Al-Isra wal-Miraj is also a miracle just as the revelation of the Quran is. The Prophet (sa) was transported from Masjid Al-Haram (in Makkah) to Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), from where he ascended to the heavens to meet Allah (swt). In fact, there were many stops along this incredible journey, and the story is packed with wonders and miracles.
Al-Isra wal-Miraj took place during a time when the Prophet (sa) was facing intense hardship and pain. The Quraysh who were his tribe and his family constantly ridiculed, humiliated, and oppressed the Prophet (sa) and his followers. Moreover, the Prophet (sa) had just faced the Year of Sorrow (Aam al-Huzn), during which he lost his beloved wife Khadijah (rtaf) and his uncle Abu Talib who was his protector.
In addition to all these burdens, when the Prophet (sa) had travelled to Taif for spreading the Islamic message, the people of Taif had rejected him in the cruelest way, sending their children into the streets to stone him, until he left the city.
Having gone through so much grief and suffering, the Prophet Muhammad (sa) was given a truly beautiful and comforting gift from Allah (swt). He was not only transported through the skies, but ultimately brought into the presence of Allah (swt), which made the Prophet (sa) happy. Therefore, one of the most important lessons of Al-Isra wal-Miraj is that “for indeed, with every hardship [will be] ease.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5)
The Prophet (sa) was standing near the Kabah one night, when Angel Jibreel (as) appeared with Buraq. The part of journey known as Isra (the night journey) took place between Makkah and Jerusalem. Buraq bore the Prophet (sa) on its back and in an instant transported him to Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, a journey that at that time took weeks by land. Here, at the third holiest site in Islam, the Prophet (sa) led all the previous prophets in prayer.
When later questioned about it, the Prophet (sa) was able to recount the details of this journey, the places, buildings, and even the caravan that was on its way from Jerusalem with perfect accuracy. He told the truth while the Quraysh made fun of him. However, this strengthened Muslims in their faith.
From Masjid Al-Aqsa, Prophet (sa) went to the second part of his journey known as Miraj or ascension to the heavens.
Accompanied by Jibreel (as), he ascended from heaven to heaven and was introduced to some previous prophets of Allah (swt) including Adam (as), the father of all humankind; Isa (as) and his cousin Yahya (as), Yusuf (as), Idris (as), Harun (as) and Musa (as).
In the seventh heaven, the Prophet (sa) saw Al-Baytil-Mamur, a building that is identical to the holy Kabah in Makkah. Al-Baytil-Mamur is situated in the heavens exactly over the earthly Kabah. Every day, 70,000 different angels enter it to worship Allah (swt), a practice that will last till the end of time. There, Muhammad (sa) met and exchanged greetings with his father-in-prophethood and the friend of Allah Ibrahim (as) – the prophet who built the holy Kabah on earth.
At Al-Baytul-Mamur, the Prophet (sa) was offered a cup of wine and a cup of milk and was asked to choose between the two. He chose milk and at this Jibreel (as) remarked that the Prophet (sa) had chosen Fitrah (nature) over the artificial, and thus he and his followers will be on the natural religion of Islam.
Muhammad (sa) witnessed the glories of Paradise, which are promised to the followers of truth. He was also shown hellfire and the horrific tortures which await those who perpetrate corruption and sins on earth. He related to us the punishments specific to some sins, such as backbiting, stealing the money of orphans and Riba – things that many commonly indulge in and need to be warned against in strictest terms.
Finally, the Prophet (sa) ascended to Sidrat ul-Muntaha – the boundary beyond which no one, not even Jibreel (as), can cross. At this point, the angel parted from the Prophet (sa) and he went on alone to face his Lord Allah (swt).
The Prophet (sa) received two gifts for his Ummah – the format of our prayer and forgiveness.
We stand in prayer before Allah (swt) five times a day to present all our wishes and needs. This is a kind of meeting with Allah (swt) and just as special.