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After the year of sorrow and the trial of Ta'if, Allah blessed the prophet PBUH

with a great miracle. Indeed after the lowest of all lows of being down, it was
only natural the prophet PBUH would be gifted by an all time high, and in some w
ays this is the all time high. Of course there are multiple victories and miracl
es, but after all of these personal losses, Allah blessed him with a miracle tha
t was given to the prophet PBUH personally. And that is the incident of al-Isra
wal-Mi'raj. And this paticular incident has been referenced by Allah twice in th
e Qur'an - once the Isra, the other time the Mi'raj.
So what is the Isra? Linguistically it means to travel at night. The al Isra mea
ns 'the travel' - and in Islamic seerah, it means the 'night journey' that the p
rophet PBUH undertook. Mi'raj means the item/mechanism of rising up high. Al Mi'
raj is the instrument you use to rise up. Call it a lift or elevator - it causes
a person to ascend up. So al Mi'raj is that which causes you to rise up. We ref
er to it as the actual ascension - that is, what the prophet PBUH did exactly wh
ich is to rise up to Jannah. So al Isra was from Mecca to Jerusulam, al Mi'raj w
as from Jeresulam to the heavans. And this journey is referenced in the Qur'an i
n two seperate surahs.
As for the Isra, Allah revelaed an entire surah and the surah is called Surah al
Isra. And the surah begins by the famous ayah: Allah is saying He is worthy of
being praised, so we say "all glory be to the One" because he blessed his servan
t with the miraculous journey. So Allah is saying He is worthy of being praised
because of this journey. "The one who took his servant". And here the word used
'abd' is the highest praise given to the prophet PBUH. Because Allah said "I hav
e created men and jinn for no reason but to worship me". So Allah is saying here
that the prophet PBUH has perfected his worship. So therefore Ibn Tammiyah says
Allah calls the prophet PBUH by his title to show his honour and rank - not jus
t by name. Even here we say 'Your exlencellecy' - Allah refers to the prophet PB
UH sometimes by name, but moreso by his title which is 'Abdullah'. That our prop
het PBUH is the one who has perfected the worship of Allah. So Allah tells us wh
y Isra wal Mi'raj. Allah says "so that we may show him of our wonderous miracles
". Thus the entire journey is just meant for the prophet PBUH. Thus for us we si
mply have to believe it happened. It was for solely the prophet PBUH. As for the
Mi'raj in the Qur'an, Allah references it in surah Najam. And Allah says "The c
hest is not lying when he narrates what he saw. Are you going to doubt what he s
aw? Indeed he saw him for a second time at the sidratil montaha. The eyes did no
t go beyond their mark. He saw of the miraculous signs of his Lord". In both Isr
a and Najam, roughly the same phrases are used - that is "so we can show him Our
signs". Thus the reason for al Isra wal Mi'raj was for the prophet PBUH alone.
It was a personal gift for him and him alone. We just hear about it as a blessin
g to the prophet PBUH. And the timing is perfect as we already said Allah never
tests a person and that person passses a test except that he faces the fruits of
the test immediately.
Now the journey of al Isra wal Mi'raj is a little bit problematic academically.
Firstly, there are many narrations about it. In fact in Bhukari alone there are
6 sahaba who narrate portions of the journey. In fact if we were to compile all
of the hadith about the Meccan era without the al Isra wal Mi'raj, and just comp
ile the hadith about al Isra wal Mi'raj, the latter pile would be bigger. Subhan
Allah. In other words there are so many narrations but this leads us to some iss
ues:
1. This story has been taken up by storytellers (qisaas). Therefore this story o
f al Isra wal Mi'raj have been narrated in many obscure books with such vivid de
tail and imagery that its not even true. The academic scholar has to sift throug
h all of these hadiths. Note, before Islam became solidified, there was a phenom
enon where people made a whole profession of telling stories. Some of them were
complete fabrications about the prophet PBUH. These were people who just wanted
money - their storytelling became very popular, especially in the 2nd and 3rd ge

