What is Isra and Lailat al Miraj?

This is the rock from which the prophet Mohammed (PBUH)ascended to heaven, in Al-Isra and Miraj in 620 along with the angel Gabriel
This rock is at Al-Quds (Jerusalem).


Isra and Mi’raj Summary:
MIn Islamic tradition, the Isra and Mi’raj are the two parts of a journey that Muhammad took in one night, in 621 AD (1 BH). Many Muslims consider it a physical journey but some Islamic scholars consider it a dream. A brief sketch of the story is in verses 1 and 60 of one of the Qur’an chapters (#17: sura al isra), and other details were filled in from the supplemental writings, the hadith.

The Isra begins with Muhammad resting in the Kaaba in Mecca, when the archangel Gabriel comes to him, and brings him the winged steed Buraq, who carries Muhammad to the “farthest mosque”. The location of this mosque was not explicitly stated in the Qur’an, but is traditionally considered to be the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. There, Muhammad alights, tethers Buraq, and leads other prophets in prayer. He then gets back on Buraq, and in the second part of the journey, the Mi’raj, is taken to the heavens, where he tours the circles of heaven, and speaks with the earlier prophets, and with Allah. Allah tells him to enjoin the Muslims to pray fifty times a day; however, Moses tells Muhammad that they would never do it, and urges Muhammad to go back several times and ask for a reduction, until finally it is reduced to five times a day.

After Muhammad returned to Earth and tells his story in Mecca, the unbelieving townspeople regard it as absurd. Some go to Muhammad’s companion Abu Bakr and tell him, “Look at what your companion is saying. He says he went to Jerusalem and came back in one night.” Abu Bakr in reply, tells them, “If he said that, then he is truthful. I believe him concerning the news of the heavens — that an angel descends to him from the heavens. How could I not believe he went to Jerusalem and came back in a short period of time — when these are on earth?” It was for this that Abu Bakr is said to have received his famous title “Us-Siddiq”, The Truthful.

The story is celebrated each year via a festival primarily for children, the Lailat al Miraj. Muslims bring their children to the mosques, where the children are told the story, allowed to pray with the adults, and then afterwards food and treats are served.

Type of journey:
Many Muslims believe that the Isra and Mi’raj describe a physical journey of Muhammad, but some Islamic scholars consider it as a dream. Ibn Ishaq, author of the first biography of Muhammad, says it was the latter. He has a tradition from Aisha that only Muhammad’s spirit had journeyed to “the distant place of prayer”, although later material written by Al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir differ in this opinion. Some argue that the journey was a type of metaphor — a mode of revelation for Muhammad in symbolic form, for the guidance of the Muslim nation. The event could be interpreted as foretelling Muslims that God would now raise Muslims up as a superpower, and Jerusalem would soon fall into their hands. This did happen within less than three decades of this event. Other hadith material suggests that it was a physical journey and it is argued that this event wouldn’t be a “trial” for believers if it were a dream.

The Masjid al-Aqsa, the Farthest Mosque:
Though at the time of the Isra and Mi’raj, there was no mosque in that location, the term “the farthest Mosque” in verse (17:1) of the Qur’an is traditionally interpreted by Muslims as referring to the site at the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. This interpretation is agreed with by even the earliest biographer of Muhammad — Ibn Ishaq — and is supported by numerous Hadith. The term used for mosque,”masjid”, literally means “place of prostration”, and includes monotheistic places of worship such as Solomon’s Temple, which in verse 17:7 (in the same sura) is described as a masjid. Some Muslim scholars argue that “the farthest mosque” referred to in the Qur’an actually points to the Temple of Solomon.

Many Western historians, such as Heribert Busse and Neal Robinson, agree that Jerusalem is the originally intended interpretation. However, some disagree, arguing that at the time this verse of the Qur’an was recited (around the year 621, unless one follows Wansbrough) many Muslims understood the phrase “farthest mosque” as a poetic phrase for a mosque already known to them, a mosque in Heaven, or as a metaphor. For the following reasons, they find it unlikely that this verse referred to a location in Palestine: But it is also true that initially Muslims used to pray while facing towards “bait-ul-muqadas” or the Temple Mount or the holy land. Later on this direction, the Qibla, was changed to Mecca. So it would be wrong to say that in that period Muslims had no connection with Palestine.
The modern Al Aqsa mosque, built after Muhammad’s lifetime
The modern Al Aqsa mosque, built after Muhammad’s lifetime

Critics also point out that at the time of Muhammad’s vision, there was no mosque on the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem. That structure was not built until after Muhammad’s death, when Muslims finally did conquer and occupy Jerusalem. At that time the Umayyads built a new mosque on the Temple Mount; naming it the Al-Aqsa Mosque or “farthest mosque”. Al Tibawi, a Palestinian historian, argues that this action “gave reality to the figurative name used in the Koran.”

