Posted by: mjaga | August 20, 2011

Mairaj – the Night Journey

Qur’aanic Verse 17.1:



1. Subhana allathee asra biAAabdihi laylan mina almasjidi alharami ila almasjidi al-aqsa allathee barakna hawlahu linuriyahu min ayatina innahu huwa alssameeAAu albaseeru


1. Glorified He is Who took His devotee on a night journey from the Sacred Place of Worship (at Mecca) to the Distant Place of Worship1, the precincts of which We have blessed, so that We may show to him some of Our signs. It is He indeed Who hears, sees, everything.2


Study Note:

1. This is generally believed to be at Jeruslem. This may or may not be true as it is is not corroborated by any other Verse in the Qur’aan.

2.  This is all that the Qur’aan says about the much-discussed Mairaj of our Prophet (peace on him). The ahaadeeth tell us plenty about it. The Muslims are in a dilemma as to whether they should be content with the little that the Qur’aan says on it or should they refer to the lot that the ahaadeeth ‘disclose’.

One famous story about the Mairaj that the ahaadeeth ‘disclose’ is that Allah Almighty had prescribed, during its course, many more times of Salah per day than the five in vogue now. The story goes that as our Prophet was on his way back after receiving the divine directive, Prophet Moses met him and told him that his Ummah won’t be able to perform the Salah that many times. So our Prophet goes back and pleads for less number of Salah. The Prophet had to make several such to-and-fro trips till at last he got the prescription for the five-time Salah.

Now, what is the implication of that story which the ahaadeeth make us believe in? It implies that Prophet Moses understood human nature better than the Creator Himself!

The ahaadeeth are admittedly man-influenced and error-prone. It’s nothing but shirk to put them on the same pedestal as the Qur’aanic Verses.

In this particular case, Allah did not think it necessary for the Ummah to know what divine signs He showed our Prophet during Mairaj. If He did think it necessary, he would certainly have mentioned those signs in the Qur’aan. For, Allah says, everything necessary for human guidance is mentioned therein.

The signs shown during the Mairaj were necessary for the Prophet personally. He was chosen as the leader of the Ummah. In that capacity, he had to have not even an iota of doubt in his mind about the genuineness of the stupendous Mission he was given.

So let us not speculate about the signs our Prophet was shown during Mairaj. Those signs were not meant for mankind in general.

Some commentators say that the journey was not bodily effected, but that it was all a sort of vision that the Prophet saw. This Verse (17.1) indeed is one of the mutashabihaat in terms of Verse 3.7 (Manzil I), and as per divine directions in that Verse, it is not for human beings to interpret such Verses. They have to accept whatever Allah has stated.


The above is an extract from Qur’aanic Studies Manzil IV, which will soon, inshaAllah, be published on Amazon Kindle. Manzil IMabzil II & Manzil III of the series are already published.

Mohammad Shafi



  1. Salam all,
    I do not see the “Masjid al-aqsa” in 17:1 in the sense it is commonly envisaged in the first leg of the widely believed “Mi’raaj”. If it is the ‘mosque’ in Jerusalem we are told about in the hadith, then, the widely publicized “Mi’raaj” has to end at the “Masjid al-aqsa” as per this verse! In other words, how do we reconcile the ‘signs of Allah’ being shown to the Prophet around the blessed site of “Masjid al-aqsa” (the farthest masjid) indicated in 17:1 as opposed to those shown in the Paradise as described in the hadith narrations; I find the perceived second leg of the “mi’raaj” completely missing in 17:1 if we go by the hadith folklore.
    However, I do believe that the ‘mi’raaj’ event did occur. For that to see, we need to visit another place in the Qur’an—we have to sally through the verse sequence 53:13-18. I do see a link between these verses and 17:1. In the former sequence of verses, the Prophet witnesses, what I understand to be, the powerful angel (Gabriel) for the second time after the receiving the mighty revelation during the first time of his (prophet’s) visual experience as per 53:10 a few verses earlier. However, here, we do not see “masjid al-aqsa” per se but, what I perceive to be, an alternative term “sidrat-ul-muntaha” (usually translated as the farthest lote-tree) NEAR the “Jannat-ul-ma’wa” (Garden of Permanent Living or Garden of Promise). Here, I do not fail to notice the two closely-tied concepts common between 17:1 and the sequence 53:13-18:
    (1) the “farthestness” in both the Arabic words “Aqsa” in 17:1 and “mutaha” in 53:14, and,
    (2) the witnessing of the (great) Signs of Allah in 17:1 and 53:18 where the latter points to the Garden of Permanent Living/Promise mentioned in 53:15.
    This leaves a link between the words “masjid” in 17:1 and “sidra” in 53:14, the former being a place of prostration/submission to Allah, and the latter being a place of protective shelter from intense summer heat. In both places do we find comfort and protection.
    This is how I view a possible link between the verse 17:1 and sequence of verses 53:13-18 for the ‘asra’ or the “mi’raaj”, even though we do not find the word “Mi’raaj” per se in the Qur’an except by implication of the word “Ufuq al-a’la” (Highest Harazon) in 53:7. Wallah A’lam.

