fbpx
Scroll Top

Surah 17 – Al Isra

Al Isra cover-02
Readings from the Glorious Quran
Surah 17 – Al isra

The very first verse indicates that this Surah was revealed on the occasion of (Miraj/Ascension). According to the Traditions and books on the life of the Holy Prophet, this event happened one year before Hijrah. Thus, this Surah is one of those which were revealed in the last stage of Prophethood at Makkah.

 

The Holy Prophet had been propagating for the previous twelve years and his opponents had been doing all they could to make his Mission a failure, but in spite of all their opposition, Islam had spread to every corner of Arabia and there was hardly any clan which had not been influenced by his invitation. 

In Makkah itself the true Believers had formed themselves into a small community and were ready and willing to face every danger to make Islam a success. Besides them, a very large number of the people of Aus and Khazraj (two influential clans of Al-Madinah) had accepted Islam. Thus the time had come for the Holy Prophet to emigrate from Makkah to Al- Madinah and there gather together the scattered Muslims and establish a state based on the principles of Islam.

Theme & Topics

This Surah is a wonderful combination of warning, admonition and instruction, which have been blended together in a balanced proportion.

The disbelievers of Makkah had been admonished to take a lesson from the miserable end of the Israelites and other communities and mend their ways within the period of respite given by Allah, which was about to expire. They should, therefore, accept the invitation that was being extended by Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) and the Quran; otherwise they shall be annihilated and replaced by other people. Incidentally, the Israelites, with whom Islam was going to come in direct contact in the near future at Al-Madinah have also been warned that they should learn a lesson from the chastisements that have already been inflicted on them. They were warned, “Take advantage of the Prophethood of Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) because that is the last opportunity which is being given to you. If even now you behave as you have been behaving, you shall meet with a painful torment.”

As regards the education of mankind, it has been impressed that human success or failure, gain or loss, depends upon the right understanding of , life-after- death and Prophethood. Accordingly, convincing arguments have been put forward to prove that the Quran is the Book of Allah and its teachings are true and genuine the doubts of the disbelievers about these basic realities have been removed and on suitable occasions they have been admonished and rebuked in regard to their ways of ignorance.

In this connection, those fundamental principles of morality and civilization on which the Islamic System of life is meant to be established have been put forward. Thus this was a sort of the Manifesto of the intended Islamic state which had been proclaimed a year before its actual establishment. It has been explicitly stated that that was the sketch of the system on which Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) intended to build human life first in his own country and then in the outside world.

We learn from Traditions that Mi’raj was the first occasion on which the five daily Prayers were prescribed to be offered at fixed times. Salat was prescribed in order to reform and purify their souls, as if to say, “This is the thing’ which will produce in you those high qualities of character which are essential for everyone who intends to struggle in the righteous way 

— Tafheem ul Quran 

Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi

Rukuh 1 - Al Isra

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ

سُبۡحٰنَ الَّذِىۡۤ اَسۡرٰى بِعَبۡدِهٖ لَيۡلًا مِّنَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَـرَامِ اِلَى الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡاَقۡصَا الَّذِىۡ بٰرَكۡنَا حَوۡلَهٗ لِنُرِيَهٗ مِنۡ اٰيٰتِنَا​ ؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ السَّمِيۡعُ الۡبَصِيۡرُ‏ 

(17:1) Holy is He Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Masjid  (in Makkah) to the farther Masjid  (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our Signs.Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.

وَاٰتَيۡنَا مُوۡسَى الۡـكِتٰبَ وَ جَعَلۡنٰهُ هُدًى لِّبَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِيۡلَ اَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوۡا مِنۡ دُوۡنِىۡ وَكِيۡلًا ؕ‏ 

(17:2) We gave Moses the Book, and made it a source of guidance for the Children of Israel, commanding: “Take no other Guardian beside Me.

ذُرِّيَّةَ مَنۡ حَمَلۡنَا مَعَ نُوۡحٍ​ؕ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ عَبۡدًا شَكُوۡرًا‏ 

(17:3) You are the descendants of those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah. He was truly a thankful servant.

وَقَضَيۡنَاۤ اِلٰى بَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرَاۤءِيۡلَ فِى الۡكِتٰبِ لَـتُفۡسِدُنَّ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَّتَيۡنِ وَلَتَعۡلُنَّ عُلُوًّا كَبِيۡرًا‏ 

(17:4) Then We clearly declared to the Children of Israel in the Book: “Twice you will make mischief in the land and will commit transgression.”

فَاِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ اُوۡلٰٮهُمَا بَعَثۡنَا عَلَيۡكُمۡ عِبَادًا لَّنَاۤ اُولِىۡ بَاۡسٍ شَدِيۡدٍ فَجَاسُوۡا خِلٰلَ الدِّيَارِ ​ؕ وَكَانَ وَعۡدًا مَّفۡعُوۡلًا‏ 

(17:5) So, when the occasion for the first of the transgressions arrived, We raised against you some of Our creatures who were full of might, and they ran over the whole of your land. This was a promise that was bound to be fulfilled.

ثُمَّ رَدَدۡنَا لَـكُمُ الۡكَرَّةَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَاَمۡدَدۡنٰـكُمۡ بِاَمۡوَالٍ وَّبَنِيۡنَ وَجَعَلۡنٰكُمۡ اَكۡثَرَ نَفِيۡرًا‏ 

(17:6) Then We granted you an upper hand against them, and strengthened you with wealth and children, and multiplied your numbers.

