Introduction of Bani Isra'il
(Revealed before Hijrah)
This chapter is known as Bani Isra’il because it deals with important incidents in the history of the Israelites and with the religious experiences through which they had to pass. It bears the title of Isra’ also because it begins with the Holy Prophet’s great vision about his Night Journey to Jerusalem which forms one of the most outstanding topics of this chapter.
According to some commentators the consensus of Muslim scholarly opinion regards this Surah as wholly Meccan (Muhit), but some other scholars think that vv. 2-8 are Medinite. Ibn Merdawaih reports Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Zubair as saying that this chapter is of Meccan origin and was revealed very early in the Prophet’s ministry, in the third or fourth year of the Call. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud is of the view that Surahs Bani Isra’il, Kahf and Maryam are among the chapters that were revealed very early (Bukhari, Kitab Tafsirul-Quran). According to this Hadith, the whole or a part of this Surah was revealed in the early years of the Call but it is not clear what ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud meant by the words "early years".
We are, however, inclined to the view that this chapter does not belong to the very early years of the Call. If ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud’s memory has not failed him, the revelation of this Surah was completed between the 4th and 11th year of the Call; otherwise, it was possibly revealed in the 10th or 11th year or even in the 12th year. Christian commentators of the Quran also assign to this Surah the period between the 6th and 12th years of the Call as the time of its revelation (Wherry). This view is of special significance inasmuch as, for their purpose of criticizing the Quran, a date after the Hijrah should have suited these Christian commentators better.
In the preceding chapter Muslims were promised power and dominion. They were told that vast empires will come under their sway but that in the time of their glory and prosperity they should not behave like the Jews upon whom similar blessings were bestowed but who turned those blessings to wicked purposes and consigned God to oblivion, with the result that His wrath descended on them and they were destroyed (16:125). There subsists another beautiful connection between the closing verses of the preceding Surah and the opening verses of the present Surah. Towards the end of the previous Surah Muslims were warned that very soon they would meet with as severe opposition from the "People of the Book" as they had already experienced at the hands of Meccan idolaters but that they should bear it with patience and fortitude till God should give them complete victory over their opponents. In the present Surahtheir attention has been drawn to the fact that this opposition will start at Medina and will result in the total defeat and discomfiture of the "People of the Book" and in their sacred places ultimately falling into the hands of Muslims.
This Surah was revealed before its predecessor—An-Nahl, but as in point of order and arrangement its subject matter should have followed that Surah, so when the time came for the Quran to be compiled in the form of a book, the Holy Prophet, in pursuance of Divine command, placed this Surah after An-Nahl. The subject has already been dealt with at some length (see General Introduction) that the order in which the Quran was originally revealed was different from the order in which we find it today. As the temporary needs of its first addressees were not the same as the permanent needs and requirements of mankind at large and as it was a guide for the whole of humanity for all time, therefore the order in which it was revealed could not be the same as the order in which it was compiled in the form of a book for permanent use. It is indeed an outstanding miracle of the Quran that it was revealed in an order which was best suited for the needs of the period in which it was revealed, and was arranged for permanent use in another order which best suited the needs of mankind in subsequent times. Whereas every chapter of the Quran is quite complete in itself and is independent of other chapters as regards the subject with which it deals, there runs a deep and far-reaching connection among all the different chapters. This is because, when the Quran, as first revealed, its Surahs were revealed in separate parts and the subject matter of each Surah was complete in itself. But when it was compiled in the form of a book, in its present order, in addition to the independent and separate subject matter that every Surah possessed, another chain of interrelated and interdependent subject matter linking all the various Surahs came into being and thus the Quranic subjects acquired a new breadth and a new depth.
This Surah, as its title shows, deals with the history of the Jewish people, with pointed reference to two outstanding occasions when they openly disobeyed and defied the two great Prophets of God—David and Jesus. As a result of this defiance they suffered destruction of their national life, first at the hands of the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar and then at those of the Roman Emperor Titus. This special reference to the twofold destruction of Jews implied a warning for Muslims that their subsequent wrongdoing and transgression would also result in the double eclipse of their national life. The warning, however, was accompanied with a word of hope and good cheer for them. It was to the effect that since the Holy Prophet was the last Law-giving Prophet, his Dispensation would not, like the Jewish Dispensation, suffer irreparable damage but after initial reverses would emerge triumphant with increased lustre and effulgence.
Moreover, some subjects to which only implied reference was made in the preceding Surah have been dealt with at some length in the present one. For instance in Surah An-Nahl, honey was described as a cure for many physical diseases. This description implied a beautiful hint that the Quran, being spiritual honey, contains the panacea for humanity’s moral and spiritual ailments and disorders. This subject which was treated only casually in the preceding chapter has been dealt with exhaustively in the present one, as is clear from the words, And We are gradually revealing of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers. (17:83).
The Surah opens with the subject of Isra’ (Spiritual Night Journey of the Holy Prophet) in order to show that, the Holy Prophet being the successor and counterpart of Moses, his followers will conquer the lands which were promised to Moses, and that like Moses he will also have to leave his native place. But his Migration will lead to the very rapid progress and advancement of his noble cause. After this we are briefly told that the people of Moses acquired great power and prestige through him though subsequently they came to grief by defying and ignoring Divine warning. But the Quran, being a more complete code of Laws, is capable of bringing about a greater and more complete change in the lives of its followers than was the Book of Moses. This brief reference to the rise and decline of Jews is attended with a warning for Muslims that God would bestow upon them His favours and like the Jews they would also rise to great heights of material greatness and glory, but when they had acquired wealth, power and influence they should not forget God. After this we are told that there is nothing bad in seeking the good things of this life but their enjoyment should not lead us to a life of ease and forgetfulness. Then some rules of conduct are mentioned by acting upon which one can rise to a very high spiritual stature. But instead of thinking over and benefiting by these rules disbelievers arrogantly turn away from them and give no thought to the dreadful end to which their conceit and pride are likely to lead them. They are warned that rejection of truth is never productive of wholesome results and that they will be visited with severe Divine punishment, particularly in the latter days, when the world shall witness a fight to the finish between the angels of Heaven and the sons of darkness and finally the forces of satan shall suffer complete rout.
The Surah proceeds to administer a severe rebuke to disbelievers that they seek to annihilate the Holy Prophet, but God has decreed a great purpose for him and a mighty destiny awaits him. His name shall be known to the remotest corners of the earth and shall be honoured to the end of time. The world shall recognize him as humanity’s greatest Guide and Leader and the Quran as a storehouse of limitless, spiritual knowledge. The Surah closes with a brief description of the signs of the latter days and of the evils that will then prevail in the world and declares that it is prayer and connection with God alone that can save man from sin.