Critics also state that there were already two places that Muslim tradition of that time period called “the farthest mosque”; one was the mosque in Medina, and the other was the mosque in the town of Jirana, which Muhammed is said to have visited in 630.

Modern observance:
This celebrated event in Islam is considered to have taken place before the Hijra and after Muhammad’s visit to the people of Taif. It is considered by some to have happened just over a year before the Hijra, on the 27th of Rajab; but this date is not always recognized. In Shi’a Iran for example, Rajab 27 is the day of Muhammad’s first calling or Mab’as.

The Lailat al Miraj, also known as Shab-e-Miraj in Iran, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and Miraç Kandili in Turkish, is the Muslim festival celebrating the Isra and Mi’raj. Muslims celebrate this event by offering optional prayers during this night, and in many Muslim countries, by illuminating cities with electric lights and candles. The celebrations around this day tend to focus on children and the young. Children are gathered into a mosque and are told the story of the Isra and Mi’raj. The story usually focuses on how Muhammad’s heart was purified by an archangel (Gabriel) and filled him with knowledge and faith in preparation to enter the seven levels of heaven. After prayer (Salat, where the children can pray with the adults if they wish) food and treats are served.

Qur’an and Hadith:
There is very little in the Qur’an about the event, though the Isra and Mi’raj have been discussed in detail in supplemental traditions to the Qur’an, known as hadith literature. Within the Qur’an itself, there are two verses in chapter 17, which has been named after the Isra, and is called “Chapter Isra” or “Sura al Isra”. In English, the chapter is usually called either “The Night Journey” or “Children of Israel.” There is also some information in Sura An Najm, which some say is related to the Isra and Mi’raj.

The Qur’an:
The Qur’an, chapter 17 (Al-Isra), verse 1:
“Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).— translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali”

The Qur’an, chapter 17 (Al-Isra), verse 60:
“Behold! We told thee that thy Lord doth encompass mankind round about: We granted the vision which We showed thee, but as a trial for men,- as also the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur’an: We put terror (and warning) into them, but it only increases their inordinate transgression!— translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali”

The Qur’an, chapter 53 (An-Najm), verse 13 to 18:
“For indeed he saw him at a second descent, Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass: Near it is the Garden of Abode. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!) (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!— translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali”

Of the supplemental writings, hadith, two of the best known are by Anas bin Malik (612-712), who had been a young boy during the time of Muhammad’s journey.

Information Source:

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14 thoughts on “What is Isra and Lailat al Miraj?”

  1. some says   it is physical  journey , and some says  it is in dream ,
    i am en-lighted,
    my knowledge is refreshed ,

  2. Its Not a spiritual Journey , The word ”isra” Means travelling By night so how could this possibly be a spirtual journey when in actual fact it is a pysical journey
    This took place because propthe Muhammad [s.a.w] lost his mst beloved people so thats why Allah s.w.t Made him visit the 7 heavens where he saw the 7 heavens n saw the punishment of hell and was also gifted with 50 salaah which had been reduced 2 5 because musa [a.s] knew that his nation will not be able to pray 50 salaah a day.

  3. Tonight is Shab-e-Mairaj its very useful informaion for all people..
    Read Quran, & Pray Namaz. Dua For self. it will be ( Qabool )
    Don’t Hear Music..

    Thanks for sharing..

  4. Tonight is Lailatul Miraj. I have always loved to hear the story of the physical journey. Proud to be a muslim and may Almighty Allah grant all muslims hidayat to perform our daily salaah, ameen.

  5. This is indeed a brilliant read and outlook of Al-Isra and Al-Mira.

    My faith is (Gabriel’s Witness) so therefore I am a believer of both Islam and Christianity!

    I have no set faith besides Gabriel’s Witness as to me there is no error with any religeon that places GOD in all is GLORY, FIRST!


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