Surah Al-Israa – Nouman Ali Khan
Notes by sister Z.Z
It is also called surah Bani Israel because it mentions Jewish history – as it summarises their 2000 years of history. The entire career of Bani Israel went through 4 major phases summarized in the first 3 or 4 ayas of this surah. Jewish history is inseparable from Muslim history so that is why their history is mentioned at the beginning of this surah.
This is a Makkan sura.
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
First event mentioned in this surah is directly tied to Jewish history.
Quran: -How perfect is the one who took his slave at night from the Masjid Al-Haram to the Masjid Al-Aqsa.
Asra – yusri – israa: take at night. Night is embedded in the meaning of asra. Allah mentions laylan which means the journey took place during only a small portion of the night. If you use laylatan instead, it would mean the entire night because layla means one night. Isra is part one of Prophet Muhammad`s journey. First stop of this journey was Jerusalem. As Prophet Mohammed was already declared Imam of Makkah, he was declared Imam of Jerusalem (meaning the Jewish) as well during this journey. He became Imam of all previous prophets.
This journey is the highest state any person can reach because you get the company of Allah. Allah refers to Prophet Muhammad PBUH as a slave. This means there is no greater status or honor than humbling yourself in front of Allah and being His slave.
Quran: -Masjid Al-Aqsa that we have blessed its surroundings.
The land of Jerusalem is very lush, green and full of vegetation. In addition, Allah blessed it with prophets and revelation.
Context: It is one of the places where Ibrahim (AS) set foot. Ibrahim left Ishaq in Jerusalem and Ismail in Mecca. One of Ibrahim’s children (Prophet Muhammad PBUH ) was chosen to unify those two legacies.
Quran: -For the purpose of showing him some of our miraculous signs. No doubt about it He is All Hearing and All Seeing.
Context: When Prophet Muhammad informed Makkans of his journeythey were super happy because they had something to take this to his followers to prove to them their claim that Prophet Muhammad PBUH was crazy. They couldn’t believe that he went to Jerusalem and ascended 7 heavens all in a part of the night. So, they went to Abu Bakr alSideeq and told him what the Prophet had told them. So, Abu Bakr said if he said it then it must have happened. Banu Israel believed in the Prophet and followed him but they had trouble believing this journey. They put conditions on their following and having faith in Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
And We gave Moses the Scripture and made it a guidance for the Children of Israel that you not take other than Me as Disposer of affairs,
Quran: – And we have given Musa the book and we have made it a guide for the sons of Israel
The Tawrat was a guide for Israelites, and not for all people. Muhammad’s book is the guide to all people while Musa`s book was a guide for Bani Israel. The summary of Tawrat/ Mosaic revelation was just that the Israelites were asked not to take anyone else but ALLAh as wakeel.
Wakala: to put your trust in someone with a personal matter. This means the matter is left to them entirely.
Context: How did the Mosa/ Moses (AS) end up in that land? He crossed water. Water had been crossed before to save Bani Israel. When Musa crossed the water and Pharoah drowned in that same water source. In jewish ancestry, before Musa there was Nooh (AS) and his people were also saved from water – the flood.
O descendants of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah. Indeed, he was a grateful servant.
Quran: -The off springs of who we boarded on along with Nooh. No doubt he had been an extremely excessively grateful slave.
In Jewish ancestry, the offsprings were saved from water. That was the first rescue. Second rescue was the rescue of Musa AS. When Allah mentions that their father, Nooh, was extremely grateful, that implies they should be grateful too.
Context: Nooh’s 3 sons: Sam, Yam, Yafes. Sam‘s offspring gave Ibrahim AS.
The Israelites are being talked to indirectly because they pose their questions to Prophet Muhammad PBUH through Makkans. (They doubted him.)
And We conveyed to the Children of Israel in the Scripture that, “You will surely cause corruption on the earth twice, and you will surely reach [a degree of] great haughtiness.
Quran: -We had declared to the Israelites that you are going to cause a lot of mischief in the land twice. You will have power and authority.
3ala – ya3lu – 3uluwan : to be high and raise your head in rebellion, to gain great power
3aliya – ya3la
You will cause mischief, have huge amounts of power, so your rebellion will be huge in front of Allah. You will have 2 historical rises.
