What is lailatu-al-Mi`raj and why do we celebrate it? I want to know all about this occasion please.
Assalamu Ďalaikum wa rahmatullah, thank you very much for your question.
Allah says in the Holy Qurían:
Glory to (God) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). - Surah 17 Verse 1
There is no doubt that mi`raj (ascension) was one of the miracles in the life of our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It happened on the 27th of the month of Rajab, during the tenth year of Muhammad's prophethood.
It is reported in the literature of hadith, that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was carried from the sacred mosque in Mecca to the distant mosque in Jerusalem on the back of a heavenly creature called al-buraq, in the company of Jibreel (pbuh), the archangel.
There, Prophet Muhammad led a congregational prayer of the prophets of God. Then Jibreel took him to the heavens where he met prophets Adam, Yahya, Isa, Idris, Harun and Musa (peace be on them all). In the seventh heaven he met Ibraheem (peace be on him).
He was then brought to the Divine Presence, where he had the extraordinary experience of witnessing the glory of God. He escalated through the seven heavens and witnessed the beauty of heavens. This was when Allah (swt) gave the prophet the orders of prayers. The Prophet returned to Mecca on the same night.
The foregoing in a nutshell is the story of al-miíraj.
One major lesson of that miraculous event, was that space and time which are bound by laws of nature for humans, are not so bound for God. On that night prophet Muhammad bridged time and space and this world, traveling to the heavens by God's will.
I believe that for those who study philosophy the abstract as well as the symbolic implications of the event might be very stimulating indeed. The gap between the reality of this life and that of the life to come simply diminished. This is illustrated by the Prophet's encounter with other prophets who were long since dead as far as we normally think of it but who, in reality, live as beings in a different form somewhere else.
As far as Muslims are concerned, there is no particular celebration, fast or prayer to commemorate israa and miíraj. Neither the Qurían nor the sunnah of the Prophet says anything about celebrating it. But in some places, the Muslims themselves have started to have commemorative functions, where the story of miíraj is told in poetry, chants or lectures. Sweets and food are distributed in a festive atmosphere.
To add a feast or a fast or some such act of religious significance to what the Prophet has taught us is called bidíah (innovation in religious practice) in the terminology of Islam. Infact, bidíah is strongly discouraged. Scholars, who maintain such gatherings, mean to remind the Muslims of the importance of miíraj, in the history of Islam or of the city of Jerusalem and for the sake of children enjoying the occasion and drawing lessons from it as a social event. This is usually with a view of helping our brothers and sisters who are suffering in Palestine, which is definitely permissible.
Allah knows best.