World Bulletin/News Desk
On Sunday night, Muslims will commemorate Prophet Muhammad's night journey from Mecca to Al-Quds -- the Arabic name of Jerusalem -- from where he ascended into heaven.
The night -- widely known as 'Lailat al Miraj' -- is generally observed on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, which falls on the day beginning with Sunday night this year.
In Islamic belief, Prophet Muhammad, after being prepared for his meeting with Allah by angels Jibrail and Mikhail, travels on a steed called 'Buraq' first to Al-Quds -- where he leads other prophets in prayer -- and second to heaven where he speaks with Allah.
"This journey marks the most magnificent witnessing of Allah's eternity, grandeur and oneness," Turkey's President of Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez said in his message for the night.
The Lailat al Miraj is observed in Turkey as one of the five special nights -- each of them called 'kandil,' which translates as candle in Turkish -- when minarets of mosques are illuminated and special prayers are held.
Kandils were introduced during the rule of Ottoman sultan Selim II in the 16th century. The sultan ordered the mosques to lit candles on their minarets in order to announce these special nights to the public.
PROPHET TELLS HIS JOURNEY
The Prophet said, "While I was at the House in a state midway between sleep and wakefulness, (an angel recognized me) as the man lying between two men. A golden tray full of wisdom and belief was brought to me and my body was cut open from the throat to the lower part of the abdomen and then my abdomen was washed with Zam-zam water and (my heart was) filled with wisdom and belief.
Al-Buraq, a white animal, smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me and I set out with Jibreel. When I reached the nearest heaven. Jibreel said to the heaven gate-keeper, 'Open the gate.' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' He said, 'Jibreel.' The gate-keeper,' Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel said, 'Muhammad.' The gate-keeper said, 'Has he been called?' Jibreel said, 'Yes.' Then it was said, 'He is welcomed. What a wonderful visit his is!' Then I met Adam and greeted him and he said, 'You are welcomed O son and a Prophet.'
Then we ascended to the second heaven. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Jibreel said, 'Jibreel.' It was said, 'Who is with you?' He said, 'Muhammad' It was asked, 'Has he been sent for?' He said, 'Yes.' It was said, 'He is welcomed. What a wonderful visit his is!" Then I met Isa (Jesus) and Yahya (John the Baptist) who said, 'You are welcomed, O brother and a Prophet.'
Then we ascended to the third heaven. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Jibreel said, 'Jibreel.' It was asked, 'Who is with you? Jibreel said, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been sent for?' 'Yes,' said Jibreel. 'He is welcomed. What a wonderful visit his is!' (The Prophet added:). There I met Joseph and greeted him, and he replied, 'You are welcomed, O brother and a Prophet!'
Then we ascended to the 4th heaven and again the same questions and answers were exchanged as in the previous heavens. There I met Idris and greeted him. He said, 'You are welcomed O brother and Prophet.'
Then we ascended to the 5th heaven and again the same questions and answers were exchanged as in previous heavens. there I met and greeted Aaron who said, 'You are welcomed O brother and a Prophet".
Then we ascended to the 6th heaven and again the same questions and answers were exchanged as in the previous heavens. There I met and greeted Moses who said, 'You are welcomed O brother and a Prophet.' When I proceeded on, he started weeping and on being asked why he was weeping, he said, 'O Lord! Followers of this youth who was sent after me will enter Paradise in greater number than my followers.'
Then we ascended to the seventh heaven and again the same questions and answers were exchanged as in the previous heavens. There I met and greeted Ibrahim who said, 'You are welcomed o son and a Prophet.'
Then I was shown Al-Bait-al-Ma'mur (Allah's House). I asked Jibreel about it and he said, This is Al Bait-ul-Ma'mur where 70,000 angels perform prayers daily and when they leave they never return to it (but always a fresh batch comes into it daily).'
Then I was shown Sidrat al-Muntaha (a tree in the seventh heaven) and I saw its Nabk fruits which resembled the clay jugs of Hajr (a town in Arabia), and its leaves were like the ears of elephants, and four rivers originated at its root, two of them were apparent and two were hidden. I asked Jibreel about those rivers and he said, 'The two hidden rivers are in Paradise, and the apparent ones are the Nile and the Euphrates.'
Then fifty prayers were enjoined on me. I descended till I met Moses who asked me, 'What have you done?' I said, 'Fifty prayers have been enjoined on me.' He said, 'I know the people better than you, because I had the hardest experience to bring Bani Israel to obedience. Your followers cannot put up with such obligation. So, return to your Lord and request Him (to reduce the number of prayers.' I returned and requested Allah (for reduction) and He made it forty. I returned and (met Moses) and had a similar discussion, and then returned again to Allah for reduction and He made it thirty, then twenty, then ten, and then I came to Moses who repeated the same advice. Ultimately Allah reduced it to five. When I came to Moses again, he said, 'What have you done?' I said, 'Allah has made it five only.' He repeated the same advice but I said that I surrendered (to Allah's Final Order)'" Allah's Apostle was addressed by Allah, "I have decreed My Obligation and have reduced the burden on My slaves, and I shall reward a single good deed as if it were ten good deeds.
Source: Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 4,Book 54, Hadith number 429
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