Surah Bani Isra’il (1/3)

Surah Bani Isra’il (1/3)


Qur'anic Exegesis

بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

سُبۡحٰنَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَسۡرٰی بِعَبۡدِہٖ لَیۡلًا مِّنَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ اِلَی الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡاَقۡصَ االَّذِیۡ بٰرَکۡنَا حَوۡلَہٗ لِنُرِیَہٗ مِنۡ اٰیٰتِنَاؕ اِنَّہٗ ہُوَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡبَصِیۡرُ﴿۱﴾

Flawless[1] is the being who one night took His servant[2] from the Sacred Mosque to that Distant Mosque[3] whose surroundings We have blessed[4] so that We can make him observe some of Our signs.[5] Indeed, He hears and knows all.[6] (1)

وَاٰتَیۡنَا مُوۡسَی الۡکِتٰبَ وَ جَعَلۡنٰہُ ہُدًی لِّبَـنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ اَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوۡا مِنۡ دُوۡنِیۡ وَکِیۡلًا ؕ﴿۲﴾ ذُرِّیَّۃَ مَنۡ حَمَلۡنَا مَعَ نُوۡحٍؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ عَبۡدًا شَکُوۡرًا﴿۳﴾

[So, the era of those has ended who were made the custodians of that Distant Mosque. Its details are that] We had given Moses the Book[7] and had made it a guidance for [those very] Israelites stressing: "Do not make anyone your guardian except Myself,[8] O progeny of those whom We boarded[9] with Noah [on the Ark]." Undoubtedly, he was a grateful servant [of Ours]. (2-3)

وَ قَضَیۡنَاۤ اِلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ لَتُفۡسِدُنَّ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَّتَیۡنِ وَ لَتَعۡلُنَّ عُلُوًّا کَبِیۡرًا﴿۴﴾ فَاِذَا جَآءَوَعۡدُ اُوۡلٰىہُمَا بَعَثۡنَا عَلَیۡکُمۡ عِبَادًا لَّنَاۤ اُولِیۡ بَاۡسٍ شَدِیۡدٍ فَجَاسُوۡا خِلٰلَ الدِّیَارِؕوَ کَانَ وَعۡدًا مَّفۡعُوۡلًا﴿۵﴾ ثُمَّ رَدَدۡنَا لَکُمُ الۡکَرَّۃَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَاَمۡدَدۡنٰکُمۡ بِاَمۡوَالٍ وَّ بَنِیۡنَ وَ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ اَکۡثَرَ نَفِیۡرًا﴿۶﴾ اِنۡ اَحۡسَنۡتُمۡ اَحۡسَنۡتُمۡ لِاَنۡفُسِکُمۡ۟ وَاِنۡ اَسَاۡتُمۡ فَلَہَاؕ فَاِذَا جَآءَوَعۡدُ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ لِیَسُوۡٓءٗا وُجُوۡہَکُمۡ وَلِیَدۡخُلُوا الۡمَسۡجِدَ کَمَا دَخَلُوۡہُ اَوَّلَ مَرَّۃٍ وَّ لِیُتَبِّرُوۡا مَا عَلَوۡا تَتۡبِیۡرًا﴿۷﴾ عَسٰی رَبُّکُمۡ اَنۡ یَّرۡحَمَکُمۡۚ وَاِنۡ عُدۡتُّمۡ عُدۡنَاۘ وَجَعَلۡنَا جَہَنَّمَ لِلۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ حَصِیۡرًا﴿۸﴾

We had informed the Israelites about this decision of Ours in this Book:[10] "Twice will you surely create disorder in the land and show great rebelliousness;[11] [thus on both occasions you will be sternly punished.]" Then [you saw that] when the time for that first promise arrives,[12] We let loose on you such people[13] of Ours who were extremely powerful. So, they barged into your houses and that promise was fulfilled.[14] Then We rotated your turn to them and gave you wealth and children and made you a large group.[15] [This was a lesson for you that] if you do good deeds, it will be for yourself and if you do bad deeds, that too will be for yourself. [This was the first promise.] After that, when the time of the second promise arrives, We depute some other mighty people[16] of Ours so that they may ruin your faces and barge into your mosque the way they had done earlier and to ravage whatever they can lay hands on.[17] [Even now, O Israelites] it may well be that your Lord shows mercy to you [once again]. But [remember] if you do the same, We too will do the same and We have made Hell a shed for such disbelievers.[18] (4-8)

اِنَّ ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ یَہۡدِیۡ لِلَّتِیۡہِ یَاَ قۡوَمُ وَ یُبَشِّرُ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَہُمۡ اَجۡرًا کَبِیۡرًاۙ﴿۹﴾ وَّ اَنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِالۡاٰخِرَۃِ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لَہُمۡ عَذَابًا اَلِیۡمًا﴿۱۰﴾

[People!][19]In reality, this Qur'an shows the way which is totally straight. It gives glad tidings to those who do righteous deeds that for them is a great reward and this also that those who do not believe in the Hereafter, We have prepared for them a painful torment. (9-10)

وَ یَدۡعُ الۡاِنۡسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَآءَہٗ بِالۡخَیۡرِؕوَ کَانَ الۡاِنۡسَانُ عَجُوۡلًا﴿۱۱﴾ وَ جَعَلۡنَا الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ اٰیَتَیۡنِ فَمَحَوۡنَاۤ اٰیَۃَالَّیۡلِ وَ جَعَلۡنَاۤ اٰیَۃَ النَّہَارِ مُبۡصِرَۃً لِّتَبۡتَغُوۡا فَضۡلًا مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ وَ لِتَعۡلَمُوۡا عَدَدَ السِّنِیۡنَ وَ الۡحِسَابَؕوَ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ فَصَّلۡنٰہُ تَفۡصِیۡلًا﴿۱۲﴾

