Section 1: The Apostle Muhammad’s Visit
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Surah Isra’ – Verse 1
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَي بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَي الْمَسْجِدِ الاَقْصَا الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ ءَايَاتِنَآ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
1. “Glory be to Him Who took his servant by night from Masjid-ul-Har am to Masjid-ul-’Aqsa the precincts of which We have blessed that We show him (some) of Our signs. Verily, He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”
The ascension of the Prophet (S) to Heavens is the most sacred of the journeys throughout history.
The first verse of this Surah discusses the issue of the journey by night of the Prophet (S) from Masjid-ul-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) to Masjid-ul-’Aqsa (Bayt-ul-Muqaddas) which has been a precursor for /Mi‘raj/, the most sacred trip.
This trip took place within one night and for a short time. Such a trip could have never been in the least possible given the conditions of the time and through ordinary means which were available in those days, in which case, the miraculous and extraordinary nature of it was obvious.
At first, the verse says:
“Glory be to Him Who took his servant by night from Masjid-ul-Har am to Masjid-ul-’Aqsa the precincts of which We have blessed…”
By using the phrase /masjidul’Aqsa/ here meant Bayt-ul-Muqaddas which is the farthest Mosque, for, at that time, no other mosque existed farther than that. We had blessed its entire surroundings with material, spiritual, worldly, and religious blessings.
For, that was the place of worship of the highly-esteemed prophets as well as the place for the descending of the revelation which was a sacred point, with flowing streams surrounded by fully fruit-bearing trees.
Nonetheless, it is with deepest regret that as a result of the crimes of Israel and America as well as the entire over-oppressive enemies of Islam and their betraying mercenaries, demolitions have been carried out around that sacred place and deadly fire-arms cause thousands of crimes everyday there.
Their beautiful landscapes, which are natural, are turned into semi-burned ruins and heaps of corpses of oppressed human beings, who are killed in cold blood, are to be found there everywhere.
The Holy Qur’an implies that Allah’s objective in this extraordinary night trip was to expose to him His sings of power, and wonders of creation.
His sight-seeing tour from Mecca to Masjid-ul-’Aqsa during a single night, as well as his elevation to the skies and his witnessing of the prophets and, finally, his eventual access to the Bayt-ul-Ma‘mūr, and Sidrat-ul-Muntah a, as well as a host of other things are all the signs of Allah’s Omnipotence.
The Prophet (S) had formerly acquired full knowledge of Allah’s magnitude, yet this tour of the skies tended to widen the scope of his observation as to those explicit signs which, in turn, enabled him further to guide human beings.
The verse says:
“…that We show him (some) of Our signs…”
Definitely, it is widely known in the Islamic circle of scholars that the Prophet (S), while in Mecca, was taken by the power of Allah on a night from Masjid-ul-Har am to Masjid-ul-’Aqsa in Bayt-ul-Muqaddas from where he ascended to the skies to note the signs of the magnitude of Allah in the wide open spaces, and then he returned to Mecca on the same night.
It is also widely believed among the Muslim scholars that he performed such a sightseeing tour of the earth and the skies with both body and soul coupled with each other.
We shall, Allah willing, discuss further the issue of “Mi‘raj” following our discussion of Surah An-Najm.
In the end of the verse, the Qur’an says:
“…Verily, He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”
Allusion is here made to the fact that if Allah selected His prophet for such a glorification, it was not undue, for his words and deeds were so decent and deserving that such a mission was well in line with his aptitude. The Almighty had thus seen and heard him and approved him for such an assignment.
Surah Isra’ – Verse 2
وَءَاتَيْنَا مُوسَي الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًي لّـِبَني إِسْرَآئِيلَ أَلاَّ تَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِي وَكِيلاً
2. “And We gave Moses the Book, and made him a Guide for the Children of Israel, (saying:) ‘Do not take other than Me a guardian’.”
As the first verse of this Surah dealt with the grandeur of the Prophet (S), and as such issues were rejected mainly by pagans and dissidents basing their argument on the subject that how might it be possible for a prophet to be selected from among us with so many distinctions, thus the Qur’an alludes here to the call of Moses (as) and his Divine Book so as to make it clear that such a prophetic mission is not new and entirely a novelty.
Moreover, such an obstinate type of opposition and biased dissidence of the pagans against the Prophet of Islam (S) had not been unprecedented throughout history in general and throughout the history of The Children of Israel in particular.
The verse declares:
“And We gave Moses the Book, and made him a Guide for the Children of Israel…”
It is unequivocal that the objective of naming of the ‘Book’ in this verse is the ‘Torah’ which Allah provided Moses (as) for the guidance of the Children of Israel.