اِنۡ اَحۡسَنۡتُمۡ اَحۡسَنۡتُمۡ لِاَنۡفُسِكُمۡ​وَاِنۡ اَسَاۡتُمۡ فَلَهَا ​ؕ فَاِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ الۡاٰخِرَةِ ا وُجُوۡهَكُمۡ وَلِيَدۡخُلُوا الۡمَسۡجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوۡهُ اَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَّلِيُتَبِّرُوۡا مَا عَلَوۡا تَتۡبِيۡرًا‏ 

(17:7) Whenever you did good, it was to your own advantage; and whenever you committed evil, it was to your own disadvantage. So, when the time of the fulfilment of the second promise arrived, (We raised other enemies that would) disfigure your faces and enter the Temple (of Jerusalem) as they had entered the first time, and destroy whatever they could lay their hands on.

عَسٰى رَبُّكُمۡ اَنۡ يَّرۡحَمَكُمۡ​ ۚ وَاِنۡ عُدْتُّمۡ عُدۡنَا​ۘ وَجَعَلۡنَا جَهَنَّمَ لِلۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ حَصِيۡرًا‏ 

(17:8) Your Lord may well show Mercy to you, but if you revert to your evil behaviour, We shall revert to chastising you. We have made Hell a prison for those who are thankless of Allah’s bounties.

اِنَّ هٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ يَهۡدِىۡ لِلَّتِىۡ هِىَ اَقۡوَمُ وَ يُبَشِّرُ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ الَّذِيۡنَ يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَهُمۡ اَجۡرًا كَبِيۡرًا ۙ‏ 

(17:9) Verily this Qur’an guides to the Way that is the Straight most. To those who believe in it, and do righteous works, it gives the good news that a great reward awaits them,

وَّاَنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِالۡاٰخِرَةِ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لَهُمۡ عَذَابًا اَلِيۡمًا

(17:10) and warns those who do not believe in the Hereafter that We have prepared for them a grievous chastisement.

The event referred to in this verse is known as Miraj and Isra. 

According to authentic traditions, this took place a year before Hijrah. In the traditional and biographical literature, its details have been related by a large number (25) of the companions. Anas bin Malik, Malik bin Saasaah, Abuzar Ghifari, and Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with them all) have related details of the event. Besides them, Umar, Ali, Abdullah bin Masud (Allah be pleased with them) have also related some parts of this event.

In this verse, the Quran mentions only a part of the Journey, i.e. from Masjid-i-Haram to the Temple at Jerusalem. The object of this journey as stated here was that Allah willed to show His servant some of His signs. 

The Quran does not give any details other than this but we find further details in the traditions, which are to this effect:

One night the Angel Jibril took Prophet (peace be upon him) on al-Buraq from Masjid-i-Haram to Masjid-i-Aqsa (the Temple).  There the Prophet (peace be upon him) offered his prayers along with the other Prophets. Then he took him towards the higher spheres, where he met some of the previous great Prophets in different spheres.

At last he reached the Highest Place in the Heavens, and was received in audience by Allah. It was there that, besides other important instructions, five daily Prayers were prescribed. 

Then he returned to the Temple and from there came back to Masjid-i-Haram. 

During this Journey, according to many traditions, Paradise and Hell were shown to him. We also learn from authentic traditions that on the following day when he mentioned this event, the disbelievers of Makkah scoffed at him, and some of the Muslims also were skeptical about this.

There are different versions of this journey. Some say that this happened in a dream, while others are of the opinion that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was fully awake and went on the journey with his own physical body. Some others say that it was merely a mystic vision which was shown to him. 

The opening words of this verse: “Glorified be He who took for a journey His servant” however, clearly show that it was a supernatural event which was brought about by the unlimited power of Allah. It is quite obvious that if the event had been merely a mystic vision, it would not have been introduced by the words which imply that the Being Who brought about this event is free from each and every kind of weakness and defect. 

Again the words “took His servant by night” also show that this was not a dream or a vision but a physical journey in which Allah arranged that the Prophet (peace be upon him) should make observation of His signs with his physical eyes. Therefore, one is bound to admit that this was not a mere spiritual experience but a physical journey and visual observation which Allah arranged for His Prophet (peace be upon him).

It is strange that some people are of the opinion that this extraordinary journey could not be possible, but now when man with his very limited power has been able to reach the moon, it is absurd to deny that Allah with His limitless power could enable His Messenger (peace be upon him) to make this journey in the extraordinary short time it took.

Above all, the question whether a thing is possible or not, can arise only in the case of human beings whose powers are limited, but such questions cannot be raised where the All-Powerful Allah is concerned. Only such a person who does not believe that Allah is able to do everything can raise objections against this wonderful journey about which Allah Himself says that He took His servant one night from Masjid-i-Haram to Masjid-i-Aqsa and showed him some of the unseen universe 

NOTES AND LESSONS Verse 2

As this verse has no apparent connection with the event of Miraj, it may appear to a cursory reader that either of the two verses has been misplaced here. But if we try to understand the matter in the context of the theme of the whole Surah, we can easily understand the connection between the two. 

