سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ١

“Glory be to the One Who took His servant ˹Muhammad˺ by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” [Al-Isra, 17:1]

An event (a journey) referred to in this verse is generally known as, “Isra and al-Mi’raj.” According to authentic traditions (ahadith), this journey took place a year before Hijrah on 27th of Rajab in the year 621 A.D. This journey took place in two parts.

In this verse, the Qur'an mentions only one part of the Journey, i.e., from Masjid-i-Haram to the Temple at Jerusalem. The object of this journey as stated here was that Allah willed to show His servant some of His signs. The Qur'an does not give any details other than this, but we find further details in the traditions, which describe the following:

“One night the Angel Jibril transported the Holy Prophet on al-Buraq from Masjid-i-Haram to Masjid-i-Aqsa (the Temple). There the Holy Prophet offered his prayers along with the other Prophets. Then he took him towards the higher spheres, where he met some of the great Prophets in different spheres. At last he reached the Highest Place in the Heavens and was received in audience by Allah. It was there that besides other important instructions five daily Prayers were prescribed. Then he returned to the Temple and from there came back to Masjid-i-Haram. During this Journey, according to many traditions, Paradise and Hell were shown to him. We also learn from authentic traditions that on the following day when he mentioned this event, the disbelievers of Makkah scoffed at him, and some of the believers also showed some discomfort.”

Regarding the “Mi `raj” (the second part of the journey) it should be kept in view that all the Prophets were enabled by Allah to see His Signs in the heavens and the earth according to their ranks. And for this purpose, all the material curtains were lifted so that they could see with their naked eyes the unseen realities, to which they were required to invite the people. This was done so that the Prophets could say with full conviction what they had seen with their own eyes. For this experience would distinguish there from a philosopher who bases all his theories on guesswork and cannot say that he bears witness to what he claims. In contrast to philosophers, Prophets could say that they bore witness to the things which they presented because they had seen them with their own eyes. The same facts applied to the Prophet Muhammad, peace & blessings be with him.

[Extracted from Tafseer Maududi; NMS & SS; March 17, 2020]

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