Many as if this was a real journey or a dream to increase spiritually? Verses of Qur-aan proves that the Israa (ground journey) and Mi‘raaj (heavenly journey) was not a dream but real.
“And he certainly saw him in another descent,
At the Lote-tree of the Utmost Boundary –
Near it is the Garden of Refuge –
When there covered the Lote Tree that which covered [it] The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit].
He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord”. [Surah an-Najm/53, v: 13-18]
The Ahl-us-Sunnah wa-al Jamaa‘ah believe that this was a journey that was a body and soul experience, not a symbol of the soul’s journey and the potential of humans to rise above the comforts of material life through prayer, piety and discipline. This was very real and was NOT a dream.
When it was time to depart from the heavens, the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) mounted the Buraaq again (which he had tied in Jerusalem) and departed. He passed by a caravan who had lost one of their camels which a certain tribe had rounded up. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) greeted them and one of them said: “This is the voice of Muhammad!” after which the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) returned to his Companions in Makkah shortly before morning.
When morning came he remained alone and, knowing that people would belie him, sat despondently. The enemy of Allah, Abu Jahl was passing by and he approached and sat down next to him, saying in the way of mockery: “Has anything happened?” The Prophet replied: “Yes”. Abu Jahl said: “And what is that?”. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) replied: “I was enraptured last night”. Abu Jahl said: “To where?”. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) replied: “To the Hallowed House”. Abu Jahl said: “Then you woke up here among us?”. He replied: “Yes”.
Abu Jahl decided not to belie the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) for fear that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) would deny having said this to him if he went and told the people of Makkah, so he said: “What do you think if I called your people here? Will you tell them what you just told me?” The Propeht said yes. Abu Jahl cried out: “O assembly of the Children of Ka‘b ibn Lu‘ayy, come hither!”. People left their gatherings and came until they all sat next around the two of them. Abu Jahl said: “Tell your people what you just told me”. Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “I was enraptured last night”. They said: “To where?”. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) replied: “To the Hallowed House”. They said: “Then you woke up here among us?”. He replied: “Yes”. There was no one left except he clapped his hands, or held his head in amazement, or clamoured and considered it an enormity.
Al-Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi (he died a disbeliever) said: “All of your affairs before today was bearable, until what you said today. I bear witness that you are a liar (Ana ashhadu annaka kaadhibunn). We strike the flanks of the she-camels for one month to reach the Hallowed House, then for another month to come back, and you claim that you went there in one night! By al-Laat, by al-‘Uzzaa! I do not believe you”.
Abu Bakr (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) said: “O Mut‘im, what an evil thing you said to the son of your brother when you faced him thus and declared him a liar! As for me I bear witness that he spoke the truth (Ana ashhadu annahu sadiqunn).”
The people said: “O Muhammad, describe the Hallowed House for us. How is it built, what does it look like, how near is it to the mountain”. There were some among them who had traveled there. He began to describe it for them: “Its structure is like this, its appearance like this, its proximity to the mountain is such-and-such,” and he did not stop describing it to them until he began to have doubt about the description. He was seized with an anxiety he had not felt before, whereupon he was immediately brought to the mosque itself (in Jerusalem) and saw it in front of him. He was placed outside the gate of ‘Aqil or ‘Iqal. The people said: “How many gates does the mosque have?”. He had not counted them before. He looked at the gates and began to count them one by one and to inform them. All the while Abu Bakr (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) was saying: “You have spoken the truth. You have spoken the truth. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah (Sadaqta sadaqta, Ash-hadu annaka Rasoolullah)”.
The people said: “As for the description, then, by Allah, he is correct”. They turned to Abu Bakr (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) and said: “But do you believe what he said, that he went last night to the Hallowed House and came back before morning?”. He replied: “Yes, and I do believe him regarding what is farther than that. I believe the news of heaven he brings, whether in the space of a morning or in that of an evening journey (Na‘am innee laa usaddiquhu feemaa huwa ab‘adu min dhaalika, usaddiqu bi khabari as-samaa-i fi ghudwatinn aw rawhatinn)”. Because of this Abu Bakr (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) was named al-Siddeeq: the Most Truthful, the One Who Never Lies.
Narrated Jaabir bin ‘Abdullah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) that he heard Rasoolullaah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) saying, “When the people of Quraysh did not believe me (i.e. the story of al-Mi’raaj/Night Journey), I stood up in al-Hijr and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me, and I began describing it to them while I was looking at it”. [Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Hadeeth No. 226, Vol. 5]
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbaas (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu): Regarding the Statement of Allah – “And We granted the vision (Ascension to the heavens) which We made you see (as an actual eye witness) was only made as a trial for the people.” (Surah al Israa/17, v:60) – The sights which Allah’s Apostle was shown on the Night Journey when he was taken to Bait-ul Maqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) were actual sights, (not dreams). And the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur-aan is the tree of Zaqqoom (itself). [Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Book 58, Hadeeth No. 228, Vol. 5]