Miraj - A spiritual or a physical journey?
Abu Abdus-Samad

Many Muslims believe that Miraj of Muhammad (PBUH) was a physical journey. In contrary, Allah has said that Miraj was a vision or ru'ya (Surah Bani-Israil Ayat 60). Our dear Prophet experienced this extraordinary vision when contemporary people were relentlessly humiliating him. Even after years of his dedicated mission, only few people had accepted the Truth. In such circumstances, it is natural that anybody would be disheartened and be in a low morale. During such a period of preaching, Allah (SWT) granted our Prophet a vision that he is leading a salat where all the past prophets were attending. This vision signifies that our dear Rasul would be the imam of the whole world as all the previous prophets acknowledged his highest level of dignity and status. Thus, it can be concluded that his preaching would soon prevail all over the world. In this spiritual journey, he traveled beyond the world and observed a view of the universe. Many people of his time assumed this to be a physical journey. To correct them, our prophet said that he was in the stage of half-sleep and half-awake. When he woke up (or completed the journey), he found his seat to be warm. This attests that the journey consumed a brief moment. All the incidents that happened in this short period can only occur spiritually or in ru'ya.

The disbelievers thought that our rasul implied a physical journey and they ridiculed our prophet and demanded a book to be brought down from the heaven (Bani-Israil, Ayat 93). Our rasul replied: “but I am just a human being” (Ayat 93). This Ayat confirms that he does not possess power of a superman or is not provided with a 'burraq' to travel physically to heaven and bring a book! Unfortunately, these days we Muslims started to believe that the journey was physical.

Some Questions:

Usually, the incidence of Miraj is described vividly. In spite of that, many loopholes in the description remain. Usually, Muslims do not cast suspicion on such contradictions in the description. If you believe that this journey was indeed a physical journey, then you have to come up with some reasonable answers to the following questions. These questions are

1. Why did Angel Gabriel enter the house by breaking through the roof? Was the landing imperfect? Who repaired the breakage before others could see the defect? Another version says angels Gabriel, Mika'il and Israfil came together and they did not pierce the roof. Why is the discrepancy in the story?

2. It is told that Burraq would not allow our prophet to ride him, till Gabriel scolded it. Did Allah(swt) send a special animal that would not do its duty till scolded.

Another version says that this animal was way too eager to carry our Prophet while it was in its own heaven. Why is the discrepancy in the story?

3. How did all other prophets come to Jerusalem? Did they come in spiritual form or in physical form? If they came in physical form, then resurrection or Qiyamat had once taken place already. Because the dead prophets were brought back to life already in to their earthly bodies.

4. If the previous prophets came in physical form, what kind of transportation did they acquire? More Burraqs? Or only few large burraqs like jumbo jets? Remember that we are talking about 124,000 prophets.

5. We are told that Prophet's Burraq was tied to one corner of Masjidul Aqsa. Where did all other prophets tie their individual burraqs or their jumbo burraqs?

6. A gathering of such huge magnitude is sure to cause much commotion in the area. Did the people of Jerusalem miss such a major gathering? Not even a single person noticed 124,000 prophets and 124,000 burraqs suddenly entering their small town of Jerusalem?

7. How big was the Aqsa Mosque at that time? Could it really hold 124,000 prophets? Football stadiums in this country can barely hold such large number of spectators.

8. If you say that, all the prophets came spiritually and none of them came physically, then why did our prophet Muhammad(PBUH) make a physical journey? He could also have reached there spiritually.

9. When the incident of Miraj happened, what our prophet needed was a morale boost at the humiliating situation around him. He did not really need any physical boost. If at all Allah sent all the prophets in their physical bodies, then it would have been more helpful to send them to Makkah. These 124,000 prophets, of different races and nationality, could have camped in Makkah for a day or two, and scared the hell out of the disbelievers.

10. Which prayer was that? Isha? Or some other time? Was there an Adhan? Or Ikamat? Who gave the Adhan or Ikamat that all the prophets could hear yet none of the residents of Jerusalem could hear?

