Isra Wa’al Mi’raj – Prophet’s Night Journey & Ascension
Can we see Allah ﷻ ?
To answer this question we would first need to understand the possibilities of His vision. For all human vision Allah ﷻ says: “No human vision can encompass Him, whereas He encompasses all human vision” If we take this verse in isolation, without viewing all other verses of the Quran and prophetic hadith on the subject of vision, then we will conclude that He cannot be viewed. However that is not the case when we take other sources in to consideration. A Prophetic hadith teaches that after the Day of Judgment people of paradise will be gifted with the vision of Allah ﷻ: “You will see your Lord on the Day of Resurrection as you see this (full moon) and you will have no difficulty in seeing Him.” If no human vision can grasp Him then how will we see Allah ﷻ in paradise? Allah ﷻ mentions in another verse of the Quran that He will allow the righteous to have a glimpse of His Majestic Being: “[Some] faces, that Day, will be radiant, looking at their Lord.” This verse concurs with the news given in the hadith of His vision as it will become possible on the Day of Judgment.
Difference Between our Physical & Spiritual Visions
We are also reminded in the Quran that once Prophet Musa (alaihi salaam) insisted to look at Allah ﷻ but when he was permitted, he fell unconscious and realized the error of his request: “My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You." [Allah] said, "You will not see Me…” but when his Lord manifested His light to the mountain He made it crumble.” The difference between the impossibility of one vision and possibility of another is that the former is of earthly nature while latter belongs to the existence of hereafter. The question would then be what makes our earthly vision different from the hereafter vision. Allah ﷻ mentions about a veil that will be removed from the sight of sinners on the Day of Judgment: “You were heedless of this (day of judgment). Now We have removed your veil and so your vision today is sharp.” This implies that human visions will be transformed in a way that would enable us to see the realities that are hidden behind the veils of current physical existence. In a prophetic hadith it is said that: “If the devil had not moved in the human minds (and hearts), they could have surely known the mysteries of heavens.” The worldly attachments, distractions and worries preoccupy our hearts that become veils due to which we are unable to understand and observe mysteries. The Prophet ﷺ also said: “Beware of the firasah (spiritual insight) of a mumin (believer) when he sees, he sees with the nur (light) of Allah.” The hearts of the believers are able to see and understand what the eyes cannot penetrate. As Allah ﷻ has said in the Quran: “Have these people not traveled through the land with hearts to understand and ears to hear? It is not people’s eyes that are blind, but their hearts within their breasts.” The hearts can understand and experience visions what the eyes cannot. There is a tradition of the Prophet ﷺ where he had a vision of Allah ﷻ when he was overtaken by sleep while performing tahajjud (late night prayer): “My Lord, Blessed is He and Most High, came to me in the best of appearances. So he said: 'O Muhammad!' I said: 'Here I am O my Lord! And I am at Your service.” Allah ﷻ appeared to Prophet ﷺ in the most beautiful appearance. Various scholars of Islam have commented on the nature of this dream and its vision. They all agree it to be a true vision as it was a prophetic vision. This vision can be better understood in the light of a hadith qudsi (sacred tradition), where the Prophet ﷺ narrates from Allah ﷻ that: “The heavens and the earth cannot contain Me but in the heart of a mumin (believer) I enter like a guest.” Therefore, hearts are created for the sake of Allah ﷻ and if fully focused towards Him through remembrance and worship will grant us those lights to have visions which the hearts on which shayateen (devils) roam are unable to see due to veils of darkness (sins and ignorance). The difference between the Prophet’s vision in a dream and Prophet Musa’s request is that the former vision took place through a spiritual experience and Musa (alaihi salaam) insisted to viewing with physical sight which as per divine law is not possible during our earthly existence: “You will not see Me…” The only puzzle now left to resolve is if Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did see His Lord in his being physically present before Allah ﷻ which Prophet Musa (a.s) could not.
