Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق al-Burāq "lightning") is a steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey", which is the title of one of the chapters (sura), Al-Isra, of the Quran.
While the Buraq is almost always portrayed with a human face in far-eastern and Persian art, no Hadiths or early Islamic references allude to it having a humanoid face. This, which found its way into Indian and Persian Islamic art, may have been influenced by a misrepresentation or translation from Arabic to Persian of texts and stories describing the winged steed as a "... beautiful faced creature."
An excerpt from a translation of Sahih al-Bukhari describes Al-Buraq:
Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me. ... The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight.
Another description of the Buraq:
Then he [Gabriel] brought the Buraq, handsome-faced and bridled, a tall, white beast, bigger than the donkey but smaller than the mule. He could place his hooves at the farthest boundary of his gaze. He had long ears. Whenever he faced a mountain his hind legs would extend, and whenever he went downhill his front legs would extend. He had two wings on his thighs which lent strength to his legs.
He bucked when Muhammad came to mount him. The angel Jibril (Gabriel) put his hand on his mane and said: "Are you not ashamed, O Buraq? By Allah, no-one has ridden you in all creation more dear to Allah than he is." Hearing this he was so ashamed that he sweated until he became soaked, and he stood still so that the Prophet mounted him.
The journey to the Seventh Heaven
According to Islam, the Night Journey took place 10 years after Muhammad became a prophet, during the 7th century. Muhammad had been in his home city of Mecca, at his cousin's home (the house of Ummu Hani' binti Abu Talib). Afterwards, Prophet Muhammad went to the Masjid al-Haram. While he was resting at the Kaaba, the angel Jibril (Gabriel) appeared to him followed by the Buraq. Muhammad mounted the Buraq, and in the company of Gabriel, they traveled to the "farthest mosque". The location of this mosque was not explicitly stated, but is generally accepted to mean Al-Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. At this location, He dismounted from the Buraq, prayed, and then once again mounted the Buraq and was taken to the various heavens, to meet first the earlier prophets and then God (Allah). Muhammad was instructed to tell his followers that they were to offer prayers 50 times per day. However, at the urging of Moses (Musa), Muhammad returns to God and it was eventually reduced to 10 times, and then 5 times per day as this was the destiny of Muhammad and his people. The Buraq then transported Muhammad back to Mecca.
In the Qur'an's sura, Muhammad's mystic travel to the Heavens is quoted as:
Glory to (Allah) 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).
Sahih International translation:
Exalted is He who Took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We Have Blessed, to Show him of Our Signs. Indeed, He Is the Hearing, the Seeing.—Qur'an, sura 17 (Al-Isra), ayah 1
All the other details were filled in from the supplemental writings, the hadith.
The Buraq was also said to transport Abraham (Ibrahim) when he visited his wife Hajera or Hagar and son Ismaail or Ishmael. According to tradition, Abraham lived with one wife, Sarah, in Syria, but the Buraq would transport him in the morning to Mecca to see his family there, and take him back in the evening to his wife residing in Syria.
Following the destruction of the Second Temple the Western Wall was traditionally referred to as el-Mabka (the place of weeping) for the Jewish people who gathered there weekly. In the 1920s, with the rise of Arab-Jewish tension, a part of the Western Wall (a remaining part of the retaining wall of the Second Temple mount in the Old City of Jerusalem) began to be referred to as the Al-Buraq Wall. It was given this name because it was said that Muhammad had tied the Buraq to that wall during his Night Journey.
- In Turkey, Burak is a common name given to male children.
- Two airlines have been named after the Buraq: Buraq Air of Libya, and the former Bouraq Indonesia Airlines of Indonesia (closed in 2006).
- The name has been used in fiction: "el-Borak" is a pirate in the novel The Sea Hawk by Rafael Sabatini; "El Borak" is a character in several short stories by Robert E. Howard. Both are named for their speed and reflexes.
- In Aceh, Indonesia, the image of Buraq has been adopted as an official seal of the government.
- Merkabah mysticism
- Elijah's chariot of fire
- Lamassu (similar winged bull creature)
- Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:227
- Muhammad al-Alawi al-Maliki, al-Anwar al Bahiyya min Isra wa l-Mi'raj Khayr al-Bariyyah
- Sullivan, Leah. "Jerusalem: The Three Religions of the Template Mount" (PDF). stanford.edu. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
- Quran 17:1 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
- Journeys in Holy Lands p. 117
- Cobb, p. 14
- Halkin, Hillel (January 12, 2001). ""Western Wall" or "Wailing Wall"?". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- Singa dan Burak menghiasi lambang Aceh dalam rancangan Qanun (Lion and Buraq decorate the coat of arms of Aceh in the Draft Regulation) Atjeh Post, 19 November 2012.
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- Contemporary photo of a Pakistani truck decorated with a picture of the buraq.