11. As we are told, our prophet then went to the heaven and several prominent prophets greeted him. We know that those prominent prophets also were in the congregational prayer at Jerusalem. How did they reach heaven before Muhammad (PBUH)? Another kind of transportation that is quicker than a Burraq? So you mean that Allah provided a slow Burraq to Muhammad (PBUH)?

12. Why did the gatekeepers enquire the identity of Gabriel and Muhammad(PBUH)? The angel gatekeepers did not recognize a major angel, the Gabriel? If the gatekeepers are so stupid or ill-informed, then they may not do a good job in protecting the heaven.

13. Allah(swt) had sent his special angel Gabriel and a special animal Burraq, to bring our prophet to the heaven. In such a special occasion, did Allah(swt) forget to instruct the gatekeepers about the very special guest? In this world, we usually send some body to the airport to pick the special guest up. Of course Miraj does not happen every day. Out of so many prophets, only our rasul experienced this miraj. In such a major event, the gatekeepers repeatedly insulted Gabriel and our prophet by asking their identity. Also, Allah(swt) probably did not install security systems where you could swipe your magnetic cards to enter, or let a scanner scan your finger prints, or a voice activated system that would recognize our prophet's voice.

14. What is the need of a gate in front of the heaven, any way? Who tries to trespass that such security is needed? Was it not possible for the Burraq to fly little higher and cross the wall without any interruption at the gates? Helicopters can do that.

15. Why did Gabriel stop at each gate? I thought his style is to pierce through the roof. Probably, the roof of heaven is made of a different grade of concrete that Gabriel would have hurt himself.

16. Allah(swt) has said that he resides close to our jugular vein. But this description says that Allah(swt) resides in the seventh heaven, behind a curtain. Does it not hit the fundamental understanding of Islam that Allah(swt) is omnipresent and without a physical body?

17. Allah(swt) said that " And know that Allah cometh in between a man and his heart" (8:24), and also " for we are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein (50:16)". If we subscribe to the story that Allah(swt) is stationed behind the curtain in the seventh heaven, then these two ayats are in serious question. Please also read ayats 2:115, 6:3. What do you want to believe? Allah's(swt) words in Quran or this story??

18. Another form of this story says that beyond this curtain was an exceptionally bright light. What kind of light was that? Electromagnetic radiation? The curtain a special grade of lead with high atomic number that could restrict the light or energy of Allah? Can some thing restrict Allah(swt)? Is Allah(swt) confined to one area?

19. Why does Allah(swt) need so much of security? Is He not the most powerful? Is there a threat of a military coup from Iblees that Allah(swt) needs the security? Security guards of our presidents are usually physically stronger, swifter, and able than the presidents. So, Allah's 'body' guards are physically stronger than Allah(swt) that they could protect Allah(swt) in case of any assault?

20. Burraq is a winged animal little smaller than a horse. It flaps its special wing to cross long distances at a fast pace. Once it crossed the atmosphere, it really did not require the wings, as there is no air to flap his wings. At that time, did he transfer his rider to another kind of animal? Or probably he manages equally well without flapping the wings. I presume he carefully covered our prophet with his wings at that time, because it is terribly cold up in the atmosphere. He might also have saved extra air or oxygen inside his wings for our prophet's survival. Probably there was no need for extra air, as it happened too fast, before our prophet needed another breath of air.

21. We are repeatedly told that during our prophet's visit to the heaven, he was prescribed with 50 prayers a day and six months of sawm for his followers. Let's just think what fifty prayers a day will do to us. Out of 24 hours a day, we probably sleep 6-7 hours. That leaves us with 17-18 hours. We spend about two hours in eating, bathing, and other biological needs. That leaves us with about 15 -16 hours. If we have to pray fifty times in this time, then we have to pray about four times an hour. Well, then there is not much time left for other things to do. We do not have enough time to go to grocery. Well, we do not need to go, because every one in the grocery store is also praying fifty times a day. Actually, the grocery store is empty. Because, the farmers did not grow any crops this year as they were praying fifty times a day. Well, we do not need grocery that much, since we are also fasting six months!!