Afterwards, the Qur’an refers to the main objective of the mission of the prophets, including Musa, to whom He has commanded:
“…(saying:) ‘Do not take other than Me a guardian’.”
This issue raises one of the main branches of monotheism, that is, ‘practical monotheism’ which in turn indicates to ‘monotheism in ideology’. He, who considers the ‘Prime Cause’ of the entire world of existence to be only Allah, will necessarily not rely on anyone else. And those who rely on and count on others do so because of their weakness in their monotheistic ideology.
The supreme outcome of the illumination by celestial Books is the enlightenment of the light of monotheism which they bring about in people’s hearts and will consequently lead to one’s cutting off of all, and his eventual reliance on Him.
Surah Isra’ – Verse 3
ذُرِّيَّةَ مَنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَبْداً شَكُوراً
3. “(O’ you!) the offspring of those whom We embarked along with Noah (on the Ark). Verily, he was a grateful servant.”
Noah (as) has been called as the ‘second father’ of man, for, in the Storm of Noah, all people were drowned except those who were in the ship alongside Noah. It is for this reason that the meaning of the first phrase of the verse:
is identical with the phrase
The verse says:
“(O’ you!) the offspring of those whom We embarked along with Noah (on the Ark). Verily, he was a grateful servant.”
Noah (as) lived longer than all of the prophets and remained always the target of attack and teasing of the pagans, unbelievers, and the obstinate.
Nevertheless, he was a grateful servant of Allah and thus he enjoyed a differential treatment, to whom Allah conveys His particular greetings, by saying:
Surah Isra’ – Verse 4
وَقَضَيْنَآ إِلَي بَنِي إِسْرَآئِيلَ فِي الْكِتَابِ لَتُفْسِدُنَّ فِي الاَرْضِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَلَتَعْلُنَّ عُلُوّاً كَبِيراً
4. “And We declared unto the Children of Israel in the Book (the Torah, saying): “Certainly you will make mischief on the earth twice, and certainly you will seek self-superiority with great arrogance’.”
Alluding to parts of the adventurous history of the Children of Israel in this verse, He says:
“And We declared unto the Children of Israel in the Book (the Torah, saying): “Certainly you will make mischief on the earth twice, and certainly you will seek self-superiority with great arrogance’.”
The Qur’anic word, /’al ’ard/ (the land), symmetrical to the subsequent verse, is meant the Holy land of Palestine where Masjid-ul-’Aqsa is located.
The issue of ‘making mischief on the earth twice’ might probably be related to the two occasions of the Children of Israel: Once to the martyrdom of Sho’aia and the opposition of Armia, and the second occasion is concerned with the murder of Zakaryya and Yahya.
There are, of cause, other possibilities also mentioned in connection with the subject which will be referred to in the discussions following the ensuing verses.
Paradise will belong to those who abstain from arrogance, and distance themselves from every kind of insolence; it does not pertain to the ones who regard themselves as superior to others.
Surah Al-Qasas, No. 28, verse 83 says:
“That is the abode of the Hereafter…”
Surah Isra’ – Verse 5
فإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ اُولاَهُمَا بَعَثْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ عِبَاداً لَنَآ اُوْلِي بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ فَجَاسُوا خِلاَلَ الدِّيَارِ وَكَانَ وَعْداً مَّفْعُولاً
5. “So when the promise for the first of the two came to pass, We raised against you some of powerful servants of Ours, given to terrible warfare, so it was they searched inside the houses thoroughly; and a promise to be fulfilled.”
The extermination of the unruly oppressors is one of Allah’s ways of treatment.
The Qur’an says:
“So when the promise for the first of the two came to pass, We raised against you some of powerful servants of Ours…”
Certainly, there is always somebody who has the upper hand. The Children of Israel initiated a rebellion; the Almighty made other groups dominate them who were superior to them.
To provide power to put down the unruly ones and the rebellions, as well as the withdrawal of security from them, is a decent performance even if a house-to-house search might be required. Thus, all the Divine prophecies will definitely be accomplished fully.
The verse says:
“…given to terrible warfare, so it was they searched inside the houses thoroughly; and a promise to be fulfilled.”
Therefore, dealing in the previous noble verse with these two great vices and the ensuing happenings which are the consequences of them as the Divine chastisement, He proclaims:
When the occasion for the first promise arrives and you engage in corruption, bloodshed, tyranny and crime, We shall send over to you a powerful group, combatant, and belligerent so as to pound you, hence, punishing you for your behavior.
