Home > Tafsir Library > Tafsir

Tafsir

< >
View

سُبْحَانَ ٱلَّذِى أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَىٰ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَآ إِنَّهُ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلبَصِيرُ
١
-Al-Isrâ’ ( الإسراء )

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

Glory be to Him — an affirmation of [God’s] transcendence — Who carried His servant, Muhammad (s), by night (laylan is in the accusative as an adverbial qualification; isrā’ means ‘to travel by night’; what is instructive about this mention [of laylan, ‘by night’] is that, through its being indefinite, there is an indication of the brevity of its duration) from the Sacred Mosque, that is, Mecca, to the Farthest Mosque, the Holy House [of Jerusalem], so called because of its distance from the former; the environs of which We have blessed, with fruits and rivers, that We might show him some of Our signs, the marvels of Our power. Indeed He is the Hearing, the Seeing, that is to say, the Knower of the Prophet’s (s) sayings and deeds. Thus He [God] was gracious to him by way of [carrying him on] the night journey, which comprised his encountering the [other] prophets, his ascension to heaven and the sight of the marvels of the [Divine] Realm and His communion, exalted be He, with him. For he [the Prophet] (s) said: ‘I was brought al-Burāq, a white animal, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule; it was able to place its hoof [back] towards its extremity and so I mounted it. It set off carrying me until I reached the Holy House [of Jerusalem]. [There] I fastened the animal to the ring where the prophets fasten [their animals]. I then went in and prayed two units inside it. As I came out, Gabriel came to me with a jug of wine and a jug of milk, and so I chose the milk. Gabriel said [to me], “You have made the right choice [by choosing] the primordial nature (fitra)”.’ He [the Prophet] continued [the narration], ‘We then ascended to the heaven of this world, whereat Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”, “And who is with you?”, “Muhammad (s)”, he said. “Has he been sent for?”. “Yes, he has been sent for”. Then it was opened for us, and lo! Adam stood before me; he greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the second heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”, “And who is with you?”, “Muhammad (s)”, he said. “Has he been called forth?”. “Yes, he has been called forth”. And it was opened up for us, and lo! there were the two [maternal] cousins, John and Jesus. They greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the third heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”, “And who is with you?”, “Muhammad (s)”, he said. “Has he been sent for?” it was asked. “Yes, he has been sent for”. And it was opened up for us, and lo! there was Joseph standing before me, and indeed he had been given one half of all beauty! He greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the fourth heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”, “And who is with you?”, “Muhammad (s)”, he said. “Has he been called forth?”, it was asked. “Yes, he has been called forth”, he replied. And it was opened up for us, and lo! there before me was Enoch (Idrīs). He greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the fifth heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”. “And who is with you?” it was asked, “Muhammad (s)”, he replied. “Has he been sent for?”, it was said. “Yes, he has been sent for”, he replied. And it was opened up for us, and lo! there before me was Aaron. He greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the sixth heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”; “and who is with you?”, “Muhammad (s)”, he said. “Has he been called forth?”, it was asked. “Yes, he has been called forth”. And it was opened up for us, and lo! there before me was Moses. He greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the seventh heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked, “Who are you?”. He replied, “Gabriel”, “And who is with you?”; “Muhammad (s)”, he said. “Has he been called forth?”, it was asked. “Yes, he has been called forth”, he replied. And it was opened up for us, and lo! there before me was Abraham, leaning [seated] against the Frequented House (al-bayt al-ma‘mūr), into which 70,000 angels enter every day never to return thereto. I was then taken to the Lote-Tree of the Boundary (sidrat al-muntahā), and lo! its leaves resemble the ears of elephants, its fruits like pitchers [in size]. When some command of God’s enveloped it, it changed, and lo! none of God’s creation could describe it for all its beauty’. He [the Prophet] continued: ‘God then revealed to me what He revealed and prescribed for me fifty prayers each day and night. I then descended until I reached Moses and he said, “What has your Lord prescribed for your community?” I said, “Fifty prayers each day and night”. He said, “Go back to your Lord and ask Him for an alleviation, for your community will not have the capacity for it: I have tried the Children of Israel and have experience of them [not being up to the task].” I then went back to my Lord and said, “My Lord! Lighten that [prescription] for my community”, and so He reduced it for me by five. I went back to Moses who asked me, “What did you do?”. I said to him, ‘He has reduced it for me by five’, to which he said, “Your community will not have the capacity for this; so go back to your Lord and ask Him for an alleviation for your community”. Thus I kept going back and forth between my Lord and Moses, with Him reducing it by five each time until He said, “O Muhammad (s)! They shall be five prayers each day and night, every prayer will be worth [the reward of] ten [prayers]; that then makes fifty prayers. And whoever intends a good deed but does not perform it, I shall count it for him as one [done]; and if he performs it, I shall count it for him as ten; and whoever intends an evil deed, but does not perform it, it shall not be recorded against him; but if he performs it, it shall be recorded [only] as one evil deed”. I then descended until I reached Moses. I informed him and he said, “Go back to your Lord and ask Him for an alleviation for your community, because your community will not have the capacity for this”; and I said, “I have gone back to my Lord so many times that I am ashamed [to go again]”. This [hadīth] is reported by the two Shaykhs [al-Bukhārī and Muslim]; but the wording [of this version] is that of [the report in the Sahīh of] Muslim. Al-Hākim [al-Naysābūrī] reports in the Mustadrak by way of Ibn ‘Abbās that he said, ‘The Prophet (s) said, “I did see my Lord, Mighty and Majestic”.’


Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza
© 2020 Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Amman, Jordan (http://www.aalalbayt.org) ® All Rights Reserved
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, this work may not be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the Great Tafsirs Project, Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (aalalbayt@aalalbayt.org)