Lailat al Miraj

Lailat al Miraj Quick Facts - ZA

AKA NameIsraa wal Miraaj, Laylatul Miraj, Laylat ul Miraaj, Meraaj, Miraaj, Meraj, Mi'raaj
HashtagsCompiled on#Lailatalmiraj
Related Hashtags#Islam, #Shabemeraj, #ShabeMiraj, #Shab_E_Miraj, #Muslim
2024 Date7 February 2024
2025 Date27 January 2025

Lailat al Miraj

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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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Facts about Lailat al Miraj

  • Muslims believe that there are several levels in heaven. Muhammad was taken to each one by Angel Gabriel. At each heaven, a gate-keeper asked both the angel and Muhammad to identify themselves before proceeding.
  • Muslims believe that Muhammad saw "Al-Bait-al-Mamur" (God's house). Gabriel told Muhammad that every day since the beginning of creation, 70,000 different angels pray there daily.
  • Muhammad is also believed to have seen "Sidrat al-Muntaha" (a tree) in the seventh heaven. Its leaves resembled elephant ears, its fruits resembled clay jugs, and from it originated four rivers. Two of them were hidden in heaven, while the other two were made apparent to man in the forms of the Nile and the Euphrates.
  • Facts about Lailat al Miraj:
    1) As with other Muslim-majority countries, the observance of Lailat al Miraj in South Africa encompasses special prayers and worship, including devotional gatherings at mosques and Islamic centres.
    2) South Africa's diverse religious landscape has led to interfaith initiatives that aim to promote dialogue and understanding among different communities. Lailat al Miraj, as well as other significant Islamic observances, often provide an opportunity for such dialogues and discussions.
    3) In celebration of Lailat al Miraj, some mosques in South Africa conduct special prayers during the night, also known as Salat al-Miraj, which includes recitation of Quranic verses and Islamic teachings.
    4) For many South African Muslims, Lailat al Miraj represents an opportunity to remember the importance of spiritual growth, and seek guidance, forgiveness, and closeness to Allah.
    5) The Cape Malays, a community of Muslim people with origins in Southeast Asia, were brought to South Africa as slaves and exiles during the 17th and 18th centuries. They introduced Islam to the local population and played a significant role in shaping the Islamic culture in South Africa.

Top things to do in South Africa for Lailat al Miraj

  • Place candles or lights outside. In some Muslim countries it is a tradition to illuminate the city.
  • Read a book to learn about Lailat al Miraj:
    Breaking the Sheikhs' Rules/Isla’s Forbidden Sheikh/al Miraj - by Abby Green.
    Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak - by Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur.
  • Community Events: Many Muslim organisations or communities may hold special events. These can include lectures about the significance of the day, Quran recitation competitions, or communal meals.

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