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June 23, 2017

Buraq in Islam, Meaning and History

Buraq in Islam: In sura 17:1 of the Qur_an, the prophet Muhammad, led by the angel Gabriel, journeys in one night (israq_) to “the Far Distant Place of Worship,” interpreted as Jerusalem. In the hadith, Muhammad continues on to the heavens (mi_raj), describing his mount as a small white steed, called al-Buraq. Later literary and art-historical traditions give al-Buraq a human face, wings, and dappled coloration. This miraculous steed is depicted in the fourteenth-century world history of Rashiduddin, the fifteenth-century Timurid Mi_rajname, and sixteenth-century Safavid Khamsas of Nizami. Buraq’s importance continues today, appearing in Sunni paintings commemorating a hajj to Mecca, or in Shi_ite popular art, which often shows al-Buraq alongside Husayn’s horse at Karbala.

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