یہ مکی سورت ہے اور بسم اللہ سمیت اس کی ایک سو بارہ آیات ہیں۔ اسے سُورَۃُالْاِسْرَاء بھی کہا جاتا ہے۔ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کے روحانی ارتقاء کا مضمون جو گزشتہ سورت میں جاری تھا اسی کا ذکر اس سورت میں مذکور ہے۔ اس میں آنحضرتﷺ کو یہ دکھایا گیا کہ جن نبوتوں کا اختتام فلسطین پر ہوا تیرا سفر وہاں ختم نہیں ہوتا بلکہ وہاں سے اور بلندیوں کی طرف شروع ہوتا ہے۔ چنانچہ حضرت موسیٰ علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام کی نبوت کا ذکر فرمایا کہ گو حضرت موسٰیؑ بھی بہت بلندیوں تک پہنچے لیکن محمد رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کا ارتقاء اس سے بھی بہت بلند تر تھا۔ یہ سورت اب یہود کے ذکر کو اس طرح بیان کر رہی ہے کہ ان کو اپنے جرائم کی بنا پر اپنے وطن فلسطین سے نکال دیا گیا تھا اور اللہ تعالیٰ کے بہت ہی سخت نگران بندے ان پر مسلط کئے گئے تھے جو اُن کے شہر کی گلیوں میں داخل ہوکر تیزی سے آگے بڑھے اور تمام شہر کو ملیامیٹ کردیا۔ لیکن اللہ تعالیٰ پھر ان پر رحم فرمائے گا اور ایک اور موقع انہیں دے گا کہ وہ دوبارہ فلسطین پر قابض ہو جائیں جیسا کہ فی زمانہ ہوچکا ہے۔ لیکن یہ بھی فرمایا ہے کہ اگر انہوں نے توبہ نہ کی اور اللہ کے بندوں کے ساتھ رحم کے ساتھ پیش نہ آئے تو پھر اللہ تعالیٰ انہیں فلسطین سے خودنکالے گا نہ کہ مسلمانوں سے جنگ کے نتیجہ میں، اور ان کی بجائے اللہ اپنے صالح بندوں کو فلسطین کا بادشاہ بنادے گا۔ ظاہر ہے کہ مسلمانوں کو تب تک فلسطین پر غلبہ عطا نہیں ہوسکتا جب تک وہ اس شرط کو پورا نہ کریں کہ اللہ کے صالح بندے بن جائیں۔ اس کے بعد ان برائیوں کا ذکر ہے جو یہودیوں میں ان کی سخت دلی کے زمانہ میں راسخ ہوگئی تھیں یعنی بخل، فضول خرچی، زنا، قتل و غارت، یتیم کا مال کھا جانا، بدعہدی، تکبر وغیرہ اور مسلمانوں کو ان سے باز رہنے کی تلقین ہے۔ پھر اس سورت میں فرمایا گیا کہ جب تُو اس عظیم قرآن کی تلاوت کرتا ہے تو یہ اس کو سمجھنے سے عاری رہتے ہیں اور ان میں شرک اتنا سرایت کرچکا ہے کہ جب تُو صرف اللہ کی وحدانیت کا ذکر کرے تو پیٹھ پھیر کر چلے جاتے ہیں۔ ان کو کلمہ توحید میں کوئی دلچسپی نہیں رہتی۔ چونکہ ان کے دلوں میں دہریت گھر کر جاتی ہے اس لئے یومِ آخرت پر سے بھی ان کا ایمان کلیۃً اٹھ جاتا ہے۔ اور جو قوم آخرت پر یقین نہ رکھے اور اپنی جوابدہی کی قائل نہ ہو وہ اپنے جرائم اور گناہوں میں ہمیشہ بلاروک ٹوک بڑھتی چلی جاتی ہے۔ اس کے بعد اُسی رؤیا کی طرف اشارہ فرماتے ہوئے جس میں رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کو ایک کشف کے ذریعہ فلسطین کی حالت دکھائی گئی اور پھر مزید روحانی بلندیوں کی طرف آپ کا اِسراء ہوا۔ پھر جس شجرۂ ملعونہ کا ذکر ہے اس سے مراد یہودی ہیں جن کا سورۃ فاتحہ کی آخری آیت میں ذکر ہے کہ وہ ہمیشہ اللہ کے غضب کے نیچے بھی رہیں گے اور بندوں کے غضب کے نیچے بھی۔ جو لوگ غضب اور انتقام کے عادی ہوں ان کی مثال آگ کی سی ہے جو نشوونما کو بھسم کر دیتی ہے اور جو منکسر مزاج بندے طین کی خاصیت رکھتے ہیں، ہر قسم کی نشوونما انہی کے ذریعہ ہوتی ہے۔ پس اس ذکر کا یہ مطلب بنتا ہے کہ یہود ہمیشہ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کی تعمیری کوششوں کو ختم کرنے کی کوشش کرتے رہیں گے اور یہ سوچیں گے کہ یہ مٹی سے نشوونما پانے والے کیسے ہمارا مقابلہ کر سکتے ہیں۔ مگر تمام دنیا کی نشوونما اس بات کا ثبوت ہے کہ آگ کبھی اللہ کی قدرت سے پیدا ہونے والی نشوونما کو بھسم نہیں کرسکی۔ تمام لہلہاتے ہوئے باغات اور سبزہ زار اس بات کے گواہ ہیں۔
اس کے بعد قرآن کریم کی وہ آیات ہیں جو اَقِمِ الصَّلوٰۃَ سے شروع ہوتی ہیں اور رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کے مقامِ محمود کا ذکر کرتی ہیں۔ پس رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کے مخالفین جو کوشش آپ کو مذموم کرنے کی کرسکتے ہیں کرتے چلے جائیں مگر اس کے نتیجہ میں ہمیشہ اللہ تعالیٰ آپؐ کو بلند تر مقام کی طرف اٹھاتا چلا جائے گا۔ گویا آپؐ کے روحانی ارتقاء کو اس رنگ میں بھی اونچا فرمایا یہاں تک کہ آپ اس مقامِ محمود تک پہنچ جائیں گے جس تک کسی دوسرے کی رسائی نہیں ہوئی۔ مگر یہ مقام یونہی نصیب نہیں ہوا کرتا اس کے لئے فَتَھَجَّدْ بِہٖ نَافِلَۃً لَّک فرما دیا کہ اس کے لئے راتوں کو اٹھ کر ہمیشہ دعائیں کرتا چلا جا۔ یہ دعویٰ کہ آپ واقعی مقامِ محمود تک پہنچائے جائیں گے عملاً بھی رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کی زندگی میں دشمن نے پورا ہوتا ہوا دیکھ لیا کہ جب آپ بظاہر مغلوب ہوکر مکہ سے نکلے تو اسی سورت میں ایک دعا کی صورت میں یہ پیشگوئی تھی کہ تُو دوبارہ اس شہر میں داخل ہوگا اور یہ اعلان کرے گا کہ جَائَ الْحَقُّ وَزَھَقَ الْبَاطِلُ اِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ کَانَ زَھُوْقاً کہ حق آگیا اور باطل بھاگ گیا اور باطل کے مقدر میں ہی بھاگنا ہے۔ یہ ایسے ہی ہے جیسے روشنی آجائے تو اندھیرا بھاگ جاتا ہے۔ اس کے بعد آیت نمبر ۸۶ روح کے متعلق ہے۔ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم سے جب لوگوں نے کہا کہ ہمیں بتا کہ روح کیا چیز ہے اللہ تعالیٰ نے یہ جواب عطا فرمایا کہ ان سے کہہ دے کہ روح میرے ربّ کے امر کے سوا اور کچھ نہیں۔
عیسائی حضرات عیسیٰ علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام کو روح اللہ مانتے ہیں اور یہی لقب مسلمان بھی آپؑ کو دیتے ہیں مگر اس بات میں حضرت عیسیٰ کو کوئی خصوصیت حاصل نہیں کیونکہ آپؑ بھی محض اسی طرح امرِ الٰہی سے پیدا ہوئے ہیں جیسا کہ آغاز میں تمام زندگی امرِ الٰہی سے پیدا ہوئی ہے۔ سورت کے آخر پر اس مضمون کو مزید کھول دیا ہے کہ عیسیٰ علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام کو محض اس لئے کہ وہ بن باپ کے تھا اللہ کا بیٹا قرار دینا بہت بڑا ظلم ہے۔ پس تمام حمد اللہ ہی کی ہے جس کو کسی بیٹے کی کوئی ضرورت نہیں اور نہ اس کا کوئی ملکیت میں شریک ہے اور اسے کبھی ایسے ساتھی کی ضرورت نہیں پڑی جو گویا کمزوری کی حالت میں اس کا مددگار بنتا۔
بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ﴿۱﴾
بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
a. 1:1. (close)
a. See 1:1. (close)
See 1:1. (close)
سُبۡحٰنَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَسۡرٰی بِعَبۡدِہٖ لَیۡلًا مِّنَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ اِلَی الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡاَقۡصَا الَّذِیۡ بٰرَکۡنَا حَوۡلَہٗ لِنُرِیَہٗ مِنۡ اٰیٰتِنَا ؕ اِنَّہٗ ہُوَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡبَصِیۡرُ ﴿۲﴾
سُبۡحَٰنَ ٱلَّذِيٓ أَسۡرَىٰ بِعَبۡدِهِۦ لَيۡلٗا مِّنَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡأَقۡصَا ٱلَّذِي بَٰرَكۡنَا حَوۡلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنۡ ءَايَٰتِنَآۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡبَصِيرُ
1590. The verse which seems to mention a vision of the Holy Prophet is supposed by most Commentators of the Qur’an to refer to his Mi‘raj (Spiritual Ascension). Contrary to popular opinion we are inclined to the view that the verse deals with the Isra’ (Spiritual Night Journey) of the Holy Prophet in a vision from Mecca to Jerusalem, while his Mi‘raj (Spiritual Ascension) has been dealt with at some length in Surah An-Najm. All the facts, mentioned in Surah An-Najm (vv. 8-18) which was revealed immediately after the Emigration to Abyssinia which took place in the month of Rajab in the 5th year of the Call, are to be found narrated in detail in the traditions which deal with the Mi‘raj of the Holy Prophet. The Isra’ or the Spiritual Night Journey of the Holy Prophet from Mecca to Jerusalem, with which the present verse deals, took place in the eleventh year of the Call, according to Zurqani, and in the 12th year according to Muir and some other Christian writers. According to Merdawaih and Ibn-e-Sa‘d, however, the Isra’ took place on the 17th of Rabi‘ul-Awwal, a year before Hijrah (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra). Baihaqi also relates that the Isra’ took place a year or six months before the Hijrah. Thus all relevant traditions go to show that the Isra’ took place a year or six months prior to Hijrah about the 12th year of the Call when after the death of Khadijah which took place in the 10th year, the Holy Prophet was living with Umm-e-Hani’, his cousin. But the Mi‘raj, according to overwhelming scholarly opinion, took place about the 5th year. Thus the two incidents are separated from each other by an interval of six or seven years and, therefore, cannot be identical; the one must be regarded as quite distinct and separate from the other. Moreover, the incidents which are mentioned in the Traditions to have taken place in the Prophet’s Mi‘raj, are of quite a distinct nature from those which took place in his Isra’. It may also be stated in passing that the two incidents were only spiritual phenomena and that the Holy Prophet did not physically go up to heaven or travelled to Jerusalem.