The main object of this Surah is to give a warning to the disbelievers of Makkah. That is why the mention of Miraj has been made in the very first verse, as if to say: The person whom you dub as an impostor and reject the Book sent down to him, has just now seen with his naked eyes great signs of Allah. So you should learn a lesson from the history of the Israelites who discarded the Book of Allah and therefore, were given painful punishment.

The Arabic word “vakil”(guardian) denotes a person who is trustworthy and can be depended upon in regard to his affairs and may be turned to for guidance and help.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 3

That is, you are the descendants of Noah (peace be upon him) and his companions; therefore, you should behave in a manner as becomes such people. 

You should make Allah alone as your Guardian, for your ancestors escaped death from the flood only because they had made Allah their Guardian.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 4

The original Arabic word “Al-kitab” does not stand here only for the Torah but for all the divine Books.

Such warnings have been given in different Books of the Bible. As regards to their first mischief and its evil consequences, the Israelites were warned in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the warnings about their second mischief and its severe punishments are found in Matthew and Luke. 

Besides the warnings which were given to Israelites at the time of their first mischief, Prophet Isa/Jesus (peace be upon him) warned them of the consequences of their second great mischief. In a forceful address he criticized their morel degeneration like this:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. (Matthew, Chapter 23: verses 37, 38; Chapter 24: verse 2).

Then, when the Roman officials were taking Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) out for crucifixion, and a great company of people including women were following him bewailing and lamenting, he addressed them and gave his final warnings:

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say; Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, fall on us; and to the hills, cover us. (Luke, Chapter 23: verses 2830).

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 5

This refers to the terrible destruction that the Israelites suffered at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. One cannot fully appreciate the historical background of this merely from the extracts that have been reproduced above from the Books of the Prophets. A brief history of the Israelites is also needed so that a student may become acquainted with all the causes and circumstances on account of which Allah removed this nation, that professed to believe in a revealed Book, from the leadership of mankind and turned it into a humiliated, condemned and backward community.

After the death of Prophet Musa/Moses (peace be upon him) when the Israelites entered Palestine, it was inhabited by the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzittes, Hivites, Jebusites, the Philistines, etc. These communities had adopted the worst kind of idolatry, their supreme deity being Ayl whom they regarded as the father of gods and who was usually represented by the bull images. His consort was called Asherah from whom had descended a whole line of gods and goddesses, about 70 in number. The most powerful god among them was Baal who was regarded as the god of rain and growth and the lord of the earth and heavens. In the northern regions his consort was called Anathoth and in Palestine Ashtaroth. These two were the goddesses of love and procreation. Besides them, there was a god of death, a god of disease and famine, and a goddess of health, and thus all the worldly powers and agencies stood divided among a large number of these self made deities. 

The people had ascribed such lewd and base qualities and acts to these deities that even the worst offender against morality would shun being known by them. 

Obviously the people who have adopted such base deities for worship and devotion cannot remain secure from the worst kind of moral degeneration and the modern excavations have shown this conclusively.

Child sacrifice was a common thing among them. Their places of worship had turned into brothels, where women were kept as religious prostitutes and illicit relations with them were regarded as a part of worship and devotion.

The Israelites had clearly been told in the instructions given in the Torah that they should destroy those communities and wrest the land of Palestine from them, and that they should avoid mixing up with those people and ward off their moral and ideological weaknesses.

But when the Israelites entered Palestine they set this guidance aside. They not only did not establish a united kingdom of their own but fell prey to tribal parochialism. Each of their tribes was content to take a part of the captured land and become a separate and independent state. 

This disunity among them did not leave any of the tribes strong enough to purge its territory completely of the idolaters, and therefore they had to allow them to live side by side with them in the same land. 

Not only this, but there had remained in the conquered territories a number of small cities of these idolatrous communities which the Israelites had not been able to subjugate.

The first consequence of intermixing with those communities was that the Israelites also became idolatrous, and gradually began to adopt other moral evils also. 

This has been mentioned in the Book of Judges as below: 

And the children of Israel did evil, in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim. And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges, 2: 11-13).

The second consequence suffered by the Israelites was that the communities whose cities they had left unconquered and the Philistines whose land they had not at all touched set up a united front against them and drove them out of a major part of Palestine by incessant attacks, so much so that they deprived them of the Holy Ark of their Lord. At last, the Israelites felt the need of establishing a united kingdom of their own under one ruler, and on their request Prophet Samuel appointed Saul as their king in 1020 B.C. (For details see (Ayats 246-248 and E.Ns. 268-270 of Surah Al-Baqarah).—Tafheem ul Quran

This united kingdom was ruled by three kings: Saul (1020 B.C. to 1004 B.C.), Prophet Dawood/David (1004 to 965 B.C.) and Prophet Sulaiman/Solomon (365 to 926 B.C.). These kings brought to completion the mission that had been left incomplete by the Israelites after the death of Prophet Musa/Moses (Peace be upon the all). They annexed all the territories except the Phoenician state on the northern and the Philistine state on the southern coast, which of course became tributaries.

After the death of Prophet Sulaiman/Solomon the Israelites again adopted the ways of the world and fought among themselves and split into two independent kingdoms, the kingdom of Israel in the northern Palestine and Jordan with Samaria as its capital, and the kingdom of Judah in the southern Palestine and Edom with Jerusalem as its capital. These kingdoms were strife ridden from the very beginning and this state of affairs persisted till the end.