neration of Islam until the scholars put an end to this. During this interim, ce
rtain stories became very popular and they entered into this literature - the mo
st popular story was that of al Isra wal Mi'raj.
2. Going through and finding the authentic stories, which is an exact science i.
e. going through the chains - is not that hard, many people have done it. Howeve
r, once we do this, the issue is that we have peices of a large puzzle. And ther
e is nothing or very little to link these pieces together in a chronological ord
er. There are snippets about the story everywhere - but its very difficult to ve
rify the full chronological order. Suppose we try to summarise this lecture - we
would narrate with our own wordings and it may not be in the right order. The s
ame thing happened with the sahaba. Over 20 sahaba narrated about the al Isra wa
l Mi'raj, and sometimes they contradict each other in terms of timeline of event
s. For example, in one version Jibraeel AS comes to the prophet PBUH while he is
in masjid al Aqsa and gives him milk and wine, and the prophet PBUH chooses bet
ween the two. In other version, Jibraeel AS hands these two to him when he is ta
king up to heavens. What do we do here? Both narrations are authentic so who is
correct? Some scholars say it happened twice; others say we follow whatever has
a stronger chain. So there is hard study that is needed.
These points raised above illistrate some of the problems the scholars face when
studying the seerah. And also to show sometimes what one scholar says about the
seerah is different to another scholar. In fact, because there are so many narr
ations about the al Isra wal Mi'raj and so many different details, some scholars
including Imam an-Nawai, that there were multiple al Isra wal Mi'rajs. They wer
e forced to say this because the reports were not reconciling. It was a very com
mon opinion amongst many past scholars. However the majority say there was only
one because Allah says in the Qur'an "it happened in one night". So its clear th
ere is one al Isra wal Mi'raj.
First question - when did it occur? We find in early literature from the tabi or
tabi-tabioon some dates. Most of the early writers including ibn Ishaaq who is
the number one authroity of seerah, said it happened one year before the Hijra.
Others say two or even five years before the Hijra. However we have one importan
t clue from Aisha RA. That she said "Khadija RA died before the salah became far
d". Salah became fard at al Isra wal Mi'raj - so the fact that Khadija died befo
re shows al Isra wal Mi'raj happened in the last 1.5 years of Mecca. Indeed afte
r Khadija died Abu Talib's death and Ta'if happened one after the other. So it m
akes most sense it happened after the year of Sorrow. As for the month, there ar
e no opinions amongst the early scholars. They all began after the first 200 yea
rs. This shows we won't definitively know - as the opinions have no authentic ba
sis. So forget the day, we don't even know the month. The muslims don't commemer
ate specific days. Indeed the sahaba didn't record the date because it's not imp
ortant. What's important is the actual story and significance.
Second question - where did it happen from? Here we see a difference in opinion;
both in Bhukari. The first says that the prophet PBUH said "while I was sleepin
g in the al Hateem (semi circular region outside the ka'bah after the Quraysh re
built it - it is the wisdom of Allah as praying in the Hateem is praying in the
ka'bah) Jibraeel AS came to me". This is the most authentic version. Another ver
sion is that the prophet PBUH said "when I was in my house, the roof opened up a
nd Jibraeel AS came to me". This is also authentic and ibn Hajar says Jibraeel A
S took the prophet PBUH to the Hateem from his house. This makes sense as the pr
ophet PBUH would have no need to sleep in the Hateem. Ibn Hajar says that Jibrae
el AS took him from his house, then took him to the ka'bah to pray two raka'at,
and then from there Jibraeel AS took him somewhere else. And the prophet PBUH sa
id "in the Hateem, Jibraeel AS opened up my chest. And he brought a gold bowl fu
ll of imaan/zamzam (no contradiction). And he took out my heart, washed it and p
ut it back". Note this is the second time this has happened. In the first time t
here was a detail that there was a black spot on the heart. But now there is no

black spot. Here, the


bout to see. And that
en a fraction of what
rophet PBUH entered a
es took everything in
him.

purpose is to strengthen the prophet PBUH for what he is a


is, as ibn Hazam says, if another man were to have seen ev
the prophet PBUH saw, he would have gone mad. Indeed the p
different world, a different dimension. Allah says "the ey
firmly". So here the washing of the heart is to strengthen

