Allah Almighty Says (what means): “Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haraam to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsaa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Quran 17: 1]
Thus says Allah in the Quran of the miracle of the Israa’ and Mi'raaj, or ‘The Night Journey and the Ascension to Heaven’. It was the most magnificent and dangerous trip ever taken by the Prophet . At the same time, it was the most splendid trip, it was a journey from Earth to Heaven, from the Lower Assembly to the Exalted Assembly; rather, it was a journey from the created to the Creator.
I wonder how great was the happiness that filled the Prophet's heart in the presence of Allah in a place never reached except by him . O Allah! All thanks and praise is unto You for allowing us to be among the followers of this great Prophet, whom You have blessed with this so high a station.
With the Israa’ and Mi'raaj, the Prophet became the first and only human to cross the barrier between the seen and the unseen. He then returned to tell us about what he saw, and what was made obligatory on us. He returned to confirm the truthfulness of Allah's previous Messages and to tell us of what is going to happen in the distant future, things that would occur on the Last Day and beyond.
And while this miracle represented the first serious trial for the Companions', may Allah be pleased with them, faith in Allah, it has remained until today a test of all believers' faith in Allah and in the Unseen. Allah Says (what means): “…And We did not make the sight which We showed you except as a trial for the people…” [Quran 17: 60] A test that ascertains one's faith. And for those who succeed in it, the Israa’ and Mi'raaj presents an endless source of inspiration and motivation with regard to the religion, this life and the Hereafter.
Israa’ and Mi'raaj as related in Saheeh Muslim
Anas Ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet said: "I was brought the Buraaq, a long white beast slightly bigger than a donkey but smaller than a mule which, when trotting, would place its next step as far as its eyesight can reach." The Prophet said: "I mounted it till I reached Al-Quds, Jerusalem. There, I tied it up to the same ring used by the prophets (may Allah exalt their mention). Then I entered the Masjid (mosque), offered two Rak'ahs (units of prayer) after which I went out where Jibreel (may Allah exalt his mention) came to me with a pot of wine and another of milk. I chose to drink the milk, and Jibreel (may Allah exalt his mention) said, "You chose Fitrah (natural disposition upon which Allah created mankind).' Then he took me to heaven. Jibreel (may Allah exalt his mention) then asked (for the gate of heaven) to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied, Jibreel. He was again asked, ‘Who is with you?' He said, 'Muhammad.' It was said, 'Has he been sent for?' Jibreel (may Allah exalt his mention) replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.' And (the door) was opened for us and then we saw Aadam (may Allah exalt his mention). He welcomed me and prayed for my well being. Then we ascended to the second heaven. Jibreel (may Allah exalt his mention) asked (for the door of heaven to be opened), and he was asked who he was. He answered, Jibreel. He was again asked, ‘Who is with you?' He replied,'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been sent for?' He replied, ‘He has indeed been sent for.' Then the gate was opened. When I entered, 'Eesaa Ibn Maryam (Jesus the son of Mary, may Allah exalt his mention) and Yahyaa Ibn Zakariyaa (John the son of Zachariah, may Allah exalt their mention), cousins from the maternal side, welcomed me and prayed for my well being. Then I was taken to the third heaven and I saw Yoosuf (Joseph, may Allah exalt his mention), who had been given half of the (world's) beauty. He welcomed me and prayed for my well being, and he ascended with us to the fourth heaven, and Idrees (Enoch, may Allah exalt his mention) was there. Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious Says about him (what means): "And We raised him (Idrees) to a high station."[Quran 19: 57] Then he ascended with us to the fifth heaven, and then I was with Haroon (Aaron, may Allah exalt his mention). He welcomed me and prayed for my well being. Then I was taken to the sixth heaven, and there I was with Moosaa (Moses, may Allah exalt his mention). He welcomed me and prayed for my well being. Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven, and there I found Ibraaheem (Abraham) reclining against Al-Bayt Al-Ma'moor (the much-frequented House), into which seventy thousand angels (who will never visit it again) enter every day. Then I was taken to Sidratul Muntahaa (the Lote Tree of the Utmost Boundary), whose leaves were like elephant ears and its fruit like big earthenware vessels. And when it was covered by the Command of Allah, it underwent such a change that none amongst the creation has the power to praise its beauty. Then Allah revealed to me a revelation, and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Moosaa (may Allah exalt his mention) who asked, 'What has your Lord enjoined upon your nation?' I said: 'Fifty prayers.' He said, `Return to your Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your nation shall not be able to bear this burden. As I have been put to test by the children of Israel and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden).' The Prophet said: 'I went back to my Lord and said, ‘My Lord, make things lighter for my nation.' (The Lord) reduced the number by five prayers. I went down to Moosaa (may Allah exalt his mention) and said, '(The Lord) reduced it by five (prayers) for me.' He said, 'Verily your nation shall not be able to bear this burden; return to your Lord and ask Him to make things lighter.' I then kept going back and forth between my Lord, the Exalted, and Moosaa (may Allah exalt his mention), until He (Allah, Almighty) said: 'There are five prayers every day and night O Muhammad, each being credited as ten, so that makes them fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten. Whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and doesn't, it will not recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. I then came down and when I came to Moosaa (may Allah exalt his mention) and informed him, he said, 'Go back to your Lord and ask Him to make things lighter.' Upon this, the Messenger of Allah remarked: 'I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed before Him.'"
What does it all mean?
Israa’ (Night Journey)
Means betaking the Prophet from Makkah to Al-Quds (Jerusalem) during the night by Al-Buraaq and then returning him back in the same night. Ibn Al-Qayyim said, "Allah's saying 'took His Servant for a journey by night' and not 'sent His Servant' implies that Allah accompanied the Prophet . For the letter 'baa' in the Arabic language means besides. And this is why the Prophet when setting out for a journey would say: "O Allah, You are the Companion during (my) travel."
Refers to what happened to the Prophet when he ascended from Al-Masjid Al-Aqsaa up to beyond the Seventh Heaven, where the Prayer was prescribed, and then returning back in the same fashion in the same night.
In Al-Bidaayah wa An-Nihaayah, Imaam Ibn Katheer said, "Ascension didn't take place aboard Al-Buraaq as some people might think, for Al-Buraaq was tied to the door of Bayt Al-Maqdis, so that he could ride it back to Makkah. The Prophet ascended from one heaven to another until he passed the Seventh Heaven."