Surah Al-Isra (The Night Journey ) 17 : 1

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ سُبْحَٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Exalted is He who took His Servant [i.e., Prophet Muhammad] by night from al-Masjid al-Harām to al-Masjid al-Aqsā, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The sūrah begins with glorifying God, the most fitting action to confirm the bond between God and His servants in the atmosphere of compassion and friendliness imparted by the mention of the night journey:

Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah] to the Aqşā Mosque [in Jerusalem] — the environs of which We have blessed — so that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is the One who hears all and sees all. (Verse 1)

The sūrah emphasizes the position of man as God’s servant: “He who transported His servant by night...” The emphasis here is needed in the context of the Prophet’s ascension to heaven where no human being had gone before. It is important in this context that the status of man’s servitude to God should always be remembered. There must be no confusion of status similar to that which happened in the case of Jesus on account of his birth, his being raised to heaven at the end of his life on earth, and the powers which were given to him during life. All these caused some people to confuse his status and to claim that he had a divine nature. In its simplicity and purity, Islam insists that no similarity could ever exist between God and any creature.

The Arabic text of this opening verse uses the verb, asrā, which denotes ‘travelling during the night’. It is sufficient then to use this verb to denote the time of the action. Yet the verse adds the phrase, laylan, or ‘by night’, to give an added sense of the still night and the ease of travel. The journey from the Sacred Mosque to the Aqşā Mosque was one chosen by God, the Compassionate who knows everything. It provided a link between all monotheistic faiths from the time of Abraham and Ishmael to the time of the last Prophet, Muĥammad (peace be upon them all). It also established a link between the holy places in all these religions. It seems that this unusual journey served as an announcement that the last Messenger was the heir to the heritage of all former messengers. His message staked a claim to all these holy places. Thus it becomes a journey that goes beyond the scope of time and place.

The opening verse describes the Aqşā Mosque as one with blessed environs. This description shows the blessings surrounding the mosque and flowing in abundance. This impression could not have been given with a direct description such as ‘the mosque which we have blessed.’ This is another example of the refined use of language characteristic of the Qur’ān.

The Prophet’s night journey was a telling sign, and it was accompanied by others, as the opening verse says in stating its purpose, “so that We might show him some of Our signs.” Covering the distance between the Sacred Mosque in Makkah and the Aqşā Mosque in Jerusalem, in a very short period that did not allow the Prophet’s bed to become cold, is a sign of God’s power, whatever the means used to accomplish it. It opens our minds to new horizons in the universe and reveals latent potentials within mankind. It shows that those human beings chosen by God to be the bearers of His message have the latent ability to receive whatever greater powers God wishes to give them. It is God who has honoured man, giving him a favoured position among His creation, and endowed him with such potentials. “He alone is the One who hears all and sees all.” (Verse 1) He indeed hears and sees all that is beyond the reach of our hearing and seeing faculties.

It is especially impressive that the opening verse of this sūrah starts with glorifying God, “Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night”. After defining the purpose of this journey, it finishes with highlighting two of God’s attributes, perfect hearing and seeing that encompass all things. This quick movement across purposes reflects the finest points of the expression used. The glorification is addressed to God Himself, and the statement about the purpose of the night journey comes from Him, while the description of God’s powers is made in the form of an indisputable statement. All these forms are combined in one verse so as to give their different imports.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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The very first verse indicates that this Surah was revealed on the occasion of the ascension (Mi’raj). According to the narrations (hadith) on the life of the Prophet, this event happened one year before migration (Hijrah). Thus this Surah was revealed in the last stage of Prophethood in Makkah.

8. Reasons for Revelation

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The Prophet had been propagating Monotheism (Tawhid) for twelve years now. In spite of all the opposition, Islam had spread to every corner of Arabia and there was hardly a clan which had not been influenced by the invitation. In Makkah itself, the true Believers had formed themselves into a small community.  A large number of the people from the Aws and Khazraj tribes (two influential clans of Madinah) had also now accepted Islam. Thus the time had come for the Muslims to emigrate from Makkah to Madinah, at behest of the Aws and Khazraj to establish an Islamic state.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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