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Lailat al Miraj, also known as Isra and Mi’raj, marks the journey of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then his ascension to the heavens. This noteworthy event symbolises the close connection between Allah and his messenger, and the strong spiritual bond of Islam. It showcases the significance of prayer, patience and faith throughout the journey.
The tradition dates back to the 7th century when, according to Islamic belief, the Prophet was transported on a winged horse, the Buraq, from the Kaaba in Mecca to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. From there, he was said to have ascended to the heavens to meet with Gods before descending back to Earth. From a South African perspective, Lailat al Miraj reinforces the unity of the Muslim community. It reminds South African Muslims of their historical and spiritual links with Islam's broader Ummah, encouraging a sense of universal brotherhood and sisterhood.
In South Africa, Lailat al Miraj is observed with reverence, typically involving prayers, recitation of Quranic verses, and public sermons on the Prophet's journey. Some devotees engage in all-night prayer vigils, and others partake in communal meals. Due to the lunar Islamic Calendar's use, the occurrence of Lailat al Miraj can vary in South Africa but typically falls within the Islamic month of Rajab. However, the specific date each year depends on the sighting of the moon, reflecting the localised traditions of moon sighting in South Africa's Muslim community.
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