  2. Some scholars including Parwez interpret these verses as the Apostle’s migration from Mecca to Medina as below:

    (1) (The atmosphere in Makkah had become unbearable for the Jama’at-ul-Momineen and there was a little hope that the message of Islam would be accepted by those who had not only rejected it but planned to kill the Rasool.) Limitless glory to Allah who moved his devotee one night from the sacred mosque (of Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Madina – where atmosphere was much more conducive) and its environs We had blessed. The purpose of the migration was that the promises made by Allah with him in Makkah should be fulfilled. Most certainly Allah is all Hearing and All-Seeing (20/23). (Therefore every decision of His is based on Knowledge and Wisdom.)

    More at:

    Dr Shabbir’s interpretation:

    Surah 17. Al-Asra – The Night Journey
    [Author’s Note] This is the 17th Surah of the Qur’an. Some historians refer to it
    as Surah Bani Israel. It has 111 verses. Asra (Night Journey) is often confused
    with Me’raaj (Ascension). Since God is Omnipresent, the notion of anyone
    going to meet with Him over the skies does not stand up to reason. Asra
    signifies night journey and it refers to the beginning of the exalted
    Messenger’s emigration from Makkah to Madinah by night. Verses 20:77 and
    26:52 use the same term for migration of Prophet Moses along with his
    followers across the sea. Also consider 17:2. Masjid Al-Aqsa means, the
    Remote Mosque and refers to the ‘Remote Mosque’ in Madinah, the place
    where Muslims used to establish congregational prayers before the Prophet’s
    arrival to the city. Masjid may also be understood here as Madinah being the
    place of regular congregations. The famous Masjid Al-Aqsa, the so-called
    Qiblah Awwal, the supposed First Holy Sanctuary, is widely known as Haram
    Shareef) in Jerusalem. But, in fact, it was built in 72 AH (691 CE) by the
    Umayyad Ruler, Abdul Malik bin Marwan, about 60 years after the exalted
    Messenger passed on. The First Sanctuary was nothing but Ka’bah in Makkah
    3:96. Jerusalem, until the Muslim conquest under the second Caliph of Islam
    in 637 CE, had been under the control of Byzantine Christians for centuries,
    and there was no person worshiping in a Masjid anywhere in the world but
    Madinah. So, the question of the presence of a Masjid in Jerusalem during the
    lifetime of the exalted Prophet should not arise. Again, Muslims conquered
    Jerusalem in 637 CE during the Rule of the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat
    Umar. When he visited the place, he continued to pray in open grounds,
    although Pope Severinus gave him the key to the city and invited him to pray
    in the Church of Holy Sepulture. But Hazrat Umar feared that Muslims might
    start converting churches into Masjids, so he politely declined. If a Masjid
    were present, he would have prayed there. The word Me’raaj (physical
    Ascension) nowhere occurs in the Qur’an. Yet, under erroneous traditions, it
    is a popular, though non-Qur’anic, belief among many Muslims that the
    exalted Messenger was taken up physically to the Heights/Skies to meet with
    God! The Qur’an sets the records straight by asserting that the First ever
    blessed Sanctuary was the Ka’bah built by Prophets Abraham and Ishmael in
    Makkah. And that the Divine laws are unchangeable under all circumstances.
    Bodily Ascension is a Biblical and not a Qur’anic theme at all.
    Qubbah-tas-Sakhra (Dome of the Rock) is an Islamic shrine and major
    landmark located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, near Al-Aqsa. It was
    completed in 691 CE. Temple Mount is a holy site for Judaism as well. There is
    a very questionable history that the Dome of the Rock was constructed over
    the site of the Second Jewish Temple which was completely destroyed during
    the Roman invasion by General Titus in 70 CE.
    With the Glorious Name of God, the Instant and Sustaining Source of all Mercy
    and Kindness
    17:1 Glorious is He Who initiated the migration of His servant by night, from
    the Sacred Masjid to the Remote Masjid whose environment We did bless that
    We may show him some of Our signs. He is the Hearer,

  3. The “furthest mosque” was a turn of phrase, not a place. Some early Muslims understood it as metaphorical or as a place in heaven. And if the “furthest mosque” did exist on earth, Palestine would have seemed an unlikely location, for that region elsewhere in the Qur’an (30:1) was called “the closest land” (adna al-ard).

  4. ALLAH Kareem has clearly ordered Muslimoon to avoid Mutashabihaat and follow Muhakkamaat. Why you guys are not obeying ALLAH Kareem?

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