Buraq

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Al-Burāq (البُراق‎ "lightning") is a mythological steed comparable to the Greek Pegasus, believed to be a creature from the heavens which transported the various Islamic prophets.

Description in Islamic sources

Islamic sources describe it as a tall, white, handsome-faced, long eared, bridled male beast, bigger than a donkey but smaller than a mule. It has two wings on its thighs and its step is so wide that it "reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight."[1][2]

Some traditions also describe it with the head of a woman and the tail of a peacock,[3] similar to the Hindu Goddess Sri Kamadhenu who is sometimes depicted as a winged cow with a peacock's tail and the head of a woman.[4]

The Night Journey (al-Isra wal-Mi'raj)

Muslims believe that the Buraq carried Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to the seven heavens, from the heavens to the then non-existent "farthest mosque" (Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem) and back to Mecca during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey".

During his visit to the heavens, prior to meeting with Allah, Muhammad met with various prophets, including Musa (Moses) who allegedly wept because there would be more Muslims in heaven than Jews.[5]

The Buraq was also said to transport Ibrahim (Abraham) when he visited his wife Hagar and son Isma'il (Ishmael). According to tradition, Abraham lived with one wife in Syria, but the Buraq would transport him in the morning to Mecca to see his family there, and take him back in the evening to his Syrian wife.[6][7]

Religious significance

The journey is an event which is now celebrated by Muslims every year,[8] and is the title of one of the chapters of the Qur'an (Al-Isra, "The Night Journey"). Sahih sources further detail that the event was a literal journey and not a dream.[9]

Location of the Buraq

The Buraq Wall is circled in orange

Ibn al-Faqih (fl. 902), ibn Abd Rabbih (d. 940), Abd al-Ghani al-Nablusi (d. 1731), and other classical and traditional scholars have suggested that the Buraq is tethered to a location near the southwest corner of the Haram (the sanctuary around the Ka'baa).[10] More recently, however, many have maintained that the Buraq is located at the south end of the Western Wall Plaza (also referred to as "Ḥā’iṭu ’l-Burāq", or "the Buraq Wall") at the al-Buraq Mosque in Jerusalem, Palestine/Israel.[11]

In 1840, a British Jew asked for permission to pave an area near the Western Wall. The then governor of Syria responded with the following:

It is evident from the copy of the record of the deliberations of the Consultative Council in Jerusalem that the place the Jews asked for permission to pave adjoins the wall of the Haram al-Sharif and also the spot where the Buraq was tethered, and is included in the endowment charter of Abu Madyan, may God bless his memory; that the Jews never carried out any repairs in that place in the past. ... Therefore the Jews must not be enabled to pave the place.