The rulers and people of the kingdom of Israel were the first to be affected grievously by the ideological and moral weaknesses of the neighboring communities. Specially, after the marriage of its ruler Ahab with the idolatrous princess Jezebel of Zidon, idolatry and other evils began to spread unchecked among the Israelites under the official patronage. 

Prophets Elias and Elisha tried their very best to check this deluge but the Israelites, who were rapidly degenerating, did not heed their warning. 

At last the wrath of Allah overtook the kingdom of Israel in the shape of the Assyrians who started subjecting Palestine to incessant attacks from 900 B.C. downward. During this period, Prophet Amos (787-747 B.C.) and then Prophet Hosea (747- 735 B.C.) rose and warned the Israelites again and again, but the wretched depraved people did not heed their warnings at all and transgressed all limits. Prophet Amos was banished by the king of Israel from the realm of Samaria and warned not to preach his mission in the country 

Not very long after this the wrath of Allah burst upon the kingdom of Israel and its people. The Assyrian king Sargon took Samaria in 721 B.C. and put an end to this northern kingdom. Thousands of Israelites were put to the sword and twenty seven thousand of their leading men were driven out of their homeland and scattered in the eastern districts of the Assyrian empire and replaced by settlers from other parts of the empire. 

When the remaining Israelites intermixed with the settlers, they also lost gradually their national and cultural identity.

The other kingdom of the Israelites, called the kingdom of Judah, which was set up in southern Palestine also began to adopt godless ways soon after the death of Prophet Sulaiman/Solomon, though its moral degeneration took place at a slower pace than that of Israel. Therefore, it was allowed to exist for a longer period. Then, like the kingdom of Israel, it also began to be subjected to continual attacks, its cities ruined and its capital besieged, but this kingdom could not be wholly destroyed by the Assyrians, it only became a tributary. Afterwards, when in spite of the best reformatory efforts of Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah the people of Judah did not give up idol worship and other moral evils, king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked and captured the whole of Judah in 598 B.C. including Jerusalem and took the king of Judah as prisoner. 

Even then the Israelites did not mend their ways and paid no heed to the warnings and guidance of Prophet Jeremiah. Instead of reforming their ways, they started making plans to change their fate by revolting against Babylon. 

At last in 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar punished them heavily by invading Judah and destroyed all its important cities. He razed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple to the ground and did not leave a wall of it standing in place. He drove a large part of the Israelite population out of their land and scattered them into the adjoining countries. The people who were left behind were cursed and subjected to all kinds of humiliations by the neighboring communities.

This was the first calamity that came as a warning to the Israelites and the first chastisement that they suffered as a result therof.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 6

This refers to the lease of time that the Israelites (That is the people of Judah) got after their release from the captivity of Babylon. As for the people of Israel and Samaria, they did not rise again after their moral and spiritual degeneration. 

 But among the people of Judah there still were some people who practiced the truth and invited others also to follow it. They carried on their work of invitation to the truth among the remaining Israelites in Judah and also exhorted those who had been driven out into Babylon and other lands to repent and follow the truth. 

At last the mercy of Allah came to their help. The downfall of Babylon started. The Persian king, Cyrus, took Babylon in 539 B.C. and in the following year issued a decree allowing the Israelites to return to and resettle in their homeland. The Israelites began to return home in caravan after caravan, and this continued for a long time. Cyrus also allowed the Israelites to rebuild the Temple of Solomon but the neighboring communities who had settled in this land resisted it. At last Darius appointed Zerubbabel, a grandson of the last king of Judah as the governor of Judah in 522 B.C., who got the Temple rebuilt under the care of Prophet Haggai, Prophet Zechariah and Joshua. In 458 B.C. Ezra arrived in Judah along with an exiled group and the Persian king Artaxerxes made the following decree:

“And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.

And whosoever will not do the law of thy God and the law of the king let judgment be executed speedily upon him whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment”. (Ezra, 7:25-26).

Taking advantage of this decree, Ezra carried out the revival of the religion of Prophet Musa/Moses (peace be upon him). He gathered together all the righteous and good people from the Israelites and set up a strong organization. He compiled and spread the Pentateuch which contained the Torah, made arrangements for the religious education of the Israelites, enforced the law and started purging the people of moral and ideological weaknesses which they had adopted by intermixing with the other communities. He compelled the Jews to divorce the idolatrous wives they had married, and took a covenant from them that they would worship God alone and follow His law only.

In 455 B.C. an exiled group came back to Judah under Nehemiah whom the Persian king appointed as the ruler of Jerusalem and ordered him to build the wall round the city. Thus, after 150 years the Holy city was fully restored and became the center of Jewish religion and culture, But the Israelites of northern Palestine, and Samaria did not benefit from the work of revival done by Ezra. They built a rival sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and tried to make it the religious center for the people of the Book. This caused a further, and perhaps the final, split between the Jews and the Samaritans.

The Jews suffered a setback for a while with the fall of the Persian Empire and the conquests of Alexander of Macedon ,and the rise of the Greeks. After the death of Alexander, his kingdom was subdivided into three empires. Syria fell to the lot of the Seleucide empire, with Antioch as its capital, whose ruler Antiochus III incorporated Palestine into his dominions in 198 B.C. 