Context: Musa AS was revealed the Tawrat on Mountain Toor and he heads north east from there and gets a commandment to fight a war to free the city of Jericho. His people told him to go fight alone with Allah, we will sit here. So they weren’t given their promised land – Jericho. When Musa AS died, they were still wandering in the desert. The Khalifah of Musa – Yusha Ibn Noun – takes them to victory. So they got their promised land. They got some power and authority where there were 12 sources of water so they split up into 12 kingdoms. They created these boundaries between each other. So they became an easy target to outsiders. Assyrians took advantage of it and invaded all 12 countries of Bani Israel. As they were invaded, Sal came and revived them and called them to fight. He led with Taloot, Jaloot and Dawood / David AS and they freed their nation again. They got 100 years of khilafa. When Suleiman AS died, his 2 sons got into a dispute and divided the country into 2: Israel whose capital is Samaria and Judea whose capital is Jerusalem. Nationalism took place. The Jews started using magic, shari3a was fun of, things had become a matter of culture and not religion. All kind of corruption crept into their nation because they identified themselves by which state they came from and not by what religion they followed. 700 years before Essa / Jesus AS, Assyrians make a comeback and destroyed the northern kingdom, Israel. IN 587 BCE, Babylonians invaded southern state and took over it. Naboka Nazur from Babylonia destroyed Jerusalem. They destroyed the Temple of Solomon – which is the Masjid Al-Aqsa. They killed 600,000. They took the other 600,000 back to Iraq/ Babylonia as slaves. This is the first real fall of Jewish people. Another revival comes. 3uzayr comes and encourages the Jews / slaves in Babylonia to fight. As Iraq and Iran were at a war, Iranians invaded Iraq and told the Jews to go back to their homeland. Zu alqarnayn is not Alexander the Great. He is probably the Kekhorus, the Iranian leader. His monuments were dug up and he has two horns. Wa Allah a3lam. With Mikabi’s rule, the Jews established a state bigger than Suleiman’s state. They fell into luxury, fa7shaa, drinking, spell casting, gambling. So, they became weak. The Greeks attacked. Then the Roman attacked and ruled them. They were on a decline and under Roman rule when Essa AS was born. Their Jewish kings were puppet kings for the Roman Empire. In 70 CE, they are attacked again by the Romans. The Romans attacked Jerusalem, and killed around 130,000 people in one day. One historian said: No 2 bricks remained intact in Jerusalem. They destroyed the Masjid Al-Aqsa. By the time Prophet Muhammad comes, the Jews had been in a state of decline / diaspora and kicked out of their land for 500 years.
Side note: This is similar to Muslim history where 3 khalifas ruled one Muslim empire then when Ali came along, Mu3awiyah did accept his rule. So, he separated Syria and Egypt from the Muslim empire and Muslim state was divided into two states. First Islamic rise was with first khilafa. Downfall started with serious loses started with crusaders. The real decline / destruction was with Tatar and Genkhiz Khan. They massacred Muslims. They make piles of scholars’ heads. Those same people became Muslim later on. The next rise for Muslims came at the hand at the Ottoman. The second fall was in 1924 when the Othmani state fell. This second fall was at the hand of European.
So when the [time of] promise came for the first of them, We sent against you servants of Ours – those of great military might, and they probed [even] into the homes, and it was a promise fulfilled.
Quran: -When the first of those turns came, we appointed / raised against you slaves we owned that possess power to make war (Babylonians) and they penetrated every house and that was a promise that was fulfilled
Jasa: penetrate forcefully and break things, go between two things that are combined, get right into the middle of something
Khilal: fuse yourself between two things in a tight space
Bayna means between two things
They didn’t leave anything without doing something to it. They entered every single house, every corner, room. They made sure no one was spared.
Diyar: means home.
This war didn’t happen on the battlefield. The war came to the city. The victims were civilians.
Then We gave back to you a return victory over them. And We reinforced you with wealth and sons and made you more numerous in manpower
Quran: -Then We returned for you the turn (We gave you a comeback) against them and we aided you with assets, money and sons. (We made you more in terms of man power).
Akthar nafeera : nafeer : small batallion that’s ready to go and fight (a lot of military strength)
Akthar 3adada: more people
[And said], “If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves.” Then when the final promise came, [We sent your enemies] to sadden your faces and to enter the temple in Jerusalem, as they entered it the first time, and to destroy what they had taken over with [total] destruction.
