Sermon to mark end of Prophet's 'year of grief'

Imams will remind Muslims today of the lessons of the Prophet's Isra and Miraj journey - his ascent to heaven.

Imams will remind Muslims today of the lessons of the Prophet's Isra and Miraj journey - his ascent to heaven - on the date the occasion is marked on the Islamic calendar. "On that night, the angel Gabriel went to the Prophet Mohammed with the Buraq, and they travelled to Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, where the Prophet prayed with all of the prophets as their imam; then he ascended from there to the heavens, and the five prayers were commanded there," the sermon says.

"All the prophets praying in Al Aqsa, led by the Prophet Mohammed, signifies the unity of all the different religions, which should be one religion with the goal of worshiping the one and only Allah," said Zabna Amer, 25, an Emirati finance co-ordinator. The occasion should also give Muslims a feeling of comfort and belonging, she said. "It was a difficult time in the Prophet's life after his wife and uncle passed away. He mourned them and that year was referred to as the year of grief. So then the Isra and Miraj was God's reward to him for his patience."

She said she likes to celebrate by watching TV programmes that reflect on the special day. "The prayer was commanded the night the Prophet ascended, so [prayers] will always be a form of ascent for worshippers of God," the sermon says. God initially commanded the Prophet to tell his followers to pray 50 times every day, according to the sermon. But then the Prophet met Moses, who advised him to ask God for a reduction in the number of prayers to make worship more convenient for Muslims. The Prophet Mohammed kept asking God for reductions until the number was reduced to five.

"The Isra and Miraj always reminds me of God's mercy for reducing the number of prayers," said Asma Khalil, an 18-year-old engineering student. Fatima Saleh, a 25-year-old financial analyst, said: "It always amazes me how our Prophet made that miraculous trip. "I believe its significance in Islam is huge, because everything that the Prophet saw was believed by his followers, and this miraculous fact is believed by millions of Muslims, which proves the trust Muslims have in their Prophet now and at the time it happened."