Surah Al-Isra Ayat 1-19

Surah Al-Isra

Which was Revealed in Makkah

The Virtues of Surah Al-Isra

Imam Al-Hafiz Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Masud said concerning Surah Bani Israil (i.e., Surat Al-Isra), Al-Kahf and Maryam: “They are among the earliest and most beautiful Surahs and they are my treasure.”

Imam Ahmad recorded that A’ishah said: “The Messenger of Allah used to fast until we would say, he does not want to break his fast, then he would not fast until we would say, he does not want to fast, and he used to recite Bani Isra’il and Az-Zumar every night.”

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

{1. Glorified be He Who took His servant for a Journey by Night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of Our Ayat. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.}

The Isra (Night Journey)

Allah glorifies Himself, for His ability to do that which none but He can do, for there is no God but He and no Lord besides Him.“Who took His servant for a Journey” refers to Muhammad “by Night” means, in the depths of the night.“from Al-Masjid Al-Haram” means the Masjid in Makkah. “to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa” means the Sacred House which is in Jerusalem, the origin of the Prophets from the time of Ibrahim Al-Khalil. The Prophets all gathered there, and he (Muhammad) led them in prayer in their own homeland. This indicates that he is the greatest leader of all, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon them.“the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed” means, its agricultural produce and fruits are blessed “in order that We might show him”, i.e., Muhammad “of Our Ayat.” i.e., great signs. As Allah says:“Indeed he did see of the greatest signs, of his Lord (Allah).” (53:18) We will mention below what was narrated in the Sunnah concerning this.“Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” means, He hears all the words of His servants, believers and disbelievers, faithful and infidel, and He sees them and gives each of them what he deserves in this world and the Hereafter.

Hadiths about Al-Isra

The Report of Anas bin Malik

Imam Ahmad reported from Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Al-Buraq was brought to me, and it was a white animal bigger than a donkey and smaller than a mule. One stride of this creature covered a distance as far as it could see. I rode on it and it took me to Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), where I tethered it at the hitching post of the Prophets. Then I entered and prayed two Rakahs there, and came out. Jibril brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk, and I chose the milk. Jibril said: ‘You have chosen the Fitrah (natural instinct).’ Then I was taken up to the first heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw Adam, who welcomed me and prayed for good for me. Then I was taken up to the second heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw the two maternal cousins, Yahya and Isa, who welcomed me and prayed for good for me. Then I was taken up to the third heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw Yusuf, who had been given the beautiful half. He welcomed me and prayed for good for me. Then I was taken up to the fourth heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw Idris, who welcomed me and prayed for good for me. – then (the Prophet) said: Allah says: “And We raised him to a high station” (19:57). [Then he resumed his narrative] Then I was taken up to the fifth heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw Harun, who welcomed me and prayed for good for me. Then I was taken up to the sixth heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril’. It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw Musa, who welcomed me and prayed for good for me. Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven and Jibril asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has his Mission started’ He said, ‘His Mission has started.’ So it was opened for us, and there I saw Ibrahim, who was leaning back against the Much-Frequented House (Al-Bayt Al-Mamur). Every day seventy thousand angels enter it, then they never come back to it again. Then I was taken to Sidrat Al-Muntaha (the Lote tree beyond which none may pass), and its leaves were like the leaves [ears] of elephants and its fruits were like jugs, and when it was veiled with whatever it was veiled with by the command of Allah, it changed, and none of the creatures of Allah can describe it because it is so beautiful. Then Allah revealed that which He revealed to me. He enjoined on me fifty prayers every day and night. I came down until I reached Musa, and he said, ‘What did your Lord enjoin on your Ummah?’ I said, ‘Fifty prayers everyday and night.’ He said, ‘Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce (the burden) for your Ummah, for your Ummah will not be able to do that. I tested the Children of Israel and found out how they were.’ So I went back to my Lord and said, ‘O Lord, reduce (the burden) for my Ummah for they will never be able to do that.’ So He reduced it by five. I came back down until I met Musa and he asked me, ‘What did you do?’ I said, ‘(My Lord) reduced (my burden) by five.’ He said, ‘Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce (the burden) for your Ummah.’ I kept going back between my Lord and Musa, and (my Lord) reduced it by five each time, until He said, ‘O Muhammad, these are five prayers every day and night, and for every prayer there is (the reward of) ten, so they are (like) fifty prayers. Whoever wants to do something good then does not do it, one good deed will be recorded for him, and if he does it, ten good deeds will be recorded for him. Whoever wants to do something evil and does not do it, no evil deed will be recorded for him, and if he does it, one evil deed will be recorded for him.’ I came down until I reached Musa, and told him about this. He said: ‘Go back to your Lord and ask him to reduce (the burden) for your Ummah, for they will never be able to do that.’ I had kept going back to my Lord until I felt too shy.” (Ahmad 3:148)

This version was also recorded by Muslim. (Muslim 1:145) Imam Ahmad recorded Anas saying that Al-Buraq was brought to the Prophet on the Night of the Isra’ with his saddle and reins ready for riding. The animal shied, and Jibril said to him: “Why are you doing this? By Allah, no one has ever ridden you who is more honored by Allah than him.” At this, Al-Buraq started to sweat. This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who said it is Gharib. (At-Tirmidhi 3131)

Ahmad also recorded that Anas said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“When I was taken up to my Lord (during Al-Mi’raj), I passed by people who had nails of copper with which they were scratching their faces and chests. I asked, ‘Who are these, O Jibril?’ He said, ‘These are those who ate the flesh of the people [i.e., backbiting] and slandered their honor.” (Ahmad 3:224)

This was also recorded by Abu Dawud. (Abu Dawud 4878) Anas also said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“On the night when I was taken on my Night Journey (Al-Isra’), I passed by Musa, who was standing, praying in his grave.” (Ahmad 3:120)

This was also recorded by Muslim. (Muslim 2375)

The Report of Anas bin Malik bin Sasaah

Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas bin Malik said that Malik bin Sasaah told him that the Prophet of Allah told them about the night in which he was taken on the Night Journey (Al-Isra). He said:

“While I was lying down in Al-Hatim (or maybe, Qatadah said, in Al-Hijr) ‘someone came to me and said to his companion, ‘The one who is in the middle of these three.’ He came to me and opened me.”

I [one of the narrators] heard Qatadah say, ‘split me – from here to here.’ Qatadah said: “I said to Al-Jarud, who was beside me, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘From the top of his chest to below his navel’, and I heard him say, ‘from his throat to below his navel’. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“He took out my heart and brought a golden vessel filled with faith and wisdom. He washed my heart then filled it up and put it back, then a white animal was brought to me that was smaller than a mule and larger than a donkey.” 

