The reason Allah gave this name to this surah is that the first verse of this surah refers to the night journey of the Noble Prophet from Masjid al-Haram (مَسجِدُ الحرام) to Masjid al-Aqsa (مَسجِدُ الاقصی).
When the Prophet arrived in Masjid al-Aqsa, he ascended into the heavens. This ascension is known as Mi‘rāj (مِعراج). In this article on Islam4u, the following topics will be discussed:
Facts about Surah Isra
|Order of revelation||50|
|No. of verses||111|
|No. of words||1560|
|No. of letters||6440|
Benefits of Reciting Surah Isra
1. Increasing one’s understanding and improving one’s oration: Abu Abdullah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad said, “If one writes this surah in a container, then washes it, and then drinks from that container, one’s understanding will increase and his ability to speak will improve greatly.”1
2. For ease in one’s difficult affairs: It has been narrated that every time the Prophet had difficulty in performing a task, the angel Gabriel would come to him and would tell him to say:
تَوَکّلتُ عَلی الحَیِّ الّذی لایَمُوت، والْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَم يَكُن لَّهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلِيٌّ مِّنَ الذُّلَّ وَكَبِّرْهُ تَكْبِيرًا
In this way, Allah would make the Prophet’s affairs easy for him.2
3. For becoming rich and strong:
وَقُلِ ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ ٱلَّذِى لَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ شَرِيكٌ فِى ٱلْمُلْكِ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ وَلِىٌّ مِّنَ ٱلذُّلِّ ۖ وَكَبِّرْهُ تَكْبِيرًۢا ﴿١١١﴾
Whoever recites the above verse many times with a pure intention while paying attention to Allah and the verse’s meaning and then says Allahu Akbar, if he is poor he will become wealthy.3
Famous Verses of Surah Isra
Surah Isra is the first group of surahs known as Musabbiḥāt, meaning surahs that begin with the glorification of Allah. The reason this surah is also known as Subhan is that it begins with the word subḥān. Verse one of this surah speaks about the Prophet’s night journey from the Sacred Mosque (مَسجِدُ الحَرام) to the Farthest Mosque (مَسجدُ الاقصی):
سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ ﴿١﴾
Immaculate is He who carried His servant on a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose environs We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing.4
Verses About Bani Israel in Surah Isra
Another name of this surah is Bani Israel because it talks about them on many occasions. Verses 2-8 begin talking about Bani Israel. Verses four to seven make a prophecy about Bani Israel. Verse four says that they will cause corruption on earth twice:
وَقَضَيْنَآ إِلَىٰ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ فِى ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَتُفْسِدُنَّ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَلَتَعْلُنَّ عُلُوًّا كَبِيرًا ﴿٤﴾
We revealed to the Children of Israel in the Book: ‘Twice you will cause corruption on the earth, and you will perpetrate great tyranny.’5
Various tafāseer have been presented concerning this verse. Some have said that Bani Israel, meaning the Jews, have already caused these two corruptions. On the other hand, some have said that they have only caused the first corruption and that they have not caused the second corruption yet. According to the latter group, they will cause the second corruption shortly before the reappearance of the Mahdi. After that, the Mahdi and his followers will fight them and defeat them. Verse seven makes this prophecy:
فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ لِيَسُـۥٓـُٔوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَلِيَدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْمَسْجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَلِيُتَبِّرُوا۟ مَا عَلَوْا۟ تَتْبِيرًا ﴿٧﴾
So when the occasion for the other [prophecy] comes, they will make your faces wretched, and enter the Temple just as they entered it the first time, and destroy utterly whatever they come upon.6
Verses About the Quran in Surah Isra
Surah Isra is one of the surahs of the Quran that describes the Quran and mentions its characteristics. For example, verse nine states that the Quran is the best guide, and gives good news to believers, and a great reward awaits them:
إِنَّ هَـٰذَا ٱلْقُرْءَانَ يَهْدِى لِلَّتِى هِىَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا ﴿٩﴾
Indeed, this Qur’ān guides people to the straightest [path] and gives the good news to the believers who perform good deeds that they will have a great reward.7
Moreover, verse 41 says the following about the Quran:
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِى هَـٰذَا ٱلْقُرْءَانِ لِيَذَّكَّرُوا۟ وَمَا يَزِيدُهُمْ إِلَّا نُفُورًا ﴿٤١﴾
Certainly We have variously paraphrased [the principles of guidance] in this Quran so that they may take admonition, but it increases them only in aversion.8
The Quran has touched upon many issues that help guide us to the straight path. It mentions many things that help us achieve success in our lives in both worlds. However, some people do not take admonition and do not pay heed to Allah’s words. That is why they will not benefit from the Quran. Similarly, verse 82 of surah Isra reads:
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ ٱلْقُرْءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا ﴿٨٢﴾
We send down in the Quran that which is a cure and mercy for the faithful; and it increases the wrongdoers only in loss.9
The Quran is a cure and mercy for those who believe in it. People should turn to the Quran when they have an illness of the body or soul. Meanwhile, those who do not believe in the Quran will not gain anything from it but loss and harm.