Prophets experience at Sidratal Muntaha (The Highest Point) during Mi’raaj (Ascension)
Allah ﷻ says in the Quran that He invited the Prophet ﷺ to physically journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and then from there in to the heavens to show him signs and mysteries that He willed to reveal to him. The following verses mention an encounter which took place at the highest point, the summit in the heavenly stages called sidratal muntaha (the farthest boundary). At this point even Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) could not accompany the Prophet ﷺ further, therefore the Prophet ﷺ went himself in to the presence of his Lord Al Mighty. This moment has been mentioned in the Quran: “The (Prophet’s) heart did not lie [about] what it saw. Will you then dispute with him concerning what he (the Prophet) saw? Indeed he saw him another time.” At this moment the there is a scholastic disagreement among the people of knowledge. Some say that the words: “Indeed he saw him another time” is reference to the vision of angel Gabriel (a.s) in his actual angelic form with several hundred of wings of light. The second opinion that scholars who do not agree with the first say that the words means indeed the Prophet ﷺ had a vision of Allah ﷻ and the words “will you then dispute with him?” means ‘don’t you agree that Allah can show Himself to His beloved Prophet due to him being the most honored in the entire creation?’ The reason for the first view is due to the numerous prophetic traditions in which the companions including his wife Aisha (r.a) asked the Prophet ﷺ if he had seen Allah ﷻ on the night of ascension to which he replied in the negative. Aisha said: "If anyone tells you that Muhammad has seen his Lord (on the night of mi’raj), he is a liar, for Allah says: 'No vision can grasp Him.' (Al Quran 6:103) and if anyone tells you that Muhammad has seen the unseen, he is a liar, for Allah says: "None has the knowledge of the unseen but Allah." However to some companions such as Ibn Abbas (r.a) and Abu Dhar (r.a) who asked the same question, the Prophet ﷺ replied in the affirmative and did not deny the vision. Ibn Abbas (r.a) said “Muhammad saw his Lord.” I said “Did Allah not say: No vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all vision (6:103).” He said “Woe unto you! That is when He manifests His Light (in this world). But Muhammad saw his Lord two times (in reference to Al Quran 53:13).” Muslim recorded that Abu Dharr (r.a) said, "I asked the Messenger of Allah have you seen your Lord' He said ‘I only saw a light.’  The differing views shared by Ayesha (r.a), Ibn Abbas (r.a) and Abu Dharr (r.a) on this matter shows that the Prophet ﷺ did not reveal the same knowledge to all of them. Sheikh Irshad Chishti of South Africa in his booklet called ‘Mi’raj - Seeing the Essence of God’ explains this approach: “If one undertakes a trip overseas and extensively and comprehensively tours a country, and on one’s return one meets different people at different times and places. When the different people ask about the trip, one explains to each according to their mentality and interest. 1. With a businessman one will discuss the economy, businesses, shopping areas and industries etc. 2. With an educationalist one will discuss schools, universities, libraries, etc. 3. With the scholars one will discuss Masjids, Madrasahs, etc. Everything that is experienced and seen is not discussed with everybody. The Holy Prophet (Peace & blessings upon him) said that “one should speak to people according to their level of understanding”. Therefore different narrations exist about the same trip. Each enquirer was explained according to his level of understanding. Abu Jahl (sworn enemy of the Prophet) and the disbelievers asked about ascension and they were told about the Masjid Al Aqsa and caravans seen on the way and nothing more.
Possibilities of the Prophet's vision
It is also claimed by scholars that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ existed with Allah ﷻ in his true nature, in the form of Nur Muhammad (Muhammadan Light) created by Allah ﷻ, before the entire creation came in to existence. Prophet ﷺ once said “O Jabir, the first thing Allah created was the light of your Prophet from His light, and that light remained (lit. “turned”) in the midst of His Power for as long as He wished, and there was not, at that time, a tablet or a pen or a paradise or a fire or an angel or a heaven or an earth. This may explain the Prophets ability to go beyond the sidratal muntaha (farthest boundary) in the heavens, where even Angel Gabriel (alaihi salaam) could not pass, and enter in to Allah’s presence. This may have been possible because of Prophet’s origin in the heavens in the form of Nur (Muhammadan Light) before the beginning of creation. Another possibility is that the Prophet ﷺ experienced vision of Allah ﷻ through the medium of his heart as Allah ﷻ said: “The (Prophet’s) heart did not lie [about] what it saw.” Alternatively it could have been with his physical sight which will become a possibility in the hereafter (Al Quran 75:22-23) and the Prophet’s status in the heavens was that of the hereafter. Most importantly the reason why Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was unique among all Prophets in being honored with experiencing Allah’s vision was due to him being given the greatest status in the entire creation: “your Lord will raise you to Maqaman Mahmuda (a station of praise and glory, i.e. the highest degree in this world and the hereafter!).” All these factors need to be kept in view when understanding the possibility for the Prophet ﷺ to experience the vision of Allah ﷻ.
