ONE of the most important lessons of the journey of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi’raj (Night Journey and Ascension) is that it highlights the high status that Al-Aqsa Mosque has in the Muslim Ummah. It was to Al-Aqsa Mosque that the Night Journey of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was made and it was from it that the Prophet’s ascension to the Heavens took place.

The journey of Al-Israa’ was a sign that the leadership of the world would pass on to the Muslim Ummah. Such leadership was based on mercy and justice, not on oppression and aggression.

Another significant lesson of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi’raj is knowing the importance of prayer; it is through prayer that one can directly communicate with his Almighty Lord.

Al-Israa’ was a land-to-land journey that Allah Almighty caused His Prophet (peace be upon him) to make from Makkah to Jerusalem, that is, from Almighty Allah’s Sacred House to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Mind that Allah Almighty had blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its neighborhood and referred to it even before the Prophet’s Mosque was built, as the Prophet’s Mosque was established after his immigration to Madina.

Mind also that when prayer was ordained on the Muslims, Al-Aqsa Mosque was the Qiblah to which they were to turn during prayer. They would turn their faces in prayer toward it for three years in Makkah, and for 16 months in Madina before the Qiblah was changed to Allah’s Sacred House.

Besides, Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three mosques to which Muslims are to dedicate time for visiting; the other two mosques are the Sacred Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina. Allah Almighty wanted to establish and emphasize the significance and sacredness of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Muslims’ hearts so that they do not cede it for anything. They are to hold it as sacred as both Allah’s Sacred House and His Prophet’s Mosque.

That was why the Muslims [when they were strong] were zealous to keep Al-Aqsa Mosque under their rule and protection.

Hence, Muslims must realize the importance of Jerusalem in their history and the significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque in their religion and life.

Allah Almighty wills that we remember the importance of Al-Aqsa Mosque when we celebrate the anniversary of Israa’ and Mi’raj.

This is to remind us of the gravity of the circumstances in which Al-Aqsa Mosque is in this age. We must not give up our responsibility in defending Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem. This is a sacred issue to fight for. Brothers and sisters, we should not, under any circumstances, give up our duty in that regard.

We must believe that Allah Almighty is with us and that He will grant us victory and make Islam prevail, as He, Most High, always supports the true believers.

The second most important lesson that we are to learn from Israa’ and Mi’raj is concerning prayer (Salah). It is known that prayer was ordained on that great night.

It is because of the great importance of prayer that Allah Almighty ordained it in Heaven. Allah sent for His Messenger (pbuh) to mankind and caused him to go on a night journey and ascend to Heaven and the Lote Tree to inform him (peace be upon him) of the command of prayer.

Mind that all other commandments were decreed on the earth. This indicates how important prayer is in Islam. It symbolizes ascension to Heaven; it is the Muslim’s spiritual ascension to Heaven. Thus, prayer is the gift that the Prophet (pbuh) brought with him from that journey for all Muslims so that they can worship Allah Almighty through it.

Prayer therefore has much to do with Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa Mosque was the first Qiblah in Islam. If it is true that Israa’ took place in the tenth year of the Prophet’s mission, this would mean that the Muslims’ Qiblah in prayer was toward Al-Aqsa Mosque for three years before the Hijrah to Madina and 16 months after it.

The Jews spread rumors that the Muslims’ prayer [to the first Qiblah] was invalid and so would not be rewarded. Allah Almighty refuted their claims as He, most High, says: (And We appointed the Qiblah, which you formerly observed only that We might know him who follows the Messenger from him who turns on his heels. In truth it was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided. But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is full of pity, Merciful toward mankind.)

To sum up, prayer is the spiritual means through which Muslims can ascend to their Lord. If the Prophet (pbuh) ascended to Heaven (once), we, brothers and sisters, could spiritually ascend to that as much as we can through prayer.

Allah Almighty says in a Qudsi (divine) Hadith : “I have divided the prayer into two halves between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for. When the servant says, ‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe,’ Allah the Most High says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’ And when he (the servant) says, ‘The Most Compassionate, the Merciful,’ Allah the Most High says, ‘My servant has lauded Me.’ And when he (the servant) says, ‘Master of the Day of judgment,’ He Almighty remarks, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’ And when he (the worshiper) says, ‘Thee do we worship and of Thee do we ask help,’ He Almighty says, ‘This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.’ Then, when he (the worshiper) says, ‘Guide us to the straight path, the path of those to whom You have been Gracious not of those who have incurred Your displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray,’ He (Allah Almighty) says, ‘This is for My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.'”