Allah the Exalted sent the prophets as a mercy to the slaves and supported them with great miracles to indicate the truthfulness of their message. Of all the prophets, our Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ^alayhi wa Sallam was blessed with the most miracles.
The events of the Isra’ and the Mi^raj are among the many miracles of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ^alayhi wa Sallam. Al-Isra’ is the night journey from the Haram Mosque in Makkah to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Mi^raj is the ascension into the skies.
The journey of Al-Isra’ is confirmed by explicit texts in the Qur’an and the authentic hadith. Hence, it is obligatory to believe that Allah the Exalted, enabled His Messenger (peace be upon him) to make the night journey from Makkah to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine.
Allah the Exalted said in the Qur’an:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا
This means: Praise be to Allah Who enabled His slave, Muhammad, to make the journey at night from Masjid al-Haram in Makkah to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, whose surroundings We have blessed. Al-Mi^raj is also religiously confirmed clearly and explicitly in the Hadith, though not clearly and explicitly in the Qur’an. The Qur’an refers to it with text that requires interpretation and is near explicit.
Preparing the Prophet for the wondrous journey
Before the Prophet took this night journey, the ceiling of the house in which he was staying was opened, and Jibril descended. He cut open the chest of Prophet Muhammad and washed the open area with Zamzam water. Then he emptied something from a container into the chest of the Prophet to increase his wisdom and strengthen his belief. This was done to prepare the Messenger of Allah for the wonderous creations of Allah that he had yet to see in the upper world.
The journey of the Isra’ begins
After the Prophet ﷺ, performed ^Isha’ Prayer, angel Jibril came to him with al-Buraq and they set forth on their (Isra’) Night Journey to Jerusalem. The buraq is a very fast animal; the length of the buraq’s stride is the farthest distance its eye can see. During the Journey, the Prophet passed by Al-Madinah which was then known as Yathrib, and prayed two rak^as.
Then he reached Madyan the country of Prophet Shu^ayb peace be upon him, then Tur Saina’, then Bayt Lahm where Prophet ^Isa (Jesus) was born, peace be upon him.
Then al-Buraq continued until they reached Bayt al-Maqdis (the Holy House). There, Allah the Exalted assembled all the prophets for him from Adam to ^Isa (Jesus). Prophet Muhammad led them in prayer in Bayt al-Maqdis. This is an indication that the Prophet is higher in status than the rest of the prophets and messengers.
The wonders he saw during the Isra’
- He saw the world in the image of an old woman. This old woman was wearing a great deal of jewellery. This image was a sign reflecting the reality of this tempting and perishing world.
- He saw Iblis (the Devil) on the side of the road, but he did not dare to speak to the Prophet nor to stand in his way.
- He saw people scratching their faces and chests with brass fingernails. Jibril told the Prophet that they were the backbiters, and this was their punishment.
- On his journey, the Prophet smelled a very nice scent. He asked Jibril about this pleasant scent and Jibril informed him this good smell was coming from the grave of the woman whose duty was to comb Pharaoh’s daughter’s hair.
- The Prophet also saw people whose lips and tongues were clipped with scissors made of fire. Jibril told the Prophet, “These reflect the image of the speakers of sedition (fitna) who call people to misguidance.”
- He also saw a bull which exited a very small outlet, then was trying in vain to return through that small outlet. Jibril told the Prophet, “This is the example of the bad word–once spoken, it cannot be returned.
- The Prophet saw angels smashing some people’s heads with rocks. These heads would return to the shape they had been, and then the angels would smash their heads again–and so on. Jibril told the Prophet, “These reflect the ones whose heads felt too heavy to perform prayer–the ones who used to sleep without praying.”
- On his journey, the Prophet saw people who were competing to eat some rotten meat–ignoring meat that was sliced and unspoiled. Jibril told the Prophet, “These reflect the people from your nation who leave out the permissible (halal) and consume the forbidden (haram)”. This referred to the fornicators, that is, the ones who left out the permissible (marriage) and committed sins (fornication).