Al-Jarud said, ‘Was this Al-Buraq, O Abu Hamzah?’ He said, ‘Yes, and its stride covered a distance as far as it could see.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I was mounted upon it and Jibril brought me to the first heaven, and asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ It was said, ‘Welcome to him, blessed is the one who comes.’ So it was opened for us and when I entered, I saw Adam. (Jibril) said, ‘This is your father Adam, greet him.’ So I greeted him, and he returned the greeting then said, ‘Welcome to the righteous son and righteous Prophet.’ Then I was taken up to the fifth heaven, and (Jibril) asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has his Mission started’ He said, ‘Yes.’ It was said, ‘Welcome to him, blessed is the one who comes.’ So it was opened for us and when I entered, I saw Harun. (Jibril) said, ‘This is Harun, greet him.’ So I greeted him, and he returned the greeting then said, ‘Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.’ Then I was taken up to the sixth heaven, and (Jibril) asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad.’ It was said, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ It was said, ‘Welcome to him, blessed is the one who comes.’ So it was opened for us and when I entered, I saw Musa. (Jibril) said, ‘This is Musa, greet him.’ So I greeted him, and he returned the greeting then said, ‘Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.’ When I passed by him, he wept, and it was said to him, ‘Why are you weeping’ He said, ‘I am weeping because a young man was sent after me and more people from his Ummah than from mine will enter Paradise.’ Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven, and (Jibril) asked for it to be opened. It was said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘Jibril.’ It was said, ‘Who is with you?’ He said, ‘Muhammad’. It was said, ‘Has his Mission started’ He said, ‘Yes.’ It was said, ‘Welcome to him, blessed is the one who comes.’ So it was opened for us and when I entered, I saw Ibrahim. (Jibril) said, ‘This is Ibrahim, greet him.’ So I greeted him, and he returned the greeting then said, ‘Welcome to the righteous son and righteous Prophet.’ Then I was taken up to Sidrat Al-Muntaha, whose fruits like the clay jugs of Hajar (a region in Arabia) and its leaves were like the ears of elephants. (Jibril) said: ‘This is Sidrat Al-Muntaha.’ And there were four rivers, two hidden and two visible. I said, ‘What is this, O Jibril?’ He said, ‘The two hidden rivers are rivers in Paradise, and the two visible rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.’ Then I was shown Al-Bayt Al-Mamur.”

Qatadah said: Al-Hasan told us narrating from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet saw Al-Bayt Al-Mamur. Each day seventy thousand angels enter it, then they never return from it. Then he continued to narrate the Hadith of Anas;

“Then I was brought a vessel of wine, a vessel of milk and a vessel of honey. I chose the milk, and he [Jibril] said, ‘This is the Fitrah (natural instinct) on which you and your Ummah will be.’ Then the prayer was enjoined upon me, fifty prayers each day. I came down until I reached Musa, who said, ‘What did your Lord enjoin upon your Ummah?’ I said, ‘Fifty prayers each day.’ He said, ‘Your Ummah will not be able to do fifty prayers each day. I tried the people before you, I had to deal with the Children of Israel and it was very difficult for me. Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce the burden on your Ummah.’ So I went back, and the number was reduced by ten. I came back to Musa and he asked, ‘What were you commanded to do?’ I said, ‘Forty prayers each day.’ He said, ‘Your Ummah will not be able to do forty prayers each day. I tried the people before you, I had to deal with the Children of Israel and it was very difficult for me. Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce the burden on your Ummah.’ So I went back, and the number was reduced by ten. I came back to Musa and he asked, ‘What were you commanded to do?’ I said, ‘I was commanded to do thirty prayers each day.’ He said, ‘Your Ummah will not be able to do thirty prayers each day. I tried the people before you, I had to deal with the Children of Israel and it was very difficult for me. Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce the burden on your Ummah.’ So I went back, and the number was reduced by ten. I came back to Musa and he asked, ‘What were you commanded to do?’ I said, ‘Twenty prayers each day.’ He said, ‘Your Ummah will not be able to do twenty prayers each day. I tried the people before you, I had to deal with the Children of Israel and it was very difficult for me. Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce the burden on your Ummah.’ So I went back, and the number was reduced by ten more. I came back to Musa and he asked, ‘What were you commanded to do’ I said, ‘Ten prayers each day.’ He said, ‘Your Ummah will not be able to do ten prayers each day. I tried the people before you, I had to deal with the Children of Israel and it was very difficult for me. Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce the burden on your Ummah.’ So I went back, and I was commanded to do five prayers every day. I came back to Musa and he asked, ‘What were you commanded to do?’ I said, ‘Five prayers each day.’ He said, ‘Your Ummah will not be able to do five prayers each day. I tried the people before you, I had to deal with the Children of Israel and it was very difficult for me. Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce the burden on your Ummah.’ I said, ‘I have asked my Lord until I feel too shy. I accept this and submit to Him.’ Then a voice called out: ‘My order has been decreed and I have reduced the burden on My servants.” (Ahmad 4:208)

Similar narrations were recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Baru 6:348, Muslim 1:151)

The Report of Anas from Abu Dharr

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas bin Malik said: Abu Dharr used to tell us that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The roof of my house was opened while I was in Makkah, and Jibril came down and opened my chest, then he washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a vessel of gold filled with wisdom and faith, and poured it into my chest, then he closed it up. Then he took me by the hand and took me up to the lowest heaven. When we came to the lowest heaven, Jibril said to its keeper, ‘Open up!’ He said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘Jibril. ‘ He said, ‘Is there anyone with you?’ He said, ‘Yes, Muhammad is with me.’ He said, ‘Has his Mission started?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ When it was opened, we went up into the first heaven, where I saw a man sitting with a multitude to his right and another to his left. When he looked to his right he smiled, and when he looked to his left, he wept. He said, ‘Welcome to the righteous Prophet and the righteous son.’ I said to Jibril, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘This is Adam, and these multitudes to his right and left are the souls of his descendants. The people on his right include the people of Paradise, and the people on his left include the people of Hell, so when he looks to his right he smiles, and when he looks to his left he weeps.’ Then he took me up to the second heaven…Then we passed by Ibrahim, who said, ‘Welcome to the righteous Prophet and the righteous son.’ I said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘This is Ibrahim.'”

Az-Zuhri said: Ibn Hazm told me that Ibn Abbas and Abu Habbah Al-Ansari used to say: the Prophet narrated here –

“Then I was taken up until I reached a level where I could hear the sound of the pens.”

Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah enjoined upon my Ummah fifty prayers. I came back with this (message) until I passed by Musa, who said, ‘What did your Lord enjoin upon your Ummah?’ I said, ‘He enjoined fifty prayers.’ Musa said, ‘Go back to your Lord, for your Ummah will not be able to do that.’ So I went back, and He reduced it by half. Then I came back to Musa and said, ‘It has been reduced by half.’ He said, ‘Go back to your Lord, for your Ummah will not be able to do that.’ So I went back, and it was reduced by half. I came back to him, and he said, ‘Go back to your Lord, for your Ummah will not be able to do that.’ So I went back, and He said: ‘They are five but equal in reward to fifty, for My word does not change.’ I came back to Musa and he said, ‘Go back to your Lord.’ I said, ‘I feel too shy before my Lord.’ Then I was taken up until I reached Sidrat Al-Muntaha, which was veiled in indescribable colours. Then I entered Paradise, in which I saw nets of pearls and its soil of musk.”

