Lailat-ul-Miraj means the night of Ascent. It marks the night when Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him) attained a very high spiritual level and was spiritually transported to heaven. The Ascent took place on the 27th day of Rajab (seventh month of the Hijra or Muslim lunar calendar). This festival is also known as Lailatul-Miraj, Isra Miraj, Miraj al-Nabi, Isra, Me’raj and Laylat al-Mi’raj.
The Ascent was not with a physical body, but was a vision of the highest level. During the Ascent, Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him) met Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and some other Prophets. The purpose of the Ascent was to confirm the high status of the Prophet of Islam. It is related that even Angel Gabriel, accompanying the Holy Prophet, remarked at one stage, “I cannot go any further, but you, O Messenger of peace and friend of the Master of the worlds, continue your glorious ascent.”
Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him) continued the Ascent until He reached Moksha, that is, very close to the Throne of God and attained the utmost nearness to Him. He then came down to impart spiritual Knowledge to mankind. It was in this Ascent that five daily prayers (salat) were made obligatory for Muslims.
Method of celebration
To mark the day of the Ascent (Miraj), mosques and houses are decorated during the day with colorful pennants and buntings, and during the night, with oil-lamps, candles, electric lights, etc. As evening approaches, devotees assemble in mosques and engage themselves in glorifying The Lord (Allah) and the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) through devotional hymns.
Public spiritual meetings (satsangs) are held after Isha prayer (a prayer usually said before going to bed at night) in larger mosques, where the details about the Ascent are discussed. These satsangs conclude with everyone partaking of the sweets (holy sacrament/prasad), distributed at the end.
This night is an opportunity for the devotees to engage in good/meritorious deeds, such as donating money to charity, distributing food among the poor, etc. Devotees also have an opportunity to spend the entire night in the remembrance of God.