Excerpt from his book, Al-Qawl Al-Fasl, Dar-us-Salam for Printing, Publishing and Distribution, Cairo, Egypt. pp. 161-162
The verse of Isra’ in the Qur’an is clear not liable to hesitation or reluctance in saying that Allah had caused His servant to travel by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa like you say; I traveled by night from such and such place to such and such place. So, there is no room for hesitation and asking whether this was with body or spirit, or awake or during sleep. Also, it is inappropriate to disagree regarding the meaning of this night journey or regarding the word ‘Abd, i.e., servant, and whether it refers to the spirit, to the body or to both, as it has happened between those claiming bodily Isra and others claiming spiritual Isra.
Yes, it comes to one’s mind how come a night journey, i.e., in a part of the night, could take place back and forth from a mosque to another mosque while it usually takes two months traveling? However, if one ponders upon the Qur’anic expressions and notices that it (i.e., the Qur’an does not say that Muhammad performed a night journey, but it says Allah caused him to perform the night journey with glorification of the One Who caused him to do and exalting Him above lying and inability, then any suspicion and hesitation will radically disappear. Consequently, the event of Isra which Allah declares to be of His, glorifies Himself for performing it, refers to the one caused to travel as His servant and mentions the purpose of this act that “…….”, must be an extremely serious and important event and must be kept away from any interpretation that belittle its importance and seriousness.
Beside this glorious declaration, whatever was – or is – said to interpret it is dissolved. For example, the reports of Mu’awiyah and ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with them both) related by Ibn Hisham in his Sirah and Ibn Jarir in his Tafsir that Muhammad Ibn Ishaq said: Ya’qoub Ibn ‘Utbah ibn Al-Mughira told me that Mu’awiyah used to say about the Mi’raj that it was a truthful vision, and that Ibn Hamid said: Salmah related on authority of Muhammad (Ibn Ishaq that he said: some members of Abu Bakr’s family told me that ‘Aishah used to say: “The body of Allah’s Messenger was never missed” although the report on authority of Mu’awiyah is interrupted because the transmitter of the report to Ibn Ishaq did not hear it directly from Mu’awiyah due to the fact that they did not co-exist in the same time, and in the report of ‘Aisha the name of the reporter among her relatives is not mentioned but referred to as “some members of Abu Bakr’s family”. Moreover, ‘Aisha at the time of Isra was not in a situation that enables her to say so because the event of Isra took place one year or more before Hijra and the Prophet married her in Madinah while she were – according to the famous report – nine years old, so she was at time of Isra is a seven years’ old child. In addition, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) did not spend his night under observation of ‘Aishah who has not yet become his wife or any other member of Abu Bakr’s family to the extent that he or she could say “The body of Allah’s Messenger was never missed.”
Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad said:
The truth regarding this (i.e., the nature of Isra and the correct view, insha’Allah, is that Isra was with body and spirit during the whole event; this is indicated by the verse and authentic reports and consideration. The explicit meaning is not shifted to interpretation except in case of impossibility and there is no impossibility in the Isra with body during awakening.
Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad, Ash-Shifa, Vol. 1, p. 172