Getting to Know Allah
One-on-One with Allah
The third holiest site in Islam is a rock underneath the Dome of the Rock, which is part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Muslims believe that this is the rock from which the Prophet ascended to heaven on a magical night in 621 on the back of a winged-horse named Al-Burak.
The Prophet had just finished his late-night prayers when the angel Gabriel appeared accompanied by Al-Burak. He got on the horse and flew off to Jerusalem where he met with the spirits of lesser, dead prophets and led them in prayer. He may even have taken the opportunity to ask them the all-important question about Allah's obsession, the alleged other gods, revelation 43:45, before getting back on his horse for the next leg of his journey – the flight to heaven..
43:44 And it (the Qur’an) is surely a Reminder to you and to your people; and you shall be questioned.
43:45 Ask those of Our Messengers We sent before you: “Have We ever set up, apart from the All-Compassionate, any other gods to be worshipped?”
The Koran refers to this one-on-one meeting with Allah as the flight between two mosques: the Ka'ba (Islam was still in its infancy and confined mainly to Mecca and its surroundings) and what most commentators believe is Jerusalem.
The city surrendered to the Muslims in 638 A.D., six years after the death of God’s Messenger. Therefore, there could not have been a mosque there, in the conventional sense, during the events described in verse 17:1.
THE NIGHT JOURNEY
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
17:1 Glory be to Him Who caused His servant to travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs. He is indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.
The trip to heaven was not without its perils, with the jinn intercepting the Prophet on his way up. Allah had already informed His Messenger as to what to say to be allowed to pass.
72:19 And that when the Servant of Allah (the Prophet Muhammad) got up calling on Him, they almost set upon him in throngs.
72:20 Say: “I only call upon my Lord, and I do not associate with Him anyone else.”
72:21 Say: “I have no power to harm or guide you rightly.”
72:22 Say: “No one shall protect me from Allah, and I will not find apart from Him any refuge;
72:23 “Except for a proclamation from Allah and His Messages. He who disobeys Allah and His Messenger, for him the Fire of Hell is in store. Therein they shall dwell forever.”
72:24 Until, when they see what they are promised, they will then know certainly who is weaker in supporters and is fewer in numbers.
There were no witnesses to the departure from Mecca, the landing in Jerusalem, the takeoff for heaven or the landing in Mecca the following morning. When the Prophet described this journey to the Meccans the next day, many believed he had gone insane. It was only after he described seeing a caravan from the air (which shortly arrived in Mecca) that some of the accusations of insanity were withdrawn.