Quran: - If you have been good, you’re good only for yourselves. And if you’ve been bad, that’s only for yourself.
Use fa la haa (then for it) – a pronoun – instead because asa’a is disappointing. Allah uses asa’tum which is second person and uses falaha which is third person. This is called tab3eed. That means Allah distances them. He distances them because isa’a makes Him angry.
Fa la haa (then ‘for it’) and not 3alayha (upon it) intention lam 3illah, you were greedy and you thought it would bring you good.
Quran: – When the second promise came, We appointed another army against you so that they may darken your faces (publicly humiliate you). They entered the masjid again like they entered it the first time. So that they may create other destruction and annihilate whatever civilisation was there.
Cesar goes in and takes over and destroys Masjid Al-Aqsa.
Tabara : destroy annihilate completely and leave no trace of your enemy
Ma 3alaw: whatever height they had reached
In 70 CE, no one was left in Jerusalem – everyone was taken
[Then Allah said], “It is expected, [if you repent], that your Lord will have mercy upon you. But if you return [to sin], We will return [to punishment]. And We have made Hell, for the disbelievers, a prison-bed.”
Quran: – Maybe your master might show you mercy. But if you resort to your old behavior, you will be punished again. It had happened twice before and it can happen again. We have made jahanam as a Haseer.
Haseer: prison / something that surrounds, constant imprisonment for disbelievers
Now Allah speaks to the Jews directly because now they are listening.
Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.
Quran: – No doubt about it this Quran it guides to that which is more upright
As if He is telling them that Quran is your guidance – the way to get to what is right is Quran
Aqwam: More upright: comparative form. There still some guidance in Tawrat and Injeel / the Bible but Quran is better. All philosophies have some wisdom in it but the Quran is better.
Quran: – And He congratulates those that truly believe – those who actually do good deeds will have enormous compensation
Context: Bani Israel say that eman / faith is enough. Worship is not necessary. However, for Allah, it’s not enough.
And that those who do not believe in the Hereafter – We have prepared for them a painful punishment.
Quran: – And as for those that don’t believe in the afterlife, We prepared torture specifically for them.
3atad: bags in which you pack your essentials. It is what you need to prepare specifically for one purpose .
And man supplicates for evil as he supplicates for good, and man is ever hasty.
Quran: – The human being calls to good while he is actually calling to evil. He rushes to judgement.
He thinks he’s calling for good and he doesn’t know what he’s asking for. He’s quick to judge. He rushes to judgement. He call to good but he doesn’t know that he’s calling to bad.
Context: Israelites made du3a2. They were judgemental. They wanted things in a rush. They asked for another prophet. They accused Muhammad to be a false prophet. The Qurayshis asked Allah for destroy Muhammad PBUH. So they were asking for what they think is good but don’t know what is good for them. Only Allah knows that.
And We have made the night and day two signs, and We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible that you may seek bounty from your Lord and may know the number of years and the account [of time]. And everything We have set out in detail.
Quran: – We have made the night and day two miraculous signs. Then we erased the sign of the night in a way that no trace of it remains. And we made the miracle of the day as a means for you to see clearly so that you may pursue the blessing from your Master ( to be able to go earn a living) and so that you may learn the count of years and calculation and everything we have explained very thoroughly.
They take their time. Night never rushes in to the day and day doesn’t rush the night.
Ma7a: yam7u: erase as though it was never there
You were taught years and calculation so that you can write history. Everything you need to figure out life and human intellect have been given to you.
And [for] every person We have imposed his fate upon his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open.
Quran: – And every single person we have hanged his bird on his neck.
Context: Bird in Arabic is used for fate. Arabs before Islam used birds for fortune telling. They would let the bird fly and based on the direction it flew they would make their decisions
Alzamnahu: alzama: used when you hang / cling / stick something one something.
Another meaning for Ta’er: vulture. When you see a vulture flying / birds hovering, that means death. So, for people that believe in omens, bird means bad omen because it means death. So all problems you will suffer in life has already been hung around your neck like a ticking clock. It’s on schedule. This was meant for Israelites who wondered and asked God why they went through a lot of problems. Allah is telling them that it’s not just you. It’s the same for all human beings.