In addition to this strong historical evidence, other relevant circumstances lend support to the view that the two incidents were quite distinct and separate from each other: (a) The Qur’an gives an account of the Holy Prophet’s Mi‘raj (Spiritual Ascension) in Chapter 53, but makes no reference to his Isra ’(Night Journey to Jerusalem), while in the present Surah it speaks of his Isra’ but omits all allusion to his Mi‘raj (b) Umm-e-Hani’ the Holy Prophet’s cousin with whom he was staying on the night when the Isra’ (Spiritual Night Journey to Jerusalem) took place speaks only of his visit to Jerusalem and makes no mention of his journey to the heavens. She was the first person whom the Holy Prophet informed of his Night Journey to Jerusalem and at least seven collectors of Traditions have given her account of the incident on the authority of four different reporters who have reported the incident from her. All these four reporters concur in saying that the Holy Prophet went to Jerusalem and returned to Mecca the same night. If the Holy Prophet had spoken of his Ascension to the heavens also, Umm-e-Hani’ could not have failed to refer to it in one or other of her reports. But she does not do so in any of her reports, which conclusively shows that during the night in question the Holy Prophet made the Isra’ or the Spiritual Night Journey to Jerusalem only and that the Mi‘raj did not take place on that occasion. It seems that some reporters of Traditions mixed up the two accounts of the Isra’ and the Mi‘raj. The confusion appears to have arisen from the word Isra’ (Night Journey) having been used both for the Isra’ and the Mi‘raj; and the resemblance that existed in some of the details in the descriptions of the Isra’ and the Mi‘raj heightened and confirmed it. (c) The Traditions which first give an account of the Holy Prophet’s visit to Jerusalem and then of his transportation from Jerusalem to heaven also state that at Jerusalem he met the former Prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and that in the heavens he met the same Prophets again but did not recognize them. How did these Prophets whom he had met at Jerusalem reach the heavens before him and why could he not recognize them while he had seen them only a short while ago in the course of the same journey. It is inconceivable that he should have failed to recognize them when he had met them only a short while ago in the course of the same journey. For a detailed discussion of this important subject see "The Larger Edition of the Commentary," pp. 1404-1409. (close)
1591. "The Distant Mosque" refers to Prophet Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem. (close)
a. 5:22; 7:138. (close)
1591A. The Vision of the Prophet referred to in the present verse implied a great prophecy. His journey to "The Distant Mosque" meant his Emigration to Medina where he was to build a Mosque which was destined to become later on the Central Mosque of Islam, and his seeing himself in the Vision that he was leading other Prophets of God in Prayers signified that the New Faith— Islam—was not to remain confined to the place of its birth but was to spread all over the world and the followers of all religions were to join its fold. His going to Jerusalem in the Vision may also be understood to mean that he was to be given dominion over the territory in which Jerusalem was situated. This prophecy was fulfilled during the Caliphate of ‘Umar. The Vision may also be taken as referring to a spiritual journey of the Holy Prophet to a distant land in some future time. It meant that when spiritual darkness would envelop the entire world, the Holy Prophet would appear in a spiritual sense a second time in the person of one of his followers, in a land far away from the scene of his First Advent. A pointed reference to this Second Advent of the Holy Prophet is to be found in 62:3, 4. (close)
b. 5:22; 7:138. (close)
1931. Important Words:
اسری (carried) is derived from سری. They say سری باللیل او سری اللیل i.e. he journeyed or travelled by night or in the night. اسراهاو اسری به means, he made him journey or travel, or he transported him by night or in the night; he journeyed or travelled with him, by night or in the night, or simply, he carried him. The Quranic expression سبحان الذی اسری بعبدہ لیلا means, Glory be to Him Who transported His servant by night. According to some lexicologists اسری is used for journey in the first part of the night and سری for the last part of it. According to others, the verb اسری is from سراة which means, a wide tract of land. According to this meaning the expression اسری بعبدہ means, Who transported His servant over a wide tract of land (Lane, Aqrab & Mufradat).
المسجد الاقصی (the Distant Mosque). اقصی is derived from قصی. They say قصی المکان i.e. the place was or became distant. اقصیmeans, distant or very distant (Aqrab). المسجد الاقصی may signify the Prophet Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem, the Holy Prophet’s Mosque at Medina or the Promised Messiah’s Mosque at Qadian.
The verse is supposed by almost all commentators of the Quran to refer to the معراج (Spiritual Ascension of the Holy Prophet). The subject of Mi‘raj has become much complicated and confused on account of the many divergent traditions that deal with it. Contrary to popular view we are, however, inclined towards the opinion that the present verse deals with the اسراء (Night Journey) of the Holy Prophet while his Mi‘raj (Spiritual Ascension) has been dealt with in Surah An-Najm. That Surah removes all the obscurities and ambiguities that have confused the popular mind in regard to this important subject. In Surah An-Najm we have:
It is nothing but a revelation that is revealed. The One of mighty powers has taught him (this knowledge): the One Possessor of strength. So He manifested His ascendance (over everything) and He revealed His Word when he was on the uppermost horizon. Then he drew nearer (to God); then he came down to (His creatures), so that he became, as it were, the one chord of two bows or closer still. And He revealed to His servant that which He revealed. The heart (of the Prophet) was not untrue to that which he saw. Will you then dispute with him concerning that which he saw? And certainly he saw Him a second time, near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass, near which is the Garden of Abode. This was when a wonderful and glorious Divine manifestation covered the Lote-tree. The eye deviated not nor did it wander. Surely, he saw the greatest of the Signs of his Lord. (53:5-19).
