Question and answer details
|Al-Isra: Universality of the Islamic Message|
|What's the significance of the Prophet's leading other Prophets in prayer during the Night Journey?|
Thank you very much for your question.
Before tackling your specific question, let me sum up the story of the Prophet's Night Journey.
One night, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asleep in the home of his cousin Umm Hani in Makkah, the Angel Gabriel came and woke him up and took him by hand to the mosque, where he found an animal smaller than a mule but slightly bigger than a donkey. The animal, which was a quadruped, also had two wings and floated easily as he moved with unimaginable speed.
The Prophet's own description of his movement was that "he put his foot at the furthest point to his side". Together, the Prophet and Gabriel rode the animal, which was called AI-Buraq, a name derived from 'Barq', meaning lightning. In no time at all they reached Jerusalem in Palestine .
When they had finished their business in Jerusalem , they flew up to heaven. The Prophet tells us that as they entered each of the seven heavens Gabriel would confirm to its guardian angel that Muhammad had already received his mission.
In each heaven, he met one or other of the prophets who preached the message of God's oneness to mankind. Among those mentioned in the authentic accounts of this very special journey were Adam, Jesus, John, Joseph, Moses and Abraham.
Universality of the Islamic Message
With regard to the Prophet's leading other prophets in prayer, the Night Journey was of great significance in more ways than one. Note, for example, that at Jerusalem, Muhammad led the other Prophets in prayer. It is a well established Islamic concept that the messages of all Prophets were basically the same. They all called on mankind to believe in God, the one and only deity. With Islam, these messages were brought to their full and complete form.
With Muhammad, the line of prophethood reached its end. For the Prophets to pray together at Jerusalem signifies the continuity of their messages and their unity of rank and purpose. Jerusalem thus occupies a unique position as a sacred place for all followers of the Divine religions.
That unique prayer of the Prophets, led by Muhammad, also signifies that as Islam has crowned all Divine messages and brought them to their final form, Jerusalem, the spot revered by all religions, belongs to the Muslims who follow Muhammad, the recognized leader of all Prophets.
The Night Journey also stresses the universality of the Islamic message. Muhammad is taken to Jerusalem which, at the time, was inhabited by non-Arabs. He is engaged there in the most religious of human activities before he is taken to heaven.
It would have been just as easy for God to raise Muhammad to heaven from his home in Makkah. The fact that He chose to take him to Jerusalem first, to lead his fellow Prophets in prayer, endorses the fact that Islam is a message for mankind, not for the Arabs alone.
In those congregational prayers of the Prophets one also sees a reference to the fact that all the distortion which crept into earlier messages had been pushed aside. A fuller and more complete version of these messages has been revealed and guaranteed by God to remain intact for the rest of time. That version is Islam.
I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.