Quran: – We will extract for him / bring out for him on the Day of Resurrection a book that will come in contact with him.
Laqiya is usually used for meeting people. Here, it’s a person meeting a book. It’s a book that talks. Its manshooran.
Mashoora : from nashara means spread out manshoor means spread out. Pages keep on busting out. It’s a huge record of a persons’ own deeds
Allah is telling them that your bad actions are not justified for any reason. Just because you are having a tough life, it doesn’t mean you can act any way you want. Everyone has problems and that has already been declared. Your behavior you will see it in your book. You will be responsible and won’t be able to justify your misdoings. You can’t blame it on tough luck.
[It will be said], “Read your record. Sufficient is yourself against you this Day as accountant.”
Quran: – (Allah’s commandment on Judgement day) Read your own book. You yourself are enough today as an auditor against yourself. You are enough to take the full account. All you have to do is read. You wrote it. This is yours.
Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.
Quran: -whoever holds on to guidance, he does so for himself. And whoever gets lost, then he is getting lost to his own harm and for his own disadvantage. No carrier of burden is going to carry the load of anyone else.
Wizir is a burden you walk around with.
Wizir is also a place inside a mountain Arabs used to hide their things.
Context: Arabs didn’t have storage places. When they needed to hide something, they would try to find a place in the mountain where they can leave their stuff.
Awzara is to conceal / hide inside the cloth.
The peoples’ deeds are concealed. Your deeds are concealed. You have to carry them wherever you go and u do your best to hide them.
Quran: – And We would never destroy / punish until We appoint a messenger .
Allah holds us responsible for our actions. He clarifies that messengers were not appointed to carry your burden but to make you understand your burden. Every nation that got punished was appointed a messenger.
Context: Christians thought that Essa AS was to carry their burden so they are free to do whatever they wishded. The Jews thought the prophets were going to carry their burden.
And when We intend to destroy a city, We command its affluent but they defiantly disobey therein; so the word comes into effect upon it, and We destroy it with [complete] destruction.
Side note: This aya is a good idea for a thesis in political science
Quran: – And whenever we intended to destroy a town we commanded / compelled mutrafiha / financial elite. As a result they fasaqu / create corruption in the land. Then the consequence of this corruption became reality (the guarantee of punishment materialises against them). Then we crush/ annihilate that society completely.
Amarna: compelled or commanded
ammarna (with shadda): we give authority to the financial elite,
When Allah wants to destroy a town, He gives the financial elite political, cultural and social authority. So they end up making laws that serve only themselves and that will end up hurting the masses of people. Hatred takes over and the society destroys itself.
Side note: Cultural authority: MTV, sports, movie and entertainment industries dictate the social norms – what you wear, the car you ride, etc… You can’t defy it. You have to dress like they dictate you. You feel obliged to fit in in one of those clans. You can’t be yourself. This enslaves people. Where is the wedding going to be? What are people going to say if you hold it in the masjid instead some known restaurant or Club. People become mentally enslaved to the cultural trends.
atrafa yutrifu itraf mutrif : ism fa3el : subject of the sentence
utrifa yutarafu mutraf isim maf3ool : object of the sentence
atrafa is blessing someone with so much blessings that you become misguided
mutraf is the person that received some many blessings that he feels entitled, snobby,and heedless. One example in our time: entertainment elite
Context: Omar bin Khattab had good administration skills. He would perform an audit before the official took authority and after he leaves his position. Whatever was saved during that period would be given back to the people. Omar took away incentive from public work so that the person is in it only for serving the public and not for the money. Unlike today’s administrations, we want government jobs for the money. Government jobs have benefits. They don’t have to work. After ten years of being an employee, you can walk in late to work and not get punished. They are relaxed at work. They are unused to doing work. Even the millionaires and billionaires become governments. They expand already existing financial power by signing huge contracts with big lobby groups. These are our today financial elite with power. They have authority because they worked for government or have inside connections. A politician with the most money can spread out his word the most. That is a financial elite given power.
Such things lead to hatred between haves and have nots. Those are the elements of destruction. When Allah wants to destroy a nation, he gives the financial elite authority, hatred starts and domino’s effect starts.
Ayah 17 onwards… coming soon inshaa’ Allah.