These verses give a graphic description of the Mi‘raj, for the facts mentioned in them all relate to it, e.g. the Holy Prophet went up to the Lote-tree; (2) the Lote-tree was covered with "something"; (3) the Prophet saw the Paradise (the Garden of Abode) near the Lote-tree; (4) he became, as it were, the one chord of two bows; (5) he saw God (and the heart of the Prophet was not untrue to that which he saw); and (6) the word of God descended on the Lote-tree.
All these details have also been mentioned in the traditions which deal with the Mi‘raj. As for the Lote-tree, AbuHurairah (as reported by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abu Hatim, Ibn Merdawaih, Abu Ya‘la and Baihaqi) says, "In the night of Mi‘raj, after having seen other Prophets of God in heaven, the Holy Prophet proceeded further till he reached the Lote-tree." The same fact has been mentioned in the tradition quoted on the authority of Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Merdawaih, Baihaqi, and Ibn ‘Asakir, and in the tradition quoted on the authority of Malik Ibn Sa‘sa’ by Ahmad bin Hanbal, Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Jarir and in the tradition quoted on the authority of Anas by Bukhari (Bukhari, chapter on Mi‘raj, & Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. 1, pp. 153, 167 & 174).
The second important detail mentioned in Surah An-Najm is that when the Prophet reached the Lote-tree, he saw it covered with some extraordinary thing (53:17). This has also been mentioned in the traditions that deal with Mi‘raj. In the tradition reported by Abu Hurairah to which reference has been made above we read فغشیھا نور الخلاق عزوجل i.e. when the Holy Prophet reached the Lote-tree, the light of the Powerful and Glorious Creator covered it (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. 1, p. 174). Similarly, in the tradition reported by Anas we have: "Then the Lote-tree became covered with a special Divine grace so much so that in its newly changed condition its beauty defied all description" (Muslim, Kitabul-Iman)
The third incident referred to in chapter 53 (An-Najm) is that the Holy Prophet saw Paradise near the Lote-tree. This has also found mention in traditions which deal with Mi‘raj. In the tradition quoted on the authority of Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri by Ibn Jarir and mentioned in some other books of Hadith we read: ثم انی رفعت الی الجنة i.e. after I had seen the Prophets in the heavens I was taken up to Paradise. This is followed by the words ثم انی رفعت الی سدرة المنتھی i.e. after paradise I was led up to the Lote-tree (Ibn Jarir, vol. 15, p. 11).
The fourth important detail mentioned in chapter 53 is that when the Holy Prophet had a vision of those celestial scenes he was transported into a highly spiritual state which has been described in the words, So that he became, as it were, the one chord of two bows or closer still.
This fact has also been mentioned in the traditions about Mi‘raj. In the tradition reported by Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri and referred to above we find the words: فکان قاب قوسین او ادنی i.e. between God and the Prophet there was the one chord of two bows or closer still.
The fifth important and relevant incident mentioned in chapter 53 is that during the Mi‘raj the Prophet had a vision of God Himself (53:12). This fact has also been mentioned in the traditions quoted by Ibn Merdawaih on the authority of Asma’, daughter of Abu Bakr (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. 1, p. 177), and by Muslim on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (Muslim, Kitabul-Iman). In the latter tradition we read راٰہ بفؤادہ مرتین i.e. twice the Prophet saw God with the eyes of his heart.
The sixth notable detail mentioned in chapter 53 is that God spoke to the Holy Prophet near the Lote-tree (53:11). This fact has also found a mention in the traditions. For instance, in the tradition reported by Abu Hurairah we have فکلمهاللّٰه تعالی عند ذالک i.e. so God spoke to him near it—the Lote-tree (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. 1, p. 174). Similarly, Ibn Abu Hatim has reported on the authority of Anas bin Malik that when the Prophet arrived near the Lote-tree, God addressed him by name saying یا محمد i.e. O Muhammad, and then Anas continues to finish the hadith. These very striking similarities and resemblances between the subject matter of Surah An-Najm and the traditions about Mi‘raj leave no doubt that it is the Mi‘raj of the Holy Prophet which has been described in that Surah.
After having established the fact that Surah An-Najm contains a description of the Mi‘raj it is important to point out that this Surah has been admitted by the consensus of scholarly opinion to have been revealed in the fifth year of the Call or even earlier. The following very well-known historical event proves it. A party of early Muslims had sought refuge in Abyssinia. They left Mecca in the seventh month of the fifth year of the Call (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, 1923, p. 69). Now the traditions agree that three months had hardly elapsed since this little band of the Faithful had left for Abyssinia when they returned to Mecca (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, 1923, p. 80). The reason which, according to traditions, led to their early return was this. The Holy Prophet was one day reciting chapter 53. When he came to the words, Rather prostrate yourselves before Allah, and worship Him (53:63), the Prophet and the Muslims with him fell prostrate on the ground. The disbelievers present on the occasion, being overwhelmed with the grand theme of the Surah and the solemnity of the occasion, also joined the Prophet in prostration. This gave rise to the rumour that the Quraish had converted to Islam. When this rumour reached Abyssinia, Muslim refugees hastened back to Mecca. This shows that the recitation of the Surah which led to this incident having taken place, must have been revealed in the fifth year of the Call or sometime prior to it.
After a brief description of the Mi‘raj or the Spiritual Ascension of the Holy Prophet and of the time when it took place, it may be noted here that the اسراء Isra’ or the Night Journey of the Holy Prophet from Mecca to Jerusalem, with which the present verse deals took place in the eleventh year of the Call (Zurqani, vol. 1, p. 306). Christian writers, however, put it in the twelfth year of the Call (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, 1923, p. 121). Traditions relating to this incident also corroborate the date referred to above. According to the traditions quoted by Ibn Merdawaih and Ibn Sa‘d, the Isra’ took place on the seventeenth of Rabi‘ul-Awwal, a year before the Hijrah (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. 1, p. 162). Similarly, a tradition quoted by Baihaqi on the authority of Ibn Shihab, relates that the Isra’ took place a year before the Hijrah. Another tradition also quoted by Baihaqi places the Night Journey to Jerusalem six months before the Hijrah (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. 1, p. 162).
All these traditions go to prove that the Isra’ took place six months or a year prior to the Hijrah and it has been shown above that the Mi‘raj took place about the fifth year of the Call. Thus the two incidents are separated from each other by an interval of six or seven years and therefore cannot be identical; the Mi‘raj must be regarded as quite distinct and separate from the Isra’.
Irrefutable evidence which shows that the Mi‘raj and the Isra’ were two separate incidents is the fact that it was during the fifth year of the Call that the five daily prayers were enjoined upon Muslims. If the Mi‘raj be considered as identical with the Isra’, then it will also have to be admitted that the five daily Prayers were enjoined upon Muslims in the eleventh or twelfth year of the Call which is evidently wrong because all traditionalists agree that the five Prayers were prescribed in the very early years of the Call.
It may incidentally be stated here that the Mi‘raj itself seems to have occurred twice. As it appears from the Hadith, the first Mi‘raj occurred in the beginning of the Holy Prophet’s ministry when the foundation of the Shari‘ah may be said to have been laid and Prayers were made obligatory, which seem to have taken place in the first year of the Call (Bukhari, chapter on Tauhid; Jarir, vol. 15, p. 4). The second or the better known Mi‘raj took place about the fifth year of the Call when the five prescribed Prayers were made obligatory and chapter 53, containing a description of it, was revealed (or it may have taken place even earlier and may have been subsequently referred to in Ch. 53). The Isra’, however, is quite a separate event which undoubtedly occurred in the eleventh or twelfth year of the Call when the Prophet was living in the house of his cousin, Ummi Hani, after the death of his wife, Khadijah, which took place in the tenth year of the Call after the Prophet had come out of the Valley (شعب) of Abu Talib.
In addition to this strong historical evidence, other relevant circumstances also lend support to the view that the two incidents are quite distinct and separate from each other:
(1) The first evidence in this connection is furnished by the Quran itself. It gives an account of the Prophet’s Mi‘raj(Spiritual Ascension) in chapter 53 but makes no reference to his Isra’ (Night Journey to Jerusalem), while in the present Surah it speaks of his Isra’ but omits all allusion to his Mi‘raj. This shows that the two incidents took place separately and, therefore, could not be mentioned together. It is inconceivable that the Quran should have mentioned the concluding portion of this incident in one Surah and the first portion of the selfsame incident in another Surah five years later.
(2) The second evidence which supports this inference is the fact that there was only one person, namely Ummi Hani, who was present with the Prophet during the night when the Isra’ (Spiritual Night Journey to Jerusalem) took place and she speaks only of his visit to Jerusalem and makes no mention of his journey to the heavens. She was the first person whom the Prophet informed of his Night Journey to Jerusalem and at least seven collectors of traditions have given her account of the incident on the authority of four different reporters who have reported the incident from her. All these four reporters concur in saying that the Prophet went to Jerusalem and returned to Mecca the same night. If the Prophet had spoken of his Ascension to the heavens also, Ummi Hani could not have failed to refer to it in one or other of her reports. But she does not do so in any of her reports, which conclusively shows that during the night in question the Holy Prophet made the Isra’ or the Spiritual Night Journey to Jerusalem only and that the Mi‘raj did not take place on that occasion. So the Isra’ or the Prophet’s Spiritual Night Journey to Jerusalem should not be confused with the Mi‘raj or his Spiritual Ascension to heaven.
(3) All the different reporters of this incident may be placed in three categories: (a) those who speak of the Prophet’s Ascension direct to heaven and make no mention of his Journey to Jerusalem; (b) those who speak first of his Journey to Jerusalem and then of his Ascension to heaven; and (c) those who only speak of His Journey to Jerusalem and make no mention at all of his Ascension to heaven. Of the reporters of this last group, there is a goodly number who say expressly that the Prophet returned to Mecca after his Journey to Jerusalem.
It is evident that the reports of the first group point to the Mi‘raj as being distinct from the Isra’ inasmuch as, according to them, the Holy Prophet was taken from his house direct to heaven, so Jerusalem could not lie in his way. The reporters of this group are Anas, Malik bin Sa‘sa’ and Abu Dharr, who was one of the earliest converts to Islam.
Similarly, the reports of those who speak only of the Prophet’s Journey to Jerusalem and make no mention of his Ascension to heaven also show that when he made his Night Journey to Jerusalem, he did not ascend to heaven, for if he had ascended to heaven after his visit to Jerusalem, it is inconceivable that the reporters, after mentioning the less important part of the vision, should have omitted to mention its more important part which related to his Ascension to heaven, and to his having seen God and having had communion with Him. The reporters of this group of traditions are Anas and ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud, the latter being one of the earliest and best-loved of the Prophet’s Companions.
Reports of the third group clearly state that the Prophet returned to Mecca after his visit to Jerusalem and did not ascend to heaven. These also demonstrate the two events to be distinct and separate from each other. The reporters of this group are ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, ‘A’ishah and Ummi Salma and Ummi Hani. All of them with the exception of ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud, who, as stated above, was among the earliest converts to Islam, were the Prophet’s very near relatives and enjoyed his intimate and constant company. It is impossible to impugn their evidence.
Another argument in favour of Isra’ being distinct from Mi‘raj are the traditions which speak of the Prophet’s transportation to the heavens after his visit to Jerusalem and then of his return from the heavens to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem back to Mecca (Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra, vol. I, p. 154). Now, going to Jerusalem before ascending to heaven may be considered as reasonable, for it served for the Prophet the purpose of offering Prayers at the place where a large party of heavenly Messengers had delivered their Divine Message, but it is difficult to understand why the same route should have been followed during the return journey, when on his return from heaven the Prophet is not reported to have performed any specific act at Jerusalem. The only reasonable assumption is that the account of the Isra’ became mixed up with that of the Mi‘raj. Anas seems to have related the account of both the Isra’ and the Mi‘raj to some reporters who mixed up the two accounts and mistakenly thought that they formed the two parts of the same event and thus these reporters were led to believe that while coming back from his Mi‘raj the Prophet went to Jerusalem from where he returned to Mecca. In fact, the confusion seems to have arisen from the same word اسراء (which means a night journey) having been used for both the Holy Prophet’s اسراء (Spiritual Night Journey to Jerusalem) and his معراج (Spiritual Ascension to heaven); and the resemblance that existed in some of the details in the description of the اسراء (Isra’) and the معراج (Mi‘raj) heightened and confirmed it.
Internal evidence of the traditions also points to the fact that the Isra’ and the Mi‘raj were two distinct and separate events. The traditions which first give an account of the Prophet’s visit to Jerusalem and then of his transportation from Jerusalem to heaven also state that at Jerusalem he met the former Prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, and that in the heavens he met the same Prophets again but could not recognize them. Now how did these Prophets whom he had met at Jerusalem reach the heavens before him and why could he not recognize them while he had seen them only a short while ago in the course of the same journey? If the two meetings had taken place separately and at a distance of long intervals, it was possible that he could not have recognized some of them at the time of the second meeting in a changed atmosphere. But it is inconceivable that he should have failed to recognize them when he had met them only a short while ago in the course of the same journey.
It having been established that the Isra’ and the Mi‘raj were two separate and distinct events, it is necessary to give a somewhat detailed account of Isra’ as given in the traditions as it forms the subject matter of the verse under comment. The most reliable account of it is to be found in the tradition quoted by Ibn Jarir on the authority of Anas bin Malik. It is briefly as follows:
'When the Archangel Gabriel brought the Buraq to the Holy Prophet, he mounted it, and had gone only a short distance, when he saw an old woman. The Prophet asked Gabriel who she was, but Gabriel gave no answer to his question; on the contrary he told him not to ask questions, just as Moses in his معراج (Spiritual Ascension) was told not to put unnecessary questions (18:71). After the Prophet had gone a little further he saw a man calling him by name from across the road in order to invite his attention to himself. But Gabriel asked him again not to heed his call. When the Prophet had proceeded a little further, he met a party of men who greeted him with the greeting of peace. Gabriel told him to return their greeting. After this, the Prophet reached the Holy House in Jerusalem. There Gabriel presented him with three cups containing water, milk and wine. The Prophet took the cup containing milk and drank it and refused to accept the other two. Upon this Gabriel said to him, "Thou hast, indeed, chosen the right course which is in perfect harmony with a pure, unsullied nature. If thou hadst accepted water or wine, thou and thine followers would have been lost." Then Adam and the other Prophets were presented to him, and the Holy Prophet led them in Prayers. After this Gabriel explained to him that the old woman he saw on the way was an embodied representation of the life of this world and only as much was left of the life of the world as was left of the life of that old woman. As for the person who called him from across the road, he was Iblis, the enemy of God. The party of men who greeted him were the Prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus' (Ibn Jarir).