[They ask for its signs.] Man [regrettably] asks for good [for himself], in the same way as he asks for evil.[20] Man is very impatient. If they see,[21] [it is solely for them that] We have made the night and the day as two signs. Then We faded the sign of the night that you may receive comfort in it and made the sign of the day radiant so that you may seek the bounty of your Lord in it and so that you can calculate the years and know their count. Moreover, We have stated everything [in this Book] with complete detail.[22] (11-12)

وَ کُلَّ اِنۡسَانٍ اَلۡزَمۡنٰہُ طٰٓئِرَہٗ فِیۡ عُنُقِہٖ ؕوَنُخۡرِجُ لَہٗیَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ کِتٰبًا یَّلۡقٰىہُ مَنۡشُوۡرًا﴿۱۳﴾ اِقۡرَاۡ کِتٰبَکَؕ کَفٰی بِنَفۡسِکَ الۡیَوۡمَ عَلَیۡکَ حَسِیۡبًا﴿ؕ۱۴﴾ مَنِ اہۡتَدٰی فَاِنَّمَا یَہۡتَدِ یۡلِنَفۡسِہٖ ۚوَ مَنۡ ضَلَّ فَاِنَّمَا یَضِلُّ عَلَیۡہَاؕ وَ لَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَۃٌ وِّزۡرَ اُخۡرٰیؕ وَ مَا کُنَّا مُعَذِّبِیۡنَ حَتّٰی نَبۡعَثَ رَسُوۡلًا﴿۱۵﴾

[By relying on their deities, they should not hastily demand the torment.] We have tied the fate of each person with his neck,[23] and on the Day of Judgement We will bring forth a register which he will find open right before him. Here it is; read your account of deeds. Today you yourself are sufficient to take your own account. In reality, he who treads the path of guidance, treads it for himself and he who goes astray will himself bear its evil consequence. [The law of God is that] no bearer of burden will bear someone else's burden. [So, why do you show haste?] We never punish [any nation] unless We send a messenger [so that he is able to conclusively communicate the truth to it before being punished.][24] (13-15)

وَاِذَاۤ اَرَدۡنَاۤ اَنۡ نُّہۡلِکَ قَرۡیَۃً اَمَرۡنَا مُتۡرَفِیۡہَا فَفَسَقُوۡا فِیۡہَا فَحَقَّ عَلَیۡہَا الۡقَوۡلُ فَدَمَّرۡنٰہَا تَدۡمِیۡرًا﴿۱۶﴾ وَ کَمۡ اَہۡلَکۡنَا مِنَ الۡقُرُوۡنِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ نُوۡحٍؕ وَ کَفٰی بِرَبِّکَ بِذُنُوۡبِ عِبَادِہٖ خَبِیۡرًۢا بَصِیۡرًا﴿۱۷﴾

When We intend to destroy a settlement [because of its misdeeds,] We direct its affluent: "Go and do whatever you want to."[25] Then they continue to show defiance in it; after that, the word is fulfilled for that settlement and We totally ravage it. [Observe] how many a nation after Noah have We destroyed [like this. O Prophet!] Sufficient is your Lord to know about and see the sins of His people.[26] (16-17)

مَنۡ کَانَ یُرِیۡدُ الۡعَاجِلَۃَ عَجَّلۡنَا لَہٗ فِیۡہَا مَا نَشَآءُ لِمَنۡ نُّرِیۡدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنَا لَہٗ جَہَنَّمَۚ یَصۡلٰىہَا مَذۡمُوۡمًا مَّدۡحُوۡرًا﴿۱۸﴾وَ مَنۡ اَرَادَ الۡاٰخِرَۃَ وَ سَعٰی لَہَا سَعۡیَہَا وَ ہُوَ مُؤۡمِنٌ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ کَانَ سَعۡیُہُمۡ مَّشۡکُوۡرًا ﴿۱۹﴾ کُلًّا نُّمِدُّ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ وَ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ مِنۡ عَطَآءِ رَبِّکَ ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ عَطَـآءُ رَبِّکَ مَحۡظُوۡرًا ﴿۲۰﴾ اُنۡظُرۡ کَیۡفَ فَضَّلۡنَا بَعۡضَہُمۡ عَلٰی بَعۡضٍ ؕ وَ لَلۡاٰخِرَۃُ اَکۡبَرُ دَرَجٰتٍ وَّ اَکۡبَرُ تَفۡضِیۡلًا ﴿۲۱﴾

[Our practice is that] he who wants his immediate world, We give it right here for whomever We want and in whatever quantity We want.[27] After that We have Hell for him which he will enter humiliated and accursed. And he who seeks the Hereafter, and also strives for it the way it is befitting and is also a believer, then it is such people whose effort shall be accepted.[28] With the bounty of your Lord, We keep giving [here] to each; to them and to them as well.[29] And the bounty of your Lord is not closed on anyone.[30] Observe, how We have granted one superiority over the other and the ranks and blessings of the Hereafter, however, are much more.[31] (18-21)