22. Who saved us from this difficult task of 50 prayers and six month of fasting? Musa (AS)? So, Musa (AS) was instigating our prophet against the initial commands of Allah(swt)? So, we believe that our prophet listened to the "advices" of Musa instead of "orders" from Allah(swt)? While Al-Quran says in 10:15, "if I were to disobey my Lord, I should myself fear the chastisement of a great day (to come)."

23. Our prophet had to make several trips to Allah to get all the reductions and discounts on prayers and fasting. When Musa(AS) "instigated" our prophet, did it take so long for Muhammad(PBUH) to realise the burden of so many prayers and such long fasting? Was our prophet so retarded? (May Allah forgive me).

24. At the following website http://www.islam.org/mosque/isra/Israa_Miraj_Hadith.shtml we find this description:
"Then Moses stopped him when the prayers had been reduced to five and said, "O Muhammad! By Allah, I tried to persuade my nation, Bani Israel to do less than this, but they could not do it and gave it up. However, your followers are weaker in body, heart, sight and hearing, (bolds are mine) so return to your Lord so that He may lighten your burden."

How true, Muslims are weaker in body, heart, sight, hearing than the Bani Israel ! Any idea who fabricated this story? You dont get an extra point if you answer it correctly. Followers of Moses are only one race of people. While a Muslim could be African, Asian, Mongoloid, Caucasian or any other race. If we believe the story as written in the above website, then Bani Israel is better than rest of the humanity!

25. Allah(swt) says that He is Rahman and Rahim. But I see that He wanted us to go through 50 prayers and 6 months of fasting. Not very Rahim, huh?

26. Only Musa (AS) had the real perception of the hardship of mankind. Neither Allah(swt) nor Muhammad (PBUH) had any clue! But again, Allah insists in Al-Quran 2:185, "…Allah intends every facility for you, He does not want to put you to difficulties…".

27. I thought heaven was very secure with all these gatekeepers. Did the security guards allow Musa(AS) to loiter around? Why did the gatekeepers allow Muhammad(PBUH) multiple revisits to Allah(swt)? Where was Gabriel at that time?

28. These days, many of us celebrate the incident of Isra and Miraj. Did our prophet celebrate this incident? Did his companions celebrate this incident? No?

Other web sites

If you insist on celebrating Isra and Miraj, then please read what Shaykh `Abdul `Aziz ibn Baz has to say. He wrote, “If the celebration of this night had been lawful, they (companions) would have been first to do it. The Prophet also is the most sincere in guiding people. He most truly fulfilled his mission, and performed his noble duty. If the glorification and celebration of that night had something to do with Islam, the Prophet would never have neglected it nor concealed it. Since nothing about this was narrated from the Messenger and his companions, therefore glorification and celebration of that night was absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, as Allah has perfected for this nation its religion, completed His favor upon it and rebuked and refuted the innovators who introduce into the religion that which Allah has not allowed”.

I would strongly suggest you to visit an web site Mairaj or the Ascesion. If my style of writing irritated you, you will find more polite way of writing in this web site as well as the one mentioned in the above paragraph.

There are multiple web sites that describes in detail of Isra and Miraj, as if it happened physically. I am not providing links to those sites. If you are intersted to read those sites, you can to go any search engine and enter Miraj. One site will even describe you about the heaven of burraqs where there are 40 million burraqs, each with a "La-ilaha illallahu muhammadur rasulallah" inscribed on its forehead! I do not want to speculate who did the census to conclude 40 million burraqs or who would read the Kalimah written on their forehead.


If you think that this incident of Miraj occurred in vision or in dream, and the journey was spiritual in nature, then you will find very logical answers to all the questions that I posed. If you think the journey was indeed physical, then let me know what are the answers based on Quran. Do not just say that Allah (swt) is most powerful and He can do any thing. Yes, I agree that Allah (swt) is most powerful and He can indeed do anything, but you will agree that He does not do stupid things.

May Allah(swt) bless all the readers without limit in their effort in serving the cause of Islam. Also, may Allah(swt) forgive me for my mistakes, ignorance and wrong attitude and guide me in the right path.

For any questions or suggestions, please contact Abu Abdus-Samad at [email protected]
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