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The Burāq: Views from the East and West

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Abstract The burāq is the beast on which the Prophet Muḥammad is said to have ridden on his night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem (the isrāʾ) and occasionally on his ascension through the heavens (the miʿrāğ). This article examines the notion of the burāq within both Muslim and Western non-Muslim sources. It shows the evolution of the relatively simple descriptions of the burāq as found in the early Muslim sources to the later embellished and colourful accounts. It also investigates the role the burāq plays in more general Muslim discussions concerning the isrāʾ and the miʿrāğ. As for Western non-Muslim approaches, the article demonstrates how the burāq was initially used in anti-Islamic polemic, subsequently became an object of fascination, and in later times has become a topic of more impartial academic study.

Affiliations: 1: University of Manchester


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