This version was recorded by Al-Bukhari in the Book of Prayer. He also reported in the Book of Tafsir, under the discussion of Bani Isra’il (i.e., Surat Al-Isra’), the Book of Hajj and the Stories of the Prophets, via different chains of narration from Yunus. Muslim recorded similar Hadiths in his Sahih in the Book of Faith. (Fath Al-Bari 1:547, 3:576, 6:431, Muslim 1:148)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Shaqiq said: I said to Abu Dharr, “If I had seen the Messenger of Allah, I would have asked him.” He said, “What would you have asked him?” He said, “I would have asked him, if he saw his Lord” He said, “I did ask him that, and he said,

“I saw it as light, how could I see Him” 

This is how it was narrated in the report of Imam Ahmad. (Ahmad 5:147) Muslim recorded that Abdullah bin Shaqiq said that Abu Dharr said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah , ‘Did you see your Lord?’ He said,

“(I saw) a light, how could I see Him” (Muslim 1:161)

Abdullah bin Shaqiq said: I said to Abu Dharr, “If I had seen the Messenger of Allah , I would have asked him.” He said, “What would you have asked him” He said, “I would have asked him, ‘Did you see your Lord?” Abu Dharr said, “I asked him that, and he said,

“I saw light.” (Muslim 1:161)

The Report of Jabir bin Abdullah

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say:

“When Quraysh did not believe that I had been taken on the Night Journey to Bayt Al-Maqdis, I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Bayt Al-Maqdis before me, so I told them about its features while I was looking at it.” (Ahmad 3:377)

This was also reported in the Two Sahihs with different chains of narration. (Al-Bukhari no. 4710, Muslim no.170) According to Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Shihab said: Abu Salamah bin Abdur-Rahman said: Some people from Quraish went to Abu Bakr and said, “Have you heard what your companion is saying He is claiming that he went to Bayt Al-Maqdis and came back to Makkah in one night!” Abu Bakr said, “Did he say that?” They said, “Yes.” Abu Bakr said, “Then I bear witness that if he said that, he is speaking the truth.” They said, “You believe that he went to Ash-Sham [Greater Syria] in one night and came back to Makkah before morning?” He said, “Yes, I believe him with regard to something even more than that. I believe him with regard to the revelation that comes to him from heaven.” Abu Salamah said, from then on Abu Bakr was known as As-Siddiq (the true believer). (Dalai An-Nubuwwah 2:359)

The Report of Abdullah bin Abbas

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Abbas said: “On the night when the Messenger of Allah was taken on his Night Journey, he entered Paradise, in some part of which he heard a sound. He said,

”O Jibril, what is this?”

He said, ‘This is Bilal, the Mu’adhdhin.’ When the Prophet came back to the people, he said,

“Bilal has succeeded, I saw that he will have such and such.”

He [the Prophet] was met by Musa, who welcomed him and said, ‘Welcome to the Unlettered Prophet.’ He was a tall, dark man with lank hair coming down to his ears or above his ears. He said, ”Who is this, O Jibril?” He said, ‘This is Musa.’ Then he went on and met a venerable, distinguished old man, who welcomed him and greeted him with Salam, and all of them were greeting him. He said, ‘‘Who is this, O Jibril?” He said, ‘This is your father Ibrahim.’ Then he looked into Hell and saw some people eating rotten meat. He said, ”Who are these people, O Jibril?” He said, ‘They are those who used to eat the flesh of the people [i.e., backbiting].’ He saw a man who was very red and dark blue, and said, ”Who is this, O Jibril?” He said, ‘This is the one who slaughtered the she-camel (of Salih).’ When the Messenger of Allah came to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, he stood up to pray, and all the Prophets gathered and prayed with him. When he finished, he was brought two cups, one on his right and one on his left, one containing milk and one containing honey. He took the milk and drank it, and the one who was carrying the cup said, ‘You have chosen the Fitrah (natural instinct).” (Ahmad 1:257)

The chain of narrators is Sahih, although they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.

Imam Ahmad reported that Ibn Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah was taken on the Night Journey to Bayt Al-Maqdis, then he came back and told them about his journey and the features of Bayt Al-Maqdis and the caravan (of Quraysh). Some people said, ‘We do not believe what Muhammad is saying,’ and they left Islam and became disbelievers. Allah destroyed them when He destroyed Abu Jahl. Abu Jahl said: ‘Muhammad is trying to scare us with the tree of Zaqqum; bring some dates and butter and let us have some Zaqqum!’ The Prophet also saw the Dajjal in his true form, in real life, not in a dream, and he saw Isa, Musa and Ibrahim. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was asked about the Dajjal, and he said:

“I saw him as a tall and huge man, with a whitish complexion. One of his eyes stood out like a shining star. The hair on his head looked like the branches of a tree. And I saw Isa, white with curly hair and an intense gaze, of average build. I saw Musa, dark-skinned, with a lot of hair and a strong build. I looked at Ibrahim and did not see anything in him that I do not see in myself; it is as if he were your companion [meaning himself]. Jibril said: ‘Greet your father with Salam,’ so I greeted him with Salam.”

This was also recorded by An-Nasa’i from the Hadith of Abu Zayd Thabit bin Yazid from Hilal, who is Ibn Khabbab (Ahmad 1:384), and it is a Sahih chain of narrators.

Al-Bayhaqi recorded that Abu Al-Aliyah said: “The cousin of your Prophet, Ibn Abbas narrated to us from the Messenger of Allah, he said: Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“On the night when I was taken on the Night Journey, I saw Musa bin Imran, a tall, curly-haired man, as if he was from the tribe of Shanu’ah. And I saw Isa bin Maryam, of medium stature, white with a reddish complexion, with straight hair.” 

And he was shown Malik, the keeper of Hell, and the Dajjal, with the signs that Allah revealed to him.’ He said, “So be not you in doubt of meeting him.” (32:33) Qatadah used to interpret this to mean that the Prophet of Allah met Musa. “And We made it [or him] a guide to the Children of Israel” (32:33) Qatadah said: “(This means) Allah made Musa a guide for the Children of Israel.” (Dalai An-Nubuwwas 2:386 – i.e Qatadah understood the pronoun to refer to Musa, not to the Tawrah) Muslim reported this in his Sahih, and Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded a shorter version from Qatadah. (Al-Bukhari 3239, Muslim 165)

Imam Ahmad also recorded that Ibn Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“On the night when I was taken on the Night Journey, I woke up in Makkah the next morning having anxiety that, I knew that the people would not believe me.” 

He kept away from people, feeling anxious and sad, then the enemy of Allah Abu Jahl passed by him and came to sit with him, saying mockingly, ‘Is there anything new?’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Yes”. 

He said, ‘What is it?’ He said,

“I was taken on a Journey last night.” 

He said, ‘Where to?’ He said,

“To Bayt Al-Maqdis.”

He said, ‘Then this morning you were among us?’ He said, “Yes”. Abu Jahl did not want to say to his face that he was lying, lest he deny saying it when he called other people to hear him, so he said: ‘Do you think that if I call your people, you will tell them about what happened?’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Yes.” 