This tradition serves as a key to resolve this whole allegory. It gives the most reliable and correct account of the Isra’. It shows that the Journey to Jerusalem was no physical act but only a vision. This is clear from the following facts:
(a) It is stated in this tradition that during the Night Journey to Jerusalem, the Prophet saw an old woman, a person standing on one side of the road, and three cups full of water, wine and milk (of which the Prophet chose the last), and Gabriel told him what all these things signified. The explanation and interpretation by Gabriel of the things the Prophet saw shows that the Journey was only a vision, for it is only things seen in visions that need interpretation and explanation.
(b) The Night Journey has been spoken of as a vision in the present Surah (v. 61). Accordingly, we find that several Companions of the Prophet and some of the later scholars of Islam have, on the basis of this verse, declared the Isra’ to be a vision. For instance, Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Jarir report that when Mu‘awiyah was asked concerning the Isra’, he said that it was a vision which came out to be true (Manthur, vol. 4, p. 197). ‘A’isha is also reported to have held the same view. (Hisham and Mas‘ud, vol. 1).
(c) We learn from the hadith that when the Holy Prophet spoke of his Night Journey to Jerusalem he was asked to give a description of the Temple at Jerusalem. The Prophet is reported to have said that at that time God presented before his eyes an embodied representation of the Temple and he was thus able to describe it as demanded of him (Ibn Kathir, vol. 6, p. 18).
The Vision of the Prophet referred to in the present verse implied a great prophecy. His journey to the Distant Mosque (المسجد الاقصی) meant his Migration to Medina where he was to build a Mosque which was destined to become later the Centre of all Faiths and Dispensations and the Holy Prophet’s seeing himself in the Vision leading other Prophets of God in Prayers signified that the new Faith Islam was not to remain confined to the place of its birth but was to spread all over the world and the followers of all religions were to join its fold. His going to Jerusalem in the Vision may also be understood to mean that he was to be given dominion over the territory in which Jerusalem was situated. This prophecy was fulfilled in the Caliphate of Umar.
The words of the verse also lend support to the view that the Vision constituted a prophecy about the great future of Islam. The Distant Mosque (المسجد الاقصی) that the Prophet saw in the Vision represented his own Mosque at Medina, Jerusalem stood for Medina and his going to Jerusalem signified his Migration to Medina. The Vision begins with the words سبحان الذی (Glory be to Him) which indicated that the Migration of the Prophet would redound to the Glory of God. The word سبحان itself shows that the Vision embodied a prophecy; for a physical journey to the Temple at Jerusalem could not be regarded as evidence of the Glory of God. But as establishment of the Islamic State at Medina was to fulfil a prophecy, that event did serve as evidence of Divine glory. Thus the words, Glory be to Him Who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Distant Mosque, signified that God would take the Holy Prophet to a Mosque resembling المسجد الاقصی (the Distant Mosque) at Jerusalem so that His word might be fulfilled.
The words, We might show him some of Our Signs, pointed to the great possibilities of the Prophet’s journey to Medina. The Prophet’s Migration to Medina served as a prelude to the glorious future of Islam which was then hidden from the eyes of the world and thus God’s great signs were manifested. The reason why the Holy Prophet’s Mosque was called المسجد الاقصی (the Distant Mosque), and why Medina was shown to him in the Vision in the form of Jerusalem was that the blessings which God had conferred on the Mosque at Jerusalem were also in store in a greater measure for the Prophet’s Mosque at Medina.
The Prophecy implied in the words, Who carried His servant by night, was fulfilled when the Prophet left Mecca at dead of night. He did not undertake this journey of his own accord but in pursuance of God’s express command. And as in his Night Journey to Jerusalem in the Vision he was accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel, so in his Flight to Medina he was accompanied by his most faithful companion, Abu Bakr. The word "Gabriel", which means "Man of God", fitly applies to Abu Bakr and portrays his spiritual eminence.
The Vision may also be taken as referring to a spiritual journey of the Holy Prophet to a distant land in some future time. It meant that when spiritual darkness enveloped the entire world, the Prophet would appear in spirit a second time in the person of one of his followers, in a land far away from the scene of his first advent—in the Punjab. A pointed reference to this second advent of the Holy Prophet is to be found in 62:3-5. (close)
وَ اٰتَیۡنَا مُوۡسَی الۡکِتٰبَ وَ جَعَلۡنٰہُ ہُدًی لِّبَـنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ اَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوۡا مِنۡ دُوۡنِیۡ وَکِیۡلًا ؕ﴿۳﴾
وَءَاتَيۡنَا مُوسَى ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ وَجَعَلۡنَٰهُ هُدٗى لِّبَنِيٓ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ أَلَّا تَتَّخِذُواْ مِن دُونِي وَكِيلٗا
a. 2:54, 88; 23:50; 32:24; 40:54. (close)
b. 17:69. (close)
a. 2:54, 88; 23:50; 32:24; 40:54. (close)
b. 17:69. (close)
With this verse begins an account of Moses and his people. The preceding verse alluded to the Divine promise that the Holy Prophet and his followers would conquer "the Distant Mosque" and the land around it. Muslims are told here that Jerusalem and the country around it was first given to Moses and his people in accordance with Divine promise. The people of Moses lost it because they disobeyed the commandments of God. Muslims should beware lest they also break God’s covenant and incur His displeasure.
Towards the close of the previous chapter, reference was made to Jews, and Muslims were directed to argue with them in a way that is best (16:126). This direction implied that in their discussion with Jews, Muslims should base their arguments on principles accepted by Jews and should advance reasons in support of the truth of Islam from their own (Jewish) Scriptures. The present chapter provides an illustration of the way in which Muslims should discuss religious matters with "the People of the Book." It refers to prophecies contained in the Jewish Scriptures which point to the corruption and degeneration of Jews and their breach of the divine covenant which made them the object of Divine punishment and tells them that now they could only save themselves by accepting the New Covenant—Islam. (close)
ذُرِّیَّۃَ مَنۡ حَمَلۡنَا مَعَ نُوۡحٍ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ عَبۡدًا شَکُوۡرًا ﴿۴﴾
ذُرِّيَّةَ مَنۡ حَمَلۡنَا مَعَ نُوحٍۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ عَبۡدٗا شَكُورٗا
c. 19:59; 23:28. (close)
b. 19:59; 23:28. (close)
The verse is taken by some commentators to refer to the followers of the Holy Prophet, but primarily it refers to the followers of Moses, as the context shows. It reminds the Israelites that they should have profited by the noble example of Noah who with his followers was savedfrom the Deluge and was grateful to God for that great favour. They, too, were saved from drowning in the sea and should have been grateful to God for that favour but they were not. The verse may also be taken as constituting a forewarning to Muslims who are told that when, by the grace of God, they emerge safe from the storm of opposition and persecution that was raging over their heads, they should be grateful to Him. (close)
وَ قَضَیۡنَاۤ اِلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ لَتُفۡسِدُنَّ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَّتَیۡنِ وَ لَتَعۡلُنَّ عُلُوًّا کَبِیۡرًا ﴿۵﴾
وَقَضَيۡنَآ إِلَىٰ بَنِيٓ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ فِي ٱلۡكِتَٰبِ لَتُفۡسِدُنَّ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مَرَّتَيۡنِ وَلَتَعۡلُنَّ عُلُوّٗا كَبِيرٗا
1592. The two transgressions of the Israelites mentioned in the Book of Moses (Deut. 28:15. 49-53, 63, 64 & 30:15) are referred to in this verse. Those amongst the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed twice by David and Jesus, son of Mary (5:79) and consequently were punished twice. (close)
This verse shows that it was foretold in the Book of Moses that the Israelites would disobey and defy Divinecommandments twice and twice would they be visited with punishment. The word الکتاب (the Book) here means, the Book of Moses—the Bible.
