19. The Most Wondrous Trip

It was called a Buraq. It was shorter and heavier than a horse, but had wings coming out of its hind legs!  “Ride,” said Jibreel; but when Muhammad (s) approached, it reared a bit. “What?!” exclaimed Jibreel, “Dare you rear? Don’t you know who it is about to ride you?! The noblest of all who rode you, before.” And the Buraq trembled and put down its head. Prophet Muhammad (s) climbed onto its back, and it was off. The Buraq flew so fast that each step reached the horizon. It was heading towards Palestine, and in no time, it had landed in Jerusalem. There, the Prophet prayed with other prophets that were waiting for him. Then the mi’raj was brought to him (s). The mi’raj was like an elevator that took the Prophet (s) and Angel Jibreel upwards into the Heavens.

At every sky of the seven heavens, the surprised angels would welcome Prophet Muhammad (s). At the first sky, he met Prophet Adam; at the second, he met Prophets Isa and Yahya. At the third sky, he met Prophet Yusuf; and at the fourth, Prophet Idrees. At the fifth Prophet Haroon, and at the sixth Prophet Musa. At the very last sky, the seventh, he met Prophet Ibraheem. 

Then Angel Jibreel took Prophet Muhammad (s) higher to an amazing tree called Sidrat al-Muntaha, and there the Prophet (s) saw Angel Jibreel in his true form with 600 wings. After that, Prophet Muhammad (s) went on alone and was addressed by Allah SWT. At that moment, what did anything that the Prophet Muhammad (s) had gone through matter? At that moment, all the hardship,pain, sadness, and harm he had experienced evaporated. And at this most wondrous time, Allah made the five prayers fard upon us.

When Prophet Muhammad (s) returned home, his entire adventure had taken place in one night of earthly time. That morning, the Prophet (s) told people where he had been and what he had seen. The disbelievers of Quraish laughed and made fun of his account. They rushed to Abu Bakr to break the news to him, hoping that Muslims would leave Islam after hearing such an impossible story. Abu Bakr didn’t even hesitate. He asked one question, “Did Prophet Muhammad (s) say this?” “Yes,” they answered. “Then of course I believe him. I believed him about revelation coming down from the sky, why wouldn’t I believe him concerning a trip he took to Jerusalem and then to the skies?” After this answer, Abu Bakr was called al-Siddeeq, which means the one who believes, because he would believe and affirm whatever the Prophet (s) said.

Quraish didn’t give up, they thought this was an opportunity to prove that Muhammad (s) lied. They challenged him to describe the Masjid of Jerusalem. At the time,the Messenger (s) hadn’t really noticed all the details they were asking him to describe, it had been night-time and so much was happening. But when they asked, Allah SWT lifted the masjid to his eyes so that he was actually looking at it as he described it. Quraish was stunned by his accuracy, but still they refused to believe.

That day, Jibreel came down to teach Prophet Muhammad (s) how to do the five prayers. Originally Allah had ordered him to have us pray fifty prayers a day. Prophet Musa, kept telling Prophet Muhammad (s) to go back and ask for them to be reduced until they were five. Now Angel Jibreel would show him exactly how and when to pray those five. First, he prayed thuhr just after the sun had moved from the highest point in the sky, then he prayed Asr when the shadow of everything was its length plus a bit. Maghrib was prayed when the sun set, and Isha when the red streaks after sunset left the sky, and Fajr when dawn broke. The following day, Jibreel came and prayed as Imam again. This time he prayed thuhr when the shadow of everything was its length, Asr when the sun deepened in its color and was about to set, maghrib, again when the sun set, Isha just before dawn, and Fajr just before sunrise. He said to him, “The time for the prayers is between these two times.”

And so, the Muslims now were praying five times a day. And they were being treated worse than ever. Prophet Muhammad (s) had lost his wife and uncle, along with the hope he had that the tribe of Thaqeef would protect him. But Prophet Muhammad (s) did not give up. He continued to go to the place where people coming to Haj from all over the Arabian Peninsula camped. He would go to tribe after tribe, calling its people to Islam and asking them to protect him, so that he could call others to Islam. Some people were interested, but other members of the same tribe would say, “If he were truthful, then why don’t his own people believe him?” Other people asked if they could be rulers after he died. He truthfully told them this wasn’t a kingship. To a person watching from afar, it seemed like a hopeless situation. It seemed like pretty soon Muhammad (s) should give up. But something very surprising was about to happen. Prophet Muhammad (s) was about to meet six men that knew a secret not everyone knew.