During this month of Rajab, our thoughts turn to our blessed Prophet (saw) and his miraculous journey from Makkah to Al Quds and his ascension into the heavens.
“Glorified (and Exalted) be He [above all (evil) they associated with Him] who took His slave (Muhammad pbuh) for a journey by night from Al Masjid al Haram to Al Masjid al Aqsa, the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of Our Ayat. Verily, He is the Al-Hearer, the All-Seer.” (17:1)
The 17th chapter of our holy Qur’an mentions this event with one verse yet the implications of Al Isra Al Miraj that transcend time and place are significant for our umma. Of course, it was during al Miraj that Allah swt proscribed the five daily prayers for us, which is tantamount for our faith. It was this event that also made Al Aqsa mosque our third holiest site after Makkah and Madinah. The Prophet Muhammad said that a prayer offered in Al Aqsa is worth 500 prayers.
But it is also important to understand that when Muhammad (saw) lead all the prophets in prayer he inherited from them the covenants they had made previously with Allah swt. When the prophets, including Ibrahim, Musa and Issa, may Allah be please with them all, prayed behind Mohammad (pbuh) they gave their tacit approval to him as their leader and the leader of the community of the faithful, who live and worship under the banner of la ilaha illa Allah.
This means that Muslims – those who are on the Straight Path of Tawhid – have inherited the promise of the Holy Land, which Allah swt had bequeathed to the righteous followers of Ibrahim. It is important, especially today, when Zionist forces that have occupied Palestine and their Christian Zionist supporters continue to spread the lie that God gave this land to the Jews. Allah blessed Palestine and its surroundings lands and He gave it to everyone who believes in the Oneness of God.
Though scholars have not agreed on the exact date of the Night Journey, for centuries it has been commemorated on the 27th of Rajab, which this year falls in June. June is important for another reason as well, for it is in this month – June 5 to 12th to be exact – that we remember the Six-Day War in 1967 that resulted in Israel occupying the remaining 22 percent of historic Palestine. At the end of that horrible war, in which 350,000 Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homes – many for the second time since the Nakba -- Israel’s occupation of Palestine was complete. This occupation is illegal, inhumane and unjust. It results in the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, the loss of the freedom of movement, home demolitions and the complete siege on Gaza.
Allah swt tied Muslims to His Holy Land and to the Al Aqsa mosque compound for time immemorial through Al Isra Al Miraj. That is why working to bring justice to Palestine and to free it from this brutal oppression is not just a Palestinian issue. It is a Muslim issue. Who will stand up to protect Al Aqsa from imminent destruction at the hands of the Israelis, who have been digging tunnels underneath the historic site in order to weaken its foundation and ensure its demise? Who will work to bring down the Apartheid Wall that keeps faithful worshippers from Jerusalem? Who will work to spread awareness about the occupation in the United States – the one country in the world in the unique position to pressure and force Israel to comply with international law and end the occupation?
Within the past 12 months, we’ve seen sweeping changes throughout the Middle East, thanks to the Arab Spring. These efforts to bring about justice and democracy have brought renewed hope that one day soon Jerusalem and all of Palestine will be free.
This year, as we remember our beloved Prophet and his Night Journey, let us also remember Palestine and Al Aqsa and renew our intentions to do our best to bring justice to the land Allah, Himself, has blessed.