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Was the Mi’raj a physical journey?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding the mi’raj journey of the Prophet ﷺ? Was this a physical journey or did it take place in a dream?

Answer:

The isra (night journey) and mi’raj (ascension) is a miraculous event specific to the Prophet ﷺ, an event befitting of his ﷺ honour and majesty. It has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, “Glory to Him who took His noble servant on a night journey from the sacred Masjid to the farthest Masjid – whose surroundings we made holy – to show him Our signs. He is the Hearer, the Seeing.” (Surah al-Isra: 1).

In another verse it mentions, “By the shining star when it came down, your companion is neither misguided nor deluded. He doesn’t speak from his desire. This is a Revelations sent down and taught to him by the most powerful angel, the most wise. When he appeared to him, standing on the uppermost horizon then drawing closer; he came down two bow lengths or even closer, so he revealed to Allah’s servant what he revealed. His heart didn’t deny what he saw. So why are you disputing what he saw? And on another occasion he saw him coming down near the far side of the Lote tree, nearby was the paradise of Mawa. The Lote tree was covered with indescribable splendour; his eyes didn’t wander nor turn to the side as he witnessed the greatest signs of His Lord.” (Surah al-Najm: 1-18)

The jamhur (majority) of the scholars agree that the isra was a physical journey and the Prophet ﷺ travelled to Masjid al-Aqsa with his ﷺ pure body and soul. The Holy Qur’an also points to this in Surah al-Isra where the isra is discussed by referring to the Prophet ﷺ as ‘bi-‘abdihi’, the word ‘abd is used when referring to a being with a body and a soul. Similarly, the majority of the scholars are also of the opinion that the mi’raj to the heavens took place as physical journey, in a wakeful state.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

This Fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari