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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

from The Middle East Media Research Institute

Egyptian Ministry of Culture Publication: The Prophet Muhammad's 'Night Journey' was Not to Jerusalem but to Medina
Ahmad Muhammad 'Arafa, a columnist for the Egyptian weekly Al-Qahira, which is published by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, wrote an article rejecting the established Islamic doctrine that the Prophet Muhammad's celebrated "Night Journey" (Koran 17:1) took him from Mecca to Jerusalem. 'Arafa, presenting a new analysis of the Koranic text, asserts that the Night Journey in Surat Al-Isra' (that is, "the Sura of the Night Journey") in the Koran does not refer to a miraculous journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, but to the Prophet's emigration (Hijra) from Mecca to Medina.

It should be noted that the belief that Muhammad's Night Journey (Koran 17:1) was a miraculous journey to Jerusalem is one of the most important foundations of the sanctity of Jerusalem in Islam. There is an extensive body of Islamic traditions related to this belief, and these are explicitly or implicitly rejected by the author. This article constitutes a dramatic departure from a standard Islamic doctrine. The fact that this article was published in a government journal adds to its political significance.
Read full translation of the article, titled "Was the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey to Palestine or Medina?" which was published on August 5, 2003, at MEMRI's Special Dispatch Series.