لَا تَجۡعَلۡ مَعَ اللّٰہِ اِلٰـہًا اٰخَرَ فَتَقۡعُدَ مَذۡمُوۡمًا مَّخۡذُوۡلًا ﴿۲۲﴾ وَ قَضٰی رَبُّکَ اَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اِیَّاہُ وَ بِالۡوَالِدَیۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا ؕ اِمَّا یَبۡلُغَنَّ عِنۡدَکَ الۡکِبَرَ اَحَدُہُمَاۤ اَوۡ کِلٰہُمَا فَلَا تَقُلۡ لَّہُمَاۤ اُفٍّ وَّلَا تَنۡہَرۡہُمَا وَ قُلۡ لَّہُمَا قَوۡلًا کَرِیۡمًا ﴿۲۳﴾ وَ اخۡفِضۡ لَہُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحۡمَۃِ وَ قُلۡ رَّبِّ ارۡحَمۡہُمَا کَمَا رَبَّیٰنِیۡ صَغِیۡرًا ﴿ؕ۲۴﴾ رَبُّکُمۡ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا فِیۡ نُفُوۡسِکُمۡ ؕ اِنۡ تَکُوۡنُوۡا صٰلِحِیۡنَ فَاِنَّہٗ کَانَ لِلۡاَوَّابِیۡنَ غَفُوۡرًا ﴿۲۵﴾

[Listen![32]] Serve no other deity except God, lest [on the Day of Judgement] you are left blameworthy and helpless.[33] Your Lord has enjoined you to worship none but Him,[34] and to treat your parents very well.[35] If either or both of them attain old age before you, show them no sign of impatience, nor scold them while answering; but speak to them with respect[36] and with softness[37] lower on them arms of tenderness[38] and keep praying: "Lord! be merciful to them the way they nursed me [with love and tenderness] in childhood."[39] [People!] Your Lord fully knows what is in your hearts. If you remain obedient, He is very forgiving to those who turn to Him.[40] (22-25)

وَ اٰتِ ذَا الۡقُرۡبٰی حَقَّہٗ وَ الۡمِسۡکِیۡنَ وَ ابۡنَ السَّبِیۡلِ وَ لَا تُبَذِّرۡ تَبۡذِیۡرًا ﴿۲۶﴾ اِنَّ الۡمُبَذِّرِیۡنَ کَانُوۡۤا اِخۡوَانَ الشَّیٰطِیۡنِ ؕ وَ کَانَ الشَّیۡطٰنُ لِرَبِّہٖ کَفُوۡرًا ﴿۲۷﴾ وَ اِمَّا تُعۡرِضَنَّ عَنۡہُمُ ابۡتِغَآءَ رَحۡمَۃٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکَ تَرۡجُوۡہَا فَقُلۡ لَّہُمۡ قَوۡلًا مَّیۡسُوۡرًا ﴿۲۸﴾ وَ لَا تَجۡعَلۡ یَدَکَ مَغۡلُوۡلَۃً اِلٰی عُنُقِکَ وَ لَا تَبۡسُطۡہَا کُلَّ الۡبَسۡطِ فَتَقۡعُدَ مَلُوۡمًا مَّحۡسُوۡرًا ﴿۲۹﴾ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ یَبۡسُطُ الرِّزۡقَ لِمَنۡ یَّشَآءُ وَ یَقۡدِرُ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ بِعِبَادِہٖ خَبِیۡرًۢا بَصِیۡرًا ﴿۳۰﴾

Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the destitute and the traveller.[41] And do not squander your wealth wastefully, for the wasteful are Satan's brothers; and Satan is ever-ungrateful to his Lord.[42] And if you have to disregard [those in need] because you are still seeking your Lord's bounty which you are hopeful of, then speak to them softly.[43] Neither tie your hand with the neck nor leave it totally loose that you earn reproach and be reduced to indigence.[44] Indeed your Lord gives abundantly to whom He pleases and sparingly to whom He pleases. He surely is aware of His servants; He is observing them. (26-30)

وَ لَا تَقۡتُلُوۡۤا اَوۡلَادَکُمۡ خَشۡیَۃَ اِمۡلَاقٍ ؕ نَحۡنُ نَرۡزُقُہُمۡ وَ اِیَّاکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ قَتۡلَہُمۡ کَانَ خِطۡاً کَبِیۡرًا ﴿۳۱﴾ وَ لَا تَقۡرَبُوا الزِّنٰۤی اِنَّہٗ کَانَ فَاحِشَۃً ؕ وَ سَآءَ سَبِیۡلًا ﴿۳۲﴾ وَ لَا تَقۡتُلُوا النَّفۡسَ الَّتِیۡ حَرَّمَ اللّٰہُ اِلَّا بِالۡحَقِّ ؕ وَ مَنۡ قُتِلَ مَظۡلُوۡمًا فَقَدۡ جَعَلۡنَا لِوَلِیِّہٖ سُلۡطٰنًا فَلَا یُسۡرِفۡ فِّی الۡقَتۡلِ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ مَنۡصُوۡرًا ﴿۳۳﴾ وَ لَا تَقۡرَبُوۡا مَالَ الۡیَتِیۡمِ اِلَّا بِالَّتِیۡ ہِیَ اَحۡسَنُ حَتّٰی یَبۡلُغَ اَشُدَّہٗ ۪ وَ اَوۡفُوۡا بِالۡعَہۡدِ ۚ اِنَّ الۡعَہۡدَ کَانَ مَسۡـُٔوۡلًا ﴿۳۴﴾ وَ اَوۡفُوا الۡکَیۡلَ اِذَا کِلۡتُمۡ وَ زِنُوۡا بِالۡقِسۡطَاسِ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ خَیۡرٌ وَّ اَحۡسَنُ تَاۡوِیۡلًا ﴿۳۵﴾ وَ لَا تَقۡفُ مَا لَیۡسَ لَکَ بِہٖ عِلۡمٌ ؕ اِنَّ السَّمۡعَ وَ الۡبَصَرَ وَ الۡفُؤَادَ کُلُّ اُولٰٓئِکَ کَانَ عَنۡہُ مَسۡـُٔوۡلًا ﴿۳۶﴾ وَ لَا تَمۡشِ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَحًا ۚ اِنَّکَ لَنۡ تَخۡرِقَ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ لَنۡ تَبۡلُغَ الۡجِبَالَ طُوۡلًا ﴿۳۷﴾ کُلُّ ذٰلِکَ کَانَ سَیِّئُہٗ عِنۡدَ رَبِّکَ مَکۡرُوۡہًا ﴿۳۸﴾

Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them also and for you as well. Killing them is surely a heinous crime.[45] And do not even go near adultery because it is blatant lewdness and a very evil path.[46] Do not wrongfully kill any person whose life has been held sacred by God[47] and [remember that] he who is slain unjustly, We have given his heir the authority. Then he should also not exceed limits in his revenge because he has been helped.[48] Do not even go near the wealth of an orphan except in a just manner, until he reaches maturity.[49] And keep your promises because you shall be held accountable for promises.[50] Give full measure, when you measure, and weigh with correct scales. This is better and fairer as far as the consequences are concerned.[51] Do not go after what you know not because eyes, ears, and heart all of them shall be questioned.[52] And do not walk arrogantly on the earth because neither can you split apart the earth, nor can you rival the mountains in stature.[53] The evil of each of these to your Lord is very displeasing. (31-38)

[1]. The acual word is سُبْحَان. It is meant to remove misconceptions and misperceptions about God and as such is a word of redemption.

[2]. The word used in the verse is عَبۡدِہٖ. It refers to Muhammad (sws). Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... The use of this word for the Prophet (sws) on this occasion evidences explicitness for him, God's extreme love and affection for him and his perfection in being God's servant. It is as if, no other introduction and description of the Prophet's personality is needed. The word عَبْد(servant) pinpoints in a very specific manner the person who bests represents it. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 474)

[3]. This refers to the mosque at Jerusalem which is called Bayt al-Muqaddis. It was at a distance of about forty days from the Baytullah in Makkah. For this reason, it is described by the words: الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَا (the distant mosque) so that the addressees can easily understand the allusion.

[4]. The actual words are: الَّذِيْ بارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ. After Abraham's migration from Babylon, God chose two locations where two mosques were constructed at His own behest and were made the centres of monotheism for the whole world. One of them is the Arabian peninsula and the other is Palestine. The former is very barren and infertile while the latter is extremely lush and fertile. For this reason, it is called "the land of milk and honey" in ancient scriptures. The words of the Qur'an الَّذِيْ بارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ point to this land and in this way explicitly determine that the distant mosque being referred to is the mosque of Jerusalem. It is stated that one night the Almighty took His servant from the Haram Mosque to the Distant Mosque. How did this happen? In verse 60 ahead, the Qur'an has specified that this journey took place in a dream (ru'ya) that was shown to the Prophet (sws). The reason the Almighty adopted this method has been explained by Amin Ahsan Islahi. He writes:

... What is observed in a dream is more certain and comprehensive than what is observed by the naked eye. It is a thousand times more deep and profound. Eyes can be deceived but true dreams are devoid of any deception. Eyes can only see in limited directions whereas dreams are much more comprehensive in their extent. Eyes cannot decipher meanings and are confined to observation only. On the other hand, dreams encompass profound meanings and divine manifestations. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 476)

[5]. Ie., the signs that besides the Haram of Makkah, now the land of Palestine and its status as the centre of monotheism will also be given in the custodianship of the Ishmaelites. However, no details of these signs are mentioned here because neither can words grasp them nor can they be envisaged by our knowledge and intellect.

A noteworthy aspect in the verse is that the previous words were addressed indirectly and here the speaker has been specified. The eloquence of this style is that the latter style expresses the affection of the speaker and the former is meant to magnify the splendour of what is said.

[6]. These attributes explain the way the word سُبْحَانoccurs at the beginning of the verse. The implication is that since God hears and knows all, hence it is His responsibility to bring to account the people who had gone back on their promises and who in the words of Jesus (sws) had made his House "a den of robbers," (Matthew, 21:13). This had to happen after hearing and reading what the Israelites said and did in it. Thus the Almighty decided that this House was to be entrusted to the custody of His last prophet. It was because of this reason that he was brought here from the Sacred Mosque in one night. God is free of all defects; hence He cannot the slightest tolerate that He choose a nation to conclusively communicate the truth to people and leave it unaccountable in spite of such rebelliousness from it. It was essential that He make some other arrangement to realize this objective. He thus chose the Ishmaelites to carry out the obligation of preaching and conclusively communicating the truth at the global level.

[7]. Ie., gave the Torah.

[8]. This in one sentence is a summary of the message entrusted to the Israelites. The first requirement of belief in monotheism is that no one except God should be trusted and all matters should be consigned to Him. The Torah mentions this instruction at various places and in unequivocal terms. In the teachings of religion, this message occupies a central governing position and is also the foundation of all the shari'ah.

[9]. The implication is that they are the progeny of the pious people who were made to board Noah's Ark and were saved from God's punishment. They must always remember this history of theirs and like their forefather Noah (sws), they too should remain grateful to God and adhere to monotheism.

[10]. The actual words are: وَ قَضَیۡنَاۤ اِلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ. The preposition اِلٰیafter قَضَیۡنَاۤ shows that a verb which collocates with this preposition be understood to exist. The verb should be أبْلَغْنَا or some other to its affect. The translation keeps this aspect in consideration.

