The symbolism of Isra wal Miraj
by Ayesha Khan
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
“Glory be to Him, Who took His servant during the night from the Sacred House to the farthest mosque of which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; verily He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” [Al Isra:17:1]
As the people of Gaza continue to defend their lives, their loved ones and their land under brutal attack, the Isra wal Miraj which took place just over 1445 years ago is a poignant reminder that no matter how bad things can be – and we struggle to comprehend what could be worse than the scenes we are witnessing daily – there is hope.
The Isra, the journey of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to Jerusalem during in the night, took place at a time when the Prophet (peace be upon him) had hit one of the lowest points in his life. Subjected to widespread and bitter hostility and unrestrained aggression, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions had endured three years of boycott by the Makkans. The parallels with our brothers and sisters who are denied food and water is not lost. They were starved to the point that they had to survive on the leaves of trees. No one was allowed to access them or offer any aid.
After this very difficult boycott, the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) uncle Abu Talib passed away and then his beloved wife Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her). With the death of his uncle, the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) lost his public protection against the Quraysh. With the passing away of his beloved wife, the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) lost the support and pillar of his house, and the love and comfort of a cherished beloved.
To add to the pain, the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) had been delivering the divine message for thirteen years with limited acceptance (only about 113 people had accepted Islam in all those years) and travelled to At-Taif in the hope that his message would receive a warmer welcome. To his dismay, his reception was much more hostile than he had expected. He was abused, insulted and pelted with stones. He left At-Taif bruised and humiliated. Such were the string of demoralising events that it became known as the Aam Al-Huzn (the year of sorrow).
It was against this backdrop of pain and grief that Allah Almighty granted the Prophet (peace be upon him) the miraculous journey to Bait Al Maqdis and from there up to the heavens. It was when he reached rock bottom that Allah Almighty transported him on Buraq to Jerusalem. And it was Masjid al Aqsa where he led all the prophets in prayer before he ascended through the skies (miraj).
Imagine what it must have felt like after all the pain he had experienced, to be granted this tremendous honour and boost to his imaan. Imagine what it must have felt like to meet Allah Almighty.
It was the ray of hope that came just before the turning point in Islamic history. Soon after that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would be welcomed into Madinah, with drums beating, crowds thronging to see him and children singing. Here he would build the first Muslim community.
The Miraj was a miracle. It showed that Allah’s power is greater than anyone. That no matter how vicious your enemies are, victory from Allah is not far. It showed hope in the midst of despair. It signalled a turning point, when Muslims would go from being oppressed to freedom and safety.
Inshallah one day soon, we will see a turning point. The lesson for us is not to lose hope when we are in the depths of despair, and not to doubt Allah’s mercy. No matter how bad things are now, the people of Gaza will be restored to their homes.
It is after the conquest of Makkah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had the choice to stay in Makkah or return to Madinah. He chose Madinah to acknowledge the support of the Ansar who had opened their hearts, minds and homes to his message and the companions.
We pray that the Palestinians are returned to their homes and that God writes us among those who opposed injustice in whatever capacity we have using all available legal means.
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