Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Calendar Entry #23: Lailat al Miraj

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.
Mi'raj, Muhammad riding the buraq;
a 16th-century Persian miniature
Lailat al Miraj is a celebration that centres around children, to tell them the story of the Isra and the Mi'raj.  The Isra is when Muhammad travels from Mecca to Jerusalem with the archangel Gabriel on his winged horse, Buraq.  Once he reaches Temple Mount in Jerusalem, he prays and then gets back on Buraq for the Mi'raj.  
The Mi'raj is where Muhammad ascended to heaven where he met with prophets such as Moses and Abraham, and then finally with Allah.  In his exchange with Allah he was instructed to tell Muslims to pray fifty times a day.  Moses told Muhammad that Muslims would not comply that many times so urged him to seek a reduction.  Muhammad went to Allah again and the number was reduced to five times a day.  He returned to Earth to pass the spiritual knowledge he has gained to mankind.  This night is why Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day. 
The Night of Ascent is celebrated with colourful pennants and buntings, oil lamps, candles and other lights.  Children are brought into mosques where they hear the story and are then allowed to pray with the adults.  Prayers are followed with food and other treats. 

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