Then he says "Jibraeel AS brought to me a dubaa. It is smaller than a mule but l


arger than a donkey. Pure white and it was called al Biraaq (lightening). And it
puts its hoof where the eye can see". Here is where some legends begin - the im
age of Biraaq with wings is not narrated. This hadith says the Biraaq is a physi
cal creature which can run much faster as a normal horse. So fast that it jumps
as far as the eye can see. Every second 20/30 miles. But this is a physical crea
ture. According to Tirmidhi, the prophet PBUH said "it had a saddle and a harnes
s". So Jibraeel AS was holding on the harness and the prophet PBUH mounted al Bi
raaq. Then its narrated al Biraaq jumped up, but Jibraeel AS said "woe to you, h
ow dare you do this, for walahi no one has ridden you that is more blessed in th
e eyes of Allah than your current rider". Note this shows al Biraaq has been rid
den by other riders. This again shows the Biraaq is a physical creature because
it reacted like a normal animal. It also shows Allah has created things beyond o
ur knowledge. Even the jinn have beasts and creatures - how about of the other w
orld? Subhan'Allah. So the prophet PBUH mounts Biraaq and said that "I rode him
and he took me until we came to Baytal Maqdas". Here we note that at this time t
here is no structure/sanctuary at Baytal Maqdas. Because the christians wanted t
o make a point that they have no respect for the jews. Historically they've been
well known to be anti sematic. So it was a filthy area. As it is it's a trash d
ump - but this shows Allah changed it for that night. The prophet PBUH said "I t
ied al Biraaq to the animal post that is used by the prophets." This shows that
the prophets had a special place to 'park' their animals. This again shows the p
rophet PBUH is seeing a structure not being seen by men by Allah's capability. A
llah is showing the prophet PBUH the original Baytal Maqdas.
Then the prophet PBUH said "I went inside and prayed two raka'at". Here is we ge
t another difference: one narration says the prophet PBUH prayed two raka'at and
when he turned around, he saw all of the prophets behind him. For the other nar
ration, the prophet PBUH says "I saw myself with the other prophets. And there w
as Musa praying; and he was a tall, strong and muscular man of a brownish colour
like someone from the tribe of Shanooa. And I saw Isa bin Maryam standing and p
raying. And the one who looks most like is Uruwa ibn Masud." So the prophet PBUH
is trying to describe the prophets for his sahaba. In another narration the pro
phet PBUH said he was 'whitish' in colour which means he was basically caucassio
n looking. The prophet PBUH also said "his hair glistened with water, and he is
a rather short man". "And then I saw Ibrahim AS also standing and praying - and
the one who resembles him the most is me". In another hadith "I could see anyone
more closely resembling Ibrahim AS than myself. And then it came the time for s
alah and I was put the imam of them." The main point is he is leading the prophe
ts. And what's interesting is that all the prophets he saw is already standing a
nd praying. This shows us the importance of salah - even after death the prophet
s are praying. In fact the prophet PBUH said "I passed by Musa AS in his grave a
nd he was praying". Then he got to Baytal Maqdas and he was standing and praying
again. This is enough of an indication of the blessings of salah. It also shows
the prophet PBUH is the imam of all the prophets. This clearly shows he has bee
n given an unparalleled honour. Since every prophet is the leader of his ummah.
And the prophets is leading the prophets AS. This shows he is the leader of all
the ummahs as the prophet PBUH said "I am the leader of all of the ummahs from A
dam AS". Another point is that, the scholars say they were all standing in one r
ow. Thus there is one long row that is 120,000 prophets plus and 313 messengers.
This proves another point which is that all the prophets are the same in one se
nse. In another sense "some prophets we have preferred over others". Indeed they
all pray to one God, in the same way, but amongst them some are better than oth

er and our prophet PBUH is the best of all of them.


