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Sura 17
Aya 1

Chapter 17

The Night Journey
al-Isrāʾ ( الإسراء )

111 verses • revealed at Meccan

»The surah that mentions the miracle of The Night Journey, wherein God transported His servant Muḥammad in a single night from the Sacred Mosque of Mecca to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, to show him some of His most wondrous signs. God caused Muhammad, in the space of a single night, to journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and from there to heaven and back again. It takes its name from this subject, as relating to the celestial journey (miʿrāj) of the Prophet, mentioned in verse 1 and again in verse 60. The surah is framed by references to the Children of Israel at the beginning, and to Pharaoh at the end. The bulk of the surah deals with the Quran as guidance and warning, Muḥammad, and the nature of prophecy, especially the fact that he is a human being and incapable himself of producing miracles. It also warns of Iblis’s promise to tempt mankind and of the fate of the disbelievers, and it gives a series of commandments (verse 22 ff.).«

The surah is also known as: Glory, The Children of Israel.

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

1
سُبحانَ الَّذي أَسرىٰ بِعَبدِهِ لَيلًا مِنَ المَسجِدِ الحَرامِ إِلَى المَسجِدِ الأَقصَى الَّذي بارَكنا حَولَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِن آياتِنا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّميعُ البَصيرُ

Muhammad Asad

THE REFERENCE to the mystic Night Journey in the first verse of this surah (see Appendix IV) shows that it cannot have been revealed earlier than in the last year before the hijrah; Suyuti places it chronologically between surah 28 and the group of surahs 10-12. The assumption of some authorities that certain of its verses belong to a much later time - namely, the Medina period -is purely conjectural and may, therefore, be disregarded. Because of the mention of the children of Israel in verses 2-8 and 101-104, some of the contemporaries of the Prophet used to designate this surah by the title of Banu Isra'il ("The Children of Israel"); most of the classical commentators, however, prefer the title Al-Isra'. According to 'A'ishah, the Prophet used to recite this surah every night in his prayer (Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Ibn Hanbal).
LIMITLESS in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Inviolable House of Worship [at Mecca] to the Remote House of Worship [,at Jerusalem] - the environs of which We had blessed1 - so that We might show him some of Our symbols: for, verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-seeing.2
  • The above short reference to the Prophet's mystic experience of the "Night Journey" (al-isra') to Jerusalem and the subsequent "Ascension" (mi'raj) to heaven is fully discussed in Appendix IV at the end of this work. - "The Inviolable House of Worship" (al-masjid al-haram is one of the designations given in the Qur'an to the Temple of the Ka'bah, the prototype of which owed its origin to Abraham (see surah 2, note 102) and was "the first Temple set up for mankind" (3:96), i.e., the first ever built for the worship of the One God. "The Remote [lit., "farthest"] House of Worship", on the other hand, denotes the ancient Temple of Solomon - or, rather, its site - which symbolizes here the long line of Hebrew prophets who preceded the advent of Muhammad and are alluded to by the phrase "the environs of which We had blessed". The juxtaposition of these two sacred temples is meant to show that the Qur'an does not inaugurate a "new" religion but represents a continuation and the ultimate development of the same divine message which was preached by the prophets of old.
  • Although the term ayah is most frequently used in the Qur'an in the sense of "[divine] message", we must remember that, primarily, it denotes "a sign [or "token"] by which a thing is known" (Qamus). As defined by Raghib, it signifies any perceivable phenomenon (irrespective of whether it is apparent to the senses or only to the intellect) connected with a thing that is not, by itself, similarly perceivable: in brief, a "symbol". Hence, the expression min ayatina may be suitably rendered as "some of Our symbols", i.e., insight, through symbols, into some of the ultimate truths.