Abu Jahl said, ‘O people of Bani Kab bin Lu’ay!’ People got up from where they were sitting and came to join them. Abu Jahl said, ‘Tell your people what you told me.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I was taken on a Journey last night.”

They said, ‘Where to?’ He said,

“To Bayt Al-Maqdis.”

They said, ‘Then this morning you were among us’ He said,

“Yes”.

They began to clap their hands together and put their hands on their heads in astonishment at this “lie” – as they claimed it to be. They said, ‘Can you describe the sanctuary to us?’ Among them were some who had travelled to that land and seen the sanctuary, so the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“I started to describe it, until I reached a point where I was not sure about some of the details, but then the sanctuary was brought close and placed near the house of Uqayl – or Iqal – so I could look at it and describe the details.” 

I could not remember those description. The people said, ‘As for the description, by Allah he has got it right.” (Ahmad 1:309) This was recorded by An-Nasa’i and Al-Bayhaqi. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra:11285)

The Report of Abdullah bin Masud

Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi reported that Abdullah bin Masud said: “When the Messenger of Allah was taken on the Night Journey, he went as far as Sidrat Al-Muntaha, which is in the sixth heaven. Everything that ascends stops there, until it is taken from that point, and everything that comes down stops there, until it is taken from there. “When that covered As-Sidrat Al-Muntaha which did cover it!” (53:16) Ibn Masud said: “It is covered with gold butterflies. The Messenger of Allah was given the five prayers and the final Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah, and forgiveness was granted for major sins to those who do not associate anything in worship with Allah.” This was recorded by Muslim in his Sahih.

The Report of Abu Hurayrah

Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported in their Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah said: the Messenger of Allah said:

“When I was taken on the Night Journey, I met Musa.”

He described him as a man – I think he said – a curly-haired man, as if he were from the tribe of Shanu’ah.

“And I met Isa.”

And the Prophet described him as being of average height, with a reddish complexion, as if he had just come out of the bath.

“And I met Ibrahim, and I am the one who resembles him most among his children. I was brought two vessels, one containing milk and the other containing wine. It was said to me, ‘Take whichever one you want.’ So I took the milk and drank it, and it was said to me, ‘You have been guided to the Fitrah – or – You have chosen the Fitrah. If you had chosen the wine, your Ummah would have gone astray.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:495, Muslim 1:154)

They also recorded it with another chain of narrators. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I remember being in Al-Hijr, and the Quraysh were asking me about my Night Journey. They asked me things about Bayt Al-Maqdis that I was not sure of, and I felt more anxious and stressed then than I have ever felt. Then Allah raised up Bayt Al-Maqdis for me to see, and there was nothing they asked me about but I told them about it. And I remember being in a gathering of the Prophets. Musa was standing there praying, and he was a man with curly hair, as if he were one of the men of Shanu’ah. I saw Isa bin Maryam standing there praying, and the one who most resembles him is Urwah bin Masud Ath-Thaqafi. And I saw Ibrahim standing there praying, and the one who most resembles him is your companion (meaning himself). Then the time for prayer came, and I led them in prayer. When I finished, a voice said, ‘O Muhammad, this is Malik, the keeper of Hell,’ so I turned to him, and he greeted me first.” (Muslim 1:156)

The Time that Isra took place, and that the fact that it included both Body and Soul, when the prophet was awake, not in a Dream

Musa bin Uqbah said, narrating from Az-Zuhri: “The Isra happened one year before the Hijrah.” (Dalai An-Nubuwwah 2:355) This was also the opinion of Urwah. (Dalai An-Nubuwwah 2:354) As-Suddi said: “It happened sixteen months before the Hijrah.” (Al-Qurtubi 10:210)

The truth is that the Prophet was taken on the Night Journey when he was awake, not in a dream, and he went from Makkah to Bayt Al-Maqdis riding on Al-Buraq. When he reached the door of the sanctuary, he tied up his animal by the door and entered, where he prayed two Rakahs to ‘greet the Masjid’. Then the Miraj was brought to him, which is a ladder with steps which one climbs up. So he went up on it to the first heaven, then he went up to the rest of the seven heavens. In each heaven he was welcomed by the most pious of its inhabitants, and he greeted the Prophets who were in the various heavens according to their positions and status. He passed by Musa, the one who spoke with Allah, in the sixth heaven, and Ibrahim, the close friend (Khalil) of Allah in the seventh heaven. Then he surpassed them and all the Prophets in status and reached a level where he could hear the creaking of the pens, i.e., the pens of destiny which write down what is decreed to happen. He saw Sidrat Al-Muntaha, covered by the command of Allah, and its greatness, its butterflies of gold and various colours, surrounded by the angels. There he saw Jibril in his real form, with six hundred wings. He saw green cushions blocking the horizon. He saw Al-Bayt Al-Mamur, and Ibrahim Al-Khalil, the builder of the earthly Kabah, leaning back against it, the heavenly Kabah; every day, seventy thousand angels enter and worship therein, then they do not return to it until the Day of Resurrection. He saw Paradise and Hell, and Allah enjoined upon him fifty prayers, then reduced it to five, as an act of mercy and kindness towards His servants. In this is a strong indication of the greatness and virtue of the prayers.

Then he came back down to Bayt Al-Maqdis, and the Prophets came down with him and he led them in prayer there when the time for prayer came. It may have been the dawn prayer of that day. Some people claim that he led them in prayer in heaven, but the reports seem to say that it was in Bayt Al-Maqdis. In some reports it says that it happened when he first entered (i.e., before ascending into the heavens), but it is more likely that it was after he came back, because when he passed by them in the places in the heavens, he asked Jibril about them, one by one, and Jibril told him about them. This is more appropriate, because he was first required to come before the Divine Presence, so that what Allah willed could be enjoined upon him and his Ummah. When the matter for which he was required had been dealt with, he and his brother-Prophets gathered, and his virtue and high position in relation to them became apparent when he was asked to come forward to lead them, which was when Jibril indicated to him that he should do so.

Then he came out of Bayt Al-Maqdis and rode on Al-Buraq back to Makkah in the darkness of the night. And Allah knows best. As for his being presented with the vessels containing milk and honey, or milk and wine, or milk and water, or all of these, some reports say that this happened in Bayt Al-Maqdis, and others say that it happened in the heavens. It is possible that it happened in both places, because it is like offering food or drink to a guest when he arrives, and Allah knows best.

The Prophet was taken on the Night Journey with body and soul, he was awake, not asleep. The evidence for this is the Ayah: “Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His servant for a Journey by Night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, the neighborhood whereof We have blessed,”

The words “Subhan Allah” “Glorified and exalted be Allah” are spoken in the case of serious matters. If it had been a dream, it would have been a significant matter and would not have been so astounding; the disbelievers of the Quraysh would not have hastened to label him a liar and the group of people who had become Muslims would not have deserted the faith. The word Abd (servant) refers to both soul and body. Allah says: “took His servant for a Journey by Night” and:“And We made not the vision which we showed you but a trial for mankind” (17:60) Ibn Abbas said: “This is the vision that the Messenger of Allah saw with his own eyes during the Journey by Night, and the cursed tree is the tree of Zaqqum.” This was recorded by Al-Bukhari. (Fath Al-Bari 8:250) Allah said: “The sight (of Prophet Muhammad ) turned not aside (right or left), nor it transgressed beyond the limit (ordained for it)” (53:17)

Sight (Al-Basr) is a physical faculty, not a spiritual one, and he was carried on Al-Buraq, a shining white animal. This too indicates a physical journey, because the soul does not need a means of transportation of this nature. And Allah knows best.