- Also, the Prophet saw people who were drinking from the fluid coming from the bodies of the fornicators, (water mixed with blood). Jibril indicated to the Prophet these were the ones who were drinking the alcohol which is prohibited in this world.
The journey of al-Mi^raj unfolds miraculously
After the Prophet ﷺ took the Night Journey from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, he ascended to the upper heavens on stairs called the Mirqat, where he saw some of the prophets.
- He saw Prophet Adam in the 1st heaven
- Prophets ^Isa (Jesus) and Yahya in the 2nd heaven. They were cousins. Their mothers were sisters
- He saw Prophet Yusuf in the 3rd heaven
- Then Prophet Idris in the 4th heaven
- He saw Prophet Harun in the 5th heaven, the brother of Musa
- Then he saw Prophet Musa in the sixth heaven
- And finally, he saw Prophet Ibrahim in the 7th heaven with his back against al-Baytul-Ma^mu
Al-Baytul-Ma^mur is to the inhabitants of the skies (the angels) like the Ka^bah is to us on earth. Every day 70,000 angels go there and then exit, never to return. Each of these prophets received Prophet Muhammad with a warm welcome and made supplication (du^a’) for him.
Other wonders he saw during al-Mi^raj
- Paradise. He saw that most of the inhabitants of Paradise are the poor people of this world.
- The ^Arsh. It is the ceiling of Paradise. The seven heavens and the earth in comparison to the Kursiyy, are like a ring thrown in a desert, and the Kursiyy in comparison to the Throne, is like a ring thrown in a desert. The seven heavens and the earth in comparison to the Throne are like a mustard seed compared to the ocean. Allah created the Throne to show His Power. It is carried by four angels, and on the Day of Judgment, it will be carried by eight. The Prophet said he was permitted to speak about one of these angels who carry the Throne. In describing this angel, the Prophet told us the distance between his ear lobe and shoulder is the distance a fast-flying bird would cover in 700 years.
- Sidratul-Muntaha. It is a very big tree of sidr. Each of the fruits of this tree is as large as a big jar. The leaves of this tree are like the ears of the elephants. Sidrat al-Muntaha is an extremely beautiful tree. It is visited by butterflies made of gold. When these butterflies gather on this tree, its beauty is beyond description.
- Al-Wildanul-Mukhalladun. They are creations of Allah who are not human, jinn, or angels. They are a very beautiful creation of Allah whose appearance is like laid-out pearls. They are servants of the inhabitants of Paradise. The least in status of the People of Paradise will have 10,000 wildan ul-mukhalladun to serve him. Each one of them would carry a tray of gold in one hand and a tray of silver in the other hand.
- Then the Prophet Ascended Beyond Paradise. He reached a place where he heard the creaking of the pens used by the angels who are copying from the Preserved Tablet. It is at that location Prophet Muhammad heard the Kalam of Allah, which is an attribute of the Self of Allah. He heard the Kalam of Allah which does not resemble our speech. He understood the obligation of the five Obligatory Prayers. At first, Allah obligated fifty prayers.
- Malik, the angel in charge of the Hellfire. The Prophet saw other things on the night of his ascension including Malik, the angel in charge of the Hellfire. Malik did not smile at the Prophet when he saw him, and the Prophet asked why. In response, Jibril said, “Malik did not smile since the day Allah created him. Had he smiled for anyone, he would have smiled for you”.
It is important to know that Allah the Exalted Who created the heavens, Earth and all other places does not need them or reside in them, He existed without a place before creating them. Hence, it is prohibited to believe that Allah exists in a place or sitting on the ^Arsh (Throne), or that He is close to or far from us by distance. It is also important to believe that the Prophet did not ascend to a place where Allah resides. Allah is clear of that.
