The Holy Prophet’s Night Journey
Miraj or Miraj un Nabi or Isra wal Miraj is the Holy Prophet’s ascension to the heavens and beyond where he saw Allah Almighty. Allah blessed all His Prophet’s and Messengers with miracles. Every prophet and messenger was blessed with a miracle according to his era. This was so that people may pay heed to their message and turn to the right path and attain salvation both in this world and the hereafter.
The Israelites were highly accomplished in magic. Thousands of magicians used to be present in royal court. Allah blessed Moses with a miracle to overcome their magic.
The era of Jesus Christ was that of medical excellence hence Allah blessed him with the power to enliven the dead and cure the paralysed with the touch of his hand. Every Prophet was a step ahead of his nation in terms of knowledge and skill.
Miraj is a Miracle of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is the last of all prophets. Allah blessed him with such miracles that no other prophet or nation can even imagine of. Allah knew that his umma will reach the moon and other stars. Therefore He blessed His beloved with the highest of all miracles and invited him to His extreme closeness at the station of no stations.
The miracles of all prophets put together cannot reach the vastness of the miracle of Isra wal Miraj. The Holy Messenger went on Miraj on the 27th night of the Islamic month Rajab.
The word Miraj is a derivative of ‘urooj’ which means to ascend and go up. So Meraj is the Holy Prophet’s journey with his physical body from Makkah to Bait al-Maqdis in Jerusalem. From there to the heavens and then back to earth.
The excellence and glory that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) reached on this journey of ascension, no one ever did before him nor will anyone after him. Despite the fact that Allah blessed every of His prophet with a certain degree of Miraj. On the journey of gaining the closeness of Allah Almighty, Miraj is that level of extreme closeness where there remains no veil nor any distance or duality between Allah and His slave. This means that Miraj is the journey of human soul to return (ascend) from this worldly realm to the realm of La Hoot which is its origin.
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and Miraj
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says in his book Risala tul Ghausia:
“When I saw Allah Almighty, I asked him about Miraj. He said, “O Ghaus al-Azam! Miraj is to become indifferent to everything except me. The pinnacle of Miraj is مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى (His eye neither inclined aside nor overstepped the limit; (this refers to the Holy Prophet’s journey of Isra wal Miraj. When he saw Allah Almighty his sight only remained focused on Him and nothing else despite having observed the heavens and the beauty and the treasures of whole of the universe). O Ghaus al-Azam! One who doesn’t see me in salat (his or her salat is simply just a pretence and has no substance). It is as if that person never prayed salat.”
Ibn Arabi says in his book Shajra tul Kaun that the Miraj of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is such a secret that even the word secret is unaware of that secret.
Allama Zauqi and Isra wal Miraj
Shah Syed Mohammad Zauqi writes in his book Sirr-e-Dilbaran about Miraj:
“To become indifferent to everything other than Allah is Miraj. Therefore, salat is Miraj for Momins as when a person is in the court of Allah, there is nothing between him and his Lord (It’s important to elaborate this point that very few people actually have the honour of having the essence of salat. Majority of people only perform the ritual but are unfortunately void of the essence which is actually to be inwardly so focused towards Allah that there is nothing between him and his Lord and he sees his Lord in his inward). Miraj has many levels and everyone experiences the level of Miraj according to his or her inward sanctity. The Miraj for common Momins is different to what the Saints have which is different to what the Prophets have and above all the Miraj of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is beyond one’s imagination.”
Isra wal Miraj with Physical Body
Dr Tahir ul Qadiri writes in his book ‘The Philosophy of Miraj’:
“There are five entities within one’s inward i.e. inward, soul, secret, khafi and akhfa. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) covered the Miraj journey whilst awake. The proof for this is that Holy Prophet’s Miraj was not limited to the physical body, the various subtle parts of his inward also had Miraj. This is such that every part of his inward elevated to the next level. To explain it further, when he reached the station of Qab Qausain, his physical body (which is manifestation of the innerself) elevated to the level of ‘inward’. This proves that the Holy Prophet saw Allah Almighty with his physical eyes.”
Imam Tibrani in his book Al-Ma’ajam Al-Kabir quotes a tradition from Ibn Abbas as below:
“The Holy Prophet (pbuh) saw Allah Almighty twice, once with his physical eyes and then with the eyes of the inward.”
Miraj Demands Spiritual Sanctification
It is not possible to see the beauty of Allah Almighty with physical eyes until and unless they elevate from their level to the level of the inward. This is how the Holy Prophet saw Him with his physical eyes. Allah elevated his physical body to the level of inward so his seeing with the physical eyes was as if seeing with the eyes of the inward. Allah says in Quran:
مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى
Meaning: (His – the Holy Prophet’s) inward did not take it contrary to what (his) eyes beheld. (an-Najm: 11).