An Interesting Story

In his book Dala’il An-Nubuwwah, Al-Hafiz Abu Nuaym Al-Isbahani recorded via Muhammad bin Umar Al-Waqidi who said: Malik bin Abi Ar-Rijjal told me from Amr bin Abdullah that Muhammad bin Kab Al-Qurazi said: “The Messenger of Allah sent Dihyah bin Khalifah to Caesar.” He mentioned how he came to him, and described an incident that showed how wise Caesar was. He sent for the Arab merchants who were in Syria and Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb and his companions were brought to him. He asked them the well-known questions that were recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, as we shall discuss below, and Abu Sufyan tried hard to give the impression that this was an insignificant issue. [The narrator] said that Abu Sufyan [later] said: “By Allah, nothing stopped me from saying something to Heraclius to make him despise [Muhammad] but the fact that I did not want to tell a lie that would later be found out, and he would never believe me again after that. Then I told him about the night on which he was taken on the Night Journey. I said: ‘O King, shall I not tell you of something from which you will know that he is lying’ He said, ‘What is it?’ I said: ‘He claims that he went out of our land, the land of Al-Haram, in one night, and came to your sanctuary in Jerusalem, then came back to us the same night, before morning came.’ The Patriarch of Jerusalem was there, standing next to Caesar. The Patriarch of Jerusalem said: ‘I know that night.’ Caesar looked at him and said, ‘How do you know about this?’ He said, ‘I never used to sleep at night until I closed the doors of the sanctuary. On that night I closed all the doors except for one, which I could not manage to close. I asked my workers and others who were with me to help me deal with it, but we could not move it. It was like trying to move a mountain. So I called the carpenters, and they looked at it and said: The lintel and some part of the structure has fallen onto it. We cannot move it until morning, when we will be able to see what the problem is. So I went back and left those two doors open. The next morning I went back, and saw that the stone at the corner of the sanctuary had a hole in it, and there were traces of an animal having been tethered there. I said to my companions: This door has not been closed last night except for a Prophet, who prayed last night in our sanctuary.”’ And he mentioned the rest of the Hadith.

In his book At-Tanwir fi Mawlid As-Siraj Al-Munir, Al-Hafiz Abu Al-Khattab Umar bin Dihyah mentioned the Hadith of the Isra’ narrated from Anas, and spoke well about it, then he said: “The reports of the Hadith of the Isra’ reach the level of Mutawatir. They were narrated from Umar bin Al-Khattab, Ali, Ibn Masud, Abu Dharr, Malik bin Sasaah, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Said, Ibn Abbas, Shaddad bin Aws, Ubayy bin Kab, Abdur-Rahman bin Qarat, Abu Habbah Al-Ansari, Abu Layla Al-Ansari, Abdullah bin Amr, Jabir, Hudhayfah, Buraydah, Abu Ayyub, Abu Umamah, Samurah bin Jundub, Abu Al-Hamra’, Suhayb Ar-Rumi, Umm Hani’, and A’ishah and Asma’, the daughters of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with them all. Some of them narrated the incident at length, and others narrated it more briefly, as was reported in the Musnad collections. Even though some reports do not fulfill the conditions of Sahih, nevertheless the Muslims agreed unanimously on the fact that the Isra’ happened, and it was rejected only by the heretics and apostates.“They intend to put out the Light of Allah with their mouths. But Allah will bring His Light to perfection even though the disbelievers hate (it).” (61:8).

{2. And We gave Musa the Scripture and made it a guidance for the Children of Israel (saying): “Take none other than Me as (your) Wakil.” 

3. “O offspring of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Nuh! Verily, he was a grateful servant.”}

Musa and how He was given the Tawrah

When Allah mentions how He took His servant Muhammad, on the Journey by Night, He follows it by mentioning Musa, His servant and Messenger who also spoke with Him. Allah often mentions Muhammad and Musa together, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both, and he mentions the Tawrah and the Qur’an together. So after mentioning the Isra, He says: “And We gave Musa the Scripture”, meaning the Tawrah. “and made it”, meaning the Scripture,“a guidance”, meaning a guide, “for the Children of Israel (saying): “Take none…” means, lest they should take, ”… other than Me as (your) Wakil” means, ‘you have no protector, supporter or god besides Me,’ because Allah revealed to every Prophet that he should worship Him alone with no partner or associate. Then Allah says: “O offspring of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Nuh” by addressing the descendants of those who were carried in the ship with Nuh there is a reminder of the blessings, as if Allah is saying: ‘O descendants of those whom We saved and carried in the ship with Nuh, follow in the footsteps of your father, “Verily, he was a grateful servant”. ‘Remember the blessing I have granted you by sending Muhammad.’ 

Imam Ahmad reported that Anas bin Malik said: “The Messenger of Allah said:

“Allah will be pleased with His servant if, when he eats something or drinks something, he praises Allah for it.”

This was also recorded by Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. (Muslim 4:2095)

Malik said about Zayd bin Aslam: “He used to praise Allah in all circumstances.” In this context, Al-Bukhari mentioned the Hadith of Abu Zarah narrating from Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I will be the leader of the sons of Adam on the Day of Resurrection…”

He quoted the Hadith at length, and in the Hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“They will come to Nuh and will say, ‘O Nuh, you were the first of the Messengers sent to the people of earth, and Allah called you grateful servant, so intercede for us with your Lord.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:431)

And he quoted the Hadith in full.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 5 Pages 550-578

{4. And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture: “Indeed you would do mischief in the land twice and you will become tyrants and extremely arrogant!” 

5. So, when the promise came for the first of the two, We sent against you servants of Ours given to terrible warfare. They entered the very innermost parts of your homes. And it was a promise (completely) fulfilled. 

6. Then We gave you a return of victory over them. And We helped you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in manpower. 

7. (And We said): “If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” Then, when the second promise came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to disgrace your faces and to enter the Masjid as they had entered it before, and to destroy with utter destruction all that fell in their hands. 

8. It may be that your Lord may show mercy unto you, but if you return (to sins), We shall return (to Our punishment). And We have made Hell a prison for the disbelievers.}

It was mentioned in the Torah that the Jews would spread Mischief twice

Allah tells us that He made a declaration to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, meaning that He had already told them in the Book which He revealed to them, that they would cause mischief on the earth twice, and would become tyrants and extremely arrogant, meaning they would become shameless oppressors of people, Allah says: “And We made known this decree to him, that the root of those (sinners) was to be cut off in the early morning.” (15:66), meaning, We already told him about that and informed him of it.