Relevant sources

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: Regarding the Statement of Allah" "And We granted the vision (Ascension to the heavens) which We made you see (as an actual eye witness) was only made as a trial for the people." (17.60) Ibn `Abbas added: The sights which Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) were actual sights, (not dreams). And the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur'an is the tree of Zaqqum (itself).
Narrated `Abbas bin Malik: Malik bin Sasaa said that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) described to them his Night Journey saying, "While I was lying in Al-Hatim or Al-Hijr, suddenly someone came to me and cut my body open from here to here." I asked Al-Jarud who was by my side, "What does he mean?" He said, "It means from his throat to his pubic area," or said, "From the top of the chest." The Prophet (ﷺ) further said, "He then took out my heart. Then a gold tray of Belief was brought to me and my heart was washed and was filled (with Belief) and then returned to its original place. Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me." (On this Al-Jarud asked, "Was it the Buraq, O Abu Hamza?" I (i.e. Anas) replied in the affirmative). The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight. I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven. When he asked for the gate to be opened, it was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered, 'Gabriel.' It was asked, 'Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has Muhammad been called?' Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, 'He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!' The gate was opened, and when I went over the first heaven, I saw Adam there. Gabriel said (to me). 'This is your father, Adam; pay him your greetings.' So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet.' Then Gabriel ascended with me till we reached the second heaven. Gabriel asked for the gate to be opened. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered, 'Gabriel.' It was asked, 'Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel answered in the affirmative. Then it was said, 'He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!' The gate was opened. When I went over the second heaven, there I saw Yahya (i.e. John) and `Isa (i.e. Jesus) who were cousins of each other. Gabriel said (to me), 'These are John and Jesus; pay them your greetings.' So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.' Then Gabriel ascended with me to the third heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel replied, 'Gabriel.' It was asked, 'Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, 'He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!' The gate was opened, and when I went over the third heaven there I saw Joseph. Gabriel said (to me), 'This is Joseph; pay him your greetings.' So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.' Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fourth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel replied, 'Gabriel' It was asked, 'Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, 'He is welcomed, what an excel lent visit his is!' The gate was opened, and when I went over the fourth heaven, there I saw Idris. Gabriel said (to me), 'This is Idris; pay him your greetings.' So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.' Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fifth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel replied, 'Gabriel.' It was asked. 'Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is! So when I went over the fifth heaven, there I saw Harun (i.e. Aaron), Gabriel said, (to me). This is Aaron; pay him your greetings.' I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.' Then Gabriel ascended with me to the sixth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked. 'Who is it?' Gabriel replied, 'Gabriel.' It was asked, 'Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel replied in the affirmative. It was said, 'He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!' When I went (over the sixth heaven), there I saw Moses. Gabriel said (to me),' This is Moses; pay him your greeting. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.' When I left him (i.e. Moses) he wept. Someone asked him, 'What makes you weep?' Moses said, 'I weep because after me there has been sent (as Prophet) a young man whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers.' Then Gabriel ascended with me to the seventh heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel replied, 'Gabriel.' It was asked,' Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel replied, 'Muhammad.' It was asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, 'He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!' So when I went (over the seventh heaven), there I saw Abraham. Gabriel said (to me), 'This is your father; pay your greetings to him.' So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, 'You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet.' Then I was made to ascend to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (i.e. the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary) Behold! Its fruits were like the jars of Hajr (i.e. a place near Medina) and its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Gabriel said, 'This is the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary). Behold ! There ran four rivers, two were hidden and two were visible, I asked, 'What are these two kinds of rivers, O Gabriel?' He replied,' As for the hidden rivers, they are two rivers in Paradise and the visible rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.' Then Al-Bait-ul-Ma'mur (i.e. the Sacred House) was shown to me and a container full of wine and another full of milk and a third full of honey were brought to me. I took the milk. Gabriel remarked, 'This is the Islamic religion which you and your followers are following.' Then the prayers were enjoined on me: They were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses who asked (me), 'What have you been ordered to do?' I replied, 'I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.' Moses said, 'Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah, I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers' burden.' So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he said, 'What have you been ordered?' I replied, 'I have been ordered to observe five prayers a day.' He said, 'Your followers cannot bear five prayers a day, and no doubt, I have got an experience of the people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel, so go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your follower's burden.' I said, 'I have requested so much of my Lord that I feel ashamed, but I am satisfied now and surrender to Allah's Order.' When I left, I heard a voice saying, 'I have passed My Order and have lessened the burden of My Worshipers."

See Also

External Links

References

  1. "...a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me... The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight." - Sahih Bukhari 5:58:227
  2. "...the Buraq, handsome-faced and bridled, a tall, white beast, bigger than the donkey but smaller than the mule. He could place his hooves at the farthest boundary of his gaze. He had long ears. Whenever he faced a mountain his hind legs would extend, and whenever he went downhill his front legs would extend. He had two wings on his thighs which lent strength to his legs." - Muhammad al-Alawi al-Maliki, al-Anwar al Bahiyya min Isra wa l-Mi'raj Khayr al-Bariyyah
  3. Burāq - Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed February 27, 2012
  4. For example, see the image of Sri Kamadhenu here and then compare it to the image of al-Buraq here
  5. "Moses said, 'I weep because after me there has been sent (as Prophet) a young man [Muhammad] whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers.' "- Sahih Bukhari 5:58:227
  6. Journeys in Holy Lands p. 117
  7. Firestone, Reuven (1990). Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis. SUNY Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7914-0331-0. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  8. Khadija Bradlow - A Night Journey through Jerusalem - Times Online, August 18, 2007
  9. "Ibn Abbas added: The sights which Allah's Apostle was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) were actual sights, (not dreams). - Sahih Bukhari 5:58:228
  10. Elad, Amikam (1995). Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship: Holy Places, Ceremonies, Pilgrimage. BRILL. pp. 101–2. ISBN 978-90-04-10010-7.
  11. Ibid.
  12. F. E. Peters (1985). Jerusalem. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 541–542.. Arabic text in A. L. Tibawi (1978). The Islamic Pious Foundations in Jerusalem. London: The Islamic Cultural Centre. Appendix III.