During al-Mi^raj, the Prophet saw his Lord with his heart
Regarding Al-Mi^raj, Allah ta^ala revealed the following ayah:
وَلَقَدْ رَءاهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَىٰ عند سدرة المنتهى عندها جنة المأوى
This means: [Verily, he saw him a second time at Sidratul-Muntaha at which is the abode of Paradise].
If someone were to allege that His Saying [Verily, he saw Him a second time] is possibly a dream; we say that this allegation dismisses the apparent meaning of the verse (made ta’wil) and doing so is not permissible without any definitive mental evidence or confirmed relayed evidence, as Ar-Raziyy said in his book Al-Mahsul.
Muslim narrated from the route of Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah accept his deeds) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
أُتِيتُ بالبُراقِ وهوَ دابَّةٌ أبيَضُ طَويلٌ فَوقَ الحمارِ ودُوْنَ البَغْلِ يضَعُ حافِرَهُ عندَ منتَهَى طرْفِهِ، قال فركِبْتُه حتّى أتيتُ بيتَ المقْدِسِ فَربَطتُهُ بالحلقَةِ التي يَربِطُ بها الأنبياءُ، قال ثم دخَلْتُ المسجِدَ فَصلَّيتُ فيه ركْعتينِ، ثُمَّ خَرجْتُ فجاءَني جبريلُ عليه السلام بإناءٍ من خَمرٍ وإنَاءٍ منْ لَبَنٍ فاختَرتُ اللّبَنَ، فقالَ جبريلُ عليه السلامُ: ((اختَرْتَ الفِطْرَةَ)) قال ثمّ عَرَجَ بنَا إلى السَّماءِ ….
This means: “Al-Buraq was brought to me, and it is an animal that is white and long, larger than a donkey and smaller than a mule. It rests its hoof at the reach of his eyesight. I rode it until I came to Baytul-Maqdis (in Jerusalem), then tied it to the ring used by the prophets. Then I entered the masjid and prayed two rak^ahs in it. When I came out, Jibril came to me and handed me a cask of wine and a cask of milk. I chose the milk, and Jibril said, ‘You have chosen the fitrah (i.e., adherence to the Religion of Islam).’ Then he elevated me into the sky…”
This hadith holds evidence that Al-Isra’ and Al-Mi^raj took place during one night with his [the Prophet’s] body and soul and while being awake. No one [among the scholars] said that he reached Baytul-Maqdis then slept (and presumably dreamt).
On the matter of the Prophet seeing his Lord on the night of Al-Mi^raj; At-Tabaraniyy narrated in Al-Mu^jamul-Awsat with a strong chain of narration, as attested by Hafidh Ibn Hajar, from the route of Ibn ^Abbas, may Allah accept his and his father’s deeds that: “Muhammad saw his Lord twice.”
Also, Ibn Khuzaymah narrated with a strong chain of narration that: “Muhammad ﷺ saw his Lord”. These quotes mean, ‘he [the Prophet] saw Him [his Lord] with his heart’. This is supported by the hadith of Muslim relayed by Abul-^Aliyah from the route of Ibn ^Abbas which is in reference to the Saying of Allah, the Exalted:
مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَىٰ أَفَتُمَارُونَهُ عَلَىٰ مَا يَرَىٰ وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَىٰ
This means: “The heart [of the Prophet] did not lie about what it saw. How dare you argue with him over what he saw. Indeed he saw Him a second time.” He [Ibn ^Abbas] said, “He indeed saw his Lord with his heart twice.”
Note: Al-Ghazaliyy said in Ihya’ ^Ulum ad-Din, “The reliable saying of the scholars is that the Prophet did not see his Lord on the night of the Ascension [Mi^raj].”
This refers to the fact that the Prophet did not see Allah with his naked eyes, because it is not confirmed that the Prophet said, ‘I saw Him with my eyes’, nor did the Companions, their followers, or the followers of their followers confirm this and say that ‘the Prophet saw Him with his naked eyes’.
 Other scholars of Al-Usul stated that as well.