Friday, August 10, 2007


According to my calendar, today is the Islamic holiday Isra/Me'raj

The official name of this holiday is "Laylat Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj", which means "the night journey and ascension." It celebrates that night that Muhammad went from Mecca to Jerusalem, ascended into the Seven Heavens, and returned, all in the same night. During his time in the Seven Heavens, Muhammad was instructed to establish the five daily prayers that Muslims use now. He also met other religious figures, including Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Adam, the archangel Gabriel, and Jesus. Many Muslims consider this a physical journey, while some scholars consider it a dream or journey of the soul.

The rock from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended is the focal point of the Dome of the Rock, a sacred building in Jerusalem.

Not all Muslims celebrate Isra Mer-aj and there are no obligatory prayers. Celebrations vary by area and may include gathering in mosques or homes to listen to the story of the journey, illuminating the cities with electric lights and candles, fasting, colorful decorations, and the partaking of sweets. It is also an opportunity for devotees to engage in good deeds, such as donating money to charity, distributing food among the poor, etc.

(There are more detailed descriptions of the vision/journey/dream in the links below - it's quite interesting. I found it somewhat amusing that after Allah told Muhammad he had to say 50 prayers ever day, Moses said that was too much, the people would never do that many, and told him to go back and get it reduced, and so he did, so there are only 5 prayers to do.)

Sources/More Info:'raj

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