Muhammad's Night Journey is the story of the prophet's transportation from Mecca to Jerusalem, and his ascension to heaven. According to the Quran, he was escorted on this journey by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel).
Muhammad's Night Journey, an important part of the Islamic tradition, relays the story of the prophet's transportation from Mecca to "the farthest mosque", which is believed to be the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Following prayers, the Lailat al Miraj took place, which led to Muhammad's ascension to heaven.
The story begins with the Jibreel appearing to Muhammad and taking him to white beast, probably similar to a horse. This same beast was used by other prophets before him, including Abraham (Ibrahim). Leading Muhammad to Jerusalem, the prophet met with other important Islamic figures from the past, leading them in prayer. At this point, Muhammad chose to drink milk over wine, leading to Jibreel's decree that wine would lead the Muslims to lose the righteous path of Allah.
Continuing from Jerusalem, Muhammad and Jibreel flew on the beast, rising through the first gate of heaven and continuing on to the seventh heaven. Along the way, he encountered many important figures from the history of Islam, including Adam, Isa, John, and Joseph son of Jacob. He passed through the great flood, then encountered Harun and Moses (Musa). Jibreel and Muhammad continued past the gates of Paradise, where he met God and spoke to Him.
God ordered Muhammad and the Islamic faithful to pray 50 times a day, and after returning to ask again, Muhammad had the number reduced to ten, then five. Upon returning from Paradise, Muhammad came back to Mecca, where he described his journey to his followers. Muhammad described Jerusalem to Abu Bakr, who had been there, and he agreed that the description was accurate.
The Lailat al Miraj, the Night Journey, is still widely celebrated in some Muslim countries. It includes several special prayers, celebrations and offerings and lighting candles and lights.
Due to the importance of this story in Islam, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem have become an integral part of the Muslim faith. The mosque is considered holy by nearly all sects of Islam, and many faithful believers make the journey to visit the site.
While some believe that the journey was physical and Muhammad was actually transported to Jerusalem, and others claim that the journey was spiritual and his body remained where it was- all agree that the importance of Jerusalem in the story of Lailat al Miraj makes it a holy city in Islam. Thus, they join Christians and Jews in this belief, and the city of Jerusalem is holy to all three faiths. With its long Islamic history dating back centuries, it continues to play a major role in the Islamic tradition.