Verse 88 and 89 also mention one of the unique qualities of the Quran:
قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا ﴿٨٨﴾ وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ فَأَبَىٰ أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ إِلَّا كُفُورًا ﴿٨٩﴾
Say, “If all mankind and jinn assembled to bring a Qur’ān like this, they will not be able to bring it, even if they help each other.” And indeed, We have explained all kinds of examples in this Qur’ān [to guide people], but most of the people only refused and disbelieved.10
Verse 88 speaks about the inimitability of the Quran. If all of mankind and jinn gather to bring something similar to the Quran, they surely would not be able to bring it even if they help one another. Verse 89 states that the Quran has stated many parables and examples to guide people, however, most people do not believe in the Quran.
Allah Commands Us to Respect Our Parents
Verses 23 and 24 of surah Isra command us to respect our parents:
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّۢ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا ﴿٢٣﴾ وَٱخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ ٱلذُّلِّ مِنَ ٱلرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ٱرْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِى صَغِيرًا ﴿٢٤﴾
Your Lord has decreed that you shall not worship anyone except Him, and [He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should any of them or both reach old age at your side, do not say to them, ‘Fie!’ And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words. Lower the wing of humility to them, mercifully, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a] small [child]!’11
We are very much indebted to our parents. They were the ones who looked after us and grew us up. Therefore, Allah says that we must be humble before them and we should not make even the slightest offensive remark to them. We should pray to Allah to have mercy on them just as they brought us up when we were young. What makes this command stand out is the fact that Allah tells us to respect our parents right after commanding us to worship Him alone. This shows how important respecting parents is because it is placed next to tawḥīd.
The Wasteful Are the Brothers of Satans
وَءَاتِ ذَا ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ حَقَّهُۥ وَٱلْمِسْكِينَ وَٱبْنَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَلَا تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِيرًا ﴿٢٦﴾ إِنَّ ٱلْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوٓا۟ إِخْوَٰنَ ٱلشَّيَـٰطِينِ ۖ وَكَانَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ لِرَبِّهِۦ كَفُورًا ﴿٢٧﴾
Give the relatives their [due] right, and the needy and the traveller [as well], but do not squander wastefully. Indeed the wasteful are brothers of satans, and Satan is ungrateful to his Lord.12
There is no doubt that we should all spend some of our money on helping the poor and those in need. However, we should not be extravagant in spending our money. Allah says those who waste their money by spending it on unimportant matters, for example, they hold a wedding party and spend too much money for it, Allah says such people are the brothers of devils and Satan. We seek refuge in Allah from the cursed Satan and ask Allah not to make us one of the wasteful.
The Story of the Angels’ Prostration to Adam in Surah Isra
Verses 61-65 of surah Isra tell the story of the angels’ prostration to Adam, and Satan’s refusal to prostrate to Adam.