[11]. Ie., show great rebelliousness against God and revolt against His shari'ah. In the Qur'an, the word فَسَاد is also used for this meaning. After it words to the affect فنعذبكم مرتين are suppressed after it. The reason for this suppression is that these words are self-evident and what is mentioned ahead also evidences it. In the Torah, the details of this warning and the punishment as a result can be looked up in chapter 28 of the Book of Deuteronomy. Some excerpts are as follows:

Because you didn't serve the Lordyour God joyfully and wholeheartedly, despite the abundance of everything you have,you'll serve your enemies whom the Lordyour God will send against you. You will serve in famine and in drought, in nakedness, and in lack of everything. They'll set a yoke of iron upon your neck until they have exterminated you.The Lordwill raise a distant nation against you from the other side of the earth. Swooping down like a vulture, it will be a nation whose language you don't understand, whosestern appearanceneither shows regardnor extends grace to anyone whether old or young. Its armywill consume the offspring of your animals and the produce of your soil until you are exterminated. Theywill leave you without your grain, wine, oil, the increase of your cattle, and the lamb of your flock, until you are completely destroyed. They'llbesiege all your cities until your high and fortified walls in which you have trusted collapse throughout the land. Indeed, they will besiege all your cities, which the Lordyour God gave you. (47-52)

… Because you will not have obeyedthe Lordyour God, very few of you will be left – instead of you being as numerous as the stars in the heavens. Just as the Lorddelighted to prosper and increase you, so now the Lordwill delight to destroy, exterminate, and banish you from the land that you are about to enter to possess. He'llscatter you among the nationsfrom one end of the earth to the other. (62-64)

After this, the prophets of the Israelites kept warning them. Thus the details of the first disorder that they created are found in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and of the second they can be seen from the tongue of Jesus (sws) in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

[12]. The sentence begins with اِذَا. Here it occurs to portray the situation. Regarding اِذَا, it should be kept in mind that just as it occurs for the present and the future, it also connotes an established practice and to portray a past situation.

[13]. The words بَعَثْنَا عَلَيْكُمْoccur in the verse. The prepostion عَلَی after بَعَثَ evidences that besides "stirring up" this verb encompasses the meaning of "imposing on someone."

[14]. This is a reference to the attack of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon and Ninveh who in 586 BC had decimated all the cities of the Jews and had razed to the ground Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple which were the last symbols of glory of the Jews. The words فَجَاسُوۡا خِلٰلَ الدِّیَارِ occur in the verse. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, this is a depiction of extreme humiliationand disgrace of the Jews because if the enemy is so powerful that it barges into houses, this means that it has totally violated all respect and honour. Similarly, the words عِبَادًا لَّنَاۤ اُولِیۡ بَاۡسٍ شَدِیۡدٍ (such people of Ours who were extremely powerful) are used for the army of Nebuchadnezzar. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... These words are not used because of their piety and religiosity but because they served as tools and weapons to implement the will of God. Though they were filthy people yet they were instrumental in implementing God's will by cleaning a huge pile of filth. For this reason, they were broadly ascribed to God. The Israelites arrogantly claimed نَحْنُ أَبْنَاءُ اللّهِ وَ أَحِبَّآوُهُ (We are God's near and favoured ones). God made it clear to them that the shoes by which they have been beaten have some weight with God but they have none whatsoever. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 482)

[15]. After years of slavery, when the Jews turned back towards God, they were once again helped by Him. Thus the kingdom of Babylon fell and in 539 BC Cirius the king of Persia defeated the Assyriansand occupied their country. After that, he looked upon the Jews with favour and allowed them to go back and inhabit their country. The Jews returned and rebuilt Solomon's Temple and under the guidance of 'Uzayr (sws) revived themselves to a great extent. After this, the Israelites received great impetus. It is to this favour of God that the Qur'an has referred to here.

[16]. These words are suppressed. The لin لِیَسُوۡٓءٗا distinctly points to them.

[17]. This is a mention of the destruction of the Jews at the hands of the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 AD after Jesus (sws) had conclusively conveyed the truth to them. Thousands were killed at this instance, thousands were enslaved and thousands were seized and sent to work in Egyptian mines. Several thousands became a source of amusement for people when they were torn apart by wild animals in amphitheatres and colosseums or were sent to various cities to become targets of games played by swordsmen. All tall and pretty girls were chosen by the conquerers for themselves and the city of Jerusalem and its Temple were once again razed.

[18]. Ie., for those who deny the reality even after observing it with their eyes. Addressed here are the Jews who had joined forces with the Quraysh and were supporting them in opposing the Qur'an. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The tone of this verse is noteworthy. Initially, the style was indirect (عَسَی رَبُّكُمْ أَنْ يَرْحَمَكُمْ). Then it became direct by the words اِنۡ عُدۡتُّمۡ عُدۡنَا. The first part has a ring of disregard. In other words, if they adopt the right attitude, it will benefit only themselves and if not they will invite their own doom and not harm God in any way. The second part carries a very stern warning. For this reason, first, the address has become direct which is more appropriate for warning and then it also has vagueness and conciseness in it. It is said "We will do the same." However, it is not described how this would be done. It is left to the understanding of those who can understand. The great severity found in this sentence is concealed in this vagueness. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 483)

[19]. This address is both towards the Jews and the Idolaters. After the initial prelude, they are now being invited to accept faith.

[20]. Since demanding a sign for punishment after hearing the warning of punishment from God is an extremely foolish thing and very destructive for those who demand it, for this reason, in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi,these words are expressed with a ring of sorrow and in a general style by turning away from them.

[21]. Ie., instead of demanding the sign of punishment, they observe the signs found in the world around them which encompass them from all sides all the time.

[22]. Ie., stated in detail everything to which these signs testify.

[23]. This expression means that whatever is going to befall a person will be a consequence of his deeds. Hence it is tied to his neck in this world. He reaches the presence of God after acquiring his Hell or Paradise in this very world. Nothing is going to happen to him in the Hereafter of which the seeds he does not sow in this world. Hence, instead of making haste in demanding punishment, he should reflect on the arrangement he has made to secure himself from it.

