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Sura 17
Aya 1

Chapter 17

The Night Journeyal-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

Ahmed Ali: In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful.

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

Ahmed Ali

GLORY TO HIM who took His votary to a wide and open land1 from the Sacred Mosque (at Makkah) to the distant Mosque whose precincts We have blessed, that We may show him some of Our signs. Verily He is all-hearing and all-seeing.2
  • See Raghib and Muhit for meaning of isra generally translated as ‘journey by night;’ and next note for ‘Our signs.’
  • The interpretation of this verse as the Prophet’s being carried by night from the sacred mosque at Makkah to al-Aqsa mosque at Jerusalem, and its association with the Prophet’s ascension to heaven, me’raj, starts some two to three hundred years later with the compilations of Hadith and Tafsir. At the time of the revelation fo this Surah, there was no al-Aqsa or any other mosque behind the Temple of Solomon, as Baidawi has observed. Historically, the Prophet migrated by night to Madina some 300 miles away from Makkah, and al-aqsa means distant, and mosque means a place where God is adored. Raghib and Muhit points out that the word isra as used here is not derived from sara yasri, to walk or journey by night, but from siratun, meaning God took His devotee to an open and spacious region, as-saru meaning to open out and siratun-nahar the zenith of the day. And it was at Madina where the Prophet’s mission spread out to its widest horizon. As for Ascension, generally know as me’raj, it is described with precision in 53:1-18.