Similarly, when the inward of the Holy Prophet had Miraj, it elevated to the station of the soul. The inward was already busy seeing the beauty of Allah but when it reached the level of soul, it became annihilated. Similarly, the soul, sirr, khafi and akhfa had Miraj at their levels. Eventually, the vision of Allah reached its height and every part of the Holy Prophet’s inward had Miraj. When the Holy Prophet returned to earth, every part of his inward had experienced the beauty of his Lord.
When did Isra wal Miraj take place?
Isra wal Miraj took place 10 years after the Holy Prophet declared his prophet-hood. This was the time when his beloved uncle Abu Talib and his dearest wife Syeda Khadijah had passed away. With their demise, the Holy Prophet had lost much of his apparent support. On the other hand it happened just after the Taif journey when the people of Taif had treated him very badly.
The Holy Prophet and his companions left Shaab Abi Talib in 10H. Syeda Khadijah was also with him at the time. The Miraj took place during a month in 11H. Shaikh ul Islam Hafiz ibn Qayyam writes that Miraj took place after the Holy Prophet’s return from Taif in 11H. But there is difference of opinion on what month it took place in. Either it was Rabi al-Awwal, Rabi al-Thani, Rajab, Ramadan or Shawwal.
Zarqani narrates that Imam ibn Abdul Barr and Imam Abu Mohammad Abdullah Bin Muslim Bin Qutaibah al-Deenwari and Imam Nawawi has determined Rajab to be the month when Miraj took place. Hafiz Abdul Ghani Bin Abdul Wahid al-Muqaddasi also agrees that Meraj took place on the 27th night of Rajab. Qazi Mohammad Sulaiman (late) Mansoor Poori also agrees with the above.
Why Miraj took place at Night?
If Miraj had taken place during the day then everybody would have seen it and would have accepted it. But the reason that Allah decided to make the Miraj journey at night was to test who believes in the word of the Holy Prophet and who doesn’t. Pious people and the faithful people believe in the hidden. It was Abu Bakr al-Siddiq who first of all endorsed the words of the Holy Prophet about the Miraj journey. Another reason why Miraj took place at night is that night is better in its excellence than day. Allah created night before creating the day.
Ibn Abbas and his fellows say that Miraj took place at night so that people who say night is only for ill and sins and day is to perform good deeds may be proven wrong. The Miraj gave excellence to night and it also rejected the aforementioned false theory. It also re-affirms that whether good or bad, happens only with the will of Allah.
The Stages of Miraj Journey
First Stage – From Makkah to Bait al-Maqdis
The first stage of this great journey was from Kaaba in Makka to Bait al-Maqdis in Jerusalem. Many of the Companions have narrated this event. Allah says in Quran:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ البَصِيرُ
Meaning: Holy (i.e., free of any imperfection, weakness and insufficiency) is He Who took His (most beloved and intimate) Servant in a small portion of a night from the Sacred Mosque to the al-Aqsa Mosque, whose surroundings We have blessed, in order that We might show him (the Perfect Servant) Our signs. Surely, He is the One Who is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (al-Isrā’: 1)
It is narrated in book ‘Falsafa Miraj un Nabi’ that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was resting in Hateem (a part of the Kaaba). When Gabriel came and awoke the beloved of Allah. The Holy Prophet got up, looked around and then fell asleep. The same repeated second time. The third time when he got up, Gabriel said, “O Prophet (pbuh)! Allah Almighty wants to meet you and has invited you to His court.” Then angel Gabriel cut open the Holy Prophet’s chest from throat down to the belly button. He took out his heart and washed with the theophanies of Allah’s secrets. This enabled the Holy Prophet’s heart and strengthened it to absorb the theophanies of Allah’s closeness.
The Heavenly Steed
Then a heavenly steed was presented to the Holy Prophet called Buraq to be his ride on the journey of Isra wal Miraj. It was bright white in colour. Its speed of travel was such that as far as the rider’s sight would reach, its next step would land there.
When this caravan reached Bait al-Maqdis, ‘Bab e Mohammad’ was opened for their reception. With the point of his finger, Angel Gabriel created a hole in nearby stone and pegged Buraq there. When the Holy Prophet and Angel Gabriel entered Bait al-Maqdis, all the previous prophets were present there in his reception and honour. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) then led a prayer there.
Second Stage – Bait al-Maqdis to Sidra tul Muntaha
After leading a prayer for all the previous prophets, the second part of the journey began. When they reached the first heaven and knocked on the door, a voice came, who is it? Angel Gabriel replied, I am Jibrael. The voice from hidden said who is with you? He replied, This is Mohammad (pbuh). He has been invited at the heavens tonight. The door, opened. The Holy Prophet met with Prophet Adam there. Then he ascended to the second heaven where he met with Prophet Jesus and John. On the third heaven they met Prophet Joseph, then Prophet Enoch on the fourth, Prophet Aaron on fifth, Prophet Moses on the sixth and finally Prophet Abraham on the seventh heaven.
