Al Isra wal Miraaj: The Journey to Jerusalem

Episode 61: Al-Isra Wal-Miraj Part 1: The Journey to Jerusalem

In the previous 4 sessions, we talked about the journey of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to the city of Taif, when, why it happened and what was the thought process of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and what transpired in that journey and the aftermath. We’re at a very critical juncture in the prophethood, in his mission and life. This is in 11 almost 12th year. He (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) travels in Taif in 11th year of prophethood and settles back down and there is the experience of getting an ally from Mut’im Ibn Adiy, a disbeliever, and Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) able to return safely back home

Some time went by thereafter. Now we’re well into the 12th years of prophethood. So it has been 12 years since Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) received divine revelation. It has been 9 years since he has been teaching and preaching message of Islam publicly. If you document what has happened and how long it has been going on, it has been 7 years since a 100 of the first believers in city of Makkah left Makkah for Abyssinia and have been residing there for 7 years. It has been 5 years since the infamous and tragic boycott started. it has been almost 2.5, 3 years since it ended. At a personal level, it’s been 1.5 years since the passing of his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) uncle Abi Talib which is basically his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) entirely family and his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) beloved wife of 25 years, Khadija, the two most important people to him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). It has been 6 months since he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ventured out of Makkah to see what response would meet him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) outside of Makkah only to be met with rejection and brutality.

He (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is sitting at a very critical juncture, extremely overwhelmed by circumstances. He (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has taken so many hits ,major hits, Any one of these major hits would have floored us, but Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) have taken multiple hits one after another and he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is still surviving, persisting, he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)is relying on his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) relationship with Allah and that is getting him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) through. But at a human level he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is being beaten down. So there were some small instances of reprieve and relief that came divinely such as the instance where even on journey back from Taif, Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was praying his qiyaam and Allah sent him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) divine revelation.

“…a group of jinn just came and heard you reciting Quran and they believed and they went back and are preaching and teaching Quran on your behalf among the jinn..”

You went to Taif to share this message to human beings, and they might not have accepted but guess what, Allah gave guidance to a group of jinn. This is in the hands of Allah.

Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is waiting outside of Makkah, very anxious, and the believers are very nervous to see how he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would reenter Makkah when Abu Jahl is seizing this as an opportunity to make a very serious move against Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) . What happens; Mut’im Bin Adiy (staunch opponent of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and leader of his people) absolutely grants Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) complete and total protection and in fact, draws his sword in defense of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

So there were a couple of small things, but Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) have been going through a lot. It was at this point, maybe 1.5 before Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would leave Makkah and migrate to Madinah. it was at this point in time that Allah bestowed one of the greatest gift and blessings upon Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). One of the greatest experiences that any human being has ever had and that is that Allah granted Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the experience and journey of Isra wal miraaj

Israa means to travel by night, to secretly travel by night. That was the journey at night from Makkah to Jerusalem, al  masjidul aqsa, baitul muqaddas. wal Mi3raaj comes from urooj which means to ascend, go upwards. Mi3raaj is the ascension above the heavens.

Suffice to say that Isra miraaj is one of the most major experiences and most major events, landmark events, of the life of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). The life of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is a highlight reel, every little thing is majorly significant and is majorly important and that’s why it’s taking that many sessions even to get to this point. Even in context of life of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in which every little detail is significant and profound, even within his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) life, the journey of Isra and miraaj is the most profound.

There are certain passages in the Quran like in the beginning ayah of Surah Israa, and beginning of surah Najm,which allude to and speak of journey of israa and miraaj.When you read book of seerah and tafseer, what you find is that there are dozens of different narrations from dozen different sahabah about this journey. They don’t necessarily contradict. Even though to the beginner’s (Taalibul Ilm) eye, if he would read through this, there are just a couple of minor variations, and s/he might have very few questions but even those have very simple explanations behind them once s/he has depth in terms of understanding what the circumstances were, Even though in major details there are no contradiction, you find something interesting. The hadith of Aisha r.a. would have certain details. The hadith of Ibn Abbas r.a. would have some details that are not spoken of hadith of Aisha r.a.. hadith of Ibn Masood r.a. which is one of the most detailed might still not have a couple of pieces of the puzzle you might find in narration of Umm Hani’s.  So when you look at all of it, it brings a question to mind, where can you find the complete of those bits and pieces and put the story together?

