Shab-E-Meraj, Isra and Meraj or Al Isra wal Miraj (Holy night) is an Islamic festival observed on the 27th day of the month of Rajab (Islamic calendar 7th month). Shab E Meeraj literally means “the Night of Ascent“. The Ascent took place on the 27th day of Rajab, 2 years before Hijra. On the way, the Holy Prophet met Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and some other Prophets. The purpose of the Ascent was to confirm the high status of the Prophet of Islam. A position that all Muslims believe is impossible to attain by any other human being.
In India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh Shab E Meeraj will be observed on February 18th, 2023 (27th of Rajab). However, in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the middle east, the occasion will be marked on February 17th, 2023. The date is decided upon the sighting of the moon in that region.
It marks the journey of Prophet Muhammad from the Grand Mosque in Mecca to Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and from there to the heavens. In the journey, the Prophet traveled on the “Buraq” (Swift Horse) to heaven where the almighty gave him some instructions to take back to the faithful regarding the details of prayers. The word Me’raj (Ascent of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is derived from Urooj, which means, ‘height’, ‘ascension’. It occurs in Hadith. The Qur’anic word for the event is ‘Israa’, meaning the journey.
It is said that Gabriel, the angel who was accompanying the Prophet, told him: ‘I am forced to stop here. I cannot go any further, but you O Messenger of peace and friend of the Master of the worlds, continue your glorious ascent.’ After reaching the utmost nearness to the Throne of God Almighty and drinking from the Divine fountain of spiritual knowledge, the Prophet came down to impart his knowledge to mankind.
Some sects interpret Muhammad’s night ascent – the Isra and Mi’raj – as an out-of-body experience that took place through non-physical environments. They claim that he was transported to Jerusalem, then onward to the Seven Heavens, even though his body remained where it was. Other interpretations of the Quran place emphasis on the spiritual significance of Mi’raj, saying that it represents the soul’s journey and our potential to rise above the comforts of material life through prayer, discipline, and piety.
How Shab-E-Meraj is celebrated
The ‘Shab-e-Meraj’ is a significant event in Islamic history and to mark the event mosques hold special congregations, where the Islamic scholars highlighted the significance of ‘Shab-e-Meraj’ and the Prophet’s teachings. Special prayers are held in mosques to seek Allah’s forgiveness. Muslim devotees offer special prayers at mosques and homes to seek blessings of Allah, the Merciful.
Muslim countries illuminate cities and mosques with electric lights and candles. Worshippers will gather into mosques to perform prayers, with some passing their knowledge onto others by telling them the story of how Muhammad’s heart was purified by the archangel Gabriel, who gave him the knowledge and faith that would prepare him to enter the seven levels of heaven.
Suggested Read: Muslim Festivals