Israa means to travel at night in Arabic. Miraj means to ascend in the sky or heaven, also in Arabic. In Islam ,it means that prophet Mohammad accompanied angel Jibril on a journey at night. They went to Jerusalem in Palestine on an animal called al-Buraq. They traveled on an animal which was in between a horse and a donkey.
Jibril and prophet Mohammad traveled from Makkah to Jerusalem. After they had arrived in Jerusalem, angel Jibril and prophet Mohammad ascended into the sky. The Holy Quran and the prophet’s sunnah (tradition) assured the occurrence of this miraculous night journey
The reason for that journey
The journey of al-Israa and al-Miraj had a lot of reasons. First it was a condolence for prophet Mohammad because of the rejection of Quraish to his call and invitation to them to embrace Islam. Second, it was a kind of honoring prophet Mohammad and raising his rank. Third, it was a kind of a message that prophet Mohammad was not alone and that Allah supported and guided him all the time. It was a suitable preparation for the next phase of the prophet’s call to Islam. Fourth, Allah compensated prophet Mohammad for the pains which he felt during his journey to al-Taif whose people treated him very badly.
Allah taught prophet Mohammad a lot of miraculous things and facts. This was to show prophet Mohammad the greatness of the universe, the metaphysical world as well as the greatness of allah. This gave prophet Mohammad the certainty and confidence he needed to go on with his call and invitation. Prophet Mohammad met and saw the previous messengers and prophets to assure him that the life of a prophet and a messenger was not an easy one by any means. Moreover, prophet Mohammad saw scenes of the joy of paradise and the torture which the wrong doers met in hell. This was an additional assurance of the metaphysical facts which he was calling for.
The opinions of the Muslim scholars vary about the time of the journey of al-israa and al-miraj. The most famous and accepted opinion about it was that it happened a year before the migration to al-Madina. It was also after the painful journey to al -taif. the journey was precisely at the night of the twenty-seventh day of the month of Rajab. It was twelve years after the first revelation.
Preperation for the Journey
Prophet Mohammad was lying in bed at the house of umm Hani. The ceiling opened and two angels landed. they were in human form. The two angels took prophet Mohammad to al-Kaba and the well of Zamzam. They split his chest and took out his heart. The two angels washed the prophet’s heart with Zamzam water. They also filled the prophet’s heart with faith and wisdom. That prepared prophet Mohammad for the miraculous journey. The role of a Muslim is to believe in all what was narrated during the journey. This is because Allah made prophet Mohammad go on the journey. Prophet Mohammad did nothing on his own during the journey.
After what had happened at Zamzam, angel Jibril brought al-Buraq to prophet Mohammad to ride. al-Buraq was an animal which was smaller than a horse. It was also bigger than a donkey in size. each step which was as far as its sight could reach. prophet Mohammad sweated heavily as the Buraq was difficult to ride. After that they headed for Jerusalem.
The ascension into the sky
prophet mohammad and Jibril ascended into the first sky. prophet Mohammad saw Adam who welcomed and greeted him. After that they ascended into the second heaven. There they met prophet Isa and prophet Yahya. Later, they ascended into the third heaven. There they both saw prophet Yusuf.
more heavens, more Prophets
Angel Jibril and prophet Mohammad ascended into the fourth heaven. they saw prophet idris in the fourth heaven. After that they saw and met prophet Haroun in the fifth heaven. Finally, and in the seventh heaven, they met and saw prophet Ibrahim. in each heaven, All the prophets prophet mohammad met and greeted him acknowledging him as a prophet and a messenger of Allah.