The journey of the Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad, may
the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, by night from the Holy Mosque in Mecca to the farthest mosque in Jerusalem was a miracle granted to Him by God.† It is the
first part of a night of wonder and amazement, culminating in Prophet
Muhammadís ascension through the heavens and into the presence of God.
ďGlorified be He Who took His slave on a journey by night from
†to the Masjid-al-Aqsa,
the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of
Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.Ē (Quran 17:1)
It was a physical journey †and all the events about to be
described took place in one night.
This series of articles will use the word masjid
instead of its English translation, mosque.† The reason for this is that the word
masjid implies much more than the recognisable building where Muslims pray.†
The word masjid comes from the root ďsa-ja-daĒ meaning to prostrate,
therefore a masjid is any place of prostration.† The Prophet Muhammad told
us ďthis earth was made a Masjid for me.Ē
†This gift from God was given only to the nation of Muhammad.
A Muslim can pray in any place that is not impure (with
a few exceptions).† There are buildings specifically for prayer, but any place
a Muslim prays is a masjid, in the literal sense Ė a place of prostration.† The
act of prostration is the most honourable part of the prayer. †When a Muslimís forehead
touches the ground, he or she is very close to God.† Prayer establishes the
connection between the believer and his Lord, and it was on this
miraculous night that the five daily prayers were instated.
In the story to follow you will learn some more about
this man called Muhammad and come to understand a little about why Muslims love
him.† You will also discover why Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem is one of
the three Holy Masjids in Islam.† God refers to Jerusalem in the Quran as ďthe
neighbourhood we have blessedĒ.† The Dome of the Rock, part of the precinct
of Masjid al-Aqsa, is the most recognizable symbol of Jerusalem and holds a
special place in the hearts of every Muslim.† On this journey we are about to
undertake you will learn why.† So let us travel back through time, to 7th
century Arabia, to the city of Mecca and accompany Prophet Muhammad on his
night journey and ascension.
The Journey Commences
Approximately ten years after Prophet Muhammad received
the first revelations of the Quran, 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, Muhammadís beloved
wife, Khadijah, 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, were persecuted, ridiculed and abused. †The
strength and loyalty of his uncle combined with the love and compassion shown
to him by Khadijah 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 God, 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 Quran, called Solace, God
assures Prophet Muhammad 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 felt his relief in the form of a
major blessing, the Night Journey and Ascension.
ďSo verily, with hardship, there is relief. Verily, with hardship,
there is relief.Ē (Quran 94:4-6)
Even though it was dangerous and he risked attack by the
Pagans of Mecca, Prophet Muhammad often spent the night in prayer at the Holy
Masjid in Mecca.† On this particular night, he was lying close to the Kaíba
(the black cube in the middle of the Masjid) in a state between wakefulness and
sleep.† An angel came and cut open his chest from the throat to the below the
stomach.† The angel removed Prophet Muhammadís heart and placed it in a golden
bowl filled with faith, the heart was purified, filled and returned to its
This was not the first time that an angel had come down
and extracted Muhammadís heart.† As a small child, Muhammad lived in the
deserts of Arabia with a foster family according to custom, for the desert
environment was known to be much healthier and more suitable for proper
cultivation than the cities.† When he was four or five years old and playing in
this wilderness with his young friends, the Angel Gabriel appeared, removed
Muhammadís heart and extracted from it a portion, referring to it as ďa part of
SatanĒ.† The Angel Gabriel washed the heart with the water of zamzam (the
well of Mecca which sprung to quench the thirst of Ishmael) and returned it to
its place.† The other children ran away screaming, thinking Muhammad 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.
Prophet Muhammadís mission was to guide all of humanity
to the worship of the One True God, thus every aspect of his life formed part
of Godís 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 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.† The Angel Gabriel
told Prophet Muhammad to mount the animal, and together they travelled more
than 1200 km. to the furthest masjid Ė Masjid al-Aqsa.
Prophet Muhammad was on the back of al-Buraq while the animalís
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 God Prophet Muhammad must have seen on that miraculous
journey by night!