An Introduction to Surat Al-Israa’ (The Night Journey)
Names of the Surah
1- Al-Israa’ (The Night Journey)
It was named after this title because of the story of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raj which is mentioned in the first verse.
2- Banu Israel (Children of Israel)
The surah was given this title because it mentions the history of Jews as it summarizes their 2000 years of history.
Period of Revelation
The very first verse indicates that this surah was revealed on the occasion of Al-Mi`raj (Ascension). According to the hadiths and books on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), this event happened one year before Hijrah. Thus, this surah is one of those revealed in the last stage of Prophethood at Makkah.
Theme of the Surah
The most prominent element in the surah and its central point is the Prophet himself (peace be upon him). It examines the attitude adopted by the people of Makkah towards him, as well as the message he preached, embodied in the Qur’an, and the guidance it provides and how the unbelievers received it.
Virtues of the Surah
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Surat Banu lsrael, Al-Kahf (The Cave), Maryam, Ta-Ha, Al-Anbiya’ (The Prophets) are amongst my first earnings and my old property, and (in fact) they are my old property.” (Al-Bukhari)
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) would not sleep until he recited Surat Banu Israel and Az-Zumar.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Topics of the Surah
1- This surah is a wonderful combination of warning, admonition and instruction, which have been blended together in a balanced proportion.
2- The surah repeatedly praises God and glorifies Him and mentions the need to praise and thank Him for all the blessings He bestows on His servants.
3- The surah mentions the book revealed to Moses and what God determined in it for the Children of Israel, speaking about two episodes of destruction and diaspora because of their injustice and corruption.
4- The Surah speaks about the truth of God’s oneness, considering it the basis upon which the whole social set up should be built, including the values of work and behavior. This central issue of faith should be the pivot around which all human life turns.
5- The Surah mentions some of pagan superstitions which attribute daughters and partners to God. It also mentions resurrection and how the unbelievers could never imagine it would take place.
6- It shows how they received the Qur’anic revelations and the fabrications they reiterated about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and commands the believers to say something better, unlike the falsehood of unbelievers.
Sayyed Abu A`la Maududi’s Tafhim Al-Qur’an.
Sayyid Qutb’s Fi Zhilal Al-Qur’an.