Surah Al-Isra (The Night Journey ) 17 : 78
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at the decline
(of) the sun
(of) the night
(at) the dawn
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
At this point in the sūrah, the Prophet is directed to remain in contact with his Lord, seeking His support and following His directives, proclaiming the fact that the truth is certain to triumph, while falsehood will inevitably wither away.
Keep up prayer when the sun is on its decline, in the darkness of the night, and recite the Qur’ān at dawn, for the recitation of the Qur’ān at dawn is indeed witnessed. At night, rise from your sleep to recite it in prayer, as an additional offering from you. Your Lord may thus raise you to an honourable station. Say, My Lord, cause me to enter in a true and sincere manner and to leave in a true and sincere manner, and grant me, by Your grace, sustaining strength.’ And say, The truth has now come about while falsehood has withered away. For falsehood is always bound to wither away. We bestow of the Qur’ān from on high what serves as a healing and a blessing to true believers, while it only adds to the ruin of the evildoers. (Verses 78-82)
This directive applies to the Prophet in particular. It does not relate to the obligatory prayers which have their own timings, outlined in several authentic aĥādīth and numerous reports of the Prophet’s practical Sunnah. Some scholars suggest that the reference here to the sun’s decline means its beginning to move down from its zenith, while they take the reference to the ‘darkness of the night’ to mean the beginning of the night, and the ‘recitation at dawn’ to mean the obligatory prayer at dawn. They thus suggest that the Qur’ānic statement here groups together the times of all five obligatory prayers, Żuhr, `Aşr, Maghrib and `Ishā’, [when the sun is on its decline to the darkness of the night], and then Fajr at dawn. They consider that only recitation of the Qur’ān in prayer at night is obligatory on the Prophet as a bonus. For our part, we feel that the first view is more accurate, considering all else that these two verses mention as being applicable to the Prophet only. As for the timing of daily prayers, these are properly outlined in the Sunnah, both verbally and practically.
“Keep up prayer when the sun is on its decline, in the darkness of the night.” (Verse 78) This is an instruction to the Prophet to offer prayer at the time between the sun starting to set and the night creeping in to spread its darkness. He is also ordered to “recite the Qur’ān at dawn, for the recitation of the Qur’ān at dawn is indeed witnessed.” (Verse 78) These two periods when the day and night succeed each other in a continuous cycle have their special significance. Both times mark a change as the light dwindles to give way to the enveloping darkness, and then as the darkness is removed to allow the light to spread. Both times have their effect, softening hearts and inviting people to contemplate how the laws of nature operate without fail. Needless to say, the Qur’ān and prayer also have their effects on people’s hearts, particularly at dawn with its calm serenity, and approaching light, leading to another lively day.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
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[ edit ]
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[ edit ]
The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said,
( وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا ) قَالَ ” تَشْهَدُهُ مَلاَئِكَةُ اللَّيْلِ وَمَلاَئِكَةُ النَّهَارِ
“And recite the Qur’ān in the early dawn. Verily the recitation of the Qur’ān in the early dawn is ever witnessed [17:78].” The Prophet said, “It is witnessed by the angels of the night and the angels of the day.” [Tirmidhee no. 3135 - صحيح [Sahih]