 Al Quran 6:103
 Sahih al-Bukhari 7436 – Sunnah.com
 Al Quran 75:22–23
 Al Quran 7:143
 Al Quran 50:22
 Ihya Ulum udeen (Revival of the religious sciences) - Chapter 6 Fasting – Imam Ghazzali.
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3127 – Sunnah.com
 Al Quran 22:46
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3234 – Sunnah.com
 Ghazzali, Ihya
 Al Quran 7:143
 Al Quran 53:11–13
 Sahih al-Bukhari 7380
Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3279 – Sunnah.com
 Tafsir ibn Kathir, Surah 53. An-Najm . Ayah 5, Did the Prophet see His Lord during the Night of Isra
 Soofi, Irshad. 2015. Mi'raj -Seeing the Essence of God . Pietermaritzburg, 03 05. (Soofi 2015)
 Kabbani, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham. n.d. The Light of the Prophet (s). Accessed March 18, 2019. http://sunnah.org/wp/2012/04/17/the-light-of-the-prophet-s/. (Kabbani n.d.)
 Al Quran 53:11
 Al Quran 17:79
Difference Between Traveling by Ruh (Soul) vs. a Dream
The majority of prophet’s companions and the Islamic scholars throughout the history have accepted that this was a physical journey i.e. including body & soul. However there has been a minority from the time of Prophet ﷺ that understood this experience as purely spiritual. As for those who call it a dream actually misunderstood the opinion of some of the early Muslims who called it a spiritual journey. Muhammad Asad in his Message of the Quran clarifies this confusion: “The great majority of the Companions believed that both the Night Journey and the Ascension were physical occurrences - in other words, that the Prophet was borne bodily to Jerusalem and then to heaven - while a minority were convinced that the experience was purely spiritual. Among the latter we find, in particular, the name of Aishah, the Prophet's widow and most intimate companion of his later years, who declared emphatically that "he was transported only in his spirit (bi-ruhihi), while his body did not leave its place" (cf. Tabari, Zamakhshari and Ibn Kathir in their commentaries on 17:1); the great Al-Hasan al-Basri, who belonged to the next generation, held uncompromisingly to the same view (ibid.). As against this, the theologians who maintain that the night journey and the ascension were physical experiences refer to the corresponding belief of most of the Companions - without, however, being able to point to a single tradition to the effect that the Prophet himself described it as such. Some Muslim scholars lay stress on the words asra bi-'abdihi ("He transported His servant by night") occurring in 17:01, and contend that the term 'abd ("servant") denotes a living being in its entirety, i.e., a combination of body and soul.”
Those who base their argument on the fact that it was a dream do so in reference to the views held by Aisha (r.a), Hassan Al Basri (r.a) and even Abdullah ibn Masud (r.a), who claimed this was a spiritual journey in which the body did not travel. This minority’s view is not a reference to a dream but, in fact, is another experience as explained by renowned 14th century Imam Ibn Qayyim Al Jawzi (r.a) in his work Zaad al Maad (Provisions of the hereafter) who said: “one must differentiate between the statement: he embarked upon the night journey while asleep and the statement: he embarked upon the night journey in soul. As for the ascension one group said that the messenger of Allah (may Allah send salutations upon him) ascended in body and soul, and another group said he did so in soul without leaving his body. However, they (second group) did not mean that he ascended while asleep. Rather, they meant that his soul ascended without leaving the body where it ultimately reaches Allah (swt) the Magnificent, before returning to earth, but the experience of messenger of Allah (may Allah send his salutations upon him) was more inclusive. Since the messenger of Allah (may Allah send salutations upon him) was capable of the extraordinary, his blessed soul ascended to the heavens without him dying.” Ibn Qayyim makes a very valid point here. If in fact it is true that the Prophet’s journey and ascension an experience in which his blessed soul traveled to Jerusalem and the heavens without death then it is highly plausible, especially in the light of modern research on something called OBE (out of body) experience. This is an altered state of consciousness in which a person is awake but sees themselves outside of their own body while their body remains unconscious. They are observing their own body and the world from outside of their body. Many reported to have experienced this state during near death incidents such as after car accidents, falling from a height or a major surgical operation. Allah ﷻ mentions to us in the Quran that: (Al Quran 39:42) "It is Allah Who takes away the souls of people at the hour of their death, and takes away at the time of sleep the souls of those that have not died. Then He retains the souls of those against whom He had decreed death and returns the souls of others till an appointed time. Surely there are Signs in this for people who reflect." The Prophet ﷺ blessed soul may have been taken by Allah ﷻ for this supernatural journey while he was asleep but not in the sense of a dream as dreams are mental states while words of Allah ﷻ in Al Quran 17:01 "Subhaanallazi - Exalted is He" brings our attention to the extraordinary nature of this event. We can also comprehend why He chose the Prophet's soul to be taken while sleeping because during our unconscious state the soul is suspended from its physicality and the Prophet's soul was already very attached to the spiritual world due to his spiritual & prophetic nature, which made it easy for his detachment from his body and travel.