These Greek conquerors who were idolatrous by precept and freelance morally felt greatly ill at ease with the Jewish religion and culture. So, they began to propagate the rival Greek way of life and culture by political and economic pressure, and were able to win over a strong section of the Israelites who became their helpers. 

This external interference caused a split in the Jewish nation. One group among them readily adopted the Greek dress, the Greek language, the Greek way of life and the Greek sports, while the other persistently stuck to their own culture and way of life.

In 175 B.C. when Antiochus IV (who was called Epiphanes, that is, the manifestation of God) came to the throne, he used all his power and authority to stamp out the Jewish religion and culture. He got idols installed in the Holy Temple at Jerusalem and forced the Jews to prostrate themselves before them. He strictly forbade the rite of offering the sacrifices at the altar, and commanded the Jews to offer sacrifices to idolatrous deities instead. 

He proposed death penalty for those who would keep the Torah in their houses, or observe the Sabbath or perform circumcision of their children. 

 But the Jews did not yield to this coercion, and started a powerful resistance movement, known in history as the revolt of the Maccabees. Though in this struggle the sympathies of the Greeck oriented Jews were with the Greeks, and they fully cooperated with the despots of Antioch to crush the Maccabean revolt, the common Jews who still retained the religious fervor of the days of Ezra sided with the Maccabees, who were ultimately able to drive out the Greeks and establish a free religious state which remained in power till 67 B.C 

 This state prospered and in time extended to all those territories which had once been under the control of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. It was able to annex a part of the land of the Philistines which had remained unconquered even in the days of Prophets Dawood/David and Sulaiman/Solomon (Peace be upon them).

This is an important LESSON from the historical background of the verse of the Quran under commentary.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 7

The historical background of the second degeneration and its chastisement is as follows: The moral and religious fervor with which the Maccabees had started their movement gradually cooled down and was replaced by love of the world and empty external form. 

 A split appeared among them and they themselves invited the Roman General, Pompey, to come to Palestine. 

Pompey turned his attention to this land in 63 B.C. By taking Jerusalem he put an end to the political freedom of the Jews. But the Roman conquerors preferred to rule their dominions through the agency of the local chiefs rather than by direct control. 

Therefore, a local government was set up in Palestine which eventually passed into the hand of Herod, a clever Jew, in 40 B.C. This ruler is well known as Herod the Great. He ruled over the entire Palestine and Jordan from 40 to 4 B.C. 

On the one hand, Herod patronized the religious leaders to please the Jews, and on the other, he propagated the Roman culture and won the goodwill of Caesar by showing his loyalty and faithfulness to the Roman Empire. During, his reign, the Jews degenerated and fell to the lowest ebb of moral and religious life.

On the death of Herod his kingdom was subdivided into three parts. His son, Archelaus, became the ruler of Samaria, Judea and northern Edom. In A.D. 6, however, Caesar Augustus deprived him of his authority and put the state under his Roman governor, and this arrangement continued up till A.D. 41. 

This was precisely the time when Prophet Isa/Jesus (peace be upon him) appeared to reform the Israelites whose religious leaders opposed him tooth and nail and even tried to get him the death sentence by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.

The second son of Herod, Herod Antipas, became the ruler of Galilee and Jordan in northern Palestine, and he was the person who got Prophet Yahya (John) (Peace be upon him) beheaded at the request and desire of a dancing girl. 

Herod’s third son, Philip, succeeded to the territories bounded on one side by river Yermuk and on the other by Mount Hermon. Philip had been much more deeply influenced by the Roman and Greek cultures than his father and brothers. Therefore the preaching of the truth could not have even so much effect in his land as it had in the other parts of Palestine.

In A.D. 41, the Romans appointed Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, ruler of the territories that had once been under Herod himself. 

Coming into power this man did whatever he could to persecute the followers of Prophet Isa/Jesus (peace be upon him) and used all the forces at his disposal to crush the movement that was functioning under the guidance of the disciples to inculcate fear of God in the people and reform their morals.

In order to have an estimate of the condition of the common Jews and their religious leaders, one should study the criticisms leveled by Prophet  Isa/Jesus (peace be upon him) on them in his sermons contained in the four Gospels. Even a religious man like Prophet Yahya/John (peace be upon him) was beheaded before their eyes and not a voice was raised in protest against this barbarity. 

Then all the religious leaders of the community unanimously demanded death sentence for Prophet Isa/Jesus (peace be upon him), and none but a few righteous men were there to mourn this depravity. 

 Above all, when Pontius Pilate asked these depraved people, which condemned prisoner he should release, according to the custom, at Passover, Isa:Jesus or Barabbas the robber, they all cried with one voice Barabbas. 

This was indeed the last chance Allah gave to the Jews, and then their fate was sealed.

Not long after this, a serious conflict started between the Jews and the Romans, which developed into an open revolt by the former between A.D. 64 and 66. Both Herod Agrippa II and the Roman procurator Floris failed to put down the rebellion. At last, the Romans crushed it by a strong military action and in A.D. 70 Titus took Jerusalem by force. About 133000 people were put to the sword. Sixty seven thousand made slaves, and thousands sent to work in the Egyptian mines and to other cities so that they could be used in amphitheaters for being torn by wild beasts or become the practice target for the sword fighters. All the tall and beautiful girls were picked out for the army of conquest and the Holy City of Jerusalem and the Temple were pulled down to the ground. 

