one thousand three hundred years before missiles and satellites were invented there was i... al buraq. there are different descriptions of me and many accounts of my exact appearance. no one is sure what species i am. the important thing is that i am made by allah, the creator of the heavens and the earth, glory be to him, he has power over all things. the prophets, may peace be upon them, have ridden me, but with muhammad, praise and peace be upon him, i performed a unique miracle, and even though the story of it is stranger than fantasy, it is entirely true.
twelve years had passed since the first revelation came down to muhammad. he had faced a great deal of trouble and torment during those years. his uncle and his wife had both died. his companions had left makkah and his journey to taif had not succeeded. but he still had great faith and he continued to ask allah to help him and grant him patience.
it was after these eventual years that this miracle happened. it because known as “al israa’ wal mi’raj”, the midnight journey to the seventh heaven. it took place on the night of the 27th of the arabic month of rajab.
that night, the angel jibreel went to the prophet’s house and brought him to the sacred house of allah where i was waiting. after jibreel had washed the prophet’s heart in the water from the well of zamzam, he filled it with wisdom and faith. then the prophet mounted me and we set off at amazing speed with jibreel beside us.
outside makkah we passed a caravan belonging to the tribe of quraysh. one of their camels had gone astray and the prophet guided them to it. then we passed another caravan. some of their camels had bolted and one had broken its leg. then we passed a third caravan led by a camel carrying two black bags.
as we sped through the air muhammad, may allah bless him and grant his salvation, saw many things. he would ask jibreel, peace be upon him, about them and jibreel would answer him.
he saw a beautiful young woman in a sumptuous dress calling to him: “o muhammad,” but he did not look at her. jibreel said: “that is the world, adorned and made beautiful for you.” but the prophet said: “i have no need of the world.”
when we reached yathrib, jibreel said: “this is yathrib, you will emigrate here. it will be called al madeenah al munawwara, the enlightened city. here you will die and be taken up to allah.”
and we passed people sowing and harvesting, and after the harvest they started sowing again. “what is that?” the prophet asked jibreel. “they are the ones who work hard for allah’s sake,” replied jibreel. “their good deeds will be multiplied seven hundred times.”
and we saw the tortures of those who miss their prayers and do not give zakat. then a sweet breeze blew against our faces carrying a smell of perfume and we heard a beautiful voice. “what is that jibreel?” asked muhammad, may allah bless him and grant him salvation.
“it is the voice of paradise.” answered jibreel. “it is saying: ‘lord, send me the souls you promised me, for my chambers and silks are many, and me gold and silver in plentiful, and my cups and jugs are overflowing with honey and milk and water. send me o lord, the souls you promised me.’”
in another valley we smelled a loathsome smell, and heard a terrible voice.
“what is that jibreel?” asked the prophet may allah bless him and grant him salvation.
“that is the voice of hell,” jibreel replied. “it is calling: ‘lord, send me the souls you promised me, for my chains and shackles are many, and my fires are blazing. send me the souls you promised me.’”
we reached jerusalem in the twinkling of an eye and muhammad, may allah bless him and grant him salvation, led me, al buraq, and tethered me to a ring of iron in a circle of high rock. it is still there to this day and the muslims have built a high dome over it. then the prophet left me and entered the aqsa mosque where all the prophets and messengers were waiting for him and he led them all in prayer as they stood behind him row upon row.
after the prayer jibreel escorted the prophet and ascended with him to heaven on the second part of midnight journey which is called a mi’raj.
the prophet went up to the first heaven. there our father adam welcomed him. in the second heaven he met ‘isa bin maryam and yahya and zakariyya, peace be upon them, and in the third heaven he met yusuf bin ya’qubpeace be upon him. in the fourth heaven he met idris, and in the fifth heaven he met harun bin imran, and in the sixth heaven he met musa bin imran. in the seventh heaven he met ibrahim, in the intimate friend of allah. each one of them greeted the prophet saying: “welcome, good prophet and noble brother.” then allah’s chosen prophet was lifted to sidra, the lotus tree of the highest heaven, and finally he was allowed to enter the majestic divine presence of allah. the prophet knelt down and touched the floor with his forehead before the one god to praise him and thank him because he had brought him to a place none of the other prophets had ever been to.
here allah ordered that muslims should pray five times a day, and that the kaaba should be their qibla and they should face its direction when they pray.
after that the prophet came down to the holy rock and bode farewell to the prophets and messengers. then he mounted me, al buraq, once again and returned to the holly house of allah in makkah, and thus the journey of the isra’ and mi’raj came to an end. i said goodbye and he went home. the next day he went to the kaaba and told the people of his mysterious midnight journey. the kuffar of the quraysh did not believe him. abu jahl was the first among them to say his story was a lie. another said:
“it takes us a whole month to go to jerusalem, and a month to come back. how can muhammad go and come back in a single night?”
at that moment abu bakr arrived at the kaaba, and sat down close to the prophet. he heard from the kuffar what the prophet had said about his journey, and how they said it was a lie and refused to believe him.
the kuffar and the prophet continued to argue, and in the end the kuffar challenged him to describe the aqsa mosque to them, for they knew he never visited it before and had never been to it. muhammad began to describe it as if the aqsa mosque was right in front of him and he was looking at it. he described in such detail that all who heard him were astonished.
“o messenger of allah, you have spoken the truth,” exclaimed abu bakr
then, in addition to his detailed description, the prophet offered extra proofs, and he told them of the caravans ha had seen approaching makkah. not long afterwards the caravans actually arrived in makkah and with them was the camel that had gone astray, and the camel that had broken its leg and tha camel carrying the two black bags, just as the prophet had told tehm.
the kuffar were amazed. they did not know what to say. i was abu bakr who raised his voice and spoke:
“you have spoken the truth messenger of allah. i believe everything you have said.”
and the noble prophet said to him: “your belief is strong, abu bakr.” and from that day forth abu bakr was known as a siddeeq, which means ‘strong believer’
that is my story, the story of al buraq, and the messenger of allah and the midnight journey. it is true story that really happened more then one thousand three hundred years before the age of the rockets and satellites.
glory be to him who took his servants by night from the sacred mosque of makkah to the aqsa mosque, whose surroundings we have blessed that we might show him some of our signs. for he alone hears all and sees all (1)
almighty allah has spoken the truth.
surat al isra’ (the journey by night) 17