Israk and Mikraj is celebrated on the 27th day of the month of Rejab which is the seventh month in the Islamic calendar. It commemorates the night that Allah took Mohammad from Mecca to Jerusalem before he ascended into heaven. Israk and Mikraj is a public holiday in the states of Kedah, Negeri Sembilan and Perlis in Malaysia.
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Israk and Mikraj represent both parts of the prophet’s journey. Israk is the part of the journey Mohammad took from Mecca to Jerusalem after Gabriel came to him with Buraq, the steed of the prophets. On Buraq, Mohammad rode to the farthest mosque in Jerusalem where he tied the steed to the Temple Mount and prayed. It was here that Gabriel brought wine, water and milk, asking Mohammed to choose as a test. Gabriel told him that his choice of milk indicated that Mohammed chose natural instinct.
Mikraj is the second stage of Mohammed’s journey in which he rode Buraq through the seven stages of heaven and spoke with Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist and Jesus. In the seventh heaven, Mohammad was taken to the holy tree which Gabriel could not pass.
It was here that Allah told Mohammed that Muslims must pray 50 times per day, but Moses suggested he explain how difficult that would be for people. Allah then reduced it to five times per day. The Night Journey is briefly mentioned in the Quran, but details of the story are included in hadith which are additional writings about the life of the prophet Mohammed.
Celebrations and Traditions
The holiday is known as the Prophet’s Ascension or the Night Journey. Throughout Malaysia, lights are kept on throughout the night in celebration of Israk and Mikraj. Electric lights and candles are used to illuminate cities. Prayers are recited throughout the night as well to recognise Mohammed’s journey. Throughout Malaysia, special sermons and ceremonies are held in mosques with readings from the Qur’an, especially from the Suraat al-Isra’ which tells the story of the Night Journey. The observance of the holiday begins at sundown on the day prior.
The holiday is considered important in the Muslim faith and commemorates one of the most important events in Islamic history. In addition to attending special services on the holiday, families gather and tell the story of Mohammad’s journey to children. Often, the story includes instruction on what it means to be Muslim, how the story relates to their beliefs and additional details about the prophet.