Then Angel Gabriel took the Holy Prophet to Sidra tul Muntaha. Imam Nawawi narrates that at this point the knowledge of angels ends. After this point no one could travel apart from the Holy Prophet. Sidra tul Muntaha is the last of stations for the creation. From there onwards is the station of no stations. Tafseer Durr e Manshoor narrates a Hadith about this:
“The angels used to pray in the court of Allah Almighty. O Allah! For whom you have created this universe and upon whom You send salutations day and night and we also follow You in that. That extremely revered personality is arriving at the heavens today. O Allah, we ask you to bless us with the unveiled beauty of Your beloved.”
The Angels Beheld the Prophet (pbuh) at Lote Tree
Allah accepted their prayer and ordered them to gather at the Lote Tree. There were so many angels that the Lote Tree became completely engulfed with their light. And that’s where they had the honour to behold the beauty of the beloved Messenger.
رخ ِ مصطفیٰؐ ہے وہ آئینہ کہ اب ایسا دوسرا آئینہ
نہ ہماری بزمِ خیال میں نہ دکانِ آئینہ ساز میں
Explanation: The beautiful countenance of Mohammad (pbuh) is such a bright mirror that has no parallel. Neither in our imagination nor with the Creator.
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) then visited the heavens, hell and viewed the Guarded Tablet in company of Angel Gabriel. Allah handed over the authority of the whole universe to him and he was taken around the whole of the universe. When he started travelling towards the Lote Tree, Angel Gabriel excused by saying that if he went ahead even by tiny bit beyond the Lote Tree, he will turn into a pile of ash.
Syed Ibrahim al-Jili says about Sidra tul Muntaha:
“Sidra tul Muntaha is the limit of creation’s travel towards Allah. Beyond it there isn’t any station except that fixed for Allah Himself.”
The creation cannot go beyond that point. There is no existence of creation beyond that point. The saying of Jibrael to the Holy Prophet eluded to this fact. (al-Insan al-Kamil)
Because the angels are made of light (an-Noor) hence they cannot go beyond Sidra tul Muntaha as it is engulfed by the light of Allah Almighty. At this place, to welcome His beloved, Allah sent His theophany in the same manner as He did on Mount Sinai.
In explanation of the fact that Mount Sinai reduced to ashes and Moses fainted when Allah descended His theophany. But for the same theophany, neither Sidra tul Muntaha burns nor the Holy Prophet loses conscious, Imam Razi writes that Sidra tul Muntaha is much stronger than Mount Sinai and the Holy Prophet is much more exalted than Prophet Moses.
The next station following Sidra tul Muntaha is the Throne. Before stepping on the Throne, the Holy Prophet intended to remove his sandals. The Throne cried and requested, “O beloved of Allah, please do not remove your sandals. Then a voice from hidden said, O my beloved! There is no need to remove your sandals, instead come onto the Throne wearing your sandals.”
The Holy Prophet replied, “O Lord, You had ordered Prophet Moses to remove his shoes when entering Sinai Peninsula. But this is Your Throne so why not the same order for me?”
پھر ندا آئی ذرا اس بات پر بھی غور ہو
موسیٰؑ کہاں اور تم کہاں ،وہ اور تھے تم اور ہو
وہ فقط طالب تھے تم طالب بھی ہو اور مطلوب بھی
وہ کلیم اللہ تھے اور تم میرے محبوب بھی
Explanation: The voice from the hidden (Allah Almighty) said, ponder over the fact that there is a lot of difference between you and Moses. Prophet Moses was only a seeker of Allah. Whereas you (Prophet Mohammad) are a seeker as well as the desired one. He was Kaleemullah (one who conversed with Allah) whereas you are My beloved too.
Third Stage – From Sidra tul Muntaha to Divine Union
The third phase is the pinnacle of this journey. A new phase of the journey begins from here. At this stage, all the knowledge and deeds of the creation become irrelevant. Beyond this nothing exists apart from the Throne. Only those can travel beyond this point whose existence is also made of the theophanies of Allah’s light. At this point, the Holy Prophet returned to his origin, ‘The Mohammadan Light’. As it is said, everything returns to its origin. Throughout the journey, the Holy Prophet progressively became attributed with Allah’s various attributes. In the end, he became attributed with Allah’s attribute of immortality. Only the Universal Divine Man (al-Insan al-Kamil) can reach Sidra tul Muntaha – the one who following the Sunna of the Holy Prophet completely annihilates in the Mohammadan Light and returns to his origin.
