Muslims celebrate Prophet's 'night journey'

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Widely known as 'Lailat al Miraj,' the night is generally observed on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab

Widely known as 'Lailat al Miraj,' the night is generally observed on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab

ISTANBUL - On Sunday night, Muslims will commemorate Prophet Muhammad's night journey from Mecca to Al-Quds -- the Arabic name of Jerusalem -- from where he ascended into heaven.

The night -- widely known as 'Lailat al Miraj' -- is generally observed on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, which falls on the day beginning with Sunday night this year.

In Islamic belief, Prophet Muhammad, after being prepared for his meeting with Allah by angels Jibrail and Mikhail, travels on a steed called 'Buraq' first to Al-Quds -- where he leads other prophets in prayer -- and second to heaven where he speaks with Allah.

"This journey marks the most magnificent witnessing of Allah's eternity, grandeur and oneness," Turkey's President of Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez said in his message for the night.

The Lailat al Miraj is observed in Turkey as one of the five special nights -- each of them called 'kandil,'  which translates as candle in Turkish -- when minarets of mosques are illuminated and special prayers are held.

Kandils were introduced during the rule of Ottoman sultan Selim II in the 16th century. The sultan ordered the mosques to lit candles on their minarets in order to announce these special nights to the public.

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