Then the prophet PBUH said after he finished Jibraeel AS presents two utensils.
One of them is milk, another is wine. Remember up until this time wine is halal.
So Jibraeel AS hands him these two and Jibraeel AS says "choose and choose for
your ummah". So the prophet PBUH chose the milk and Jibraeel AS said "you have c
hosen the fitrah". And this is a hugely profound and symbolic incident. Milk com
es pure from the animal "from between the filth and the blood". Pure, wholesome
milk for those who drink it and the hadith says "nothing substitutes for both fo
od and drink except for milk". So milk is a huge blessing from Allah that the pr
ophet PBUH used to love. Its nutritious and healthy - what is wine? Wine is corr
upted, fermented, filthy. It's something that was pure and then bacteria have in
fected it. Wine literally stinks. And what does it do? It is norushing, wholesom
e? No - it corrupts you. It makes you act foolish. One of the sahaba said "even
if wine was not prohibited, any man with intelligence would avoid it". Compare a
nd contrast what is milk vs what is wine. The prophet PBUH chose the pure that c
ame from the pure and that makes one pure. This is against wine which is corrupt
ed, comes from the corrupted and makes you corrupted. And the prophet PBUH said
"every child is born on the fitrah" - just like Jibraeel AS said "you have chose
n the fitrah (for your ummah)". So the prophet PBUH chose the milk and after thi
s the prophet PBUH says "the doors of the samaa (earth) opened up for me". So no
w this journey thus far, from masjid al haram to masjid al aksa in al Isra. The
next journey to the heavans in the wal Mi'raj. Note the Biraaq is still tied to
the post, after the heavens journey the prophet PBUH will use Biraaq to go back
to Mecca.
After this the prophet PBUH narrates Jibraeel AS asked permission for the doors
of the heavans to open. And the gatekeeper asked "who is it?" And Jibraeel AS sa
id "It is Jibraeel". He said "Do you have anyone with you?" He said "yes, Muhamm
ad". The keeper said "has he been sent for?" Jibraeel said "Yes he has permissio
n to pass". And then the doors opened up. This shows there are doors to the heav
ans that are locked with gatekeepers. And because these are angels and they cann
ot lie, there is no special code - since Jibraeel AS said yes, it opened up. And
for every single one of the seven heavens this exact same conversation happened
.
Before moving on we will explain what these seven heavens are - what is samaa an
d what is jannah? Many people confuse jannah with samaa and these are two sepera
te words and two seperate concepts. Allah says "Allah has created seven samaa-wa
at tibaaka" Tibaaka means layers - so layers upon layers. Now, samaa-waat are ph
ysical heavens above us. Now in the opinion of sheik YQ, the very first layer an
d lowest heaven is the 'samaa ad-dunya' which is everything we see around us i.e
. the billions of stars and galaxies. Beyond this is the 6th level, beyond that
is 5th, and so on until we get to the highest level. Allah says "we have beatuif
ied the samaa ad-dunya with its lamps and its lights". So all the starts that we
see, which is mind boggling as they are millions of light years away etc. Every
telescope keeps on looking further and further non stop - its unbelievable how
large this universe is. Its literally never ending. And even in the report in Bh
ukari the prophet PBUH said "Jibraeel AS took me until we finished the 'samaa ad
dunya' and then asked for permission to open the gate". Thus we see the relatio
n here. And what is beyond the first heaven i.e. the sumaa ad-dunya, we don't kn
ow and we won't know.
What is now the jannath? The jannah is the place Allah created as reward for the
believers. Where are they? One interpretation is that the jannah are hundreds o
f thousands of layers, and the place they occupy is the 7th samaa i.e. the 7th h
eaven. Another interpretation is that the jannah begins in the 6th, and works it
s way up to the 7th and beyond. The bottom line is the jannath is at the top of
the as samaawat.

