One of the most important lessons of the journey of Israâ€™ and Miâ€™raj (Night Journey and Ascension) is that it highlights the high status that Al-Aqsa Mosque has in the Muslim Ummah. It was to Al-Aqsa Mosque that the Night Journey of the Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam was made and from it that the Prophetâ€™s ascension to the Heavens took place.
Ceding Al-Aqsa Mosque (to the Zionists) might be a preliminary step towards ceding AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House. Both Al-Aqsa Mosque and AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House are sanctified and precious to Muslims.
The journey of Al-Israâ€™ was a sign that the leadership of the world would move to the Muslim Ummah. Such leadership was based on mercy and justice, not on oppression and aggression.
Another significant lesson of Al-Israâ€™ and Al-Miâ€™raj is knowing the importance of prayer; it is through prayer that one can directly communicate with his Almighty Lord.
Al-Israâ€™ was a land-to-land journey that AllÃ¢h Almighty caused His Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam to make from Makkah to Jerusalem, that is, from Almighty AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Al-Miâ€™raj was a land-to-heaven journey from Jerusalem to the heavens. It was a journey to a place that no human being other than the Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam had ever reached [or has reached since]. It was a journey to the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary, whose place only Almighty AllÃ¢h knows.
Such two journeys were a turning point in the Prophetâ€™s life and in the course of his call in Makkah, especially after all the suffering he SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam had faced at the hands of the Quraysh.
AllÃ¢h Almighty wanted Israâ€™ and Miâ€™raj be an alleviation and relief to His Prophet SallallÃ¢hu ‘alayhi wasallam. He Almighty wanted to tell His Prophet that if the people of the earth had let him down, the people of heaven were there to support him; if the people of the earth had rejected his call, AllÃ¢h Almighty would receive him and His Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them) would follow him and he would be their imam.
That journey was an honour and compensation to the Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam from Almighty AllÃ¢h. It was also a preparation for him to the following stage of his call. A few years later, he SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam would migrate to Madinah, where he SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam would lead a life of strife and jihad and confront the Arab tribes and other parties that would stand as one man against his international call.
In fact, it is not known exactly when the Night Journey and Ascension took place, but it was certainly before the Hijrah [emigration from Makkah] to Madinah. It was said to have happened either three years or 18 months before the Hijrah.
Anyway, there are two important points that we are to concentrate on in discussing Israâ€™ and Miâ€™raj. The first thing is to contemplate how AllÃ¢h Almighty linked His Sacred House and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and why He Almighty wanted to inform us that Al-Aqsa Mosque was a main destination of the Night Journey. We should meditate why the Night Journey was from AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House to Al-Aqsa Mosque, from which the Ascension to heaven was made, why Ascension did not take place from AllÃ¢hâ€™s Mosque to heaven directly.
This indicates that Al-Aqsa Mosque, that sacred place which AllÃ¢h Almighty has blessed, was a main destination of the Night Journey.
Prophet Muhammadâ€™s being received by other Prophets of AllÃ¢h Almighty in Al-Aqsa Mosque and his leading them in SalÃ¢h [ritual prayer] there is also significant. It indicates that leadership was moved to a new nation and to a new prophethood.
It is significant that Prophet Muhammadâ€™s mission was not like the missions of the previous prophets. Each of all the other prophets Alayhimus-SalÃ¢m was sent to his own people, while Prophet Muhammad SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam was sent to all mankind [and jinn]. He SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam was sent as a mercy to the worlds at all times. This was a sign of the eternity and internationality of His message SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam.
Thus, his going to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the land of Prophets, from which came Prophets Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus, was an indication that leadership of the world had moved to the new international message, Islam.
AllÃ¢h Almighty wanted Muslims to realize and deeply appreciate the relation between His Sacred House and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was from His Sacred House that the Night Journey began and to Al-Aqsa Mosque that it reached.
AllÃ¢h Almighty has blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its neighbourhood. He Almighty says in that regard: â€œGlorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far Distant Place of Worship the neighbourhood whereof We have blessedâ€ (Al-Israâ€™:1) [The Inviolable Place of Worship mentioned in this verse refers to AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House and the Far Distant Place of Worship refers to Al-Aqsa Mosque.]
Mind that AllÃ¢h Almighty had blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its neighbourhood and referred to it even before even the Prophetâ€™s Mosque was built, as the Prophetâ€™s Mosque was established after his immigration to Madinah.
Mind also that when Prayer was ordained on the Muslims, Al-Aqsa Mosque was the Qiblah to which they were to turn during Prayer. They would turn their faces in Prayer towards it for three years in Makkah, and for 16 months in Madinah before the Qiblah was changed to AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House.
Besides, Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three mosques to which Muslims are required to dedicate time for visiting; the other two mosques are the Sacred Mosque and the Prophetâ€™s Mosque. This shows that Jerusalem is the third sacred place after Makkah and Madinah in Islam.
AllÃ¢h Almighty wanted to establish and emphasise the significance and sacredness of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Muslimsâ€™ hearts so that they do not cede it for anything. They are to hold it as sacred as both AllÃ¢hâ€™s Sacred House and His Prophetâ€™s Mosque.
