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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Muslims commemorate holy journey of Israa' and Mi'raaj

Muslims commemorate holy journey
Mosque in Redlands part of global remembrance of prophets, prayers
Mona Shadia, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun

One night more than 1,400 years ago, the Islamic faith teaches, God took the Prophet Muhammad on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem to heaven.

Muslims believe that during the trip, Muhammad met with other prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. And that it was the night God assigned to him the five daily prayers and made them mandatory for all Muslims.

Muhammad had been sorely tested by the loss of his most beloved wife, his uncles who raised and protected him and the rejection and physical attack by the people of a town he visited - but he didn't question his faith, Islamic teachings say.

The night journey, known to Muslims as Isra and Mi'raj, was commemorated Friday by Muslims everywhere, including in the Inland Empire at the Islamic Center in Redlands.

It was Rajab 27 on the Islamic calendar.

"The night journey ... came in which God wanted to strengthen his faith, to remind him that `I'm still with you,"' said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Ayloush, who is a guest imam at many Southern California mosques, regularly provides sermons and leads the Friday prayer.

The night journey, Ayloush said, reminded the prophet that obstacles are tests faced by every prophet of God.

As 1 p.m. approached, the parking lot of the center filled rapidly as Muslims came to the Redlands mosque. Children followed quickly in the footsteps of the adults.

Mohammad Hossain, founder and director of the Islamic center, led the sermon and the prayers.

He highlighted the importance of prayers.

"This is a special occasion," Hossain said. "It's a historic event. That particular day was given to all mankind. Prayer is the first priority of worship. It's the first one to be accounted for on the day of judgment."

But aside from praying to obey God, Ayloush said, Muslims believe praying is designed as a direct link between them and God.

"It's a constant link between us and our creator, at least five times a day," Ayloush said. "Someone who's linked with his creator at least five times a day is expected to be more aware and mindful to be a better person.

"Knowing that I just finished my link and my connection with God now and in a few hours I'll be reconnecting again, it's difficult and hypocritical for me as a person to do what displeases God - such as cheating, lying, harming someone or committing any forms of injustice. And that's why it's important," Ayloush said.

The faith teaches that the journey's purpose wasn't meant only to strengthen the prophet's faith and assign the prayers, but that it also revealed many important lessons for Muslims.

During the journey, the Quran teaches, the prophet was taken from the holiest mosque in Mecca to the farthest mosque in Jerusalem, known in Arabic as Al-Aqsa (photo shown above), where it is believed he led the prayer with all prophets, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

"It was a reminder to Muslims that the root of their religion does not lie through Muhammad alone, but actually with every prophet from Adam to Abraham and the rest," Ayloush said. "That was an important reminder.

"Islam was not sent only to the Arabs of Arabia, but to all people as a message of monotheism, the belief in the one god, the God of Abraham and of compassion and justice to each other - and that's the universal message," he said.

After the sermon at the Islamic Center, they all stood - men and women, old and young, foot to foot and shoulder to shoulder - and did what they believe God asked of them on that same day hundreds of years ago. They prayed.

Contact writer Mona Shadia at (909) 386-3873 or via e-mail at mona.shadia@sbsun.com.

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