This belligerent people invade you in such a manner that for finding even a single one of you, they undertake a house-to-house search mission. And this promise is a decisive one which would be unavoidable and not to be broken.
Surah Isra’ – Verse 6
ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَا لَكُمُ الْكَرَّةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَمْدَدْنَاكُم بِاَمْوالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ أَكْثَرَ نَفِيراً
6. “Then We gave you back the turn to prevail against them, and We assisted you with wealth and children and We made you a numerous host.”
Providing sinful people with a respite and re-examination through procurement of their capital and children is one of Allah’s ways of treatment. Allah’s grace will cover both those sinners who are repentant, and the sinful people who have already been punished. Therefore, Allah’s favours will be forthcoming once again and He will enable you to dominate that invading nation.
The verse says:
“Then We gave you back the turn to prevail against them…”
And Allah shall assist you by providing you with wealth, and affluent belongings as well as with children and He shall outnumber you as against your enemy.
The verse says:
“…and We assisted you with wealth and children and We made you a numerous host.”
Surah Isra’ – Verse 7
إِنْ أَحْسَنتُمْ أَحْسَنتُمْ لاَنفُسِكُمْ وَإِنْ أَسَأْتُمْ فَلَهَا فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ الاَخِرَةِ لِيَسوءُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَلِيَدْخُلُوا الْمَسْجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَلِيُتَبّـِرُوا مَا عَلَوْا تَتْبِيرا
7. “If you do good, you do it for your own selves; and if you commit evil, it is (in like manner) for your own selves. Hence, when the promise of the second came to pass, (We permitted the mighty fighters) to disfigure your (military) faces, and that they may enter the Mosque as they entered it the first time, and to destroy extensively whatever they conquered.”
Such Divine favours will cover you. Maybe, you will once discover your own selves and try to reform yourselves, thus distancing yourselves from all evil acts, you may turn to good ones, for when one does good, he has done it to his own self and if he commits evil, it will eventually turn to him, too.
The verse says:
“If you do good, you do it for your own selves; and if you commit evil, it is (in like manner) for your own selves…”
This is a general and everlasting rule that all good and evil will eventually return to one’s own self.
However, it is with deep regret that neither that punishment of Allah may awaken you, nor this favour and renewed Divine grace, for you turn to rebellion once again, following the path of tyranny, oppression and violation, inciting a grave corruption on the earth and exceeding the limits in arrogance and self superiority.
Then, there comes the second Divine promise, and when it arrives, some warriors and combatants overcome you in such a way that the pains and calamities inflicted upon you by them make you grieve to the extent that signs of sorrow and despair appear on your faces.
The verse says:
“…Hence, when the promise of the second came to pass, (We permitted the mighty fighters) to disfigure your (military) faces…”
They even capture your great temple of Bayt-ul-Muqaddas (Jerusalem), then they enter Masjid-ul-’Aqsa in much the same way that they did in the first instance.
The verse says:
“…and that they may enter the Mosque as they entered it the first time…”
They do not even suffice to this matter and they devastate whatever they dominate and capture.
The verse continues saying:
“…and to destroy extensively whatever they conquered.”
In the end, whatever is of importance in historical events, which leads to development, can be their didactic lessons derived from them, and not the details of the incidents.
The adventures of the wandering of the oppressive Jews, which were brought about by the godly believing people, and which have been dealt with in the last two verses, are meant to demonstrate the fact that oppression and paganism will not be left unanswered.
Since this very general and educative fact has been targeted, therefore, the verse has not dealt with the issues of the details of the entanglement, number, and weaponry.
The case is just in the same way that in the biography of Hadrat-i-Yusuf (as), details of the story and even the name of Zulaykh a has not been even mentioned because of the educational nature of the objectives and instructions with regard to the matters of chastity.
In the meantime, some commentaries have pointed out the corruption of the Jews and their eradication on two occasions by individuals in distant past or recent past, and Masjid-ul-Aqsa has born witness to many bitter memories during several thousand years, yet, according to some verses and Islamic quotations, perhaps we must be expecting further violations and oppressions from the side of the Israelis and their eventual extermination by the righteous servants of Allah.
As it is understood from the apparent of verses 5 and 6, there has not come yet such a widespread corruption on the earth to be brought about by the Children of Israel and such an important devastation and extermination has not been fulfilled by men of Allah.
Nowadays, we are witnessing, on the one hand, the widespread violation by Israel and its plot for the conquest of the lands from the Nile to the Euphrates as well as the expulsion of the Muslims from their homeland, the bringing of espionage networks into existence in the world, taking over of the propaganda machinery, assembling of manpower from the east and the west, and other measures which are conducive to corruption.
