In esoteric traditions, Mi’raj is the soul’s leap into mystic knowledge

Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
Qur’an 17:1

The ascension of Prophet Muhammad into heaven, Mi’raj, is generally celebrated on the 27th day of Rajab, although there is no unanimous opinion on the precise date. In this legend, the Prophet was prepared for his meeting with God by the archangel Gabriel (Jibrīl) one evening while he was asleep near the Kaʿba, the sacred shrine of Mecca. The Prophet’s heart was purified by removing all traces of error and doubt, and was filled with wisdom and belief.

The Prophet riding Buraq. Image: Pinterest
The Prophet riding Buraq. Image: Pinterest

The Prophet then makes his night journey (isrāʾ) from the “sacred place of worship” (Mecca) to the “further place of worship” (Jerusalem) by the winged mythical creature Burāq, and from Jerusalem he ascends to heaven, possibly by ladder (miʿrāj), accompanied by Jibrīl. The Prophet is greeted by, and in effect validated by the previous Prophets (Adam, Joseph, Aaron, Moses, Abraham, and Jesus) and then sees the Divine Throne.

Dome of the Rock. Image: Archnet
Dome of the Rock. Image: Archnet

The site from which the Prophet ascended is now the shrine of the Dome of the Rock.

Amongst the esoteric traditions of Muslims, the legend of mi‘raj is symbolic of the spiritual search, describing the soul’s leap into mystic knowledge and eventually to the state of spiritual union with the Divine.

Sources:
Mi’raj, Encyclopaedia Britannica
Micheal A. Sells, “Early Muslim Spirituality and Mysticism,” The Muslim Almanac Edited by Azim A. Nanji, Gale Research Inc. Detroit, 1996

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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