The First Episode of Mischief and the Punishment for it

“So, when the promise came for the first of the two” meaning the first of the two episodes of mischief. “We sent against you servants of Ours given to terrible warfare.” means, ‘We unleashed soldiers against you from among Our creatures who were given to terrible warfare,’ i.e., they had great strength and weapons and power. They entered the very innermost parts of your homes, meaning they took possession of your land and invaded the very innermost parts of your homes, going between and through your houses, coming and going freely with no fear of anyone. This was the promise (completely) fulfilled. The earlier and later commentators differed over the identity of these invaders. Many Isra’iliyyat (reports from Jewish sources) were narrated about this, but I did not want to make this book too long by mentioning them, because some of them are fabricated, concocted by their heretics, and others may be true, but we have no need of them, praise be to Allah. What Allah has told us in His Book (the Qur’an) is sufficient and we have no need of what is in the other books that came before. Neither Allah nor His Messenger required us to refer to them. Allah told His Messenger that when (the Jews) committed transgression and aggression, Allah gave their enemies power over them to destroy their country and enter the innermost parts of their homes. Their humiliation and subjugation was a befitting punishment, and your Lord is never unfair or unjust to His servants. They had rebelled and killed many of the Prophets and scholars. Ibn Jarir recorded that Yahya bin Said said: “I heard Said bin Al-Musayyib saying: ‘Nebuchadnezzar conquered Ash-Sham (Greater Syria, including Palestine), destroying Jerusalem and killing them, then he came to Damascus and found blood boiling in a censer. He asked them: What is this blood? They said: We found our forefathers doing this. Because of that blood, he killed seventy thousand of the believers and others, then the blood stopped boiling.” (At-Tabari 17:369)

This report is Sahih from Said bin Al-Musayyib, and this event is well-known, as he (Nebuchadnezzar) killed their nobles and scholars, and did not leave alive anyone who knew the Tawrah by heart. He took many prisoners from the sons of the Prophets and others, and did many other things that would take too long to mention here. If we had found anything that was correct or close enough, we could have written it and reported it here. And Allah knows best. Then Allah says: “(And We said): “If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” As Allah says elsewhere: “Whosoever does a righteous good deed, it is for (the benefit of) himself; and whosoever does evil, it is against himself.” (45:15)

The Second Episode of Mischief

Then Allah says: “Then, when the second promise came to pass” meaning, the second episode of mischief, when your enemies came again, “(We permitted your enemies) to disgrace your faces” meaning, to humiliate you and subdue you, “and to enter the Masjid” meaning, Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). “as they had entered it before” when they entered the very innermost parts of your homes. “and to destroy” wrecking and inflicting ruin upon it. “all that fell in their hands.” everything they could get their hands on.“with utter destruction. It may be that your Lord may show mercy unto you” meaning that He may rid you of them. “but if you return (to sins), We shall return (to Our punishment).” meaning, if you return to causing mischief, “We shall return” means, We ‘will once again punish you in this world, along with the punishment and torment We save for you in the Hereafter.’ “And We have made Hell a prison [Hasir] for the disbelievers.” meaning, a place of permanent detention, a prison which cannot be avoided or escaped. Ibn Abbas said, “Hasir here means a jail.” (At-Tabari 17:390) Mujahid said, “They will be detained in it.” (At-Tabari 17:390) Others said like- wise. Al-Hasan said, “Hasir means a bed of Fire.” (At-Tabari 17:390) Qatadah said: “The Children of Israel returned to aggression, so Allah sent this group against them, Muhammad and his companions, who made them pay the Jizyah, with willing submission, and feeling themselves subdued.” (At-Tabari 17:389)

{9. Verily, this Qur’an guides to that which is most just and right and gives good news to those who believe, those who do righteous deeds, that they will have a great reward (Paradise). 

10. And that those who do not believe in the Hereafter, for them We have prepared a painful torment (Hell).}

Praising the Qur’an

Allah praises His noble Book, the Qur’an, which He revealed to His Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It directs people to the best and clearest of ways. “gives good news to those who believe” in it a “those who do righteous deeds” in accordance with it, telling them “that they will have a great reward” i.e., on the Day of Resurrection. And He tells “those who do not believe in the Hereafter” that “for them is a painful torment” i.e. on the Day of Resurrection. As Allah says: “… then announce to them a painful torment.” (84:24)

{11. And man invokes (Allah) for evil as he invokes (Allah) for good and man is ever hasty.}

Man’s Haste and Prayers against Himself

Allah tells us about man’s haste and how he sometimes prays against himself or his children or his wealth, praying for something bad to happen for them, or for them to die or be destroyed, invoking curses, etc. If Allah were to answer his prayer, he would be destroyed because of it, as Allah says: “And were Allah to hasten for mankind the evil…” (10:11) This is how it was interpreted by Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 17:393, 394) We have already discussed the Hadith: “Do not pray against yourselves or your wealth, for that might coincide with a time when Allah answers prayers.” (Muslim 4:2304) What makes the son of Adam do that is his anxiety and haste. Allah says: “And man is ever hasty.” Salman Al-Farisi and Ibn Abbas mentioned the story of Adam, when he wanted to get up before his soul reached his feet. When his soul was breathed into him, it entered his body from his head downwards. When it reached his brain he sneezed, and said, “Al-Hamdu Lillah” (praise be to Allah), and Allah said, “May your Lord have mercy on you, O Adam.” When it reached his eyes, he opened them, and when it reached his body and limbs he started to stare at them in wonder. He wanted to get up before it reached his feet, but he could not. He said, “O Lord, make it happen before night comes.” (At-Tabari 17:394, 395)

{12. And We have appointed the night and the day as two Ayat (signs). Then, We have obliterated the sign of the night (with darkness) while We have made the sign of the day illuminating, that you may seek bounty from your Lord, and that you may know the number of the years and to count (periods of time). And We have explained everything (in detail) with full explanation.}

The Nights and day are Signs of the Great Power of Allah

Allah reminds us of the great signs that He created, including the alternation of the night and day, so that people may rest at night, and go out and earn a living, do their work, and travel during the day, and so that they may know the number of days, weeks, months and years, so they will know the appointed times for paying debts, doing acts of worship, dealing with transactions, paying rents and so on. Allah says: “that you may seek bounty from your Lord” meaning, in your living and travels etc.“and that you may know the number of the years and to count.” If time stood still and never changed, we would not know any of these things, as Allah says: “Say: “Tell me! If Allah made the night continuous for you till the Day of Resurrection, which god besides Allah could bring you light? Will you not then hear’?’ Say: “Tell me! If Allah made the day continuous for you till the Day of Resurrection, which god besides Allah could bring you night wherein you rest? Will you not then see?” It is out of His mercy that He has made for you the night and the day that you may rest therein and that you may seek of His bounty – and in order that you may be grateful.” (28:71-73) “Blessed be He Who has placed the big stars in the heaven, and has placed therein a great lamp (sun), and a moon giving light. And He it is Who has put the night and the day in succession, for such who desires to remember or desires to show his gratitude.” (25:61-62) “and His is the alternation of night and day.” (23:80) “He makes the night to go in the day and makes the day to go in the night. And He has subjected the sun and the moon. Each running (on a fixed course) for an appointed term. Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.” (39:5) “(He is the) Cleaver of the daybreak. He has appointed the night for resting, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. Such is the measuring of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.” (6:96), “And a sign for them is the night. We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold, they are in darkness. And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.” (36:37-38)

