By : Syed Jalal Quadiri
The meaning of Rajab: The word ‘Rajab’ means to ‘respect’. The Arabs respected this month tremendously and it was named Rajab. Rajab is a name of a river in Paradise (Jannah). Its water is whiter than milk and extremely sweet. Those who fast in this month will be honored to drink from it.
Isrâ' and Mi'râj:
Isrâ' literally means a journey by night and Mi'râj literally means an elevator, i.e. an instrument which lifts something up. But, in Islam, Isrâ' refers to a miraculous night journey made by the last Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm from Makkah to Jerusalem and Mi'râj refers to the Journey of Nabi sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm from Jerusalem, up and out of the universe, through the seven heavens, and into the direct presence of Allâh Ta'âla.
It took place approximately 1 year before Hijri. Jibra’îl alayhis salâm approached and awoke Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm while he was sleeping. Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm was taken to Haram, to the Ka'bah and was prepared for a journey, unique and remarkable in the history of the world.
In the Hatîm, Jibra’îl and Mika'îl alayhumuss salâm opened Rasûlullah’s sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm chest, cleansed his heart with the pure waters of Zam-Zam, poured hikmah [wisdom] and imân [faith] from a golden vessel into it, repositioned it, leaving Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm strengthened and equipped for the commencing journey.
Awaiting then at the edge of the masjid AlHaram was the majestic Al-Buraq, a white winged beast, larger than a donkey, smaller than a mule. The Buraq was to transport Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm to the seven heavens. With each stride stretched as far as the eye can see,
Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm mounted Al-Buraq, sped northwards with Jibra’îl alayhis salâm to Al-Aqsa Masjid. On reaching, Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm dismounted, tied the Buraq to a hitching post used previously by all Prophets, entered the Masjid-e-Aqsa. On Jibra’îl alayhis salâm's indication led the congregation of all the Ambiyâ alayhimus salâm, among whom were Ibrahim, Mûsa, and ‘Isa alayhimus salâm. This, by the order of Allâh SubhanahuTa’âla was a means of proving that Rasûlullah sallailahu alayhi wa salâm was the leader of all Prophets and Messengers.
Then Jibra’îl alayhis salâm brought Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm three vessels, containing wine, milk, and honey. Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm looked at them and chose the milk. Jibra’îl alayhis salâm said, "Praise be to Allâh, who has guided you to tile Fitrah [natural disposition]."
From there Jibra’îl alayhis salâm led Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm to the first Heaven, and knocked on the gate and the gatekeeper asked, "Who is it?" After receiving Jibra’îl’s alayhis salâm reply he, asked, "Who is accompanying you?" It is Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa salâm to which he further questioned, "Has he been invited?" Jibra’îl alayhis salâm said, "Yes." He said, "Then welcome to him, welcome." The inhabitants of Heaven welcomed him joyfully.
At the first heaven they saw a man sitting with a multitude of people. The people on his right caused laughter, and on his left caused grief. The man said, "Welcome to the righteous Prophet and the righteous son. "Rasûullah sallallahu alayhi wa salâm returned the greeting and asked, "Who is this?" Jibra’îl answered, "This is Adam, and the multitudes on his right are the souls of his descendants who are people of paradise, and on his left are those people of hell." These groups were such whom were the cause of his laughing and weeping.
They then reached the second Heaven, the gatekeeper with Jibra'îl alayhis salâm and met Isa and Yahya alayhis salâm. Similarly the same occurred on each of the Heavens. On the third he met Yusuf alayhis salâm, on the fourth, Idris alayhis salâm, on the fifth, Harûn alayhis salâm, the sixth, Mûsa alayhis salâm and climbing a ladder to get to each Heaven higher up. On the sixth Heaven Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm made his way higher, Mûsa alayhis salâm wept. In reply to Rasûlullah’s sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm concern, he said, "I weep because of a young man sent after me, whose Ummah will enter Paradise in greater numbers than mine." It must be kept in mind that Mûsa alayhis salâm did not weep out of envy, Allâh forbid, but out of sorrow for those from amongst his Ummah who were disobedient.
Onwards from there, they made their way to the seventh Heaven and met Ibrahim alayhis salâm who was leaning on Bait-ul-Ma’mûr [the much frequented house], a building parallel with the Ka’bah and directly above it in the Heavens. Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm inquired about it and Jibra’îl informed him of the 70,000 angels who pray and perform Tawâf by it daily, then make way for another 70,000 angels and not one from any of them is given the chance to return till the Day of Qiyamah.
Rasûlullah sallallahu alayhi wa salâm was taken to see Paradise and Hell. He viewed Paradise's bounties whose domes were pearls and earth pungent musk, and Jahannam’s severities’. He also reached the point where he heard the 'Pen of Predicament' writing away.Then Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm was taken to the Lote tree [Sidratul Muntaha]. This is the place where anything, which comes up from earth stops there and is taken from there and anything which comes down from the regions stops there. It was at this point that Jibra’îl alayhis salâm appeared manifest in his original form before Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm.
Jibra’îl alayhis salâm remained alongside and guided Rasûlullah sallallahu alayhi wa salâm till the Lote tree (Sidratul Muntaha) beyond which none may pass, or go further.
Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm said, "You’re telling me now to go forth alone when you’ve remained with me from the Hatîm till the 7th Heaven, even till the Sidratul Muntaha [the Lote tree], so why are you leaving me now'?"
Jibra’îl alayhis salâm said, "Oh Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm, if I move from this but even as much as one wing, because of the Radiance of Allâh's Nûr [light] all my 600 wings will burn and wither away. This is your Excellency and great merit that you are going ahead."
So Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm went forth. Allâh Ta’âla blessed him with his nearness until he was very close.
It is said that Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm was given three gifts upon this occasion:
With these he made his way back down, and met Mûsa alayhis salâm who questioned him, "What ordinance did you receive from that select place of audience?"
On hearing about the order of 50 times salâh, Mûsa alayhis salâm advised, "I have experienced a lot with Bani Isra’îl. Your Ummah will not be able to fulfil this. You must return and make a request."
Rasûlullah sallallahu alayhi wa salâm returned and requested, "Oh my Lord, my Ummah is weak in body and mind, pray lighten our load."
The order was, "Ten salâh have been made less," So he returned, but Mûsa alayhis salâm questioned him again and advised him to request once more. This happened repeatedly till at last all that remained were 5 salâhs. Regarding these Allâh Ta’âla said: "They are 5 prayers but they are equal in reward to fifty, for my word does not change."
He returned to Mûsa alayhis salâm who advised, "Go back to your Lord, by Allâh I urged Bani Isra’îl to do less than that and even then they failed."
Yet this time Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm said, "I feel ashamed to go before my Lord again, and for disputing with Him."
Mûsa (alayhis salâm) said, "Then go down in the name of Allâh."
Thus, this was the end of a miraculous and fruitful journey, by the time Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm returned to Masjid-e-Haram Fajr had dawned.
The miraculous night journey of Rasûlullah sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm provided him with additional proof to show to people that he had been sent by Allâh Ta’âla. It would not have been possible to prove his prophet hood to people by describing his trip into the heavens as it was something none had ever experienced before. It would have only sounded like a dream or some far-fetched story. But some of them had then been to Jerusalem and so accurate was Rasûlullah’s sallallâhu alayhi wa salâm description of the Masjid Al-Aqsa and its surroundings in detail that would confirm his claims. Besides he also provided a description of a caravan and lost camel and all this proved beyond doubt that he was a Nabi of Allâh Ta’âla.
Lessons learnt from Mi'râj