On the other hand, we are also watching the emergence of the Islamic Revolution and the appearance of the godly sincere youths in Palestine who invade Israel and try to recapture and repossess Masjid-ul-’Aqsa, in which case, maybe the noble verse alludes to these aspects. Only Allah is the Most Aware.
Incidentally, according to the numerous Islamic quotations, which are recorded under this verse in various commentaries, some consider the occurrence of the extermination of the violating Jews by the faithful revolutionaries before the uprising of Hadrat-i-Mahdi (as), those who take up their swords (arms) and who go forth as far as their martyrdom.
They will in turn pave the way for the universal government of Hadrat-e-Mahdi (a.j.). Some regard this occurrence to take place within the period of the reappearance of Imam-i-Zaman, in which case the invading Jews will be exterminated.
Concluding this statement, we must keep in mind that the Mosques have constantly been the bases for the force of the religions and as a symbol of power. Hence, liberating the mosques from the domination of pagans has constantly been the duty of the believers.
To combat the violating Jews, men of Allah will enter Bayt-ul-Muqaddas in the same way that the Muslims did in entering Masjid-ul-Har am at the time of the conquest of Mecca.
Surah Isra’ – Verse 8
عَسَي رَبُّكُمْ أَن يَرْحَمَكُمْ وَاِنْ عُدتُّمْ عُدْنَا وَجَعَلْنَا جَهَنَّمَ لِلْكَافِرِينَ حَصِيراً
8. “It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you, but if you revert (to your sins), We shall (also) revert (to Our punishment), and We have made Hell a prison for the unbelievers.”
The Arabic term /hasir/ is derived from the term /hasr/ which signifies being entrenched and surrounded in an awful place. Carpets made out of straws are called by this name /hasir/ as they are interwoven in like manner.
It is not permissible for anyone to be desperate from the grace of Allah and to lose hope, as Allah has also left the way of return open even for those who are corrupt.
Incidentally, in methods of guidance, we first must start everything with a compassionate tone of voice.
Afterwards, we should employ other means as threats or warnings, similar to the noble verse which, at first, begins with “mercy on you,” and then it uses warning and threat in the case of corruption and concludes the statement, when it implies that the gates for repentance and return to Him are not closed; hopefully, your Lord will have mercy on you; but in the case of returning to sin, His punishment is intensive for what you do.
The verse says:
“It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you, but if you revert (to your sins), We shall (also) revert (to Our punishment), and We have made Hell a prison for the unbelievers.”
Surah Isra’ – Verse 9
إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْءَانَ يَهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشّـِرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ اَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْراً كَبِيراً
9. “Verily, this Qur’an guides to that which is the most upright, and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they shall have a great reward.”
The Holy Qur’an is the only Book which contains constant and eternal laws.
In the previous noble verses our discussion was about the Children of Israel and their celestial Book, the Torah, as well as their deviation from this Divine program and their various punishments with respect to the matter. Parts of this discussion have been transferred to the ‘Glorious Qur’an’ which is the Holy Book of the Muslims, the last ring in the chain of the circle of the celestial Books.
“Verily, this Qur’an guides to that which is the most upright…”
That is, the Qur’an leads the people to the most upright, to the purest and the most sustainable of the ways. The purest and the most direct way in here applies to the ideas it presents. It implies the fact that it has achieved coherence between the overt and the hidden, the idea and practice, and thinking and scheduling, all of which eventually invites and leads one to ‘Allah’.
Once reference is made to the point meaning, ‘the purest and the most direct’, it implies that from the point of view of social, economic, and political organization, which is governing human societies, it offers the purest and the most direct codes of humane conduct with respect to these and, eventually, it encompasses administrative system of government which establishes justice while pounding on the tyrants and the oppressors.
Then, as the stands taken by people in face of this direct Divine program are different, it refers to two distinguished positions and their consequences, implying that this Qur’an bears good tidings for those believers who perform good deeds, which constitute great rewards for them.
The verse continues saying:
“…and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they shall have a great reward.”
Surah Isra’ – Verse 10
وَاَنَّ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالاَخِرَةِ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً
10. “And that (as for) those who do not believe in the Hereafter, We have prepared for them a painful chastisement.”
The Divine punishment all depends on our own deeds, and, hence, that kind of corruption which is not followed by repenting, will lead to disbelief.
Therefore, the Qur’an in this verse indicates that those who do not believe in the Hereafter and its great court of justice, and thus may not engage in performing decent and righteous acts, it unveils the fact that a painful chastisement has been prepared for them.
The verse says:
“And that (as for) those who do not believe in the Hereafter, We have prepared for them a painful chastisement.”