Allah has made the night a sign having distinguishing features by which it is known. These features include the darkness and the appearance of the moon. The day also has distinguishing features by which it is known; the light and the appearance of the shining sun. He made a distinction between the light of the moon and the light of the sun, so that they may be distinguished from one another, as Allah says: “It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon a light and measured out for it stages that you might know the number of years and to count (periods of time). Allah did not create this but in truth.” (10:5) until, “Ayat for those people who keep their duty to Allah, and fear Him much.” (10:6) “They ask you about the crescent moons. Say: “These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.’‘ (2:189) “Then, We have obliterated the sign of the night (with darkness) while We have made the sign of the day illuminating,” Ibn Jurayj reported that Abdullah bin Kathir commented on this Ayah: “(It means) the darkness of the night and the twilight of the day.” (At-Tabari 17:396) Ibn Jurayj reported that Mujahid said: “The sun is the sign of the day and the moon is the sign of the night. “We have obliterated the sign of the night” this refers to the moon’s blackness, which is how Allah has created it.” (At-Tabari 17:396) “And We have appointed the night and the day as two Ayat.” Ibn Abi Najih reported that Ibn Abbas said: “By night and day, this is how Allah created them, may He be glorified.” (At-Tabari 17:397)

{13. And We have fastened every man’s Ta’irah (deeds) to his neck, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall bring out for him a Book which he will find wide open.  

14. (It will be said to him): “Read your Book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day.”}

Every Person will have the Book of his Deeds with Him

After mentioning time, and the deeds of the son of Adam that take place therein, Allah says: “And We have fastened every man’s Ta’irah (deeds) to his neck”

The word Ta’irah (lit. something that flies) refers to man’s deeds which fly from him, as Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others said. It includes both good deeds and bad deeds, he will be forced to acknowledge them and will be rewarded or punished accordingly. (At-Tabari 17:398) “So whosoever does good equal to the weight of a speck of dust shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of a speck of dust shall see it.” (99:7-8). Allah says: “(Remember) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being), one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions). Not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).” (50:17-18) “But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you, Kiraman (Honorable) Katibin – writing down (your deeds), they know all that you do.” (82:10-12) “You are only being requited for what you used to do.” (52:16) “whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof.” (4:123) The meaning is that the deeds of the sons of Adam are preserved, whether they are great or small, and they are recorded night and day, morning and evening. “and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall bring out for him a Book which he will find wide open.” meaning, `We will collect all of his deeds for him in a Book which will be given to him on the Day of Resurrection, either in his right hand, if he is one of the blessed, or in his left hand if he is one of the wretched.”wide open” means, it will be open for him and others to read all of his deeds, from the beginning of his life until the end. “On that Day man will be informed of what (deeds) he sent forward, and what (deeds) he left behind. Nay! Man will be a witness against himself, though he may put forth his excuses.” (75:13-15)

Allah says: “(It will be said to him): “Read your Book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day.” meaning, you have not been treated unjustly and nothing has been recorded against you except what you have done, because you remember everything that you have done, and no one will forget anything that he did. Everyone will be able to read his Book, whether he is literate or illiterate. “And We have fastened every man’s Ta’irah (deeds) to his neck” The neck is mentioned because it is a part of the body that has no counterpart, and when one is restrained by it, he has no escape. Mamar narrated from Qatadah, “His deeds, “and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall bring out for him” We shall bring forth those deeds.” “a Book which he will find wide open.” Mamar said: Al-Hasan recited, “one sitting on the right and one on the left.” (50:17) “[And he said] “O son of Adam, your Book has been opened for you, and two noble angels have been entrusted to accompany you, one on your right and one on your left. The one who is on your right records your good deeds, and the one who is on your left records your bad deeds. `So do whatever you want, a lot or a little, until you die, then I will fold up your Book and tie it to your neck with you in your grave. Then when you come out on the Day of Resurrection, you will find the Book wide open, so read your Book.’ By Allah, the One Who makes you accountable for your own deeds is being perfectly just.” (At-Tabari 17:400)

These are some of the best words Al-Hasan ever spoke, may Allah have mercy on him.

{15. Whoever goes right, then he goes right only for the benefit of himself. And whoever goes astray, then he goes astray at his own loss. No one laden with burdens can bear another’s burden. And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).}

No One will have to bear the Sins of Another

Allah tells us that whoever is guided and follows the truth, walking in the footsteps of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, he will gain the good consequences of that for himself. “And whoever goes astray” meaning from the truth, deviating from the way of guidance, he is wronging himself and will have to bear the consequences. Then Allah says: “No one laden with burdens can bear another’s burden.” no one will have to bear the sins of another, and he does not wrong anyone besides himself, as Allah says: “and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted” (35:15) There is no contradiction between this and other Ayat: “And verily, they shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own.” (29:13) and: “and also of the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge.” (16:25) For those who called others to do evil will bear the sin of their own deviation as well as the sin of those whom they led astray, without detracting the least amount from the burden of those people, and none of this burden shall be removed from them. This is the justice and mercy of Allah towards His servants. As Allah says: “And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).”

No Punishment until a Messenger had been sent

Allah tells us that out of His justice, He does not punish anyone until He has established proof against him by sending a Messenger to him, as He says: “Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: “Did no warner come to you?” They will say: “Yes, indeed a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: ‘Allah never sent down anything (of revelation); you are only in great error.” (67:8-9) And, “And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened. And its keepers will say, “Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves – reciting to you the verses of your Lord, and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say: “Yes,” but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!” (39:71) And,”Therein they will cry: “Our Lord! Bring us out, we shall do righteous good deeds, not (the evil deeds) that we used to do.” (Allah will reply: “Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition could receive it And the warner came to you. So taste you (the evil of your deeds). For the wrongdoers there is no helper.” (35:37) There are other Ayat which indicate that Allah will not make anyone enter Hell except after sending a Messenger to them.

The Issue of Small Children Who Die

Here there arises an issue over which the scholars in earlier and modern times have disagreed, may Allah have mercy on them. This is the issue of children who die when they are little, and their parents are disbelievers: what happens to them? By the same token, what happens to the insane, the deaf, the senile and those who die during the circumstances of Fatrah, when no Message reached them Several Hadiths have been narrated on this topic, which I will quote here by the help and support of Allah. The First Hadith from Al-Aswad bin Sar. Imam Ahmad reported from Al-Aswad bin Sari’ that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“There are four who will present their case on the Day of Resurrection: a deaf man who never heard anything, an insane man, a very old and senile man, and a man who died during the Fatrah. As for the deaf man, he will say, “O Lord, Islam came but I never heard anything.” As for the insane man, he will say, “O Lord, Islam came and the young boys were throwing camel dung at me.” As for the senile man, he will say, “O Lord, Islam came and I did not understand anything.” As for the one who died during the Fatrah, he will say, “O Lord, no Messenger from You came to me.” Allah will accept their pledge of obedience to Him, then He will send word to them that they should enter the Fire. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them.” 