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ ٱسْجُدُوا۟ لِـَٔادَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِبْلِيسَ قَالَ ءَأَسْجُدُ لِمَنْ خَلَقْتَ طِينًا ﴿٦١﴾ قَالَ أَرَءَيْتَكَ هَـٰذَا ٱلَّذِى كَرَّمْتَ عَلَىَّ لَئِنْ أَخَّرْتَنِ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ لَأَحْتَنِكَنَّ ذُرِّيَّتَهُۥٓ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا ﴿٦٢﴾ قَالَ ٱذْهَبْ فَمَن تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ فَإِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ جَزَآؤُكُمْ جَزَآءً مَّوْفُورًا ﴿٦٣﴾ وَٱسْتَفْزِزْ مَنِ ٱسْتَطَعْتَ مِنْهُم بِصَوْتِكَ وَأَجْلِبْ عَلَيْهِم بِخَيْلِكَ وَرَجِلِكَ وَشَارِكْهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَوْلَـٰدِ وَعِدْهُمْ ۚ وَمَا يَعِدُهُمُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا ﴿٦٤﴾ إِنَّ عِبَادِى لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَـٰنٌ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِرَبِّكَ وَكِيلًا ﴿٦٥﴾
And when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”, so all of them prostrated except Iblīs who said, “Will I prostrate before one whom You created out of clay? He said, “Let me know, is this one whom You honored above me? if you give me respite until the Day of Judgment, I will surely lead his children astray, except a few of them. He said, “Go! [However, you should know that] whoever among them3 follows you, Hell will be your reward, a sufficient reward!” Moreover, incite whomever you can through your voice and send them your [troops both your] cavalry and infantry and share them in their wealth, children and make your promise to them4, [and] Satan promises them nothing except delusion. Indeed, you have no control over my servants and God’s protection is enough [for whomever seeks His protection and help]. 13
What Satan was negligent of was the fact that it is not the body that has worth, but rather the spirit. What made Adam deserve the prostration of the angels and Satan was the fact that Allah had breathed into him of His spirit, and he had great potentials to the extent that he was chosen as the vicegerent of Allah on earth. A position that no angel or jinn can assume.
The Nobility of the Human Being
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ وَحَمَلْنَـٰهُمْ فِى ٱلْبَرِّ وَٱلْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَـٰهُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ وَفَضَّلْنَـٰهُمْ عَلَىٰ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا ﴿٧٠﴾
Certainly We have honoured the Children of Adam, and carried them over land and sea, and provided them with all the good things, and preferred them with a complete preference over many of those We have created.14
The above verse shows us that the human being is the noblest of Allah’s creation (اشرف المخلوقات). Therefore, Allah provided him with many good things and gave him preference over many of His other creatures.
Allah’s Justice on the Day of Judgment as Stated in Surah Isra
Verse 71 of surah Isra reads:
يَوْمَ نَدْعُوا۟ كُلَّ أُنَاسٍۭ بِإِمَـٰمِهِمْ ۖ فَمَنْ أُوتِىَ كِتَـٰبَهُۥ بِيَمِينِهِۦ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ يَقْرَءُونَ كِتَـٰبَهُمْ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا ﴿٧١﴾
The day We shall summon every group of people along with their imam, then whoever is given his book in his right hand—they will read it, and they will not be wronged so much as a single date-thread.15
What Allah means by saying He shall not do injustice to anyone as much as a single date-thread is that no one shall be wronged on the Day of Judgment in the least. A date-thread is a very small and insignificant thing.
The Times of Prayer in Surah Isra
Verse 78 of surah Isra reads:
أَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ لِدُلُوكِ ٱلشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ ٱلَّيْلِ وَقُرْءَانَ ٱلْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْءَانَ ٱلْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا ﴿٧٨﴾
Maintain the prayer [during the period] from the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and [observe particularly] the dawn recital. Indeed the dawn recital is attended [by angels].16
This verse refers to the five times of prayer starting with the noon prayer, then the afternoon, the maghrib and ‘ishā’ prayer, and finally the dawn prayer. The word Qur’ān in this verse means prayer or that which is recited. The verse emphasizes the importance of the fajr or dawn prayer by saying that angels witness the dawn prayer. This prayer is of crucial importance because someone can sleep through the night and miss this prayer. Therefore, one must be extra careful to perform this prayer on time.
What Is the Spirit Mentioned in Surah Isra?
In verse 85 of surah Isra, the Quran talks about the Spirit and says not many people have knowledge of it except a few:
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ ۖ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا ﴿٨٥﴾
They question you concerning the Spirit. Say, ‘The Spirit is of the command of my Lord, and you have not been given of the knowledge except a few [of you].’17
The Spirit mentioned in this verse is the human spirit. The human spirit is a mysterious entity that man does not have complete knowledge of it. According to the verse, only a few people have knowledge of it. They are the ones chosen by Allah to lead people and guide them to the straight path. They are the Prophet and infallible Imams whom Allah has given them knowledge of everything. The human spirit is what differentiates man from other animals and enables him to undertake different scientific and scholarly activities. If this spirit is taken away from the human being, he will not be a human being anymore. In fact, the essence of the human being is his spirit. Our emotions can only be attributed to the spirit and not the body. When we love or hate someone, when we become happy or sad, and when we get excited or depressed, all emanate from our spirit. That is why we are told not to darken our spirit with sins and vices, and instead illuminate and enlighten it with good deeds.