The dreadful fate that befell the Israelites on account of their repeated defiance of the commandments of God was mentioned in the Quran to serve as a timely warning for Muslims, but they did not profit by it and followed in the footsteps of the Jews and were punished as the Israelites were punished before them. This slavish imitation of Jews by Muslims was foretold by the Holy Prophet in the well-known tradition viz. لتتبعن من کان قبلکم i.e. Surely, you will follow the ways of those before you (Bukhari, Kitabul-I‘tisam bil-Kitab was Sunnah). The Quran refers to the two transgressions of the Israelites in the words: Those amongst the children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of David and of Jesus, son of Mary (5:79). (close)
فَاِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ اُوۡلٰٮہُمَا بَعَثۡنَا عَلَیۡکُمۡ عِبَادًا لَّنَاۤ اُولِیۡ بَاۡسٍ شَدِیۡدٍ فَجَاسُوۡا خِلٰلَ الدِّیَارِ ؕ وَ کَانَ وَعۡدًا مَّفۡعُوۡلًا ﴿۶﴾
فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ أُولَىٰهُمَا بَعَثۡنَا عَلَيۡكُمۡ عِبَادٗا لَّنَآ أُوْلِي بَأۡسٖ شَدِيدٖ فَجَاسُواْ خِلَٰلَ ٱلدِّيَارِۚ وَكَانَ وَعۡدٗا مَّفۡعُولٗا
1593. The first Divine punishment overtook the Israelites after David, and the second after Jesus. It appears from the Bible that the Jews had become a very powerful nation after Moses, and in the time of David they laid the foundations of a mighty kingdom which continued to flourish for sometime after his death in its old might and glory. Then it fell a prey to gradual decay and in about 733 B.C. Samaria was conquered by the Assyrians, who annexed the whole of Israel north of Jezreel. In 608 B.C. Palestine was ravaged by an Egyptian force under Pharaoh Necho and the Israelites came under Egyptian sway (Jew. Enc., vol. 6, p. 665). The loss of their temporal power and their destruction and desolation, however, did not induce them to mend their ways. They persisted in their old wicked practices. The Prophet Jeremiah warned them to give up their evil ways as the wrath of God was about to overtake them, but they paid no heed to Jeremiah’s warnings. In the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made his first invasion of Palestine and carried off some of the Temple vessels, but the city was spared the rigours of a siege. In 597 B.C. also the city was invested and fell victim to a severe famine. The rebellion of Zedekiah, however, caused a second invasion by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C., and after a siege of a year and a half, the city was taken by storm. King Zedekiah fled from the city but was taken prisoner. His sons were slain and his eyes were put out, and bound in fetters he was carried off to Babylon. The Temple, the King’s palace and all the great buildings in the city were burnt down, the chief priests and other leaders were put to death and many people were carried off in captivity (Jew. Enc. vol. 6, p. 665 & vol. 7, p. 122 under "Jerusalem"). (close)
1935. Important Words:
فجاسوا (and they penetrated). جاس means, he sought for or after a thing or news or tidings eagerly and with the utmost of his endeavour. They say جاسھم الاسد i.e. the lion trod upon them, or came into the midst of them and did mischief among them. The Arabs say جسنا خلال دور القوم i.e. We went to and fro or went about amidst the houses of the people. The Quranic expression فجاسوا خلال الدیار means, they went through the midst of the houses and sought for what was in them or they went to and fro among the houses in a sudden attack or they slew you amid your houses (Lane & Aqrab).
The first disaster befell the Israelites after David, and the second after Jesus. It appears from the Bible that the Jews had become a very powerful nation after Moses and in the time of David they laid the foundation of a mighty kingdom which continued to flourish for some time after his death in its old might and glory. Then it fell prey to gradual decay and about 733 B.C. Samaria was conquered by the Assyrians, who annexed the whole of Israel north of Jezreel. In 608 B.C. Palestine was ravaged by an Egyptian force under Pharaoh Necho and the Israelites came under Egyptian sway (Jew. Enc., vol. 6, p. 665). The loss of their temporal power and their destruction and desolation, however, did not make them mend their ways. They continued in their old wicked practices. The Prophet Jeremiah warned them to give up their iniquities as the wrath of God was about to overtake them. These are Jeremiah’s warnings:
O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee…? For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers (Jeremiah 4:14 & 31).
The Israelites paid no heed to Jeremiah’s warnings. So "the Lord was very angry with them and removed them out of His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah only" (2 Kings 17:18). In the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made his first invasion of Palestine and carried off some of the Temple vessels, but the city was spared the rigours of a siege. In 597 B.C. also, the city was invested and fell victim to a severe famine. The rebellion of Zedekiah, however, caused a second invasion in 587 B. C., and after a siege of a year and a half, the city was taken by storm. King Zedekiah fled from the city but was taken prisoner. His sons were slain and his eyes were put out and he was bound in fetters and carried off to Babylon. The Temple, the King’s palace and all the great buildings in the city were burnt down, the chief priests and other leaders were put to death and many people were carried off in captivity (Jew. Enc., vol. 6, p. 665 & vol. 7, p. 122 under Jerusalem).
Thus was fulfilled the promise about the first of the two warnings held out to the Israelites by Moses to which the present verse refers. The following passages of the Bible contain Moses’ warnings to the Jews:
"But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young: and he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he hath destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustest, throughout all thy lands: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thy own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee…And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to naught; and yet ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. (Deut. 28:15; 49-53; 63-64). (close)
ثُمَّ رَدَدۡنَا لَکُمُ الۡکَرَّۃَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَ اَمۡدَدۡنٰکُمۡ بِاَمۡوَالٍ وَّ بَنِیۡنَ وَ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ اَکۡثَرَ نَفِیۡرًا ﴿۷﴾
ثُمَّ رَدَدۡنَا لَكُمُ ٱلۡكَرَّةَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَأَمۡدَدۡنَٰكُم بِأَمۡوَٰلٖ وَبَنِينَ وَجَعَلۡنَٰكُمۡ أَكۡثَرَ نَفِيرًا
1594. The Jews fared well in exile. Most of them were employed on public works in central Babylonia and many among them eventually gained their freedom and rose to influential positions. Their faith and religious devotion were renewed; the literature of the Kingdom was studied, re-edited, and adapted to the needs of the reviving Community, and the hope of restoration to Palestine was preached and cherished. About 545 B.C., this aspiration took a more definite form. The Jews made a secret agreement with Cyrus, King of Media and Persia and helped him to conquer Babylon. The city surrendered to his army without resistance in July, 539 B.C. As a reward for their services Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and also helped them to rebuild the Temple (Historians’ History of the World, vol. II, p. 126; Jew. Enc., vol. 7, under "Jerusalem;" Enc. Bib., under "Cyrus" and 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23). The Judean, Sheshbazzar (a governor under Cyrus) brought back to the Temple vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away and prepared to undertake the work at the expense of the royal purse. A large body of exiles returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:3-5). The work of rebuilding the Temple steadily progressed and was completed in 516 B.C. It is to these events and the subsequent prosperity of the Jews that the verse under comment refers. All this, however, was foretold by Moses long before it came to pass (Deut. 30:1-5). (close)
The Jews fared well in exile. Most of them were employed on public works in central Babylonia and many among them eventually gained their freedom and rose to influential positions. Their faith and religious devotion were renewed; the literature of the kingdom was studied, re-edited, and adapted to the needs of the reviving community, and the hope of restoration to Palestine was preached and cherished. About 545 B.C., this aspiration took a more definite form. Cyrus, King of Media and Persia, had by this time attained to dominion over the whole uplands of Asia as far as the shores of the Aegean Sea. The Jews made a secret agreement with him and helped him to conquer Babylon. The city surrendered to his army without resistance in July, 539 B.C. As a reward for their services Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to their country, and also helped them in the rebuilding of the Temple. In 538 B.C. Cyrus proclaimed the rebuilding of the Temple as his divine mission but the work was not started till the following year (Historians’ History of the World, vol. II, p. 126; Jew. Enc., vol. 7, under Jerusalem, Enc. Bib., under Cyrus and 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23). The Judean, Sheshbazzar (a Governor under Cyrus) brought back to the Temple vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away and prepared to undertake the work at the expense of the royal purse. A large body of exiles returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:3-5). The work of rebuilding the Temple steadily progressed and it was completed in 516 B.C. (Jew. Enc., vol. 7, under Jerusalem).