[24]. The implication is that the messenger has already come. It is now awaited when the truth is conclusively conveyed by him. After this is the phase of punishment, which is about to come.

[25]. The actual word is: اَمَرۡنَا. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained it. He writes:

The word أَمْرdoes not merely mean "to give a directive." Sometimes, it is also used to give respite and reprieve to someone. When a person gets tired and frustrated in trying to reconcile or resolve a matter with another person or a group, he says:إفعلوا ما بدا لكم (do whatever you want to). An imperative style is apparently adopted here but it actually implies giving respite. In a similar way, the Almighty gives respite to people once the truth is conclusively communicated to them so that no excuse remains for them to be punished. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 489)

This respite is given to the affluent because they have the reins of the society. Thus messengers of God address them the foremost. Then it is their attitude because of which once the truth is conclusively conveyed to them the nation ultimately has to face the punishment of God.

[26]. This is an assurance sounded to the Prophet (sws): no external help or information is needed by his Lord to know whatever his disbelievers are doing. He observes everything and is aware of every detail. So, he should rest assured that when the time comes, He will not delay His decision the slightest.

[27]. Earlier it was mentioned that the affluent are given respite. Now the established practice of God about it is stated. However, it should remain clear that whatever is obtained as its consequence, that too is not in control of these people who are after this world and its immediate benefits. It is God Who gives to whomoever He wants in whatever quantity He wants.

[28]. These words are specially noteworthy. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... The implication is that the benefits of Hereafter cannot be obtained by merely desiring them. For this, a commensurate effort is also needed and a faith also which is totally devoid of any semblance of polytheism. Unless both these things exist with seeking benefits of the Hereafter, this desire will never be fulfilled. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 490)

[29]. Ie., they too who seek the Hereafter and they too who totally disregard it and day and night are after seeking the pleasures of this world. The word كُلّis used for both these groups. Those who have a literary taste know that on such occasions this word becomes a defined noun.

[30]. This is because those who seek the benefits of this world acquire them and those who seek the benefits of the Hereafter too are not deprived of them. Whatever worldly benefits are ordained for them will be obtained by them and the benefits of the Hereafter are always there for them. They will acquire the full reward of their efforts.

[31]. The implication is that people can see to what heights high ranks in this transient world take people. By analogy they should realize the splendour and majesty of those who will be selected for high ranks in the Hereafter. So should people disregard it in the way they are? This situation demands that all the efforts of people should be to attain these lofty ranks in the Hereafter.

[32]. It was said earlier that the Qur'an guides to the path which is absolutely straight. After some explanations were furnished regarding it, now this straight path is being elucidated. In them the address is in the singular at various places but in between the plural address is also interposed to show that singular address is not the objective here but in accordance with linguistic principles the purpose is to address each and every person individually. In a similar way, if the Prophet (sws) is addressed in between, then this is not in his individual capacity but as the supreme leader of the Muslims.

[33]. The actual words are:فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُومًا مَّحْسُورًا. The wordفَتَقْعُدَoccurs here as an incomplete verb. Thus it is stripped of its meaning of sitting. It is a locus (zarf) is يوم القيامةwhich is suppressed here. A little deliberation shows that this section of verses from verse 12 to 39 begins with the prohibition of polytheism and also ends on its emphatic forbiddance. Such a style is adopted in the Qur'an to highlight the importance of something. Here, the objective is to delineate the fact that belief in monotheism is like a boundary wall that encircles the directives of religion mentioned in these verses. If this boundary wall is damaged, everything that lies within it is exposed to danger. No doubt, this is the supreme status of monotheism which these verses mention. It is the greatest and the most fundamental requisite of justice which the Qur'an directs its followers to dispense. For this very reason, polytheism is called a great wrong (zulmun 'azimun) by the Qur'an (31:13). The Qur'an has also clearly stated the result of this great wrong: it is an unforgivable sin in the eyes of God in retribution for which people shall be humiliated and thrown into Hell.

What is polytheism? Associating other gods with God Almighty is termed as polytheism (shirk) in the terminology of the Qur'an. It means:

a) to regard someone to have the same genre as that of God or to regard God to have the same genre as someone; or

b) to regard someone to have a role in creation or in running the affairs of the creatures and in this manner make someone God's peer to some extent or another.

Examples of the first type of polytheism are the beliefs of Christians and the Polytheists of Arabia about Jesus (sws) and Mary (sws) and about the angels respectively. The belief of wahdat al-wujud is another example of this.

Examples of the second type are the beliefs regarding Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in Hinduism and the beliefs regarding Ghaws, Quṭub, Abdal, Data and Gharib Nawaz among Muslims. Belief in evil spirits and stars and in the powers of Satan, also belong to this category of polytheism.

[34]. This is the first directive after belief in monotheism which is made mandatory on human beings to follow. It is said that since there is no god except God, only He should be worshipped. The essence of this worship ('ibadah) is humility and servility. The first manifestation of this essence is serving the Almighty. Since a person also has a practical life in this world, this servitude relates to this practical life as well and in this manner becomes inclusive of obedience. The manifestations in the first case are glorifying Him and singing His praises, praying to him and supplicating before Him, kneeling and prostrating before Him, making vows (to please Him), offering animal sacrifice and doing i'tikaf. In the second case, a person, after regarding someone as an independent law giver and ruler, considers that he has the authority to give directives of what is forbidden and what is not and what is allowed and what is not and submits before all his directives. It is the verdict of God Almighty that none of the above mentioned things can be reserved for someone other than Him. The words:قَضٰی رَبُّکَ اَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اِیَّاہُ declare this verdict. Thus if a person glorifies someone else and sings his praises or prays and supplicates before someone else, kneels and prostrates before him or presentsvows before him or offers animal sacrifice to him or does i'tikaf for him or regards him to have the authority of prohibiting or allowing things, then this would mean that he has refused to accept this verdict of God.