Did the Prophet ﷺ Experience more than One Mi'raj (Ascension)?
However at this point it would also be pertinent to mention that there is a difference of opinion among scholars about more than one journey of the Prophet ﷺ. This difference is mainly due to his visions during Madinah period in which he shared details of the hereafter events such as resurrection, Day of Judgment, people of hell fire, paradise and their states etc. Such as the one in which the Prophet ﷺ said: “the nations were shown unto me. I found one prophet with whom an entire nation was passing by. Another prophet was accompanied by a large group. Another prophet was accompanied by ten people; another by five, while some prophets were followed by only one person. Then I looked, and behold, there was a might host, and I asked: ‘O Gabriel! Are these my nation?’ and he replied, ‘No, but look to the horizon.’ I looked, and behold, there was a mighty host, and he said: ‘These are your nation.’” Famous medieval hadith expert and scholar, Imam ibn Hajar Al Asqalani who held the opinion of two separate journeys commented on this hadith: “It is clear that the night journey which took place in Madinah was different from that which happened in Makkah. It was during the earlier event that he sought entry into the gates of the heavens, one after the other, meeting a prophet in each heaven, and returned to Allah after conferring with Moses and about the obligatory prayers. But of many other things which the Prophet beheld, some were in Makkah, and others were in Madinah after the hijra. Most of these took place as dream-visions. And Allah knows best.” Imam ibn Hajar is of the view that the journey of Makkah was the first and major one as mentioned in Al Quran 17:01 and the ones in Madinah must be dream-visions. To reconcile these differing views is that the Makkah journey must have included body and soul while the ones in Madinah could have been limited to journeys of soul leaving body (i.e. just like in case of death before returning) as explained by Imam ibn Qayyim al Jawzi. If this is correct then this may explain Aisha's view who firmly held that he traveled only in soul, because Aisha (r.a), after her marriage to the Prophet ﷺ, did not come to live with him till they had moved to Madinah. And obviously Allah ﷻ knows what is best.
 Asad, Translated and Explained by Muhammad. 1980. The Message of the Qur'an - the Night Journey. Great Britain: Dar Al-Andalus - (Asad 1980)
 Al-Jawziyya, Ibn Qayyim. 2010. Provisions of The Hereafter (Zaad Al-Maad). Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-llmiyah - (Al-Jawziyya 2010)
 Al Quran 39:42
 Asqalani, Ibn Hajar Al. n.d. Selections from the Fath Al-Bari (commentary on Sahih Al Bukhari) Translated by Abdul Hakim Murad. The Muslim Academic Trust. - (Asqalani n.d.)
As reported in hadith literature that Prophet ﷺ traveled from Makkah to Jerusalem on a winged creature called Buraq in the company of Archangel Gabriel (alaihi salaam) and from there they ascended up to the seven heavens, traversed all of them and reached the highest place called sidratal muntaha. Seven Heavens in Arabic is called sab’aa samawaat where sab'aa means "seven" or "several" and samaa (singular of samawaat) means "anything and everything that is above us" i.e. in our space such as planets, solar systems, stars, galaxies, basically the entire cosmic system. Samawaat, plural of samaa, means more than one cosmic system, hence sab’aa samawaat means "several cosmic systems and universes". Thus the Prophet’s ascension to the seven heavens was his journey through several cosmic systems and universes or multiverses. Science may be a bit far from that level of advancement where it can fully explain the Prophet's Isra Wa’al Mi’raj (Night Journey & Ascension) experience, however there are some scientific theories that shed light on better understanding this event and confirm our conviction in it.
