Did you know that the miraculous journey of Prophet Muhammad — which is coined together as Isra’ (The Night Journey) and Mikraj (The Ascension) — subsequently happened after a year called ‘The Year of Sorrow’ of his life?
Isra’ and Mikraj refer to both physical and spiritual journey of Prophet Muhammad together with Gabriel from Mecca to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (which is located more than 700 miles away) before ascending to the heaven.
It was during this historical event that Allah awarded us with the five times daily prayers through Prophet Muhammad.
This traveling back and forth only took them one night. You read it right, one night.
That, until you know that before the journey, there were three incidents which happened in the Prophet’s life that caused him to be so heart-broken.
These three are the lost of the Prophet’s wife and uncle, and the miserable trip to Taif.
Losing his wing
From the moment Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation from Allah and met Waraqah bin Naufal, a wise elder of the Arabs afterward, he knew that this religious agenda of dakwah would cost him his entire life and soul.
He was right, the Arabs non-believers strongly opposed and ridiculed him. The followers were persecuted, tortured and forced to revert to their ancestors’ belief.
To make it worse, the people of Quraysh even boycotted the Muslims for three long years, making them suffer from poverty and hunger.
All of these efforts were none other than to force the Prophet to stop his dakwah.
The Prophet’s first and closest wife, Khadijah was the first to embrace Islam. Not only she attested to the story of her husband, but she also did not have even slightest doubt or hesitation for that.
You must have heard of how the Prophet ran back home trembling in fear after he met Gabriel for the first time, Khadijah soothed and calmed him down with her wise and emotionally-supporting response,
“I swear by Allah that He will never humiliate you. By Allah, you join ties of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people’s burdens, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you help the vicissitudes which affect the people.”
For Khadijah who stood by his side for seven years during the rise and fall of dakwah, the Prophet said,
“God Almighty never granted me anyone better in this life than her. She accepted me when people rejected me, she believed in me when people doubted me, she shared her wealth with me when people deprived me, and Allah granted me children only through her.”
Seven years of enduring persecution together for the sake of dakwah so that this religion would be able to reach us today.
From once the successful businesswoman in Mecca who was sought by people for her beauty, intelligence, and elite, to become a destitute ordinary woman.
It was after the three years of the boycott: Khadijah passed away, suffering too much from starvation and sickness. The damage has already done. Even the Prophet plunged into sorrow.
“Indeed, her love has been nurtured in my heart by Allah Himself,” Prophet Muhammad was quoted as saying.
The supporter died non-believing
The story of the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib was even more sorrowful.
Abu Talib was the Prophet’s caretaker since he was 9. He looked after his nephew after the death of the Prophet’s mother and his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib.
Abu Talib, despite his poverty, took in Prophet Muhammad because of his generosity.
He was a man of high morals and compassion, a leader of the Bani Hashim tribe, and one of the custodians of the Kaaba. Prophet Muhammad is so precious to him that he loved him so dearly.
Moreover, the protection of Abu Talib was one of the reasons the disbelievers did not torture the Prophet, out of respect for his status.
Close to Abu Talib’s death, the Prophet came to him and found Abu Jahal and Ibnu Umaiya there. Prophet Muhammad said to Abu Talib,
“O, uncle! Say, none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, a sentence with which I will defend you before Allah.”
The other two quickly interfered, “Will you now leave the religion of Abdul Muttalib?”, causing Abu Talib to hesitate.
This conversation kept repeating, until Abu Talib answered with his last words, “I am on the religion of ‘Abdul Muttalib”.
The Prophet was so regretful that he said, “By Allah, I will keep on asking Allah’s forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden (by Allah) to do so,” in which Allah responded to him,
“It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.” (Quran 9:113)
With that, Abu Talib passed away being a disbeliever, despite all the support and protection he provided to the dakwah of Prophet Muhammad throughout his life.
The obstacle to the agenda of dakwah then started to become more depressing. Torture and worse humiliation started to haunt Prophet Muhammad: he once returned home with soil on his head poured on by the disbelievers without fear until one of the Prophet’s daughter cried for him.
He just lost both his wings in the twinkling of an eye, when the dakwah became much more difficult.
Taif: Stones and blood
As the situation drastically changed, Prophet Muhammad held up his sadness and tried to reach out and seek for support beyond Mecca.
He traveled to Taif and met with the chief of the Thaqif tribe, a majority tribe there. The Prophet told him about Allah, embracing Islam and leaving the polytheism behind.
We already knew that dakwah and the Prophet included was really in need of support at that moment.
How did the people of Taif respond? Insult and rejection.
Even worse, they sent out their children, not themselves, to throw stones at Prophet Muhammad to send him out of the town.
From their action, it showed that even children much younger than him deserved to throw stones at him. How humiliating is that?
The Prophet was sent out with jeers and mocks, and a bleeding ankle. He ran away to an orchard to protect himself, as he said his supplication which every Muslims must cry to read this:
“To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support, and the humiliation I am made to receive. Most Compassionate and Merciful, You are the Lord of the weak, and You are my Lord.”
“To whom do You leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy whom You have given power over me?”
“As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy. I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger.”
“To You, I submit, until I earn Your pleasure. Everything is powerless without your support.”
Epilogue: A gift from Allah
A few months later, Allah sent Gabriel to invite Prophet Muhammad on a journey up to the heaven and meet Allah directly, to cheer him up.
The Prophet returned with the injunction of daily five prayers as a gift for us the ummah, for when we felt that we could no longer be able to stay steadfast in this religion so that we would kneel before Him and prayed for His support.
The prayers are for us, for when we are blessed with good things in life that we forget to be grateful to Him.
The prayers are to remind us about the challenges faced by the Prophet Muhammad in spreading dakwah throughout his life when just a few jitters stopped us from doing it.
Reading all these, you will not consider the event of Isra’ Mikraj in the same light as before.