[35]. After God, parents have the greatest right yet even they cannot be associated as partners with God. Their only right is to be treated with kindness. This is the second directive and is present in all divine scriptures. Besides this verse, the Qur'an has also mentioned it elsewhere in verse 8 of Surah al-'Ankabut, verses 14-15 of Surah Luqman and verse 15 of Surah al-Ahqaf. There is no doubt in the fact that among human beings a person's foremost obligation is towards his parents. Thus after worshipping God, Muslims have been directed to fulfil it the foremost. The reason for this is that it is the parents who bring a person into existence and it is they who nourish him and look after him. Thus at another instance it is said that human beings should be grateful to their parents the foremost.

[36].The implication is that a person should treat his parents in a manner that he shows respect to them not only outwardly but also from the depth of his heart. He should not show any aversion to them in his heart and also not say something to them which is against good manners. In fact, he should treat them with love, affection and decency and in a manner that reflects his submission to them. He should obey them and in the frailty of old age comfort them and be a means of re-assurance to them.

In these verses, the objective for which old age has been specially mentioned is explained thus by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

… It is this period in which people regard their parents to be a burden and forget their sacrifices and selfless behaviour in their childhood. Obedient and respectful children remember that the way they were once nurtured by their parents when they were nothing but a lump of meat and bones, in a similar manner their parents have now been consigned to them when they are no more than skeletons; it is now their duty to repay them their favours. However, not everyone remembers this. These verses are in fact a reminder for this reality. In fact, the truth of the matter is that parents deserve love, respect and good behaviour whatever their age. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 496)

[37].The actual words are مِنَ الرَّحۡمَۃِ. Here the origin of the obedience and compliance mentioned in the verse is disclosed: it should arise from love and affection for them.

[38].In these words, there is a subtle insinuation: just as parents hide and protect their children the way birds do under their wings, in a similar manner, children too should hide and protect their parents in their wings of love and obedience. The reason is that if ever children can repay their parents for their care, it is through this attitude. Without this, it is not possible to discharge this obligation.

[39]. This prayer is a right of the parents on their children and it is also a reminder for a person to fulfil this right imposed on him. This prayer is also the motive for the feelings of love which the Almighty has demanded from the children in treating their parents with kindness.

[40]. This is a very noteworthy aspect of the directive of treating parents with kindness. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

It is not an easy task at all to treat old parents with love and affection the way the Qur'an has directed its followers. It is not merely outward compliance with their parents which is demanded from them. In fact, purity of heart, inner warmth and fondness is also demanded from them. It is because of this difficulty that the Qur'an has explained the real thing required is inner love and full compliance. If this is present, then God is fully aware of what is in the hearts. With its presence if some minor mistake emanates by accident, then it can be atoned by repentance and turning towards God. People who continue to ask for forgiveness on such mistakes will be forgiven by Him. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 497)

[41]. This is the third directive. The implication is that just as a person spends on himself the blessings bestowed upon him by God, he should also spend them on his fellow brethren after fulfilling his personal and business needs. It is evident from the Qur'an that two things are required for a person if he is to become a true servant of God: Firstly, one's relationship with God should be established on a right footing. Secondly, this relationship with other human beings should also be established the same way. The first thing is achieved through the prayer which is the foremost expression of one's love for God, and the second through spending in the way of God for this is the foremost expression of one's love for one's fellow human beings. The reward for this spending is also God's love because whatever one spends he has it saved in the heavens, and in the words of the Prophet Jesus (sws), his heart too remains occupied at this place, (Matthew, 6:19-21).In this verse, it is said that spending in the way of God is the right of one's relatives, orphans and the needy which must necessarily be fulfilled. It is evident from this mention that any slackness in fulfilling this right can make a person a criminal who extorts the rights of people. Thus, at another instance, the Qur'an (9:34-35) has clearly stated that if a person starts amassing wealth while remaining indifferent to these rights, then this is hoarding and its punishment is the fire of Hell – from which every believer should seek refuge with the Almighty.

[42]. This is stated because only those people are given the urge and will to spend in the way of God who adopt a balanced attitude in their spending and consider the sustenance they have been given by God a blessing and not a result of their own planning. The reason for this is that a person who does not adopt a balanced attitude about his needs, always remains involved in spending his wealth on his own pastimes and interests, and does not have the time to fulfil the needs of others.

[43]. The implication is that if at times those on whom this obligation is imposed are forced to withhold themselves from helping others because of their own straitened circumstances and it is expected that in future their circumstances would improve, then they should treat the needy very affectionately and promise them help in future.

[44]. While explaining the balanced attitude in the prohibition of over and wasteful spending mentioned earlier, it is stated here that a person should neither be miserly nor so prodigal that when he needs his wealth, he ends up yearning for wealth and is reduced to indigence; on the other hand, he should spend in a balanced way and always save something so that he is able to help others whenever needed.

[45]. This is a corollary of what is said earlier: when abundance and constriction in sustenance is in the hands of the Almighty, the only responsibility of a person is that he should work diligently to create opportunities for his livelihood. People do not understand this and at times become so callous as to even kill their children for fear of poverty. They should fear God and never commit this crime. It is a great crime. The purpose is to specially allude to the evil Arab custom of burying alive infant girls in the time of jahiliyyah. The psyche behind this was that since a woman was not an earning member of the family, one should not have to bear the burden of her up-bringing.

