Among the miracles of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) is his miraculous ascent to the heaven. This is believed to have taken place before his migration from Mecca to Medina, the Hijrah. Angel Gabriel took prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) on a heavenly steed called Buraq. The journey was in two parts where prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was taken from Mecca to Jerusalem and then from Jerusalem to the heaven, and returned to earth, and was all completed in one night.
In the Quran, reference to this is found in the Surah titled ‘Al-Isra’ or ‘the night journey’:
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from 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 holy Quran, Chapter 17 Verse 1).
And further, in chapter 53, Allah tells us :
So will you dispute with him over what he saw?
And he certainly saw him in another descent.
At the Lote tree of the utmost boundary-
Near it is the garden of refuge-
When there covered the Lote tree that which covered [it].
The sight [of the Prophet (peace be upon him)] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit].
He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord.
(The holy Quran, Chapter 53 Verses 12-18).
We do not need to logically work out how prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) traveled the distance between Mecca and Jerusalem, then to the heavens and back, within a night. It is part of our foundational beliefs, or aqeedah, that what Allah tells us in the Quran, is the truth.
Buraq took prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) first to masjid al-Aqsa where he performed prayer, leading all previous prophets in prayer, who were also miraculously present there. He was then taken through the seven heavens, where he met with the earlier prophets such as Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Yahya (John), Musa (Moses), Yusuf (Joseph), Harun (Aaron), and Isa (Jesus)- peace be upon all of them. In the seventh heaven, prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) saw a house similar to the Ka’ba, called the Bait ul Mamur, around which 70,000 angels do Tawa’af simultaneously. He then witnessed both heaven and hell and saw the rewards and punishments that have been prepared for people after their judgments. He then passed the sidrat al-Muntaha which is a Lote tree marking the end of the seventh heaven, which no creation of Allah can pass. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) then spoke to Allah at a place called Qa’b Qawsayn. He was given two gifts here- a) the last two ayah of Surah Baqarah (Verses 285 and 286 of Chapter 2 of the holy Quran) and b)50 salat a day was made compulsory for his ummah or followers. When prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was returning through the heavens, prophet Musa (peace be upon him) advised him to ask Allah for some concession as 50 salat a day was too much for the ummah to fulfill. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) returned to Allah several times asking for the daily salat to be reduced until it was reduced to five times a day. When this was done, he heard a voice telling him that the reward for the last ummah had been increased ten times, so if a Muslim prays five times a day he or she will earn a reward equal to 50 times a day. Before this time, salat was not compulsory. Muslims used to pray two times a day but they were nafl or optional prayers. When salat was made compulsory, it was considered a gift from Allah as Muslims had the opportunity to earn reward.
It is common for people in the Muslim world to celebrate the 27th of the month of Rajab to mark the prophet’s miraculous ascent to heaven. Celebrations include putting up of lights, distribution of sweets and holding religious gatherings. However, these practices are not authentic as per the sunnah of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). The companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) did not mark this night as a night of special supplication or prayer. In fact, doing so is an innovation or bidaah, changing the way of worship the prophet (peace be upon him) taught us.
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