After this the Jewish influence so disappeared from Palestine that the Jews could not regain power for two thousand years and the Holy Temple could never be rebuilt. 

Afterwards the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, restored Jerusalem but renamed it Aelia. 

The important LESSON from this history is:

The Jews were not allowed to enter it for centuries. This was the calamity that the Jews suffered on account of their degeneration for the second time.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 8

Though this admonition has been given as a parenthesis at the end of the address to the children of Israel, it does not mean that this and the address itself are solely meant for them.

As a matter of fact, the whole address is really directed towards the disbelievers of Makkah but, instead of addressing them directly, some important historical events from the history of the children of Israel have been cited in order to serve as admonition for them.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSES 9-10

This means to warn those persons or people or nations who do not take a lesson from the admonitions of the Quran to be ready to undergo that chastisement which Israelites had to suffer.

LESSON of great importance: 

Applied to the sad plight of the majority of people in the world in the 21st century AD,the warnings above are most relevant today ! 

DUA 

للَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الثَّبَاتَ فِي الْأَمْرِ، وَالْعَزِيمَةَ عَلَى الرُّشْدِ 

O Allah! I ask You to grant me steadfastness and consistency in all my affairs and I ask You for the resolve to adhere to the path of guidance.

Ya Allah o Ya Aleem o Ya Hakeem 

Please help us to unite in faith and in prayer to bring about peace and security, in a world fraught with violence, hatred and suffering 

Ya Allah o Ya Sami o Ya Baseer 

Please show those who are inflicting man’s inhumanity upon man their own misdemeanours and help them turn to the right path as well 

Ameen Summa Ameen

Rukuh 2 - Al Isra

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ

وَيَدۡعُ الۡاِنۡسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَآءَهٗ بِالۡخَيۡرِ​ ؕ وَكَانَ الۡاِنۡسَانُ عَجُوۡلًا‏ 

 (17:11) Man prays for evil in the manner he ought to pray for good. Man is ever hasty.

وَجَعَلۡنَا الَّيۡلَ وَالنَّهَارَ اٰيَتَيۡنِ​ فَمَحَوۡنَاۤ اٰيَةَ الَّيۡلِ وَجَعَلۡنَاۤ اٰيَةَ النَّهَارِ مُبۡصِرَةً لِّتَبۡتَغُوۡا فَضۡلًا مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ وَلِتَعۡلَمُوۡا عَدَدَ السِّنِيۡنَ وَالۡحِسَابَ​ؕ وَكُلَّ شَىۡءٍ فَصَّلۡنٰهُ تَفۡصِيۡلًا‏  

(17:12) We have made night and day as two signs. We made the sign of the night devoid of light, and made the sign of the day radiant that you may seek the bounty of your Lord and know the computation of years and numbers. Thus We have expounded everything in detail to keep everything distinct from the other.

وَكُلَّ اِنۡسَانٍ اَلۡزَمۡنٰهُ طٰۤـئِرَهٗ فِىۡ عُنُقِهٖ​ؕ وَنُخۡرِجُ لَهٗ يَوۡمَ الۡقِيٰمَةِ كِتٰبًا يَّلۡقٰٮهُ مَنۡشُوۡرًا‏ 

(17:13) We have fastened every man’s omen to his neck. On the Day of Resurrection We shall produce for him his scroll in the shape of a wide open book, (saying):

“We have fastened his fate to his neck”: therefore one does not need to take omens from a bird. 

اِقۡرَاۡ كِتٰبَك َؕ كَفٰى بِنَفۡسِكَ الۡيَوۡمَ عَلَيۡكَ حَسِيۡبًا ؕ‏ 

(17:14) “Read your scroll; this Day you suffice to take account of yourself.”

مَنِ اهۡتَدٰى فَاِنَّمَا يَهۡتَدِىۡ لِنَفۡسِهٖ ​ۚ وَمَنۡ ضَلَّ فَاِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيۡهَا​ ؕ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِّزۡرَ اُخۡرٰى​ ؕ وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِيۡنَ حَتّٰى نَبۡعَثَ رَسُوۡلًا‏ 

(17:15) He who follows the Right Way shall do so to his own advantage; and he who strays shall incur his own loss. No one shall bear another’s burden. And never do We punish any people until We send a Messenger (to make the Truth distinct from falsehood).

وَاِذَاۤ اَرَدۡنَاۤ اَنۡ نُّهۡلِكَ قَرۡيَةً اَمَرۡنَا مُتۡرَفِيۡهَا فَفَسَقُوۡا فِيۡهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيۡهَا الۡقَوۡلُ فَدَمَّرۡنٰهَا تَدۡمِيۡرًا‏ 

(17:16) When We decide to destroy a town We command the affluent among them, whereupon they commit sins in it, then the decree (of chastisement) becomes due against them and thereafter We destroy that town utterly.

وَكَمۡ اَهۡلَكۡنَا مِنَ الۡقُرُوۡنِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ نُوۡحٍ​ؕ وَكَفٰى بِرَبِّكَ بِذُنُوۡبِ عِبَادِهٖ خَبِيۡرًۢا بَصِيۡرًا‏ 

(17:17) Many a generation has been destroyed by Our command since Noah’s time. Your Lord is well aware and fully observant of the sins of His servants.