It is to these events and the subsequent prosperity of the Jews that the verse under comment refers. All this, however, was foretold by Moses long before it came to pass. Says he:
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers (Deut. 30:1-5). See also 2:105. (close)
اِنۡ اَحۡسَنۡتُمۡ اَحۡسَنۡتُمۡ لِاَنۡفُسِکُمۡ ۟ وَ اِنۡ اَسَاۡتُمۡ فَلَہَا ؕ فَاِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ لِیَسُوۡٓءٗا وُجُوۡہَکُمۡ وَ لِیَدۡخُلُوا الۡمَسۡجِدَ کَمَا دَخَلُوۡہُ اَوَّلَ مَرَّۃٍ وَّ لِیُتَبِّرُوۡا مَا عَلَوۡا تَتۡبِیۡرًا ﴿۸﴾
إِنۡ أَحۡسَنتُمۡ أَحۡسَنتُمۡ لِأَنفُسِكُمۡۖ وَإِنۡ أَسَأۡتُمۡ فَلَهَاۚ فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ لِيَسُـُٔواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ وَلِيَدۡخُلُواْ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٖ وَلِيُتَبِّرُواْ مَا عَلَوۡاْ تَتۡبِيرًا
a. 4:124, 125; 6:161; 28:85; 41:47; 99:8, 9. (close)
1594A. The words also mean: 'They might humiliate your leaders,' wujuh meaning leaders (Lane). (close)
1595. This verse speaks of the second relapse into iniquitous ways of the Jews and of the punishment which befell them in consequence. They persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him on the Cross and stamp out his Movement. So God afflicted them with a terrible punishment when in 70 A.D. the Roman forces under Titus swept the country and amid circumstances of unparalleled horror Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple of Solomon was burnt down (Enc. Bib., under "Jerusalem"). This disaster took place when Jesus was yet living in Kashmir. This was also foretold by Moses (Deut. 32:18-26). It may be noted here that this prophecy about the second punishment is mentioned in the Bible after the prophecy which speaks of the first punishment (Deut. chap. 28). More than that, it is mentioned even after the prophecy which speaks of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem (Deut. 30:1- 5). This shows that this prophecy (Deut. 32:18-26) refers to the second punishment, to which reference has been made in the Qur’an, viz. You will surely do great mischief in the land twice (17:5). The verse implied a warning for Muslims that, like the Jews, they too will be punished twice if they did not give up their evil ways. But they did not profit by the timely warning and did not give up their evil ways and were punished twice. The first punishment overtook them when Baghdad fell in 1258 A.D. The barbarous hordes of Halaku completely destroyed that great seat of learning and power and 1,800,000 Muslims are said to have been put to the sword. Islam, however, emerged triumphant from that dreadful catastrophe. The victors became the vanquished. The grandson of Halaku along with a large number of Mongols and the Tartars accepted Islam. The second punishment was decreed to overtake them in the Latter Days. (close)
a. 4:124-125; 6:161; 28:85; 41:47; 99:8-9. (close)
This verse speaks of the Jews’ second relapse into iniquitous and evil ways and of the punishment which befell them in consequence. They persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him on the cross and stamp out his Movement. So God afflicted them with a terrible punishment when in 70 A. D. the Roman forces under Titus swept the country and, amid circumstances of unparalleled horror, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple of Solomon was burnt down (Enc. Bib., under Jerusalem). This disaster took place when Jesus was yet living in Kashmir. It was also foretold by Moses. The Bible says:
Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very forward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of grey hair. I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among them (Deut. 32:18-26).
It may be noted here that this prophecy about the second punishment is mentioned in the Bible after the prophecy which spoke of the first punishment (Deut. 28). More than that, it is mentioned even after the prophecy which speaks of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem (Deut. 30:1-5). This shows that this prophecy (Deut. 32:18-26) refers to the second punishment, to which reference has been made in the words of the Quran, in v. 5, viz. You will surely do mischief in the land twice. (close)
عَسٰی رَبُّکُمۡ اَنۡ یَّرۡحَمَکُمۡ ۚ وَ اِنۡ عُدۡتُّمۡ عُدۡنَا ۘ وَ جَعَلۡنَا جَہَنَّمَ لِلۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ حَصِیۡرًا ﴿۹﴾
عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمۡ أَن يَرۡحَمَكُمۡۚ وَإِنۡ عُدتُّمۡ عُدۡنَاۚ وَجَعَلۡنَا جَهَنَّمَ لِلۡكَٰفِرِينَ حَصِيرًا
After speaking of the utter destruction of the Israelites, the Quran in the present verse gives them a message of hope and informs them that, although so far as the Bible and the Jewish faith are concerned their fate is sealed forever and they can never hope to regain their departed glory, yet, outside the Mosaic Dispensation, God has opened to them a new way by following which they can be readmitted to His Mercy and Grace. That way is Islam and through it they can again rise to their former power and greatness (Deut. 33:1-3). They should avail themselves of this new opportunity and inherit Divine blessings. If, however, they refuse to benefit by this last opportunity, God’s wrath shall descend on them and they shall be consigned to everlasting perdition. While in these verses the Jews were told that according to the prophecies of their own Scriptures there was no future for them outside Islam, the Muslims have also been warned that, like the Jews, they too will be punished twice if they did not give up their evil ways. But they also threw this timely warning to the winds and the result was their disgrace and punishment. They, too, were twice punished. The first punishment overtook them at the fall of Baghdad when the barbarous hordes of Hulagu laid waste that great seat of learning and power. In the heyday of their glory Muslims married the beautiful women of Farghana. These women brought with them their idolatrous beliefs with the result that later generations of Muslims became infected with these beliefs and lost the respect they once had for their own religion and became lax in morals and discipline. This led to the invasion of Baghdad by the savage Tartar hordes who exceeded the Babylonian despoilers of Palestine in savagery and barbarity. Baghdad fell in 1258 A.D. and 1,800,000 Muslims are said to have been put to the sword. All members of the royal family were mercilessly butchered and for days the city was given over to pillage and arson and with the destruction of the Abbasid Empire, Muslim power in the east came to a most inglorious end. Islam, however, emerged triumphant from this dreadful ordeal. The victors became the vanquished and the humble servants of Islam. The second punishment was destined to overtake Muslims in the latter days. Its signs have already begun to appear. See also 17:105. (close)
اِنَّ ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ یَہۡدِیۡ لِلَّتِیۡ ہِیَ اَقۡوَمُ وَ یُبَشِّرُ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَہُمۡ اَجۡرًا کَبِیۡرًا ۙ﴿۱۰﴾
إِنَّ هَٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ يَهۡدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقۡوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعۡمَلُونَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَٰتِ أَنَّ لَهُمۡ أَجۡرٗا كَبِيرٗا
a. 12:112; 16:103; 18:3. (close)
1596. The goal which the Qur’an sets before its followers is nobler and more sublime than that of the former peoples, and promises its true followers both spiritual and temporal blessings. They should, therefore, make great efforts to attain them and be on their guard against a lax and undisciplined life and in every way prove themselves deserving of the promised Divine boons. (close)
The verse purports to say that the goal which the Quran sets before its followers is much nobler and more sublime than that of the former peoples and promises its true followers both spiritual and temporal blessings. They should, therefore, make great efforts to attain them and be on their guard against a lax and undisciplined life and in every way prove themselves deserving of the promised boons. (close)