for fewer prayers because 50 is too many. Muhammad goes between Moses and Allah nine times until the prayers are reduced to the five daily prayers, which Allah will reward tenfold.
Finally, the Prophet Muhammad was taken back down to Al-Asqa and returned to Makkah. As he was transported home, he saw various caravans heading towards Makkah, which he would later describe to the Quraysh as proof that he really had made his miraculous journey. The entire journey had taken place in less than a night, and there were many who would mock Muhammad for making such a claim. For Muslims, however, the story was a source of wonder and hope, as it continues to be for many Muslims today.
Isra and Mi'raj timeline
On this, the 27th day of Rajab, the celebration of Isra and Mi’raj takes place.
1 Muharram of the Islamic New Year occurs, beginning the reckoning of years AH (Anno Hegirae or Hijri years, referring to the Muslim exodus to Medina).
Mohammed was led by Allah through his miraculous two-part journey during this year on the Gregorian calendar.
During this year of the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic Prophet Mohammed was born in Mecca.
Isra and Mi'raj FAQs
How is Isra and Mi’raj celebrated?
For those that choose to do so, Isra and Miraj is marked in various ways. Some Muslims gather at their local mosque for prayers, while others celebrate at home by telling the story of Muhammad’s journey to children and reciting prayers at night. After prayers, food is served.
What happened on the night journey?
The night journey is the ascent of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of Salat. The Prophet travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night on a strange winged creature called Buraq. From Jerusalem, he ascended into heaven, where he met the earlier prophets, and eventually Allah.
Who was with the Prophet for the Isra and Mi’raj?
The Prophet Muhammad (saws) met Prophet Adam a.s, followed by Prophets Yahya (John the Baptist) a.s and Prophet Isa (Jesus) a.s, and then with Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) a.s, Prophet Idris a.s, Prophet Harun (Aaron) a.s, Prophet Musa (Moses) a.s, and lastly, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) a.s.
How To Observe Isra and Mi’raj
Support your Muslim friends and co-workers
We’ve always believed that the key to coexistence is gaining knowledge about your peers’ inner experience. The more we understand, the less we judge. So today, gently approach the co-worker in your office, or that friend of a friend, and see what’s on their mind this holy day. The results might surprise you.
Go to your mosque and pray
If you are a follower of Islam, this is a day of miracles for you, and a good boss will listen and understand if you say you need a few hours free to make a mini-pilgrimage to your place of worship to show respect to the Prophet Muhammad. Everyone will understand. No matter who you are, Christian, Muslim or otherwise, we all sympathize with each other’s reverence for miraculous happenings.
Talk about it with your online friends
There are a million hashtags, and a million Facebook and Twitter information campaigns that just want you to copy and paste something you haven’t even really thought about. But today, post something unique and sincere. It is a special day for adherents to the Islamic faith, and as such, friends and neighbors should recognize it on their social feeds. Don’t get left behind.
5 Amazing Facts About Mecca (Makkah)
Does size matter?
Six hundred meters above sea level, in the Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel by Fairmont, lies the world’s highest Muslim prayer room, only able to contain six or eight people.
Going in for the long term
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plans to receive up to 30 million pilgrims to Makkah for Hajj and Umrah by the year 2030 and has specific infrastructure plans to handle the influx.
An automated system
To handle the 600 tons of trash generated per day during Hajj and Ramadan, Makkah has an automated waste disposal system connected to 318 collection points by underground conduits.
This goes back a ways
The Kaaba, a large cube-shaped building inside the mosque known as al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, is somewhat believed to have been built by the angels ordered by Allah; others say the father of mankind Adam, who built the Kaaba over many centuries but fell into disrepair during the midsts of time, only to be rebuilt by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael.
At the core of it
Makkah is considered the holiest city in the Islamic world. Every year, millions of Muslims take a pilgrimage to Mecca, called the Hajj, which is actually a requirement of the faith for those that can afford it.
Why We Love Isra and Mi’raj
We can reach out to our Muslim friends
… and if we’re Muslim, we can reach out to our Christian or agnostic or atheist friends, and share what it means to believe in miracles and prophets in our day-to-day lives. Faith is a strong thing, and it can help educate us and round us out as individuals, even if we’re not the ones feeling it directly.
The story itself is fantastic
It’s like the story of Jesus feeding a crowd of hundreds with a single loaf of bread and basket of fish. The story of Muhammad’s journey is just as wonderful. Even from an academic stance, what does it mean, this tale of miracles and wonder? Might we benefit from believing the unbelievable? How could the morals of these stories affect our outlook?
It’s a triumph of the human spirit
Even if we just take it metaphorically. A man undertakes a journey, and due to forces beyond his reckoning, beyond human imagination, he’s inspired and aided by powerful divinity to get there on time and accomplish his goal.
Isra and Mi'raj dates