17:1. Glory to him who took His votary to a wide and open land from the Sacred Mosque (at Makkah) to the distant Mosque whose precincts We have blessed, that We may show him some of Our signs.
At first I was bored with this. Obvious reference to Mo's move to Medina. But wait! This is revealed in the Mecca period—he hadn't moved yet! Oh. Then it must mean heaven, god showed him heaven. Ho hum. So I looked it up. Hilarity! Whooo-hoo!
This line makes sense because it refers to a story in the hadith because otherwise it wouldn't make any sense. See? This is a famous story that everyone should just know about, it seems, Muhammed's Night Journey. It's not in the koran though, because, uhh, oh, well, you'll probly go to hell or something for asking. The translations don't seem to have much in common with each other, so I'll put it in my own reverential words:
Mohammed sez Gabriel came and woke him up, then somebody “cut my body open from” throat to groin, and “took out my heart “ WHAT?! WHAT?! Then “a golden tray full of Belief was brought to me and my heart was washed and was filled (with Belief) and then returned to its original place.” Then I burst out laughing so hard I fell off my chair and scared the cats. They washed his heart! With Belief! Even the cats were holding their sides and laughing.
They brought him a Buraq, a mythical beast I'd never heard of before, and “When I came up to mount him, he shied.” Can't blame him—he prolly thought Mo was up to some of those erotic camel games. Gabriel calmed him down by telling him Mo was BFF with Allah, and “The animal was so ashamed that he broke out into a sweat and stood still” Ick! Since when do you sweat when you're ashamed? Maybe it's different with Buraqs, who knows?
There are more problems with this story than with nailing Jello to the ceiling. The Buraq flew Mo to “the distant mosque,” which was a good trick since Mo hadn't started his cult yet so there weren't any mosques, let alone a “farthest” one in Jerusalem. The Arabic says al-aqsa “the farthest”, but they translate that as “Jerusalem”. Why? Who knows? It's Islam!
Even though there was no mosque there, he tied his Buraq to the al-aqsa wall that hadn't been built yet, [Guffaw! Howl! Snort. Laugh break.] Later on Umar built a Mosque in Jerusalem and named it “al-Aqsa Mosque”, with a wall for Mo to tie to back in the past. You just can't make this stuff up. Or maybe just so they'd have a place to fight over, cuz they're still at it. Mo flattered god there some, and that's the Isra, the first part of the story, that this chapter is named after even though it doesn't say anything about it.
Next: Mo gets back on the Buraq and flies to heaven. ROFL! You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll hurl!