The Quran Has Been Sent Down With Truth
Verses 105 of surah Isra speaks about the Quran being sent down by Allah with truth and verse 106 states how the Quran has been divided into parts so that the Prophet could recite it to people little by little:
وَبِالْحَقِّ أَنزَلْنَاهُ وَبِالْحَقِّ نَزَلَ ۗ وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا مُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا ﴿١٠٥﴾ وَقُرْآنًا فَرَقْنَاهُ لِتَقْرَأَهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ مُكْثٍ وَنَزَّلْنَاهُ تَنزِيلًا ﴿١٠٦﴾
And We sent it with truth and it was revealed with truth. We sent you only as a giver of good news and a warner. And [this is] the Qur’ān We divided it in parts in order that you may recite it to the people in intervals. Indeed, We gradually sent it down.18
The Quran was revealed to the Prophet both all at the same time and gradually. The reason it was revealed gradually was so that the Prophet’s heart would be strengthened as the Quran says in verse 32 of surah Furqan, and so that it could be explained to people little at a time.
Call Allah With Whichever Name He Has
In verse 110 of surah Isra, the penultimate verse of this surah, Allah says it does not make a difference whether you call Allah with His name of Allah or the All-beneficent (رَحمٰن), rather all the best of names (اسماء الحسنیٰ) belong to Him. The verse also says one should not shout or whisper while praying, but rather one should follow a middle course:
قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّـهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَـٰنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ وَلَا تَجْهَرْ بِصَلَاتِكَ وَلَا تُخَافِتْ بِهَا وَابْتَغِ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ سَبِيلًا ﴿١١٠﴾
Say, ‘Invoke ‘‘Allah’’ or invoke ‘‘the All-beneficent.’’ Whichever [of His Names] you may invoke, to Him belong the Best Names.’ Be neither loud in your prayer, nor murmur it, but follow a middle course between these.19
The polytheists of Mecca were always looking for excuses to make the Prophet upset. Once, the prophet was prostrating and was calling Allah by His name of Raḥmān. The polytheists said that the Prophet worships two gods. Therefore, the abovementioned verse was revealed telling people Allah has many names and it does not make a difference with which name you call Him, He is still one.
Allah Has not Taken a Son nor Any Partner
The last verse (111) of surah Isra reads:
وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلِيٌّ مِّنَ الذُّلِّ ۖ وَكَبِّرْهُ تَكْبِيرًا ﴿١١١﴾
And say, ‘All praise belongs to Allah, who has neither taken any son, nor has He any partner in sovereignty, nor has He any wali out of weakness,’ and magnify Him with a magnification [worthy of Him].20
Allah tells all of us to confess that Allah has not taken any partner in His lordship. In fact, Allah is beyond the things we can imagine and is free from anything people ascribe to Him. The verse ends by telling us to magnify Allah with a magnification that is worthy of Him.
Surah Isra is one of the best surahs to recite and learn the Quran. Surah Isra is a very comprehensive surah that contains all kinds of verses including verses about:
- The Prophet’s night journey and ascension into the heavens (first verse)
- Prophecy about the corruption of Bani Israel on earth (verses 4-8)
- Respecting parents (verses 23-24)
- The human being as the noblest creation of Allah (verse 70)
- The Quran as a cure for believers (verse 82)
- The inimitability of the Quran (verse 88)
There are also many other verses in this surah that explain different Islamic rulings and beliefs. One of the most important benefits of reciting surah Isra is that if someone recites it on every eve of Friday, Allah will make him one of the companions of the Mahdi when he reappears.
- Al-Burhan fi Tafseer al-Quran, vol. 8, p. 215.
- Benefits of the Quran, p. 102.
- Ibid., p. 103.
- Quran 17:1 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:4 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:7 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:9 (Foroutan).
- Quran 17:41 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:82 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:88-89 (Foroutan).
- Quran 17:23-24 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:26-27 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:61-65 (Foroutan).
- Quran 17:70 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:71 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:78 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:85 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:105-106 (Foroutan).
- Quran 17:110 (Qara’i).
- Quran 17:111 (Qara’i).