The Journey By Night Or Why Muslims Pray Five Times A Day

Why Muslims Pray Five Times A Day

The Journey By Night
Or
Why Muslims Pray Five Times A Day

Islam: Truth or Myth? start page



Salah

Prayer, worship of Allah. Muslims must perform salah 5 times a day. Before Salah, Muslims prepare themselves by performing Wudu (Ablution) which involves cleaning the hands, face, arms, head and feet.

Salat

Time

Salat-ul-Fajr

Between the first light of dawn and sunrise

Salat-ul-Zuhr

After Midday

Salat-ul-Asr

Mid-afternoon

Salat-ul-Maghrib

Sunset

Salat-ul-Isha

From one and a half hours after sunset

Early in building his base for Islam, Muhammad had a dream or night vision that was so unbelievable, when he related to his followers, many turned away from his teaching. He quickly received a revelation explaining that the vision was a test of faith for his disciples. Muhammad learned his lesson, and never made this kind of extravagant claim again.

In this dream, Muhammad mounted "a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey" called "the Buraq." He flew from Mecca to Jerusalem and from there ascended to heaven. He was escorted by Moses through seven heavens into the presence of God. There, at Moses instigation, Muhammad plead with God to reduce the number of daily manditory prayers from fifty to five.

The night vision explains why Muslims pray five times a day. It is attested to in the Qur'an as being a true happening, though it is not recorded in the Qur'an. To read the description of the event, we must again turn to the Ahadith.

Because Muhammad's ascension into heaven is believed to have occured here, the mosque built in Jerusalem is one of the most sacred sites to Muslims.

Qur'an references or allusions to the Journey By Night

Quran, Surah 17, Al-Isra (Israel)

17:1 Glory to (God) Who did take His Servant for Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did Bless- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the one Who heareth and seeth (all things).

17:60 Behold! We told thee that thy Lord doth encompass mankind round about: We granted the Vision which We showed thee, but as a trial for men- as also the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur'an: We put terror (and warning) into them, but it only increases their inordinate transgression!

The Qur'an attests to the validity of this event. It was so unbelievable that it cost Muhammad many of his disciples in the early stages of his proselyting in Mecca.

The Story in the Hadith

From the Hadith collection known as "Sahih Al-Bukhari"

Compiled by Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari

Miscellaneous Hadith references

(40) CHAPTER. The narration about the Night Journey of the Prophet (SAW) (to Jerusalem) and the Statement of Allah: 'Glory to (Allah) Who did take His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night.' (17:1)

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah that he heard Allah's Apostle (SAW) saying, "When the people of Quraish did not believe me (ie. the story of my Night Journey), I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me, and I began describing it to them while I was looking at it."

Hadith 228. Narrated Ibn Abbas: Regarding the Statement of Allah: And We granted the vision (Ascension to the heavens) which We made you see (as an actual eye witness) was only made as a trial for the people. (17:60) Ibn Abbas added: The sights which Allah's Apostle (SAW) was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ul-Maqdis (ie. Jerusalem) were actual sights, (not dreams). And the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Quran is the tree of Zaqqum (itself).

Hadith 232. Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle (SAW) was presented with two cups one containing wine and the other milk on the night of this night journey at Jerusalem. He looked at it and took the milk. Gabriel said, "Thanks to Allah Who guided you to the Fitra (ie. Islam); if you had taken the wine, your followers would have gone astray.

Hadith 610. Narrated Ibn Abbas regarding the Verse: "And We granted the vision (Ascension to the heavens "Miraj") which We showed you (O Muhammad as an actual eye witness) but as a trial for mankind. (17:60): Allah's Apostle (SAW) actually saw with his own eyes the vision (all the things which were shown to him) on the night of his Night Journey to Jerusalem (and then to the heavens). The cursed tree which is mentioned in the Quran is the tree of Az-Zaqqum.

Vol. 1 - Salat

Book VIII. The Book Of Salat (prayer)

(1) CHAPTER. How the prayer was prescribed on the night of Isra (miraculous journey) of the Prophet (SAW) to Jerusalem (and then to Heaven). Ibn Abbas said: Abu Sufyan, when telling the narration of Heraclius, mentioned: "The Prophet (SAW) ordered us to offer our prayers regularly and to be true and chaste.

345. Narrated Abu Dharr: Allah's Apostle (SAW) said, "While I was at Mecca the roof of my house was opened and descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zam-zam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven, when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered: 'Gabriel.' He asked, 'Is there anyone with you?' Gabriel replied, 'Yes, Muhammad is with me.' He asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel said, 'Yes.' So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept. Then he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' He replied, 'He is Adam and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise and those on his left are the people of Hell and when he looks towards his right he laughs and when he looks towards his left he weeps.' Then he ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and he (Gabriel) said to its gatekeeper, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven had said and he opened the gate. Anas said: "Abu Dharr added that the Prophet (SAW) met Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham. He (Abu Dharr) did not mention on which heaven they were but he mentioned that he (the Prophet (SAW)) met Adam on the nearest heaven and Abraham on the sixth heaven. Anas said, "When Gabriel along with the Prophet (SAW) passed by Idris, the latter said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother' The Prophet (SAW) asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Idris.' The Prophet (SAW) added, "I passed by Moses and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Moses.' Then I passed by Jesus and he said, 'Welcome! O pious brother and pious Prophet.' I asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Jesus.' Then I passed by Abraham and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Abraham.' The Prophet (SAW) added, "Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet (SAW) said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, 'What has Allah enjoined on your followers?' I replied, 'He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.' Moses said, 'Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.' (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, 'Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.' So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: 'Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, 'These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.' I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, 'Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.' Then Gabriel took me till we reached Sidrat Muntaha (lote tree of the utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colors, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk."

