The month of Rejab holds high significance in the hearts of Muslims everywhere – and one of the many reasons for it being the month when our beloved Prophet s.a.w went on the blessed journey to Jerusalem (Isra’) , and his ascension to heaven and visit to hell (Miraj).
When you listen to the story, how do you feel?
It is one of those stories you hear time and time again in madrasah or during sermons – it is so ingrained in our minds that there is nothing new to be read factually. However, we need to be reminded of this constantly – or when 2014 comes around, Isra’ and Miraj could probably end up being just another day in our heads.
But that was no ordinary day. Even summarized, the story is absolutely amazing. It raises so many questions – how did Muhammad s.a.w travel to heaven, to hell, to Jerusalem? Who took him, and why? What was the purpose of the journey in the first place?
When you embark on a trip – you are consciously seeking something from it, to get something out of it. People travel far and wide for many different reasons. But for us Muslims, we are the living reasons why our Prophet ascended to the high heavens on that blessed night.
Let us allow that to sink in for a second. Thousands of years ago, on a night like the ones you see everyday, the Angel Gabriel had come down to personally escort Muhammad s.a.w to attain knowledge from the other Prophets, from God, for us.
God had had a special message for us; and he delivered it through our blessed Prophet s.a.w.
How would you feel, if you were to be in his shoes? To be able to look into the eyes of the different Prophets and know that they were all there for the same purpose, to meet Adam and acknowledge him as the father of humankind, or to lay eyes upon the breathtaking handsomeness of the Prophet Joseph?
Any holidays we have or superstars we meet can never match up to the experience Muhammad s.a.w had.
After touring the six levels of heaven and speaking to the earlier Prophets, he then eventually got to the seventh – and final – level of heaven.
Here, we find out what the message Allah had for us all.
“Then Allah revealed to me a revelation and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Moses (peace be upon him) and he said: What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah? I said: Fifty prayers. He said: Return to thy Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your community shall not be able to bear this burden as I have put to test the children of Israil and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden).
He (the Holy Prophet) said: I went back to my Lord and said: My Lord, make things lighter for my Ummah. (The Lord) reduced five prayers for me. I went down to Moses and said. (The Lord) reduced five (prayers) for me, He said: Verily thy Ummah shall not be able to bear this burden; return to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter.
I then kept going back and forth between my Lord Blessed and Exalted and Moses, till He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammad, each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded.
I then came down and when I came to Moses and informed him, he said: Go back to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. Upon this the Messenger of Allah remarked: I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed before Him.”
—Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 309
The basis of our religion – prayer – had already been set in stone and in motion from that night of Isra’ and Mikraj. We had already been given the best “discount” there was to offer (imagine fifty prayers a day!) and yet sometimes we struggle to find the time to perform our obligations punctually.
We commemorate this day by holding prayer services or sermons, in mosques or at home. Let us also use that to fully reflect on the significance of this event, so that we start thinking of Isra’ and Miraj as less of a distant moment in history, but as a reminder that we are a part of something much, much bigger.