Buraq - Transportation of Light
For instance the following prophetic hadith narrates some interesting characteristics of the animal that was the transportation vehicle used by the Prophet ﷺ to travel from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there to the nearest heaven: "Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me." (On this Al-Jarud asked, "Was it the Buraq, O Abu Hamza?" I (i.e. Anas) replied in the affirmative). The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight. I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven." The Arabic term used by the Prophet ﷺ to refer to this animal is called buraq which means "lightning", "gleaming", "intense lightning" or "flaming". All these meanings imply that this unseen creature, whose appearance is "smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey" may have been created of a special form of light or radiation normally invisible to our external sight. The animal being "white" may imply the brightness of its appearance only perceivable beyond normal sense perceptions. The human retina cannot detect many rays (radiations) and frequencies that exist within our electromagnetic spectrum but other creatures such as bird and animals can detect them due to special receptors. Such as sunlight falls under the visible frequency spectrum for human eyes while ultraviolet rays of sunlight do not fall under the visible frequency hence they are invisible to human sight but visible to birds which may explain why Prophet ﷺ said: "when you hear the crowing of the roosters, then ask Allah of His bounty, for verily they have seen an angel." The most basic form of light travels at the speed of 186000 miles/second! Therefore, it makes sense as told by the Prophet ﷺ that each step of the Buraq was so wide that it "reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight."
Prophet's Interstellar Travel
Another startling scientific fact revealed is that the higher we go in altitude the difficult it becomes to breath due to lack of oxygen on earth at great heights. Mountain trekkers who traverse great heights to reach K-2 and Everest and similar peaks carry oxygen masks and tanks in their journey. In fact if one continues going higher and enters space there is no oxygen and extreme freezing temperatures that if a person does not have the necessary equipment and gear, as usually worn by astronauts, they will instantly die as soon as exposed to such environment. The Quran also confirms this fact in one of its verses: (Al Quran 6:125) "...his chest He causes to be tight and constricted, as if he were climbing unto the skies..." In ahadith pertaining to this extraordinary event we find that the blessed chest of the Prophet ﷺ was cut open and underwent a sort of a surgical operation whereof it was filled with abstract notions such as "wisdom" and "faith" by Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (alaihi salaam) before the commencing of his journey: "A golden tray full of wisdom and belief was brought to me and my body was cut open from the throat to the lower part of the Abdomen and then my Abdomen was washed with Zamzam water and (my heart was) filled with wisdom and belief...When I reached the nearest heaven. Gabriel said to the heaven gate-keeper, 'Open the gate.' ." It seems that the Prophet ﷺ was prepared and strengthened internally in a way so that his blessed body may endure the extreme harshness of the space environment and not perish. The washing of the abdomen with zamzam, a blessed water known for miraculous healing properties. Filling up his chest and heart with "wisdom" and "faith" may imply calmness and strength given to his body, through some spiritual source and connection, so he is prepared before entering the difficult environment of space, and Allah ﷻ knows best. American physicist William Edelstein who was part of the team that built the first full-body MRI scanner, claimed that if our bodies managed to attempt interstellar travel on a spaceship that runs at a speed of light, required to traverse light distances, will destroy bodies of the travelers and the spaceship due to radiation of hydrogen atoms.
Mi'raj (Heavenly Steps) or Wormholes ?
Further research in to interstellar space and travel has brought forward interesting theories by modern theoretical physicists Hermann Weyl & John Wheeler, of something called wormholes which might be extremely necessary to achieve such travel ambition. They are shortcut passages through space and time. Wormholes are openings in our space environments that connect with others possibly existing openings in faraway points in our universe. If one is to enter anyone of these openings they will be taken to another side of our universe. Being a Muslim, who believes in the Prophet’s ascension, I would agree to this theory especially in what the Quran says that there are stages and steps that lead towards Allah ﷻ: (Al Quran 70:3-4) "… the Lord of the ascending steps (ma'aarij), by which the angels and the Spirit (Angel Gabriel) ascend to Him in one Day the duration of which is fifty thousand years." The Arabic term ma'aarij plural of mi'raj means "ascending steps of a ladder or staircase for reaching high places". These steps or ways of ascent may be defined in the modern terminology as "wormholes" by which angels travel deeper in to space and reach on the other side of the universe closer in to Allah’s presence or reach other higher levels. They would cover such distances in one heavenly (astronomical) day which equals "fifty thousands years" implying unimaginable amount of time. Despite Angels being created of an unknown nur (a form of radiation or energy), and all radiation travels at the speed of light (186000 miles/second), they still must be required to enter these wormholes to cut large cosmic distances short to reach other side of the universe, without which would take them billions of light years!
