سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
“Glorified be He who carried His servant from Masjid al Haram to Masjid al Aqsa, the precincts of which We have blessed, so that We may show him of Our Signs. Verily He is the All Hearing, the All Seeing. ”
A unifying event in which all Muslims are in accordance with is The Night Ascension of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), Al-Mi’raj. This event was beyond imaginable, and only could have been attained by the most Holy and Spiritual servant, Prophet Muhammad. The events of Mi’raj are clearly versed in the Quran in various Surahs.
Within the Twelver Shi’i faith, Mi’raj is an event that is a principal belief, and one that must not be doubted. It has also been narrated through Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al Rida that:
من أنكر ثلاثة أشياء فليس من شيعتنا – المعراج – المسئلة في القبر والشفاعة.
“One who denies (any of these) three things is not among our Shi`a (followers): the Mi’raj, the questioning in the grave and ash- Shafa`ah (intercession). ”
The Shab – Mi’raj took place after the year of sorrow, which was the year in which the Holy Prophet lost two very important figures, his wife Sayeda Khadija and his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib, both who passed away in the 10th year of his prophethood.
The journey itself lasted but a mere few hours, after the time of the night prayer (Magrhib,) till right before the morning prayer (Fajr). The first part, also known as the Night journey or in Arabic as ‘Al Isra” was when the Prophet (s.a.w) undertook the journey from Makkah (Masjid al-Haram) to the “farthest mosque,” referred to as Masjid al-Aqsa. Mi’raj is known as rising up high, but in this term, we refer to it as the ascension, where the Holy Prophet was raised from Masjid al-Aqsa to the heavens. He rose up until the highest peak, of which no creation has yet reached. The Holy Prophet reconciled with all the Prophet’s spirits of the past, meeting one at every level of the heavens. Throughout the journey he encountered nothing but the signs of Allah, where he then came back down to Masjid al-Aqsa and back to Masjid al-Haram.
When he came back the first person, he informed was Umm al-Hani (the daughter of Abu Talib), then went along to the people of Mekkah. Some saw this as a sign of truer faith to Islam, yet some continued to ridicule him, doubting the authenticity and logic of the journey. Some then continued to ask the Prophet a series of questions. For example, the heads of Quraish wanted to hear the description of the Masjid in detail, and in response for proof the Prophet pointed out a Caravan which he saw on his way down and named that tribe exactly.
It is very important to note that the exact details of how the event transpired are complicated. Many scholars believe that the words of the Quran have a deeper meaning beyond what we may understand. For instance, it is wrong to assume the medium of his route, the ‘Buraq’ was on a ‘horse,’ like figure. Rather a creation of God much beyond our comprehension.
The Quran discusses the events in two chapters, Surah Isra (17:1)
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَي بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَي الْمَسْجِدِ الاَقْصَا الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ ءَايَاتِنَآ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
And Surah Najm (53:12)-(53-18)
Will you then argue with him about what he saw? He certainly saw him (Jibraeel) during his other ascent to the Lote-tree (in the seven heavens) near which is Paradise. When the tree was covered with a covering, (Muhammad’s) eyes did not deceive him, nor did they lead him to falsehood. He certainly saw the greatest (signs) of the existence of his Lord.
(al-Qur’an – Chapter Najm, Verses 12-18)