Isra and Me’raj and the ordainment of the 5 Daily Salāt:
Then he drew near and came nearer still, until he was two bow-length or nearer, and He revealed to His servant that which He revealed. [53:8-10]
The ritual prayer is the summit and the peak of the religion, and the most important means of drawing close to Allāh, it was not ordained for the Prophet while he was on the earth, but when he was taken on the Nocturnal Journey and carried up to the Highest Heaven, as a clear demonstration of the utmost importance of the matter. It is therefore possible for us to say that the gift of the Prophet for his community and for humanity, from this Spiritual Journey and Heavenly Ascension, is surely the ritual prayer, which is the ladder for everyone who wishes to ascend to the spiritual, sanctified and sempiternal world.
Imām al-Qushairī said, ‘I heard Imām Abū ‘Alī al-Daqqāq say, ‘Our Prophet provided the Islamic community with a Me’rāj, as a matter of fact, for the ritual prayer is the position of the Me’rāj in relation to us.”
For him, the Me’rāj had three stages: from the Sanctuary [in Mecca] to the Furtherest Mosque [in Jerusalem], then from the Mosque to the Lote-Tree of the Farthest Boundary, then from there to the distance of two bow-lengths or nearer. Likewise for us, the ritual prayer has three stages: qiyām [the upright posture facing Mecca], rukū’ [the bowing posture], and sujūd [the posture of prostration], which is the final point of nearness.”
Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Abdullãhi Niasse [d.1975] said regrading the Salāt:
“This salāt thus became five, and Islām is based upon five. That is actually in the sense of the silāt with the initial vowel ‘i’, but no one understands that apart from the erudite scholars. It may also signify the descending steps of the Lord of the Truth in the five hadrāt [Presences]:
al-Hāhut [The Divine Essence]
al-Jabarūt [The Sovereign Power]
al-Malakūt [The Angelic Realm]
al-Nāsūt [The Realm of Humanity]
“It is also an allusion to the descending steps of the Divine Name in these realms. The degree of the inner being of the Prophet descend by way of al-Hāhut in his innermost being, al-Lāhut in his mind, al-Malakūt is in heart, and al-Nāsūt in his soul.”
“It also alludes, too, to the fact that it has no ending – this ritual prayer is actually one single reality, and it has four pillars. Each of its pillars alludes to one of the descending steps of the Lord of the Truth:
1. Qiyām alludes to the presence of His Kibriyā’ [Majesty]: Allāh existed and there was nothing with Him. [I was an unknown Treasure].
2. Rukū’ alludes to the presence of His Takabbur [Grandeur]…and I loved to be known.
3. ‘Itidāl alludes to the presence of His ‘Uluww [Sublimity]: He is now as He was.
4. Sujūd alludes to the presence of His Ma’alī [Excellency]: So I created creation, and through Me they came to know Me.
Thus the utterance of ‘Allahu Akbar’ with each movement to ensure absolute dedication to Him.
Taken from The Nocturnal Journey and the Heavenly Ascension by Shaykh Muhammad Māhī bin ‘Alī Cissé.
May this read make us ponder and find the means to experience the Me’rāj ourselves and end the cycle of just making it a historical lesson