The Station of Qab Qausain
On the night of Miraj the beloved (Prophet Mohammad) and the Lord became so close as the two ends of a bow. Miraj is an honour for the man and the pleasure of Allah. It is the point of union between the seeker (man) and his Lord (Allah) where the difference between beginning and end disappears. It is the station of “I am you and you are Me.” Allah says in Surah al-Najm:
وَهُوَ بِالْأُفُقِ الْأَعْلَى۔ ثُمَّ دَنَا فَتَدَلَّى
Meaning: And he (Muhammad [blessings and peace be upon him]) was on the uppermost horizon (of the realm of creation during the Ascension Night i.e., on the apex of the created cosmos). Then He (the Lord of Honour) drew closer (to His Beloved Muhammad [blessings and peace be upon him]) and then drew even closer. (an-Najm: 7, 8)
The Holy Prophet said in a Hadith, “ When I toured the heavens, Allah Almighty came so close to me as if the distance between the two ends of a bow or even closer.” (Tafseer Rooh al-Bayan. Volume 4, p142)
This means duality vanished at that stage. Allah Almighty acquainted the Holy Prophet with all of His attributes and made him His best manifestation. Only Allah and His beloved know about the conversations that took place during Miraj. The Holy Prophet only revealed that when he met the Lord, He said, “O Prophet! May Allah’s blessings and mercy be upon you.” (Maarej Annabwa, Vol 3, p149)
The Holy Prophet replied, “May peace and salutations be upon me and the pious men of Allah.” (Al-Miraj by Sahibzada Sayyid Iftikhar al-Hassan)
Gifts of Miraj:
On the night of Isra wal Miraj, Allah had promised to make His beloved happy. Therefore, He beautified the whole of the universe and presented to the Holy Prophet and left upon him to choose what he wanted. Sultan ul Arifeen Sultan Bahoo says in Ain ul Faqr:
When the Holy Prophet went beyond the Throne and the Chair and reached the stations of Sidra tul Muntaha and Qab Qausain, then Allah asked, “O My Beloved! I showed you the eighteen thousand realms and gave you the authority upon them. What did you like amongst all of them and what would you like to take away as a gift? He (pbuh) replied, “The only thing I liked is Ism e Allah Zaat and Your love. I ask You from You.” Allah responded to this, “O Mohammad (pbuh), In what thing lies My love? What do I want and what is My favourite thing that enjoys My closeness that nothing comes between Me and that thing? The Holy Prophet responded, O Allah that is Faqr which makes one annihilate in You and become Immortal with You.”
Allah then said, “O My Beloved! You already have Ism e Allah Zaat and My vision.” In response to this the Holy Prophet said, “I want these things for my umma as well.” (Ain ul Faqr)
Ism e Allah Zaat is the special gift that Allah granted to Prophet Mohammad’s umma along with salat. He didn’t grant this to any other umma before him. This is the only medium to Divine closeness and vision.
Return from Miraj
Through Miraj, Allah revealed the exalted status of the Holy Prophet that no one else in His creation has or will ever have. Common people cannot understand his reality. But Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, who said, “I know the reality of the Holy Prophet.” That is the reason why he immediately endorsed the Miraj incident when he heard that from people around him. Miraj in fact is the journey of Divine love and closeness through which a Muslim becomes Momin. The journey of Miraj is a lesson for the seekers of this path. It opens the ways of Divine vision upon the seekers. May Allah grant us the strength and courage to understand true meaning of Miraj. Ameen
- Ain ul Faqr – Sultan ul Arifeen Sultan Bahoo
- Sirr Dilbaran – Shah Syed Mohammad Zauqi
- Falsafa Miraj al-Nabi – Dr Tahir ul Qadri
- Miraj e Mustafa – Shaikh al-Hadith Maulana Mohammad Ali Janbaz
- Al-Miraj – Sahibzada Syed Iftikhar ul Hassan
- Miraj e Rasool – Abdul Hadi Abdul Khaliq Madni
- Miraj e Rasool – Syed Siraj Ahmed Rizwi Noori
This is an English translation of the Urdu article معراج النبی that appeared in the March 2021 issue of the Mahnama Sultan ul Faqr Magazine. Nareen Sarwari Qadri wrote the original article. Waheed Hassan Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English. Tap below to read the original link:
What happened on Isra wal Miraj?
On the night of Isra wal Miraj, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) ascended to the heavens. Upon the orders of Allah, Angel Gabriel came to Prophet Mohammad and took him with him. The journey began from Makkah to Bait al-Maqdis (in Jerusalem) and then from there the Lote Tree after passing through the seven heavens. Then finally the Messenger of Allah travelled beyond the Lote Tree to the Throne of Allah where he saw Allah with his physical eyes as well as had conversation with Him.
What is the meaning of Miraj?
Miraj meaning is the journey of Prophet Mohammad on the 27th night of Rajab 10H when he went to the heavens.