Islamic Months · Rajab

The Night Journey and the Ascension [Part 1]

Al-Aqsa 1

The journey of Prophet Muhammad, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, by night from the sacred mosque in Makkah to the farthest mosque in Jerusalem was a miracle granted to him by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

It is the first part of a night of wonder and amazement, culminating in Prophet Muhammad’s ascension through the heavens and into the presence of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

“Glorified be He Who took His slave on a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Haram to the Masjid-al-Aqsa, the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of Our signs. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” [Al-Isra’ 17: 1]

It was a physical journey and all the events about to be described took place in one night.

The Journey Commences

Approximately ten years after Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam received the first revelations of the Qur’an, he suffered two grave losses. One was the death of his uncle Abu Talib, the man who had supported and loved him from the time he was a young orphan, and then only two months later, his beloved wife, Khadeejah radhiAllahu ‘anha, died. This year became known as the “Year of Sorrow”.

In the years leading up to these sad events, the new Muslims, especially Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, were persecuted, ridiculed and abused. The strength and loyalty of his uncle combined with the love and compassion shown to him by Khadeejah radhiAllahu ‘anha helped him to remain strong and continue spreading the message in the face of grave adversity. However, he now felt alone and extremely overwhelmed by his sadness.

When one has truly surrendered to Allah, the pains and sorrows of this life form part of a test of faith, and these tests are always followed by relief. In chapter 94 of the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala assures Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that with every hardship comes relief, and He repeats it a second time with emphasis – with every hardship comes relief. After this extremely difficult year, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam felt his relief in the form of a major blessing, the Night Journey and Ascension.

[With Every Hardship comes Relief]

Even though it was dangerous and he risked attack by the Pagans of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam often spent the night in prayer at the sacred masjid in Makkah. On this particular night, he was lying close to the Ka’abah in a state between wakefulness and sleep. An angel came and cut open his chest from the throat to below the stomach. The angel removed Prophet Muhammad’s heart and placed it in a golden bowl filled with faith, the heart was purified, filled and returned to its place. (Bukhari)

This was not the first time that an angel had come down and extracted Muhammad’s heart. As a small child, Muhammad lived in the deserts of Arabia with a foster family according to custom. When he was four or five years old and playing in this wilderness with his young friends, Angel Jibreel ‘alayhi salaam appeared, removed Prophet Muhammad’s heart and extracted from it a portion, referring to it as “a part of Satan”. The Angel washed the heart with the water of zamzam and returned it to its place. The other children ran away screaming, thinking Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was being murdered, but by the time they returned with help, he was alone, scared and white, but with only a small mark from the ordeal. (Muslim)

[The Incident of Splitting of the Prophet’s Chest]

Prophet Muhammad’s mission was to guide all of humanity to the worship of the one true Allah, thus every aspect of his life formed part of Allah’s plan to prepare him for this great responsibility. As a child, the part of Satan was removed from his heart, and as an adult, about to undertake the building of the Muslim nation, his heart was purified and filled with pure faith. The next part of this miraculous night then commenced.

Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was presented with a white animal he described as being smaller than a horse but larger than a donkey, it was known as al-Buraq. This animal, he said, could take a stride as far as it could see. With one leap, al Buraq could cover an incredibly vast distance. (Bukhari)

The Angel told the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to mount the animal, and together they traveled more than 1200 km. to the furthest masjid – Masjid al-Aqsa.

Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was on the back of al-Buraq while the animal’s stride reached towards the horizon, and the stars glittered in the night sky over the deserts of Arabia and beyond. He must have felt the wind on his face and been aware of his newly filled heart thumping in his chest.

Imagine what signs and wonders of Allah, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam must have seen on that miraculous journey by night!

To be continued…

[Posted with slight modifications. Originally posted at]

3 thoughts on “The Night Journey and the Ascension [Part 1]

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