That was why the Muslims [when they were strong] were zealous to keep Al-Aqsa Mosque under their rule and protection.
Hence, Muslims must realise the importance of Jerusalem in their history and the significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque in their religion and life.
AllÃ¢h Almighty wills that we remember the importance of Al-Aqsa Mosque when we celebrate the anniversary of Israâ€™ and Miâ€™raj.
This is to remind us of the gravity of the circumstances in which Al-Aqsa Mosque is in this age. We must not give up our responsibility in defending Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem. This is a sacred issue to fight for. Brothers and sisters, we should not, under any circumstances, give up our role in that regard.
The Jews dreamed of establishing a state (in the land of Palestine) and managed to achieve that dream. That being so, we at least must not give up hope that one day we will again have Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem under our control. We should not lose hope of that at all, even if we see surrender embodied everywhere in our status quo.
We must believe that AllÃ¢h Almighty is with us and that He Almighty will grant us victory and make Islam prevail, as He, Most High, always supports the true believers.
Imams Ahmad and At-Tabarani reported on the authority of Abu Imama Al-Bahilai (may AllÃ¢h be pleased with him) that the Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam said, â€œA group of my nation will keep being in the side of right and victorious over its enemy; no party of their enemy can cause them harm; the only harm that may afflict them is (physical) exhaustion. They would be like so until the Day of Judgment.â€ The Prophetâ€™s Companions (may AllÃ¢h be pleased with them) asked, â€œWhere would they be, AllÃ¢hâ€™s Messenger?â€ He SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam said, â€œIn Jerusalem and the surrounding vicinity.â€
The second most important lesson that we are to learn from Israâ€™ and Miâ€™raj is concerning Prayer [SalÃ¢h]. It is known that Prayer was ordained on that great night.
It is because of the great importance of Prayer that AllÃ¢h Almighty ordained it in heaven. He Almighty sent for His Messenger to mankind SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam and caused him to go on a night journey and ascend to heaven and the Lote Tree to inform him SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam of the ordinance of Prayer.
Mind that all other ordinances were decreed on the earth. This indicates how important Prayer is in Islam. It symbolizes ascension to heaven; it is the Muslimâ€™s spiritual ascension to heaven.
Thus, Prayer is the gift that the Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam brought with him from that journey to all Muslims so that they can worship AllÃ¢h Almighty through it.
Prayer had to do with Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa Mosque was the first Qiblah in Islam. If it is true that Israâ€™ took place in the tenth year of the Prophetâ€™s mission, this would mean that the Muslimsâ€™ Qiblah in Prayer was towards Al-Aqsa Mosque for three years before the Hijrah to Madinah and 16 months after it.
Then Almighty AllÃ¢h decreed that the Qiblah be changed towards the Sacred Mosque. AllÃ¢h Almighty says: â€œSo turn thy face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship, and ye (O Muslims), wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces when ye pray) toward it.â€ (Al-Baqarah: 143)
When the Qiblah was changed, the Jews raised doubts about that. AllÃ¢h Almighty says: â€œThe foolish of the people will say: What hath turned them from the Qiblah which they formerly observed?â€ (Al-Baqarah: 142)
The Jews spread rumours that the Muslimsâ€™ Prayer [to the first Qiblah] was invalid and so would not be rewarded. AllÃ¢h Almighty refuted their claims as He, most High, says: â€œAnd We appointed the Qiblah which ye formerly observed only that We might know him who followeth the Messenger from him who turneth on his heels. In truth it was a hard (test) save for those whom AllÃ¢h guided. But it was not AllÃ¢hâ€™s purpose that your faith should be in vain, for AllÃ¢h is full of pity, Merciful toward mankind.â€ (Al-Baqarah: 143) According to this verse, â€œyour faithâ€ refers to Prayer, as Prayer is a symbol of oneâ€™s faith.
To sum up, Prayer is the spiritual means through which Muslims can ascend to their Lord. If the Prophet SallallÃ¢hu â€˜alayhi wasallam ascended to heaven (once), we, brothers and sisters, could spiritually ascend to there as much as we can through Prayer.
AllÃ¢h Almighty says in a qudsi [divine] hadith: â€œI have divided the Prayer into two halves between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks. When the servant says, â€˜Praise be to AllÃ¢h, the Lord of the universe,â€™ AllÃ¢h the Most High says, â€˜My servant has praised Me.â€™ And when he (the servant) says, â€˜The Most Compassionate, the Merciful,â€™ AllÃ¢h the Most High says, â€˜My servant has lauded Me.â€™ And when he (the servant) says, â€˜Master of the Day of judgment,â€™ He Almighty remarks, â€˜My servant has glorified Me.â€™
And when he (the worshiper) says, â€˜Thee do we worship and of Thee do we ask help,â€™ He Almighty says, â€˜This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.â€™ Then, when he (the worshiper) says, â€˜Guide us to the straight path, the path of those to whom Thou hast been Gracious not of those who have incurred Thy displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray,â€™ He (AllÃ¢h Almighty) says, â€˜This is for My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.