27 Rajab, Majority of Muslims, along with Shī‘ah Muslims observe the Mi'raj (the day Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven). It is a national holiday in some Muslim countries.
The Isra and Miraj (Arabic: الإسراء والمعراج, al-’Isrā’ wal-Mi‘rāj), are the two parts of a Night Journey (Arabic: Lailat al-Mi‘rāj, Persian: Shab-e-Me`raj, Turkish: Mîrac Gecesi) that, according to Islamic tradition, the prophet of Islam, Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. It has been described as both a physical and spiritual journey. A brief sketch of the story is in sura 17 Al-Isra of the Quran, and other details come from the Hadith, collections of the reports of the teachings, deeds and sayings of Muhammad. In the Isra part of the journey, Muhammad travels on the steed Buraq to "the farthest mosque" where he leads other prophets in prayer. He then ascends to heaven in the Mi'raj journey where he speaks to God, who gives Muhammad instructions to take back to the faithful regarding the details of prayer.
According to traditions, the journey is associated with the Lailat al Mi'raj, as one of the most significant events in the Islamic calendar. The events of Isra and Mi'raj are referred to briefly in the Qur'an. For greater detail, they have been discussed in Hadith literature, reported sayings of the prophet which supplement the Qur'an. Of the hadith, two of the best known are by Anas ibn Malik, who would have been a young boy at the time of Muhammad's journey of Mi'raj.
From various hadith we learn much greater detail. The Isra is the part of the journey of Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem. It began when Muhammad was in the Masjid al-Haram, and the archangel Gabriel (Jibra'il) came to him, and brought Buraq, the traditional heavenly steed of the prophets. Buraq carried Muhammad to the Masjid Al Aqsa, the "Farthest Mosque", in Jerusalem. Muhammad alighted, tethered Buraq to the Temple Mount and performed prayer, where on God's command he was tested by Jibriel. It was told by Anas ibn Malik that Muhammad said: "Jibra'il brought me a vessel of wine, a vessel of water and a vessel of milk, and I chose the milk. Jibra'il said: 'You have chosen the Fitrah (natural instinct).'"
In the second part of the journey, the Mi'raj (an Arabic word that literally means "ladder"), Buraq took him to the heavens, where he toured the seven stages of heaven, and spoke with the earlier prophets such as Abraham (ʾIbrāhīm), Moses (Musa), John the Baptist (Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā), and Jesus (Isa). Muhammad was then taken to Sidrat al-Muntaha – a holy tree in the seventh heaven that Jabriel was not allowed to pass. According to Islamic tradition, God instructed Muhammad that Muslims must pray fifty times per day; however, Moses told Muhammad that it was very difficult for the people and urged Muhammad to ask for a reduction, until finally it was reduced to five times per day.
Some Muslims celebrate this event by offering optional prayers during this night, and in some Muslim countries, by illuminating cities with electric lights and candles. The celebrations around this day tend to focus on every Muslim who wants to celebrate it. Worshippers gather into mosques and perform prayer and supplication. Some people may pass their knowledge on to others by informing them The story on how Muhammad's heart was purified by an archangel (Gabriel) who filled him with knowledge and faith in preparation to enter the seven levels of heaven. After prayer (salat, where the children can pray with the adults if they wish) food and treats are served.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque marks the place from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven. The exact date of the Journey is not clear, but is celebrated as though it took place before the Hijra and after Muhammad's visit to the people of Ta’if. It is considered by some to have happened just over a year before the Hijra, on the 27th of Rajab; but this date is not always recognized. This date would correspond to the Julian date of February 26, 621, or, if from the previous year, March 8, 620. In Shi'a Iran for example, Rajab 27 is the day of Muhammad's first calling or Mab'as. The Al-Aqsa Mosque and surrounding area, marks the place from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven, is the third-holiest place on earth for Muslims.
Many sects and offshoots belonging to Islamic mysticism interpret Muhammad's night ascent – the Isra and Mi'raj – to be an out-of-body experience through nonphysical environments, unlike the Sunni Muslims or mainstream Islam. The mystics claim Muhammad was transported to Jerusalem and onward to seven heavens, even though "the apostle's body remained where it was." Esoteric interpretations of Islam emphasise the spiritual significance of Mi'raj, seeing it as a symbol of the soul's journey and the potential of humans to rise above the comforts of material life through prayer, piety and discipline. Muhammad was taken to the Masjid Al Aqsa, where he had performed prayer leading all previous prophets and then taken to the heavens in a journey.
Category: Islamic holidays
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