So, the prophet PBUH goes to the first door and there is a man standing. And the
prophet PBUH described him as being tall, huge. And Jibraeel AS said "this is y
our father Adam AS so say salaam to him". So the prophet PBUH did so and Adam AS
responded saying "welcome oh noble son and noble heaven". Then the prophet PBUH
went to the second heaven, and its reported there was Isa AS and Yahya AS. And
he was told "this is Yahya and Isa, say salaam to them". And they said "welcome
oh noble brother and oh noble prophet". Third heaven was Yusuf AS and it was the
same dialougue. And here is when the prophet PBUH said "it was as if Yusuf had
been given half of all beauty". And then the 4th heaven, and it was Idris AS who
also said "welcome oh noble brother and oh noble prophet". And then the 5th hea
ven, and there is Haroon. And the same things are said. And then the 6th heaven
and there was Musa. And the prophet PBUH described Musa as being stout, tall, mu
scular and brownish. And here Musa began to cry. And the prophet PBUH asked him
"why are you crying?" And Musa said "I am crying because this young man 'ghulaam
' (note the prophet PBUH is 52 here; Musa died when he was 130 so the prophet PB
UH is a young boy in his eyes) will have a bigger gathering entering Jannah". No
te its an islamic jealousy here - you should and can be positively jealous again
st your fellow brothers in terms of Qur'an, salah etc. Notice also each of these
welcoming comitees is after he entered the heavens. And before he enters each h
eaven he needs permission from the gatekeeper. So the first was Adam, second Isa
and Yahya, third Yusuf, fourth Idrees, fifth Haroon, sixth Musa. And then the p
rophet PBUH said "after the 7th heaven I saw Ibrahim AS and he was sitting with
his back leaning on al baytul ma'moor". And Jibraeel AS said to me "this is your
father Ibrahim say salaam to him". And Ibrahim repsonded the same way: "welcome
oh noble son and oh noble prophet". Note only Ibrahim and Adam responded in thi
s way; the rest said 'brother'.
So why these prophets and this order? Realise this order has nothing to do with
blessings of the prophets. Its not the case at all. What appears to be is that t
hese are basically welcoming parties that Allah sent some of the most noble and
famous prophets to greet the prophet PBUH. The prophet PBUH is basically being g
iven a royal, red carpet welcome. And in each of these 7 choices there seems to
be some wisdom:
1. Adam AS is the father of all of mankind, so its befitting for him to greet fi
rst. And by seeing Adam he is a man who Allah created; and gave him Jannah, but
then had to leave Jannah for a while but eventually return. And there's a symbol
ism of leaving your comfort and security. Indeed if Adam left the holiest place,
the prophet PBUH also must do the same i.e. Mecca. Adam left the holiest of the
next world, so to does the prophet PBUH have to leave the holiest of this world
; he will have to be expelled from Mecca like his father Adam was expelled from
Jannah. And the people who did it: shaytaan did it there, and Abu Jahal and co a
re doing here.
2. Isa and Yahya are chronologically the closest to the prophet PBUH. So they ar
e the peers and there's a symbolism that their own people tried to kill them and
actually they killed Yahya 'John the Baptist'. They even tried to kill Isa AS and here Allah is saying to the prophet PBUH that he isn't the only one whose p
eople tried to harm him. If that didn't bring the point home the next heaven has
Yusuf AS.
3. His own blood brothers tried to harm Yusuf. But eventually they repent and re
accept him back. Therefore there is a symbolism that the own blood brothers that
repelled him will come back. And subhanAllah who did the prophet PBUH quote whe
n he conquered Mecca and the Quraysh said "what will you do with us? The prophet
PBUH quoted Yusuf AS "there is no sin on you today, Allah will forgive you".
4. Idris AS - Allah says about Idris AS "we have raised him to a high place". An
d so our prophet PBUH is being told "we have raised your own rank aswell".

5. Haroon AS was despised by his own people, and then eventually accepted.
6. Musa AS has the second largest ummah, and also is very similar in experiance
to the prophet PBUH. But has even more experiance. And in many hadith the prophe
t PBUH said "Indeed Musa was hurt more than I was, but was still patient" to con
tinue remind himself.
Don't forget all the prophets are in the highest Jannah - the prophets are in th
e samaa waath i.e. the heavens. Jannah is not occupied until after the day of Ju
dgement.
7. By showing Ibrahim AS, the prophet PBUH is being shown the highest of all the
prophets. He was 'khaleel-Allah'. This means a 'close friend' and the prophet P
BUH said "Allah has only taken me and Ibrahim as a khaleel". So only two people
reached this status. And the fact that Ibrahim is sitting with his back against
the baytul ma'moor (the frequented house) is very appropiate. Regarding this, th
ere is only one authentic hadith: the prophet PBUH said "its above the kab'ah on
Earth such that if it were to fall it would fall on the kab'ah on the Earth, an
d every single day 70,000 angels enter the baytul ma'moor, and they never return
again". And this is since the beginning of time until the day of Judgement. And
so since Ibrahim AS built the kab'ah on Earth, its fitting he is with the kab'a
h of the heavens. And if the angels are not allowed to come back, Ibrahim is alw
ays allowed to.