The Muslim holy night of Lailat al Miraj will be observed across Turkey on Wednesday night, marking Prophet Muhammad’s nighttime journey from Mecca to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from where he ascended into heaven.
Also known as the Night of Ascension, the Lailat al Miraj is observed in Turkey as one of the five holy nights — each of them called “kandil”, which translates as a “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.
The night is observed on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, the seventh month in the Islamic calendar.
In Islamic belief, Prophet Muhammad, after being prepared for his meeting with Allah by angels Jibrail and Mikhail, traveled on a winged steed called “Buraq” first to al-Aqsa Mosque — where he led other prophets in prayer.
He then went to heaven and later to the Sidrat al-Muntaha, the boundary marking the end of the seventh heaven, where he met and conversed with Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad returned from Lailat al Mi’raj with three gifts to his ummah — one of them is five daily prayers, which he described as “the light of my eye.”