The Mi`raj (Night Ascent ) in select Sunni Hadith

"Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the al-masjid al-haram (sanctified mosque) to the al-masjid al-aqsa (the furthermost mosque) whose precints We have blessed, that We might show him of Our signs! He is indeed the Hearer, the Seer" (Qur'an 17:1). 


Some narrations about the Isra'-Mi`raj in Sunni Hadith compilations and Commentaries.

Stephen Lambden UCMerced.

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The various six major Sunni hadith collections and commentaries thereon, as well as books of the biography of the prophet and other Islamic literatures, often contain sometimes divergent accounts of the Isra'-Miraj, the Night Journey and heavenly Night Ascent of the Prophet Muhammad. It is thought to be rooted in early, midrashic type exegesis of Q. 17:1f.  Most of the early sources assume that this was a  miraculous bodily journey and a corporeal or dream state ascent through the heavens.

The following hadith citations echoing certain aspects of the Mi`raj traditions read as follows -

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.583.

The Prophet said: "While I was walking in Paradise [on the night of Mi'raj], I saw a river, on the two banks of which there were tents made of hollow pearls. I asked, 'What is this, O Gabriel?' He said, 'That is the Kawthar which Your Lord has given to you.' Behold! Its scent or its mud was sharp smelling musk!" (The sub-narrator, Hudba is in doubt as to the correct expression.)

Sunan al-Tirmidhi Hadith 439

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: On the night of my Ascent [Mi'raj] I met Abraham and he said to me: Muhammad, convey my salam to your people and tell them that Paradise is a vast plain of pure soil and sweet water and that its trees cry: Holy is God, all praise is due to Allah, there is none worthy of worship save God, and God is Great.

Cited with adaptions from 





Narrated by the Companion Anas bin Malik al-Khazraji al-Ansari ( d. al-Basrah, 93/709) as cited from Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852/1449), Fath al-Bari ("The Victory of the Creator") bi-Sharh..Sahih al-Bukhari...

Translation adapted by Stephen Lambden 

"The night Allah's Apostle was taken for a journey from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) Al-Ka'ba: Three persons came to him (in a dreamy while he was sleeping in the Sacred Mosque before the Divine Inspiration was revealed to Him. One of them said, "Which of them is he?" The middle (second) angel said, "He is the best of them." The last (third) angel said, "Take the best of them." Only that much happened on that night and he did not see them till they came on another night, i.e. after The Divine Inspiration was revealed to him. [Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 17: 258] and he saw them, his eyes were asleep but his heart was not-and so is the case with the prophets: their eyes sleep while their hearts do not sleep. So those angels did not talk to him till they carried him and placed him beside the well of Zam-Zam. From among them Gabriel took charge of him. Gabriel cut open (the part of his body) between his throat and the middle of his chest (heart) and took all the material out of his chest and abdomen and then washed it with Zam-Zam water with his own hands till he cleansed the inside of his body, and then a gold tray containing a gold bowl full of belief and wisdom was brought and then Gabriel stuffed his chest and throat blood vessels with it and then closed it (the chest).

[Ascending through the 7 Heavens]

He then ascended with him to the heaven of the world and knocked on one of its doors. The dwellers of the Heaven asked, 'Who is it?' He said, "Gabriel." They said, "Who is accompanying you?" He said, "Muhammad." They said, "Has he been called?" He said, "Yes" They said, "He is welcomed." So the dwellers of the Heaven became pleased with his arrival, and they did not know what Allah would do to the Prophet on earth unless Allah informed them. The Prophet met Adam over the nearest Heaven. Gabriel said to the Prophet, "He is your father; greet him." The Prophet greeted him and Adam returned his greeting and said, "Welcome, O my Son! O what a good son you are!" Behold, he saw two flowing rivers, while he was in the nearest sky. He asked, "What are these two rivers, O Gabriel?" Gabriel said, "These are the sources of the Nile and the Euphrates." Then Gabriel took him around that Heaven and behold, he saw another river at the bank of which there was a palace built of pearls and emerald. He put his hand into the river and found its mud like musk Adhfar. He asked, "What is this, O Gabriel?" Gabriel said, "This is the Kawthar which your Lord has kept for you." Then Gabriel ascended (with him) to the second Heaven and the angels asked the same questions as those on the first Heaven, i.e., "Who is it?" Gabriel replied, "Gabriel". They asked, "Who is accompanying you?" He said, "Muhammad." They asked, "Has he been sent for?" He said, "Yes." Then they said, "He is welcomed.''

Then he (Gabriel) ascended with the Prophet to the third Heaven, and the angels said the same as the angels of the first and the second Heavens had said. Then he ascended with him to the fourth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the fifth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the sixth Heaven and they said the same; then he ascended with him to the seventh Heaven and they said the same.

On each Heaven there were prophets whose names he had mentioned and of whom I remember Idris on the second Heaven, Aaron on the fourth Heavens another prophet whose name I don't remember, on the fifth Heaven, Abraham on the sixth Heaven, and Moses on the seventh Heaven because of his privilege of talking to Allah directly.

Moses said (to Allah), "O Lord! I thought that none would be raised up above me." But Gabriel ascended with him (the Prophet) for a distance above that, the distance of which only Allah knows, till he reached the Lote Tree (beyond which none may pass) and then the Irresistible, the Lord of Honor and Majesty approached and came closer till he (Gabriel) was about two bow lengths or (even) nearer. (It is said that it was Gabriel who approached and came closer to the Prophet. [Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 17: 263, 264].

Moses and the Islamic daily salat (Obligatory Prayers)

Among the things which Allah revealed to him then, was: "Fifty prayers were enjoined on his followers in a day and a night." Then the Prophet descended till he met Moses, and then Moses stopped him and asked, "O Muhammad ! What did your Lord en join upon you?" The Prophet replied," He enjoined upon me to perform fifty prayers in a day and a night." Moses said, "Your followers cannot do that; Go back so that your Lord may reduce it for you and for them." So the Prophet turned to Gabriel as if he wanted to consult him about that issue. Gabriel told him of his opinion, saying, "Yes, if you wish." So Gabriel ascended with him to the Irresistible and said while he was in his place, "O Lord, please lighten our burden as my followers cannot do that." So Allah deducted for him ten prayers where upon he returned to Moses who stopped him again and kept on sending him back to his Lord till the enjoined prayers were reduced to only five prayers. 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, so return to your Lord so that He may lighten your burden." The Prophet turned towards Gabriel for advice and Gabriel did not disapprove of that. So he ascended with him for the fifth time. The Prophet said, "O Lord, my followers are weak in their bodies, hearts, hearing and constitution, so lighten our burden." On that the Irresistible said, "O Muhammad!" the Prophet replied, "Labbaik and Sa'daik." Allah said, "The Word that comes from Me does not change, so it will be as I enjoined on you in the Mother of the Book." Allah added, "Every good deed will be rewarded as ten times so it is fifty (prayers) in the Mother of the Book (in reward) but you are to perform only five (in practice)." The Prophet returned to Moses who asked, "What have you done?" He said, "He has lightened our burden: He has given us for every good deed a tenfold reward." Moses said, "By Allah! I tried to make Bani Israel observe less than that, but they gave it up. So go back to your Lord that He may lighten your burden further." Allah's Apostle said, "O Moses! By Allah, I feel shy of returning too many times to my Lord." On that Gabriel said, "Descend in God's Name." The Prophet then woke while he was in the Sacred Mosque (at Mecca)".

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