After the Prophet (PBUH) took this night journey from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, he ascended to the upper heavens. The Prophet (PBUH) ascended to the heaven on stairs, called al-mirqat, in which one step is made of gold and the next of silver, and so on. These stairs are veiled from us. The Prophet (PBUH) ascended these stairs until he reached the first heaven. When the Prophet (PBUH) and Jibril arrived at the first heaven, Jibril requested the gate to be opened. The angel assigned to that gate asked Jibril, "Who is with you?" Jibril answered, "It is Muhammad." The angel asked Jibril, "Was he dispatched? Is it time for him to ascend to the heaven?" Jibril said, "Yes." So, the gate was opened for him, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) entered the first heaven.
There, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saw Prophet Adam. To Adam`s right, the Prophet (PBUH) saw some bodies, and to Adam`s left, other bodies. If Adam would look to his right he would laugh, and if he would look to his left he would cry. Adam was seeing the souls of his descendants. Those on his right were his descendants who would die as believers and those on his left were his descendants who would die as non-believers.
Then the Prophet (PBUH) ascended to the second heaven. In this second heaven was where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saw Prophets Isa and Yahya. Isa and Yahya are cousins; their mothers were sisters. They welcomed the Prophet (PBUH) and made supplication (du`a`) for him for good things. The Prophet (PBUH) ascended to the third heaven, where he found Prophet Yusuf. Prophet Yusuf was extremely handsome. Allah bestowed half the beauty on Yusuf. Yusuf received the Prophet (PBUH) with a warm welcome and made supplication (du`a`) for him for good things.
Then the Prophet (PBUH) ascended to the fourth heaven, where he found Prophet Idris. Idris welcomed the Prophet (PBUH) and made supplication (du`a`) for him for good things. In the fifth heaven, the Prophet (PBUH) encountered Harun, the brother of Prophet Musa. In the sixth heaven, he encountered Prophet Musa. Each of these Prophets received Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with a warm welcome and made supplication (du`a`) for him for good things.
Then the Prophet (PBUH) ascended to the seventh heaven, and that is where our Messenger saw Prophet Ibrahim. Prophet Ibrahim is the best of the prophets after our prophet, Muhammad. The Prophet (PBUH) saw Prophet Ibrahim with his back against al-Bayt al-Ma`mur. To the inhabitants of the skies, al-Bayt al-Ma`mur is like the Ka`bah is to us, the inhabitants of the earth. Every day 70,000 angels go there; then exit from it, and never return. The next day another 70,000 angels go, come out, and never return. This will continue until the Day of Judgment. In this, there is an indication as to the greatness of the numbers of the angels -- their numbers are far more than the numbers of the humans and the jinns together.
In the seventh heaven, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saw Sidrat al-Muntaha -- a very big tree of sidr. Each of the fruits of this tree is as large as a big jar. The leaves of this tree are similar to the ears of the elephants. Sidrat al-Muntahais an extremely beautiful tree. It is visited by butterflies made of gold. When these butterflies gather on this tree, its beauty is beyond description.
Then the Prophet (PBUH) ascended to what is beyond the seven skies; he entered Paradise. He saw examples of the inhabitants of Paradise and how their situation would be. He saw most of the inhabitants of Paradise are the poor people.
The Prophet (PBUH) saw other things on the night of his ascension. He saw Malik, the angel in charge of the Hellfire. Malik did not smile at the Prophet (PBUH) when he saw him, and the Prophet (PBUH) asked why. In answer to the Prophet`s question, Jibril said, "Malik did not smile since the day Allah created him. Had he smiled for anyone, he would have smiled for you."
In Paradise, the Prophet (PBUH) saw some of the bounties Allah prepared for the inhabitants of Paradise. He saw the Hur ul-In: females Allah created who are not humans or jinn. They are in Paradise and will be married to those men Allah willed them to marry.
The Prophet (PBUH) saw the wildan ul-mukhalladun: creations of Allah who are not human, jinn, or angels. They are a very beautiful creation of Allah whose appearance is like laid-out pearls. They are servants of the inhabitants of Paradise. The least in status of the People of Paradise will have 10,000 wildan ul-mukhalladun to serve him. Each one of them would carry a tray of gold in one hand and a tray of silver in the other hand.
The Prophet (PBUH) saw the Throne (`Arsh), which is the ceiling of Paradise. The Throne is the largest creation of Allah in size; Allah did not create anything bigger in size than it. The seven heavens and the earth in comparison to the Kursiyy, are like a ring thrown in a desert, and the Kursiyy in comparison to the Throne, is like a ring thrown in a desert. The seven heavens and the earth in comparison to the Throne are like a seed of mustard compared to the ocean. Allah created the Throne as a sign of His Power and He did not create the Throne to sit on it.
Allah created the Throne to show His Power. It is carried by four angels, and on the Day of Judgment, it will be carried by eight. The Prophet (PBUH) said he was permitted to speak about one of these angels who carry the Throne. In describing this angel, the Prophet (PBUH) told us the distance between his ear lobe and shoulder is the distance a fast-flying bird would cover in 700 years.
Then the Prophet (PBUH) ascended beyond Paradise. He reached a place where he heard the creaking of the pens used by the angels who are copying from the Preserved Tablet. It is at that location Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) heard the Kalam of Allah, which is an attribute of the Self of Allah. He heard the Kalam of Allah which does not resemble our speech -- so it is not something that occurs bit after bit. It is not letter after letter or a word that comes after another word. Rather, it is an attribute of Allah which is eternal and everlasting. It does not resemble our attributes. The Kalam of Allah has neither silence nor interruptions. It is an attribute of Allah, and it does not resemble the attributes of the creation.
The Prophet (PBUH) understood several things from hearing this Kalam of Allah. He understood the obligation of the five Obligatory Prayers. At first, Allah obligated fifty prayers. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) encountered Musa, Musa told him to make supplication (du`a`) to his Lord to ease the obligation of fifty (50) prayers, because his nation could not handle that. Musa said, "I have experience with the people of Israel, and I know your nation cannot bear that." So the Prophet (PBUH) asked his Lord to lessen these prayers for his people. Five prayers were eliminated. Once again, Musa told the Prophet (PBUH) to ask Allah to lessen the number of prayers. Allah did. Nine times the Prophet (PBUH) made supplication to Allah to lessen these prayers -- until these prayers were lessened to five Obligatory Prayers. So Prophet Musa was a great benefit to us. Had we been obligated to pray fifty prayers a day, this would have been a difficult matter for us.
From the Kalam of Allah, the Prophet (PBUH) also understood that a good deed would be written for the person who intends to do a good deed, even if he did not do it. Also, the good deed performed would be registered for he who performs it as at least ten good deeds -- up to 700 good deeds. For some people, Allah would multiply the reward of their deeds more than that. Additionally, if one performs a bad deed, it is registered for him as one bad deed; yet for he who inclines towards committing a bad deed and then refrains from committing it, a good deed would be registered for him. Here one should note the difference between two matters. If a thought crossed a person`s mind about doing something sinful, and this person wavered in this thinking, i.e., considered whether he should do it or not, then he refrained from doing this for the sake of Allah, this is written as a good deed. However, if a person has the firm intention in his heart that he wants to commit a sin, it would be written for him as a sin, even if he does not do it.