x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Isra and Miraj: Spiritual boost and a reward

What the holiday means.

The Isra and Miraj, also known as The Night Journey, refer to a two-part journey the Prophet Mohammed undertook on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, around the year 621.

The event, spanning the length of a night, came on the back of the Year of Sadness, a dark period in Islamic history in which the Prophet grieved for the loss of his wife Khadija and his uncle Abu Talib.

It also came at a time when the Prophet's message on the Oneness of God met fierce resistance among the Meccan community and surrounding areas.

The journey was both a spiritual boost and a reward for staying the course.

It began when the archangel Jibreel (Gabriel) descended to the Prophet's house in Mecca accompanied by Buraq, the heavenly steed.

On Buraq, the Prophet rode with Jibreel on the Isra (Night Visit) part of the journey in which both travelled to "the farthest mosque," believed to be Al Aqsa in Jerusalem, where the Prophet Mohammed led a special prayer at the site accompanied by fellow prophets including Adem (Adam), Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus).

In the Miraj (Ascension) component, both Jibreel and the Prophet Mohammed rise to the peak of the seventh heaven where the Prophet is graced by God's presence.

During the encounter the Prophet Mohammed received directives to implement the five daily prayers.

The Isra and Miraj are described in the Quran (particularly in chapter 17) and in a series of hadiths, statements attributed to the Prophet Mohammed.

While Isra and Miraj are not as widely celebrated as Eid Al Fitr and Ed Al Adha, many Muslim countries mark the day with a public holiday, lectures and special events.

* Saeed Saeed