Ismaili History 313 - Al-Isra and al-Miraj

It was during this period that al-Isra and al-Miraj had taken place. Al-Asra means the night journey when Muhammad was reported to have taken from Mecca to the Mosque of Aqsa, the distance mosque of Jerusalem. Al-Miraj means Muhammad's ascension to heaven and his visit to paradise and hell. On the night of al-Isra, Muhammad was staying in the house of his cousin, Hind, daughter of Abu Talib, who was also called Umm Hani. Hind relates that the Prophet of God spent the night in my quarters. He recited the night prayers and went to sleep. Just before dawn, the Prophet of God awoke us and we all prayed the dawn prayer together. When the prayer was through, he said, 'O Umm Hani, I prayed with you the night prayer in this place; then I went to Jerusalem and I prayed there, and as you see, I have just finished praying with you the dawn prayer.' I answered, 'O Prophet of God! do not tell this to the people, for they will belie you and harm you.' He said, 'By God, I shall tell them.'
Those who claim that al-Isra and al-Miraj of Muhammad had taken place spiritually rather than physically, have based their arguments on the aforesaid report of Umm Hani. They also refer to another report of Aisha which says, 'The body of the Prophet of God was never missed from his bed. Rather, God caused him to travel in soul alone.' Whenever Muawiya bin Abu Sufian was asked about it, he used to answer, 'It was a true vision from God.' Those who share such a view confirm their claim with the Koranic verse, 'The vision which We have shown you is but a trial to the people' (17:60). According to the other view, al-Isra from Mecca to Jerusalem took place in body. In confirmation of this, they mention that Muhammad had related what he saw in the desert on the way hither and add that his ascension to heaven was in soul. Other hold that both al-Isra and al-Miraj were in body. As a result of this great divergence of opinion, thousands of volumes have been written on the subject.