What is Al Isra Wa Al Miraj and will it be a holiday in the UAE?

Public sector workers have the day off in Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain

People enjoy a light show projected on the walls of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque on Tuesday evening, Nov. 29, 2011, in celebration of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the UAE creation at the mosque in Abu Dhabi. (Silvia Razgova/The National)

Al Isra Wa Al Miraj — known in English as the Night Journey — is an Islamic holiday that is celebrated on Rajab 27.

When aligned with this year's Gregorian calendar, the date falls on Tuesday, March 1.

Until 2018, the UAE marked Isra Wa Al Miraj with a public holiday, for both government and private sectors.

In 2019, the UAE Cabinet excluded the date from the country's list of official public holidays, which also unified the number of days off for public and private sector workers to 14.

What is Al Isra Wa Al Miraj?

Also known as the Prophet's Ascension, Al Isra Wa Al Miraj marks two parts of a journey Prophet Mohammed took in one night from Makkah in Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem, Palestine.

The Prophet is said to have travelled on a Buraq — a heavenly creature that most resembles a winged horse — from Makkah to Al Aqsa Mosque where, accompanied by the Angel Jibril (Gabriel), he ascended the seven heavens to speak to God.

The Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound is seen in Jerusalem's Old City Saturday, July 15, 2017. On Friday, three Palestinian assailants opened fire from a sacred site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, inside the walled Old City, killing two Israeli police officers before being shot dead. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

There, God gave him instructions about prayers, initially telling him Muslims should pray 50 times a day.

Upon his descent through each of the heavens, he met former Prophets — such as Moses, Jesus and Adam — who suggested Prophet Mohammed ask God to reduce the number of daily prayers.

According to the Quran, the Prophet returned to God several times until the number was reduced to five prayers a day.

After descending from heaven to Jerusalem, the Prophet returned to Makkah within the same evening.

The journey is said to have happened within the blink of an eye and the Prophet's bed was still warm from his body.

Who is celebrating the holiday?

While the UAE no longer marks the date with a day off, other countries in the GCC have announced a public holiday for their citizens and residents.

Kuwait is currently undergoing a 9-day holiday for public sector workers to mark the country's Independence Day, Liberation Day and Al Israa Wa Al Miraj.

In Oman, public and private sector workers were given March 1 off to celebrate the Islamic holiday.

While Saudi Arabia does not typically mark the date with a holiday, Bahrain announced March 1 as a day off.

When is the UAE's next public holiday?

The next public holiday the UAE can look forward to will be for Eid Al Fitr at the end of Ramadan.

This will probably fall on Monday, May 2, although it depends on when Ramadan begins and ends. The number of days off will also vary depending on whether Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days, which is dependent on the lunar cycle.

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