Consideration of the Mi’raj & Isra’ from the Temple Mount

In this post, I reckon with the importance of the Mi’raj and the Isra’ to the prophethood of Muhammad and to the Muslims who live by his example. I explored the Mi’raj and the Isra’ experientially during my visit to the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam. The Isra’ is the night journey that the Prophet made to the site of the Dome of the Rock, while the Mi’raj is the ascent, either physical or spiritual, of the Prophet during which he rode on the form of the buraq – a mystical creature with the head of a human and the body of a horse. Especially for more mystical Islamic sects, the Mi’raj is the prototype for the ascent of their own mortal souls to higher spiritual realms. In order to visit the Dome of the Rock, along with several of my cohorts on the Harvard College Israel Trek, I woke up at 5:30 am so that we could get to the line by 6:30 am and be first in line when the Dome of the Rock opened for the day. Evoking again the idea of the People of the Book within this Holy City and the various cultures and peoples that intertwine along the winding streets of Jerusalem, we bought challah for breakfast and waited in a line just parallel to the line for the Western Wall – the holiest site for the Jewish people.

In order to enter the Dome of the Rock itself, which is built around the rock from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended, and in order to enter the adjacent mosque, one must be a practicing Muslim and be able to recite the shahadah along with a select verse from the Qur’an. Those like myself were able to walk along the beautiful grounds in the shadow of the glistening Dome. The Dome pervades the skyline of Jerusalem unlike any other building of the Old City. As the sun rose, it hit the golden panels of the Dome, and our taxi driver emphatically yelled as we rounded the curve and our eyes met the Dome, “There it is! Isn’t it beautiful?!” To stand in the presence of the Dome was a transcendent experience, especially in the earliest hours of the morning. The beautiful Arabic calligraphy along the periphery spelled out verses of the Qur’an and embraced the geometric azure and green designs. The grounds themselves were serene – completely flat and marked with stone structures including a beautiful pink marble pulpit. Please enjoy the following photos while keeping the following Qur’anic verse in mind:

“Praise be to Him who made His servant journey in the night from the sacred sanctuary to the remotest sanctuary.” Sura al-Isra’

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