The riwaayaat of the sahabah are varied because what may happen is that maybe Ibn Abbas and Aisha r.a., etc maybe heard narration of Ibn Masood so they only related what they didn’t hear in Ibn Masood’s narration ; “Wait, wait, Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) told us a couple extra things Ibn Masood didn’t mention.” So they would only talk about those things. The other sahabi then mentioned a couple of things that struck a chord with him or really connected with him or her. So you find different pieces of the puzzle in different narrations. The majority of ones Sheikh had taken from are authentic. But there are classical scholars of seerah such as author of Subuul huda wal rashaad who has taken all these pieces that are found in authentic narrations and pieced them all together to create a more flowing narrative of what transpired in the Israa miraaj and that is what we’ll be looking at today inshaaAllah.

The majority narrations mentioned, Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was in what was called the Hateem, the Hijr Ismail, that half circle that is on one side of the Kaabah that when we make tawaf we go around it, the area that we’re recommended to pray inside. Late at night, Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would lie down in that area, relax and think, reflect on certain things. This was habit of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

Jibril and Mikail came to Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and with them was a third angel. Jibril and Mikail pointed to Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to the third angel and said, “This is the messenger of Allah”. Then they went. Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) didn’t see them again till the next night. Then again they came back on 2nd night and they again had conversation about Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), standing  near him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) “He’s the leader of his people, that’s him that’s him.” Then they came back the 3rd night and pointed again to Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and in another narration Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned that he was lying there with his eyes closed. When the angels came, Jibril nudged Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) a little bit and they saw each other and they left and this happened again on 2nd night and then 3rd night again but now something changed.

They came, and brought and laid Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) at a specific place and this is where difference in narrations start to occur. One narration say he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was not at the haram but was at home or home of Umm Hani. His home and home of Umm Hani was the same thing, because Umm Hani was a family member of Umm Hani so being in her home was like being in his home. The roof of that house literally opened and Jibril and Mikail came down through the roof.

The second narration mentions that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) says ” I was at home” which could very easily be the home of Umm Hani and the roof literally opened and Jibril and Mikail came down through the roof. But at the same time a lot of the narrations mention that he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was at the haram. So how do we reconcile?

Some of the classical scholars said that Umm Hani’s house was literally neighboring the Kaabah. She lived today in what probably is the area of Tawaf. She lived so close to the Kaabah that being in her home was like being in the haram.

Secondly, this narration makes it very clear that Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was lying down near the Kaabah in the hateem of Ismail, so every night Jibril and Mikail would nudge him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) away, and on the third night, it mentioned فَاحتَمَلُوهُ, they carried him, which means they must have brought him home. Now they’re about to carry out a very sensitive procedure and they needed to have him at a more private are, safe place. That’s another method of reconciliation.

So they  bring him  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)to the home and at  this time Jibril took his finger as had occurred twice before in his life, once as a child when he was in the care of Halimah and the second incident which is mentioned shortly before he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) received the nubuwwah. This is the 3rd instance according to some of the scholars of seerah and some say this is the second instance. Jibril  literally took his finger and drew, like you would trace a line from his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) chest down to the belly button. He drew a line with his finger, but this is Jibril so it;s not an ordinary finger, so what that did was split the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) open. Then he told Mikail “Bring to me a tray/dish/bowl with the water of zamzam in it.” Mikail brings this. Jibril says “So I may wash/cleanse his heart, alleviate the pressure from his chest.” Remember the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has spent the 12 most brutal years any human being has ever lived. So you see the practical purpose and benefit of this.

So he took his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) heart out of his  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  chest and washed it 3 times. He removed all the pain and the hurt that was there in the heart of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). It actually mentioned that for each of the 3 washings, Mikail would hand Jibril a separate clean bowl and he washed it in all 3 bowls. Then there was a container, dish that was made out of gold, and it was full of hikmah and iman. What that must have looked like, Allah knows best. it was  bowl full of hikmah, conviction, iman.

Jibril put the heart of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) back in his chest and took that bowl that full of hikmah and iman and poured it in to the chest of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). He filled it with forbearance, the ability to endure and understand the purpose of things, and knowledge and understanding and conviction and strength, fortitude and submissiveness before Allah. Then he closed it, so he sealed his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  chest back up. It was mentioned that there was a very fine scar on the chest of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

Then he placed the mark of the seal of prophethood on the back of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) between his shoulder blades. It said it’s something that was already there. So at this point in time it maybe became more pronounced.

They brought the Buraq. The brought this animal to the door. It’s mentioned that this animal was brought near the door of Kaaba and Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself went there. Prophet saw described it: it was a four-legged animal and it was white. it was very long, a big animal. Then Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) says it was larger than a donkey, however it was a little less than a mule, (crossbreeding of a horse and a donkey). When you breed a horse and donkey it’s a larger size, it has more resemblance of a horse but has the demeanor of a donkey. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was saying that it wasn’t quite as big as a horse but it was larger than a donkey.