It may have been one of these openings in the cosmic region nearest to our earth where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ reached on the back of Buraq and entered it. From there onwards he went into subsequent spaces before reaching the highest place (sidratal muntaha) across multiverses (plural of universe): "I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven." "When I reached the nearest heaven. Gabriel said to the heaven gate-keeper, 'Open the gate.' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' He said, 'Gabriel.' The gate-keeper,' Who is accompanying you?' Gabriel said, 'Muhammad.' The gate-keeper said, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel said, 'Yes.' Then it was said, 'He is welcomed. What a wonderful visit his is!'" Allah ﷻ informs us that if we wish to traverse space with our technological potential then we will not be able to do so without His permission: (Al Quran 55:33) "Jinn and mankind, if you can pass beyond the regions of heavens (samawaat) and earth, then do so: you will not pass without Our authority." This is why Quran teaches that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was invited by Allah ﷻ to be taken to this journey and not that he himself chose to go to Jerusalem and the heavens: (Al Quran 17:01) "Glory to Him who made His servant travel by night from Al-Masjid-ul-Haram (in Makkah) to Al-Masjid-ul-Aqsa (in Jerusalem)..." and also: (Al Quran 53:11) "While he was in the highest part of the horizon (sidratal muntaha)….. And thus did [God] reveal to His servant whatever He deemed right to reveal"
Thus the Prophet’s ascension to the seven heavens was his journey through several cosmic systems and universes beyond which he witnessed the angelic world, the world of souls (barzakh), the Prophets that came before, trials of hell, paradise and its indescribable treasures, and all the way beyond till he reached the direct presence of Allah ﷻ. As science continues to observe the universe and discover more, we hope that we can inshA'Allah better understand in the light of newer revelations many more aspects of this event.
 Sahih Al Bukhari Vol. 5, Book 58, Hadith 227
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 6, Book 45, Hadith 3459
 Al Quran 6:125 - Asad Translation
 Sahih Al Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 54, Hadith 429
 Al Quran 70:3–4
 Bukhari, Hadith 227
 Bukhari, Hadith 429
 Al Quran 55:33
 Al Quran 17:01
 Al Quran 53:07–10
It is reported in Al Bukhari that the obligatory Salah (5 times prayers) was gifted to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ on the night of Mi'raj (ascension). Initially Allah ﷻ commanded the Ummah to perform 50 salah but due to pleading that the Prophet ﷺ did at the door of His mercy, after ascending 5 times, they were reduced from 50 to 5. At the fifth instance it was finally reduced to 5 but the reward for each prayer is 10 times therefore even though we perform 5 prayers we get reward of 50! and this was due to special mercy of Allah ﷻ, in addition to the Prophet’s request. Additionally it has been reported in Muslim that it was on this night that Surah Al Fatiha (Opening Chapter) of the Quran, also called Ummul Quran (mother of the Quran), was revealed. Al Fatiha is most important part of the Salah, without which it remains incomplete. According to Sheikh Imran Hosein each verse of the Seven verses of Al Fatiha that we recite transports us spiritually through each heaven of the seven heavens that Prophet ascended to reach Allah ﷻ.
In Islam the obligatory salah is one of the major sources of food and water for the ruh (soul). Just as the body remains weak if deprived of food and water, our ruh remains weak if deprived of its most basic spiritual sustenance. The only difference being that the souls weakness becomes fully apparent after death. Salah comprises of three main things: zikr (praising) of Allah, qirat (recitation) of Quran and duas (supplications & invocations). Once we do these things five times a day with full concentration towards our Creator, we form a spiritual connection that is supposed to strengthen our souls and increase faith in our hearts. It is due to this reason Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: "As salatu mi’raajul mu’mineen” meaning “in salah there is the ascension for the believers”. It was Mi'raj (ascension) that brought Prophet Muhammad ﷺ closest to Allah ﷻ, spiritually & physically. Similarly it is our ruh that carries the spiritual potential to come closer to Allah ﷻ, which is one of its primary purposes of existence.
 Sahih al-Bukhari 7517 Kitab Al Tawheed - Sunnah.com