Vol. 5 - Merits of the Ansar (The Helpers or Companions of the Prophet) - Hadith 227

227. Narrated Anas bin Malik: Malik bin Sasaa said that Allah's Apostle (SAW) described to them his Night Journey saying, "While I was lying in Al-Hatim or Al-Hijr, suddenly someone came to me and cut my body open from here to here." I asked Al-Jarud who was by my side, "What does he mean?" He said, "It means from his throat to his pubic area," or said, "From the top of the chest." The Prophet (SAW) further said, "He then took out my heart. Then a gold tray of Belief was brought to me and my heart was washed and was filled (with Belief) and then returned to its original place. Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me." (On this Al-Jarud asked, "Was it the Buraq, O Abu Hamza?" I (ie. Anas) replied in the affirmative). The Prophet (SAW) said, "The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight. I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven. When he asked for the gate to be opened, it was asked, Who is it, Gabriel answered, Gabriel. It was asked, Who is accompanying you, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was asked, Has Muhammad been called, Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is! The gate was opened, and when I went over the first heaven, I saw Adam there. Gabriel said (to me). This is your father, Adam; pay him your greetings. So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet (SAW). Then Gabriel ascended with me till we reached the second heaven. Gabriel asked for the gate to be opened. It was asked, Who is it, Gabriel answered, Gabriel. It was asked, Who is accompanying you, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was answered in the affirmative. Then it was said, He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is! The gate was opened. When I went over the second heaven, there I saw Yahya (ie. John) and Isa (ie. Jesus) who were cousins of each other. Gabriel said (to (ie. Jesus) who were cousins of each other. Gabriel said (to me), These are John and Jesus; pay them your greetings. So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet (SAW). Then Gabriel ascended with me to the third heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, Who is it, Gabriel replied, Gabriel. It was asked, Who is accompanying your, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was asked, Has he been called, Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is! The gate was opened, and when I went over the third heaven there I saw Joseph. Gabriel said (to me), This is Joseph; pay him your greetings. So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet (SAW). Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fourth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, Who is it, Gabriel replied, Gabriel. It was asked, Who is accompanying you, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was asked, Has he been called, Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is! The gate was opened, and when I went over the fourth heaven, there I saw Idris. Gabriel said (to me), This is Idris; pay him your greetings. So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet (SAW). Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fifth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, Who is it, Gabriel replied, Gabriel. It was asked. Who is accompanying you, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was asked, Has he been called, Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is! So when I went over the fifth heaven, there I saw Harun (ie. Aaron), Gabriel said, (to me). This is Aaron; pay him your greetings. I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet (SAW). Then Gabriel ascended with me to the sixth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked. Who is it, Gabriel replied, Gabriel. It was asked, Who is accompanying you, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was asked, Has he been called, Gabriel replied in the affirmative. It was said, He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is! When I went (over the sixth heaven), there I saw Moses; pay him your greeting. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet (SAW). When I left him (ie. Moses) he wept. Someone asked him, What makes you weep, Moses said, I weep because after me there has been sent (as Prophet (SAW)) a young man whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers. Then Gabriel ascended with me to the seventh heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, Who is it, Gabriel replied, Gabriel. It was asked, Who is accompanying you, Gabriel replied, Muhammad. It was asked, Has he been called, Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is! So when I went (over the seventh heaven), there I saw Abraham. Gabriel said (to me). This is your father; pay your greetings to him. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet (SAW). Then I was made to ascend to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (ie. the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary) Behold! Its fruits were like the jars of Hajr (ie. a place near Medina) and its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Gabriel said, This is the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary). Behold! There ran four rivers, two were hidden and two were visible, I asked, What are these two kinds of rivers, O Gabriel, He replied, As for the hidden rivers, they are two rivers in Paradise and the visible rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates. Then Al-Bait-ul-Maur (ie. the Sacred House) was shown to me and a container full of wine and another full of milk and a third full of honey were brought to me. I took the milk. Gabriel remarked, This is the Islamic religion which you and your followers are following. Then the prayers were enjoined on me: They were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses who asked (me), What have you been ordered to do, I replied, I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day. Moses said, Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah, I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers' burden. So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he said, What have you been ordered, I replied, I have been ordered to observe five prayers a day. He said, Your followers cannot bear five prayers a day, and no doubt, I have got an experience of the people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel, so go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your follower's burden. I said, I have requested so much of my Lord that I feel ashamed, but I am satisfied now and surrender to Allah's Order. When I left, I heard a voice saying, I have passed My Order and have lessened the burden of My Worshippers."

Contact Author: Ney Rieber

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