مَنۡ كَانَ يُرِيۡدُ الۡعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلۡنَا لَهٗ فِيۡهَا مَا نَشَآءُ لِمَنۡ نُّرِيۡدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنَا لَهٗ جَهَنَّمَ​ۚ يَصۡلٰٮهَا مَذۡمُوۡمًا مَّدۡحُوۡرًا‏  

(17:18) If anyone desires immediate benefits, We hasten to grant whatever benefits We will in the present life to whomsoever We please, but thereafter We decree for him Hell wherein he shall burn, condemned and rejected.

وَمَنۡ اَرَادَ الۡاٰخِرَةَ وَسَعٰى لَهَا سَعۡيَهَا وَهُوَ مُؤۡمِنٌ فَاُولٰۤـئِكَ كَانَ سَعۡيُهُمۡ مَّشۡكُوۡرًا‏ 

(17:19) But he who desires the Hereafter and strives for it in the manner he should, and is a true believer, his striving will come to fruition

These are the ones whose effort shall be appreciated, and he will be rewarded for the efforts he had made for success in the Hereafter.

كُلًّا نُّمِدُّ هٰٓؤُلَاۤءِ وَهٰٓؤُلَاۤءِ مِنۡ عَطَآءِ رَبِّكَ​ ؕ وَمَا كَانَ عَطَآءُ رَبِّكَ مَحۡظُوۡرًا‏ 

(17:20) To all of these as well as those We shall provide the wherewithal of this life in the present world by dint of your Lord’s Bounty; and from none shall the Bounty of your Lord be withheld.

اُنْظُرۡ كَيۡفَ فَضَّلۡنَا بَعۡضَهُمۡ عَلٰى بَعۡضٍ​ ؕ وَلَـلۡاٰخِرَةُ اَكۡبَرُ دَرَجٰتٍ وَّاَكۡبَرُ تَفۡضِيۡلًا‏ 

(17:21) See, how We have exalted some above others in this world, and in the Life to Come they will have higher ranks and greater degrees of excellence over others.

لَا تَجۡعَلۡ مَعَ اللّٰهِ اِلٰهًا اٰخَرَ فَتَقۡعُدَ مَذۡمُوۡمًا مَّخۡذُوۡلًا

(17:22) Do not set up any other (self proclaimed) deity with Allah  lest you are rendered humiliated and helpless.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 11

  1. This is in answer to the foolish demands of the disbelievers of Makkah who repeatedly demanded from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to bring about that torment with which he threatened them. It is closely connected with the preceding verse, as if to say: O foolish people instead of asking goodness you demand the torment. Can’t you realize the sufferings of the community which was visited by God’s torment?

 

2.It also contains a subtle warning to those Muslims who prayed for punishment for those disbelievers who persecuted them and rejected the message obdurately; there were still among those disbelievers many such people who afterwards embraced Islam and became its standard bearers in the world. 

3.That is why Allah says: Man does so because he is very hasty and impatient. He prays to Allah for all such things as are the immediate need of the time, though often subsequent experience shows that if Allah had granted his prayer, it would have been very harmful to him.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 12

 

1.Allah invites man to study the wisdom that underlies variety in the world and not get confused and long for monotonous uniformity. 

  1. In fact, the whole system is based on variety, distinctiveness and diversity in things. 

3.For the sake of illustration let us take the case of the signs of day and night: You see these opposite things daily in your life. If you just consider the underlying wisdom, you will find that without this variety there would have been hardly any activity in the world. 

4.Likewise great wisdom lies in the creation of the people with different temperaments, thoughts and inclinations. If Allah had made all men righteous by birth or annihilated disbelievers and wicked people and left only believers and submissive people in the world, the purpose of the creation of mankind could not have been realized. 

4.Therefore, it is wrong to desire that there should only be day and no night. 

 

  1. The righteous thing is that these people, who have the light of guidance, should exert their utmost to remove the darkness of deviation. It is their duty that if they find darkness like that of night, they should pursue it like the sun so that the light of guidance should reappear.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 13

 

1.This is to remove the superstition of the disbelievers who used to take omens from birds etc. 

 

  1. Thus, it is as if to say: The causes and consequences of good fortune or bad fate exist in man’s own person. He merits good fortune because of his own good conduct and good judgment, and likewise, suffers the consequences of evil fate by the lack of these. 

 

  1. This was necessitated because foolish people always try to attribute their misfortunes to external causes, when in fact our fate depends on our own deeds, good or bad. 

 

4.If they probe into the causes, they will find that their fate was decided by their own good or bad qualities and judgments.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 14-15

 

1.This is to impress that if a person adopts the right way, he does not do any favor to God or His Messenger or a reformer but he himself gets its benefits. 

2.On the other hand, if a person deviates from the right way, he can do no harm to God or His Messenger or a reformer, for they desire only to protect men from wrong ways and guide him on to the right way, and not for any selfish ends. 

 

3.Therefore, the right course for a wise man is to adopt the righteous way when it becomes distinct to him what is truth and what is falsehood. 

 

4.On the other hand, if he rejects truth because of his prejudices and self interest, he will be his own enemy and not a well wisher.

