Lailat al Miraj represents the night when the Prophet Muhammad traveled from Makkah to the sacred temple Al Aksa in Jerusalem, followed by his sacred ascent to the heavenly spheres were Muslims were ordered to perform salat, regular prayer, as one of the fundamental religious obligations and one of the foundations of religion.
In the Qur’an’s 17th chapter, Surah al-Isra, there is a brief description of the physical journey in the first verse. “Glory to Him Who carried his servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Furthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, to show him Our wonders! He it is Who is All-Hearing, All-Seeing! Remember when we said to you that your Lord encompasses mankind in His knowledge.
Nor did We make the vision We showed you except as a test to people, as also the accursed tree in the Qur’an.” From the teachings of different hadiths more is learned about the Journey. The voyage to Jerusalem from Mecca by the Prophet is considered as the Isra part of the journey. It commenced in the Great Mosque where Muhammad met the Archangel Jibrīl (or Gabriel, Jibrā’īl) who had brought Buraq, the traditional divine spirited horse of the prophets, with him. The steed took the Prophet to the “farthest mosque,” al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem. Muhammad disembarked from Buraq and tethered it to the Temple Mount. He then performed a prayer, and God commanded Gabriel to test him. Anas ibn Malik, a popular associate of Muhammad, said that Muhammad said, “Jibrā’īl brought me a vessel of wine, a vessel of water and a vessel of milk, and I chose the milk. Jibrā’īl said, “You have chosen the Fitrah (or common sense, primordial human nature, instinct).
Mir’aj, the second part of the voyage, was a spiritual one where Muhammad went to heaven on the back of Buraq. Mir’aj in Arabic is a ladder in its literal meaning. In the skies, he explored the seven stages of heaven and interacted with the seers who came before him such as Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), ʾIbrāhīm (Abraham) and Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā (John the Baptist). Muhammad was also taken to sacred tree in the seventh heaven, Sidrat al-Muntaha. The tree indicates the end of the seventh heaven. It also marks the border where no creation can go through. Muhammad was then allowed through and met with Allah where he instructed Muhammad that Muslims should pray five times a day.