The wisdom in that is that the horse has the physical prowess and even intelligence, but a horse isn’t a very comfortable ride, it’s actually quite fatiguing to ride a horse. That’s why for more casual travel and especially a lot of time for elderly folks, at that time, a donkey is considered the best form of transportation. It’s more easier, more comfortable, more luxurious, than speed and power. a horse is a corvette and a donkey is like riding a Mercedes. The fact that this animal was a little bit bigger than the donkey meant that it has that power and strength and speed but the fact that it was less than a horse signifies that it was a very comfortable ride.

As soon as the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) sat on this animal, and it took its very first step, Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) realized something mind-blowing. The place where this animal would place its hoof as far as the eye could see. That was 1 step.

These days, with visual effects, it’s obviously got a lot of negative effects in terms of attention span and how we use our time. Maybe it’s the only benefit but there is a very interesting benefit for us being in a time where we have this visual effects. It can give us somewhat of an idea to what this is maybe referring to. Maybe almost like super speed or whatever they do in Star Trek, when ship goes into hyper drive. That’s how the Buraq moved.

So you were here now and next thing you know you’re maybe 30 miles away. One step in a split second. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) explains a bit more about the animal; as it’s moving so quickly, (obviously there’s different terrains it’s passing through) when it came upon a mountain it felt like its legs would get longer so it could go over the mountain and as it started to go back towards the decline, it’s like its front legs would get longer. This animal actually had wings that were based at the hips of the animal, that allowed it to push up with its feet and become airborne and would actually fly.

There are some weaker narrations that described a bit more about how the animal actually looked. Its head was more like that of a horse and its face as well while its legs resembled that of a camel and it had a smaller tail like maybe a cow’s. But this is weaker narration, one that aren’t very relevant or important in this case.

So Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was traveling on this Buraq at the speed of light and Jibril is traveling along by the side of Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) at the same speed. This is where it gets interesting. It is mentioned that Jibril is on the right and Mikail is on the left, so Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had an official escort, flanked on both sides while traveling. So they kept going till they finally reached a lot of place that had a lot of date palms.

Jibril said “Stop and get down off the Buraq and please perform prayer here. Pray 2 rakaat, oh messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).” So Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did that and then got back on the Buraq and started going. Jibril asked him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) now “Do you know where you prayed oh messenger of Allah?” Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said “No.”

Jibril said, “You just prayed at a very blessed beautiful place and it’s a place where you will migrate to.” So the place Madinah al Munawwarah,  was marked on the night of Isra and Miraaj. When they left Makkah they stopped there, it was Yathrib at that time. Jibril asked Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to stop and pray there kind of initiate and inaugurate the place of Madinah.

Then again they kept going and reached another point where Jibril said to Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to descend and pray there as well. Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayed and then got back onto the Buraq and again Jibril asked him “Do you know where you now prayed ya Rasulullah?” Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “No.” Jibril said “You just prayed salat at the place of Madyan under the same tree where Musa a.s. sat when he fled from Egypt and took refuge in the place of Madyan where he made dua to Allah…Innee limaa anzalta ilayya min khairin faqeer.”

Then they again moved forward and again Jibril tells Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to descend and perform prayer. And again Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayed and again Jibril asked him if he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) knew where he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayed and Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said “No.” Jibril said, “”You just performed salat at the place where Allah spoke directly to Musa a.s.”

Then they reached a place and they started to see large homes like palaces at this place and again Jibril said to descend and pray there. Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayed and again Jibril asked him if he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) knew where he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayed at and Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said “No.” Jibril said, “You prayed at the place that we call Bethlehem where Isa a.s. was born, where Maryam gave birth to Isa a.s. miraculously. ”

The story goes on forward from there. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was moving at the speed of light on the Buraq, and occasionally where the Buraq slowed down or Allah just gave Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the opportunity to see things on the way. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) saw a group of the jinn, and not just a group of the jinn but he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) saw very powerful jinn. He keeps trying to find a piece of the fire, to take from the fire of this jinn, and every time he turns around, he sees and he goes back and he’s not able to take the fire and again he turns around and looks back and he’s not able to take it.

Jibril said, “Shall I not tell you some words that you can say? If you say these words, then this fire that this jinn keeps seeking out will extinguish and this will stop”

Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said “Absolutely.”

