The miraculous journey was about to become a weapon against Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his followers by his enemies, and equally it would be an extreme test of faith for the believers. Upon his homecoming, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made his way to Umm Ayman radhiAllahu ‘anha and told her of his miraculous journey. She responded: “O Messenger of Allah, do not tell anyone about this.” Umm Ayman had perfect faith in Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and believed his account of the journey, but she was afraid of how others would respond.
Prophet Muhammad described Umm Aimen as his mother after his own mother. She was the faithful servant of his mother Aminah and remained with Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam through the deaths of his mother and grandfather. Prophet Muhammad and Umm Aimen had always been very close, and at the completion of this wondrous journey, he went to Umm Aimen’s home, perhaps for comfort and ease while he contemplated this miracle, and decided his next move.
Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded by saying that he would tell the people about the wondrous night. He considered it his responsibility before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to convey the message, no matter the response or consequences; Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was responsible for the outcome. He left the house quietly with somber contemplation, and made his way to the sacred Mosque. He met people along the way, and slowly the news of the night journey spread among the people.
While Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sitting silently in the mosque, Abu Jahl approached him and asked casually:
“O Muhammad, is there anything new?”
Known as one of the greatest enemies of Islam, Abu Jahl was responsible for the torture, punishment, murder and harassment of the new Muslims throughout the early days of Islam. Even though he was aware of the animosity and hatred Abu Jahl felt towards him, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered truthfully and said:
“This past night I have traveled to Jerusalem and back.”
Abu Jahl, being unable to contain his amusement, responded by requesting Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to repeat these words in front of the people of Makkah. Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded in the affirmative, and Abu Jahl left the mosque running, calling out to the people as he ran through the streets. When sufficient people had gathered in the mosque, at Abu Jahl’s request Prophet Muhammad said, for all to hear, “I have been to Jerusalem and back.”
The crowd of people started to laugh, whistle, and clap. They treated it as a big joke and fell against one another laughing. This was the response expected by Abu Jahl and he was thrilled. The disbelievers in the crowd saw a chance to put an end to Islam. They ridiculed and belittled Prophet Muhammad’s claim. Among the crowd were people who had traveled to Jerusalem and they asked Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to describe what he had seen.
The Prophet of Allah began to describe his journey. He spent only a brief amount of time in Jerusalem, and the miraculous nature of this travels had meant that he did not remember small details and descriptions. However, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told them that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala showed him the details “right in front of his eyes” and he described what he had seen “stone by stone, brick by brick”. The travelers confirmed his descriptions. (Al-Bukhari)
There is another narration (of Ibn Hisham) that says that while traveling back to Makkah, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed over a caravan. He was able to describe it clearly. The caravan had lost a camel, and Prophet Muhammad called from the sky telling them the whereabouts of the camel. He also drank from their water supply.
The people of Makkah immediately dispatched someone to meet the caravan before it entered the city to ask questions about the previous night. They confirmed that a strange voice called out the location of the lost camel and that part of their water supply had disappeared.
Still these confirmations were not enough. The people jeered and laughed and disbelieved the words of the Prophet of Allah. This miraculous event was such a test of faith that even some of the new Muslims disbelieved and turned away from the faith of Islam.
The Sweetness of Faith
To those whose faith was strong and true, the Power of Allah was obvious. Some of those who found the whole story difficult to believe went to see Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu, the best friend and loyal supporter of Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. They asked him if he believed Prophet Muhammad traveled overnight to Jerusalem, and back to Makkah. Without hesitation Abu Bakr replied:
“If the Messenger of Allah said so, then it is true.”
It was because of this occasion that Abu Bakr earned the title As-Siddeeq [the foremost believer]. This was a turning point for many Muslims; after already facing the physical torture and abuse of the disbelievers, they now had to grapple with a concept beyond their wildest imaginings. Some failed, but many soared to new heights and were able to taste the sweetness of true submission to the one Allah.
The journey by night, from the sacred Masjid in Makkah to the farthest masjid in Jerusalem, and the ascension through the heavens and into the presence of Almighty Allah was a miracle granted by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to His final slave and Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and one of the greatest of honors bestowed upon any human.
[Slightly modified. Originally posted at onislam.net]
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to honor the gift of this blessed night which is the Salah, and offer it with full humility at its appointed time, aameen.