[46]. Till here the category of directives (justice, goodness and spending on kindred) which the Qur'an wants its followers to observe are mentioned. From here onwards, the category of directives (lewdness, evil and arrogance) from which it forbids its followers is being mentioned. The first directive mentioned in this regard is that no one should even go near fornication. The reason stated for this is that it is open lewdness and a very dreadful practice. The implication is that no argument is required to prove its awfulness and lewdness. Human nature has always regarded it to be a grave sin and a terrible crime and will continue to do so as long as it does not get perverted. It is an indubitable reality that the institution of family is as essential a need for a person as air and water are. This institution can only sustain on natural feelings and emotions if the relationship between the spouses is permanent. If this aspect is missing, then a society can only consist of a herd of cattle which is devoid of natural and spiritual feelings and emotions; it cannot be founded on a right footing.

Because of this very terrible nature of fornication the Almighty has not merely forbidden it, He has asked us to not even go near it. This means that one should keep away from things that may lead to it or may ultimately entice a person to it.

[47].The fifth directive is that no one should kill any one. This is a mention of the sanctity of human life which it always has had as per morality and religion. The Qur'an has informed us that prior to this, the Israelites were also given this directive and the Almighty had ordained that killing one human being is like killing the whole of mankind. It has also specified that the life of a human being can only be taken in two circumstances: when a person has killed someone or when a person while rebelling against the collective system goes after the life, wealth or honour of others. Apart from these two circumstances, every killing is an unjustified act the punishment of which is eternal Hell according to the Qur'an (5:32; 25:68-69).

[48]. It is evident from this that the matter of the perpetrators of this crime rests not merely with God or the society or the government; they will also have to reckon with the heirs of the slain person and God has given them full authority in this regard, and no court of justice can show any leniency to the murderer without the consent of his heirs. Its responsibility is that if they insist on qisas, it should help them and should implement with full force whatever they want.

However, this does not at all mean that if at some place a formal government does not exist and the matter of qisas is solely left to the discretion of the heirs of the accused, then they, in their capacity as heirs, should exceed the limits and, for example, slay others besides the slayer in a frenzy of revenge or out of prejudice for their status and superiority demand the execution of a free person in place of a slave or a man in place of a woman, or kill the criminal by torturing him, or take out their venom on his dead body or adopt the methods of killing prohibited by the Almighty. The words فَلَا یُسۡرِفۡ فِّی الۡقَتۡلِ point to this aspect.

[49]. This is the sixth directive and deliberation shows that its words are the same as those used in the case of fornication earlier. Ie, one should not even go near the wealth of the orphans except for the purpose of their welfare and well-being. The implication is that one should only use the wealth of the orphans for their development and protection and this too should be done till the time when orphans reach maturity and can be entrusted with their wealth.

[50].This is the seventh directive. It is evident from its words: "you shall be held accountable for promises," that promise is not merely a matter between two parties, the Lord of the Universe is a third party in it before whom everyone will be held accountable one day and from Whose grasp none can save himself. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… Keeping promises includes all small and big obligations whether they are related to God or to His creation, whether they come into existence through written means or whether through some relation and association, whether they are declared or are considered to be understood in a good society. We are tied in some sort of a contract with God and the Prophet (sws), our father and mother, our wife and kids, our near and distant relatives, our clan and family, our neighbours and neighbourhood, teachers and students, masters and servants and our peoples and nations. It is an essential requirement of piety and fulfilment of oaths that we fulfil these rights. In other words, the real spirit of keeping promises is fulfilment of rights and fulfilment of rights encompasses all big and small obligations. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 1, 429)

[51].This is the eighth directive. At another instance, the Qur'an (55:7-9) says that the Almighty has set the earth and the heavens on a scale and thus it is necessary that a person in his circle should remain just and measure with the right scale and weights. It is evident from this that it is a supreme directive and in its essence is actually a corollary of the scale of justice on which this world has been created. Thus if anyone deviates from it, it means that his conception of justice and fairness has become defective and he actually does not believe in a just God. After this, obviously the economic and social systems of the society are shaken at their bases and no ingredient of the society remains in its place.

[52]. The ninth directive is that one should not go after things one has no knowledge of. The implication of this directive is that it is not right for a Muslim to make bad estimations about other Muslims, or make allegations against others or take some action against others without proper knowledge of what the matter is or spread rumours merely on the basis of speculation or form a view about God's being and attributes and His directives merely on the basis of conjecture and guesswork and unending analogies. The Qur'an has warned us that one must not take this directive lightly because the faculties of sight, hearing and intellect shall one day be held accountable before God.

[53].This is the tenth directive. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… The implication is that the God whose glory and grandeur one witnesses in the vast expanse of the earth that He has spread out on which one's status is not even that of an ant or an insect and the God who has created these towering mountains before which one's status is not even that of a squirrel. One should try to recognize one's status and always surrender oneselfto the majesty and splendour of God. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 502)

The manner in which a person walks is specially mentioned here. The reason is that a gait obviously reflects one's inner-self. Wealth, authority, beauty, knowledge, power and other similar things produce pride and vanity in a person. Each of these produces a specific type of pride in one's gait showing that his heart is devoid of the perception of serving God and there is no concept in it of God's glory and greatness. The heart which has the perception of serving God and of His greatness only beats in the chests of people who have humility. Instead of walking arrogantly, they walk with their heads bent. Thus walking with pride and vanity is a very bad trait and its punishment is very grave too.

Like the Ten Commandments of the Torah, these are the ten commandments of the Qur'an. All morals are a corollary of these commandments. What the Almighty (Qur'an, 42:37; 53:32) has regarded as كَبَائِرَ الإِثْمَ وَ الفَوَاحِشَ (great sins and acts of vulgarity) emerge from disobeying these directives.

Surah Bani Isra'il (2/3)

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