So he taught the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) these words.

a’oozhu biwajhillaahil kareem wa bikalimatillah tammaati llati la yujaawizuhunna barrum wa laa faajirun min sharri maa yanzil mina samaa wa min sharri maa ya3ruju feehaa wa min sharri maa zhara2a fil ardhi wa min sharri maa yakhruju minhaa wa min sharri fitanilayli wannahaari wa min Tawaariqi layli wannahaari illa Taariqan yaTruqu bi khayri ya Rahmaan

 I seek refuge with the face of Allah that is most noble and the with words of Allah the complete powerful words of Allah, that nothing can transgress them not a good nor a bad person can supercede the words of Allah. I seek refuge with Allah from the evil that could come down from the sky, from the evil that rises up into the sky from the evil that spreads onto the earth from the evil that tat comes out from the ear from the evil of the test of the night and the day and from those things that attack or move at night or during the day except for something that comes with khayr oh Allah ya Rahmaan.

“Oh Rasulullah, if you say these words. it will take that fuel away from those jinn. it will prevent them from wreaking havoc.”

This was a very evil powerful jinn, what this jinn was doing was he saw a fire burning and he would keep going trying to get it but wasn’t able to get it ,and every time he moved away from it, he would look back and see the fire and keep trying to get it. This is symbolic of a jinn trying to go and do something evil.

Once Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recited the words, the fire that the jinn was chasing was extinguished. So it took that out of the hands of that jinn.

Then they moved on forward till they saw a people who would sow the seeds and turn the soil and work in the soil one day and they would go and harvest the next day. As soon as they go and harvest the crop turned into what it was originally. This is a very common theme in this journey where Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would ask Jibril “Ya Jibril maa hazhaa?”

“Oh Rasulullah these are those people who strive and struggle in path of Allah. their good deeds are multiplied by 700 times. Whatever they spend no  matter how small or insignificant , it is returned to them many many fold.”

Think about the symbolism. These are farmers who are sowing seeds one day and they are able to harvest the crops the next day. This is not normal. You would usually harvest 6,8, months or many months later! but this is immediate turnover which in business term is the best way to do business possible.

The only reason a person won’t go for the quick turnover is because they’re waiting for a bigger turnover. immediate turnover is usually minimal turnover. A quick turnover is a couple hundred bucks. If you’re willing to sit longer, you get a couple thousand bucks and so on. With them though, it’s a quick turnover but it’s a huge turnover.

Then the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) found a very extremely fragrant beautiful breeze unlike anything he had ever experienced before “Ya Jibril what is the beautiful scent? Where is this coming from?”

“This is the scent coming from the woman who used to comb the hair of the daughter of Firawn, her (that woman) and her children, this is their fragrance. ”

Then Jibril tells Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), “One day she was brushing the hair of the daughter of Firawn and she dropped the brush. When she went to pick up the brush, she said, Bismillah and may Firawn be cursed.”

Daughter of Firawn said “You have a lord other than my father?”

She said, “Yes, my lord and your lord is Allah.”

In one narration she said “My  lord and the lord and master of your father is Allah.”

The more extended narration said that the daughter of Firawn said “I’m going to tell my dad what you said, ” and she said, “Go tell him if you want to. You do what you gotta do and I will do what I gotta do.”

She has a husband and 2 sons. Once the word got to Firawn, he called all of them and gave the two parents(the 2 other kids were small) the opportunity to leave the religion now and come back to worshiping Firawn or else.

Firawn said, “Because I will kill the both of you and your children.”

She says, “That’s fine. I just have one favor to ask.”

“What is that?”

“When you do kill us, you at least bury our bodies in the ground.”

“Ok, that much we owe you, you’re a human being. I’ll make sure you’re buried but that’s about it.”

He had a pit that had oil or something of that nature, like steel and metal and oil. He had that heated up until it became liquid boiling hot and he ordered for them to be brought. And he started with  the mother, had her thrown in there, and then husband and then children so much so that there was a nursing child thrown in there as well.

One of the narrations mentions that when the soldier took that baby and was about to  thrown into the fire, he spoke and said “Oh  mother oh my family don’t back away from this but embrace this opportunity because we’re upon the haqq.”This is mentioned within the narration that this is one of the four children who spoke miraculously even as an infant; This child, the witness of Yousuf a.s. , the companion of Jurayj and Isa a.s. These are some of the stops along the journey, that Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) took and some of the things he saw and experienced.

Disclaimer : Sheikh Abdul Nasir will go into the most details as he can . The objective is to take a part, analyze and extract from every little detail so we know how to live our lives. The purpose is not to finish something. With regards to this topic of Isra Miraaj, the biggest struggle Sheikh has had is how to touch on all things beneficial and necessary in this event. At the very least Sheikh has been able to organize his thoughts. First is to go through the journey almost like going with Prophet saw and then visiting the details and specific lessons so that we can get a full scope and then go through the details.

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