1 Preface سُبحانَ الَّذي أَسرىٰ بِعَبدِهِ لَيلًا مِنَ المَسجِدِ الحَرامِ إِلَى المَسجِدِ الأَقصَى الَّذي بارَكنا حَولَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِن آياتِنا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّميعُ البَصيرُAhmed AliGLORY 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.