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    A Muslim holiday happening now that you’ve never heard of

    By Call of Love Ministries On January 26, 2023 Category Islam Beliefs
    Mosque image with blog title

    Islam follows the lunar calendar, called the Hijri calendar, which means their holidays and special months are not lined up with the typical Gregorian calendar that western countries follow. One of these special months is Rajab,  starting on February 15, 2023. It is one of the four months of the Hijri calendar where Muslims are prohibited from fighting.

    Rajab is considered a sacred month because it marks the anniversary of Isra and Miraj, the night journey Muhammad claimed to have made to heaven.  This was one of Muhammad’s attempts to win over the local Jews and Christians and have them believe in his prophethood. This year, Muslim communities will reflect on Isra and Miraj starting sundown on February 17th through sundown on the 18th, supposedly the anniversary of this event. Rajab takes place from January 23-February 20th.

    Why should Christians care about Islamic sacred dates?

    There are several reasons why we need to research and learn about the holidays that our Muslim friends celebrate:

    1. It will give us more context and knowledge and help us as we navigate discussions about these holidays. 
    2. We gain insight on how to connect with our Muslim friends on a personal level during these holidays.
    3. We learn to what level they are devoted to their practices and beliefs. 

    The story of Isra and Miraj

    The story of Isra and Miraj is only mentioned one time in the Quran, with much more detail given in the Hadith. (Not sure what the difference is between the Quran and Hadith? Learn more here). Here is what the Quran tells about this incident:

    Glory be to the One Who took His servant Muḥammad by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” Quran 17:1

    The story goes that Muhammad ascended into heaven, passing through Jerusalem, and as he ascended through the levels of heaven he visited major biblical prophets.

    There are more details in the Hadith. To break down the story, we will divide it into the two parts, Isra and Miraj. Isra is the section of the story where Muhammad travels from Mecca in Saudi Arabia to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on the back of a small horse/donkey in a few seconds– a journey that today takes almost two hours by plane.

    The second part of the story is the Miraj, where Muhammad supposedly visited the seven layers of heaven, meeting with a different prophet at each level of his ascension: Adam, Jesus & John the Baptist, Joseph, Seth, Aaron, Moses, and Abraham.

    Islamic vocabulary words from this blog post

    Once Muhammad reached the seventh layer of heaven, he went into the Baitul Ma’mur, a house that is directly above the Kaaba (the place of pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia), where 70,000 angels supposedly perform their daily prayers. After this stop, Muhammad goes deeper into the seventh level of heaven with the angel Gabriel to the Sidrat Al-Muntaha, which is a small tree at the edge of heaven. Muhammad is supposedly the only prophet to have crossed this boundary. This is the place where Allah cuts down the requirement of daily prayers from fifty to five after Muhammad’s plea, a negotiation similar to that of Abraham with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18.

    (The details of the Isra and Miraj story are from this source)

    Why would Muhammad want people to believe this story?

    At the beginning of Muhammad’s mission, a peaceful time called the Meccan period, it was very crucial to Muhammad that the Jews and Christians who lived in the Arabian Peninsula accept him as a prophet. He tried to convince them that he was a prophet of the same God they worshiped. This is why Jerusalem was a stopping point in his alleged night journey and why he visited with major prophets of the Bible on the way. Muhammad was trying to prove that he was on the same tier as Moses and Abraham.

    It is important for Christians to recognize the shift that happened in Muhmmad’s life that impacted Islam till today. The Meccan period is the first period of Muhammad’s “prophethood” where he was a peaceful proselytizer, trying to have his tribe and the surrounding tribes, including the Jews and Christians to believe in him. But his efforts were futile. The Jews and Christians rejected him, and he was even cast out of his own city Mecca by his own tribe.

    After this huge failure Muhammad changed his method, transitioning from peace to violence. This period is called the Medinan period because it started in the city of Medina, and from there Muhammad spent the last 10 years of his life waging over 29 battles, killing, destroying, and forcing tribes to submit to Islam.

    How can you talk about Isra and Miraj with your Muslim friend?

    Even though you as a Christian don’t believe in Muhammad’s night journey, debating the validity of this story will not reflect Christ-like love to your Muslim friend. On the contrary, it may only shut them down from talking to you about their faith. They will see it as an attack on their spiritual texts, the Quran and Hadith, and an attack on Muhammad, their most revered prophet.

    So what can you do? Use this time to get to know your Muslim friend’s religious journey better! Ask them what they are doing to celebrate Isra and Miraj, if they have any special traditions connected with the month of Rajab, or if they celebrate it at all. You can also ask how they manage following both the lunar and Gregorian calendars.

    Using unique holidays like this will show your Muslim friend that you earnestly care about them. It is key to find a balance between asking them what they are doing for this holiday versus supporting and affirming the story of Muhammad’s journey. If they are less devout, asking about this holiday may motivate them to research their own religion more seriously and understand if they truly believe what their religion teaches.

    Pray for them during this month that the Lord might intervene in their practices and rituals with His presence.


    Dear Lord, thank you for giving me this opportunity to get to know my Muslim friend. Please open up their eyes to the lies of Islam and pique their curiosity for the truth. Let me be a light in their life that shines Jesus’ love on them. Amen.

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