Muslims celebrate the incident of Miraj or the Ascension of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) today, 30th July, 2008, in Pakistan (on Rajab 27th accorrding to Islamic Calendar). According to Islamic belief, God took Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to a journey in 621 which is called Miraj. Miraj literally means “going to great heights” or “Meeting of Man with God”.
That night while he was sleeping in Kaaba, he was visited by Angel Jibreel, who had brought a heavenly animal with him called “Buraq”. The speed of the Buraq was such that its one stride covered a distance equal to its range of vision. With this speed beyond the comprehension of human mind, it took them first to Masjid-i-Aqsa in Jerusalem. Here Almighty Allah had gathered all the Prophets of the past for the reception of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He led the prayer of all the prophets and messenger of God and all prophets prayed after him. From Masjid-i-Aqsa they proceeded to heavens. He met Adam (peace be upon him) in first heaven, Jesus and Yahay (peace be upon him) in the second, Yousaf (peace be upon him) in the third and likewise some other prophets there.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was shown the splendors of Paradise and torments of Hell in this journey, which he related to the people after his return. Then they reached the final heaven. At this point, Jibreel stopped and told him that if he would take a step forward, his wings would burn. So only Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went beyond and envisioned Almighty Allah. He fell in prostration and had the honor of direct conversation with God. The five-time regular prayers were made obligatory during this incident.
The Quran mentions of this episode in the following verses:
“Glory be to Him, who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque to the far distant place of worship, which we have blessed, that we might show him some of our signs. He, only He is the All Hearing, the All-Seeing.”
“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.”
When this news spread amongst the people of Makkah, some of them were clapping with joy, some could not believe it while others laughed and made fun of him as it was simply not possible to travel from Makkah to Jerusalem or the heaven and return overnight; it was beyond the grasp of the intellect. They asked him various questions to verify his credibility. Like how the mosque looks like, how many doors it had etc. He answered all their questions rightly to their surprise. Then they asked Abu Bakr Siddiq (a companion of his), “Do you confirm that he (The Prophet) reached Masjid-ul-Aqsa and returned in one night?” Abu Bakar replied: “I confirm events far beyond that. I believe he receives the heavenly news and messages within a short-while every day and night. Then why any hesitation about this event?” For the Muslims, there is no doubt in it since Muhammad was declared as Sadiq and Ameen (truthful and trustworthy) since his youth and years before he got the first revelation from God.
Miraj is celebrated by the Muslims to recall this miraculous incident. This night, they light candles in their homes, perform optional prayers and send peace and blessings upon the Prophet (PBUH), and praise the glory of Allah.
However, his soul would have been much happier if only his followers emulated him as well and did not earn themselves the ugly name that they have.
“Surely, Islam is pure, therefore be pure, because he can never enter Paradise who is not pure – Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him)”