There is a similar report with a chain from Qatadah from Al-Hasan from Abu Rafi` from Abu Hurayrah, but at the end it says:

“Whoever enters it will find it cool and safe, and whoever does not enter it will be dragged into it.” (Ahmad 4:24)

This was also recorded by Ishaq bin Rahwayh from Muadh bin Hisham (At-Tabarani 1:287), and by Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Itiqad. He said: “This is a Sahih chain.” It was reported by Ibn Jarir from the Hadith of Mamar from Hammam from Abu Hurayrah, who attributed it to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Then Abu Hurayrah said: “Recite, if you wish: “And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).” (At-Tabari 17:403) This was also narrated by Mamar from Abdullah bin Tawus from his father, from Abu Hurayrah, but it is Mauquf (it was not attributed directly to the Prophet). (Al-Qurtubi 10:232)

The Second Hadith from Abu Hurayrah

He said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

Every newborn is born in a state of Fitrah (the natural state of man), then his parents make him into a Jew or Christian or Zoroastrian, as animals produce whole animals – do you see any that is born mutilated (with something missing)?” 

According to one report they said: “O Messenger of Allah, what about those who die when they are little” He said,

“Allah knows best what they would have done.” (Al-Bukhari 1385, Muslim 2658)

Imam Ahmad reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as far as I know – the narrator was not sure if it was attributed to Musa – said:

“The children of the Muslims are in Paradise, being taken care of by Ibrahim.” (Ahmad 2:236, Al-Majma 7:219)

In Sahih Muslim it is reported from Iyyad bin Hammad that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that Allah said:“I have created My servants as Hunafa.” [Naturally inclined towards monotheism and Tawhid] (Muslim 2865) According to another version, the wording is “as Muslims.”

The Third Hadith from Samurah

In his book Al-Mustakhraj Ala Al-Bukhari, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Barqani recorded the Hadith of Awf Al-Arabi, from Abu Raja’ Al-Utardi from Samurah that the Prophet said:“Every newborn is born in a state of Fitrah.” The people called out to him: “O Messenger of Allah! What about the children of the idolators” He said, “And the children of the idolators too.” (Al-Bukhari 7047) At-Tabarani reported that Samurah said: “We asked the Messenger of Allah about the children of the idolators, and he said, “They are the servants of the people of Paradise.” (Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir 7:244)

The Four Hadith from the Paternal Uncle of Hasna

Ahmad reported that Hasna’ bint Muawiyah, from Bani Suraym, said that his paternal uncle said to him: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, who is in Paradise’ He said,

“Prophets are in Paradise, martyrs are in Paradise, infants are in Paradise and baby girls who were buried alive are in Paradise.” (Ahmad 5:58)

It is Makruh to Discuss this Matterr

In order to discuss this issue we need good, sound proof, but people who have no knowledge of Shariah may try to speak about it. For this reason some of the scholars did not like to discuss it. This view has been narrated from Ibn Abbas, Al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abi Bakr As-Siddiq, Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah and others. Ibn Hibban recorded in his Sahih that Jarir bin Hazim said: I heard Abu Raja’ Al-Utardi saying that he heard Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) saying, “While he was on the Minbar, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“This Ummah will be fine so long as they do not talk about children and the divine decree.”

Ibn Hibban said: “This means talking about the children of the idolators.” (Ibn Hibban 8:256) Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar also recorded it via Jarir bin Hazim, then he said, “A group narrated it from Abu Raja’ from Ibn Abbas, but it is Mauquf”. (Kasha Al-Astar 3:35)

{16. And when We decide to destroy a town (population), Amarna those who live luxuriously. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction.}

Meanings of Amarna

The commentators differed over the meaning of this word. It was said that the phrase translated here as “Amarna those who live luxuriously. Then, they transgress therein” means, “We send Our decree upon them” as Allah says elsewhere: “Our decree reaches it by night or by day” For [Amarna cannot mean “Our command”] because Allah does not command or enjoin immorality. Or, they said it means that Allah subjugated them to commit immoral deeds, so they deserved the punishment. Or it was said that it means: “We commanded them to obey Us, but they committed immoral sins, so they deserved punishment.” This was reported from Ibn Jurayj from Ibn Abbas (At-Tabari 17:403), and it is also the view of Said bin Jubayr. (At-Tabari 17:403) “Amarna those who live luxuriously. Then, they transgress therein,” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said: [this means] “We gave power to the evil people, so they committed sin therein (in the town), and because they did that, Allah destroyed them with the punishment.” This is similar to the Ayah: ”And thus We have set up in every town great ones of its wicked people” (6:133) (At-Tabari 17:404) This was also the view of Abu Al-Aliyah, Mujahid and Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas. (At-Tabari 17:404) “And when We decide to distroy a town (populaton), Amarna those who live luxuriously. Then, they transgress therein”

Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said, (it means) “We increase their numbers. (At-Tabari 17:404) This was also the view of Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak and Qatadah, and it was reported from Malik and Az-Zuhri.

{17. And how many generations have We destroyed after Nuh! And sufficient is your Lord as All-Knower and Seer of the sins of His servants.}

A Threat to Quraysh

Warning the disbelievers of the Quraysh for rejecting His Messenger Muhammad , Allah says that He destroyed other nations who rejected the Messengers after Nuh. This indicates that during the centuries between Adam and Nuh, humans were following Islam, as Ibn Abbas said: “Between Adam and Nuh there were ten generations, during all of which humans were following Islam.” (Al-Majma 6:318) The meaning (of the Ayah) is: “You disbelievers are not more dear to Allah than they were, and you have rejected the most noble of the Messengers and the best of creation, so you are more deserving of punishment.” “And sufficient is your Lord as All-Knower and Seer of the sins of His servants.” means, He knows everything they do, good and evil, and nothing at all is hidden from Him, may He be glorified and exalted.

{18. Whoever desires the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell; he will burn therein disgraced and rejected. 

19. And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it while he is a believer, then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated, (rewarded by Allah).}

The Reward of Those who desire this World and Those who desire the Hereafter

Allah tells us that not everyone who desires this world and its luxuries gets what he wants. That is attained by those whom Allah wants to have it, and they get what He wills that they should get. This Ayah narrows down the general statements made in other Ayat. Allah says: “We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell” meaning, in the Hereafter,“he will burn therein” means, he will enter it until it covers him on all sides, “disgraced” means, blamed for his bad behaviour and evil deeds, because he chose the transient over the eternal, “rejected.” means, far away (from Allah’s mercy), humiliated and put to shame. “And whoever desires the Hereafter” wanting the Hereafter and its blessings and delights, “and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it” seeking it in the right way, which is following the Messenger. “while he is a believer” means, his heart has faith, i.e., he believes in the reward and punishment,“then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated, (rewarded by Allah).”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 5 Pages 579-600