 

5.The Quran has laid great stress on the doctrine of personal responsibility at several places, for one cannot follow the right way scrupulously without understanding fully its implication. It means that, everyone is solely responsible for his moral conduct and is accountable to God as an individual in his own person and no other person can share the burden of responsibility with him. 

As an instance, we take the case of a particular action or a particular way of conduct in which a generation or a community of a large number of people had collaborated. When the people will assemble before Allah on the Day of Judgment, their collective action will be analyzed so as to lay the burden of its responsibility on each and every person who had been conducive to it, and rewarded or punished in accordance with it. 

6.Neither will a person be punished for the part another had played in its performance nor shall the burden of the sin of one individual be laid on the shoulders of another. 

 

7.This doctrine has been emphasized over and over again so that a wise man should not act in imitation of another or justify his own conduct by similar deeds of others. If a particular person feels the sense of his own responsibility, he will act in such a way as to come out successful on the Day of Judgment, regardless of what the others do.

  1. This verse also emphasizes the basic importance that a Messenger has in the dispensation of divine justice because this is determined in the light of the message brought by him. This will be employed as an argument in favor of or against the concerned people. Otherwise the infliction of punishment on the people would be unjust for in that case they could argue that they should not be punished as the knowledge of the righteous way had not been conveyed to them. But after the message had been conveyed to a particular people, and they had rejected it, there would be left no excuse for them.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 16

Here a definite form of divine procedure for the destruction of a people has been stated.: 

  1. When the affluent people of a habitation become disobedient, it is a portent that it is doomed to destruction. 

 

  1. After their persistent and continuous transgression, the affluent people become so obdurate in their disobedience that they begin to discard the instinctive dictates of their conscience. 

This has been stated in this verse : And when We intend to destroy a town, We give commands to its affluent people and they show disobedience. 

 

3.This is because Allah has created conscience for the guidance of man. Therefore, the dictates of conscience are really the commands of Allah. Thus it has become quite obvious that by “And when We intend to destroy a town” is not meant that Allah intends to destroy it without any reason. It is destroyed because after their disobedience that habitation incurs His just wrath and He totally exterminates it. 

 

4.The habitation deserves such a punishment because its common people follow the affluent people who are the factual leaders of a community and are mainly responsible for the corruption of the community. 

 

5.At first the affluent people commit acts of disobedience, wickedness, mischief, cruelty and tyranny and then the common people follow them and incur the torment of Allah. 

 

6.Incidentally, this is a warning for every community that it should be very discreet and prudent in choosing and electing its leaders and rulers, for if the latter are mean and wicked, they will inevitably lead the community to destruction. 

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 17-18

1.The Arabic word “ajilah”literally means something which can be had immediately, but the Quran employs it as a term for “this world” which yields its advantages and results in this worldly life. Its antonym is “Akhirat”(Hereafter) which will yield its advantages and results after death in the life of the next world.

 

  1. The person who does not believe in the life of the Hereafter deserves Hell, because he strives only for the successes and good things of this world and his endeavors are confined to material objects. 

Consequently, such a person becomes a mere worshiper of this world and adopts wrong conduct, for he has no sense of personal responsibility and accountability to God and ultimately deserves the torment of Hell.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 19-20

Allah gives the provisions of this world both to those who strive for this world and to those who strive for the Hereafter, but it is the gift of Allah alone and not of anyone else. It does not lie in the power of the worshipers of the world to deprive the seekers after the Hereafter of these provisions, nor have the seekers after the Hereafter any power to withhold these provisions from the worshipers of the world.

NOTES AND LESSONS VERSE 21

1.This is to show that the seekers of the Hereafter have been exalted over the worshipers of the world even in this worldly life. 

2.However, this exaltation is not in regards to the good things of this world, rich food and dresses, palatial dwellings, luxurious means of travelling and other grand things. 

 

3.They enjoy that true honor, love and goodwill which is denied to the tyrants and the rich people in spite of the fact that they may be poor and indigent. 

 

4.This is because whatever the seekers of the Hereafter get in this world, it is earned in righteous and honest ways, while the worshipers of the world amass wealth by employing dishonest and cruel ways. 

 

5.Then the former spend what they get with prudence and righteousness. 

 

6.They fulfill the obligations they owe to others. They spend their money in the way of Allah and to please Allah. They spend on the needy and the indigent. 

 

7.In contrast to them, the worshipers of this world spend their money in the enjoyment of luxuries, wicked works, corruption and spreading other evil things. 

 

8.This makes the former models of God worship and purity in every respect and distinguishes them so clearly from the worshipers of the world that they shine in exaltation over the latter. 

 

  1. These things clearly indicate that in the next world the rewards of the seekers of the Hereafter will be far greater and their superiority far higher than those of the worshipers of the world.

DUA

للّٰهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي، لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ، خَلَقْتَنِيْ وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ، وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ، أَعُوْذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ، أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَىَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِيْ، فَاغْفِرْ لِيْ، فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوْبَ إِلَّاأَنْتَ۔

Ya Allah! You are my Rabb. There is no true God except You. You have created me, and I am Your slave, and I hold to Your Covenant as far as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favours that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon

Ameen Ya Rabbul Alameen Summa Ameen

Leave a comment

Donate Now
Donate Box
Close
Cart
  • No products in the cart.
Your cart is currently empty.
No products in the cart.