Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|What the Qur'an teaches-3|
|08/10/01 at 01:21:53|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]What the Qur'an teaches
[color=Red]In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent[/color]
[color=Green]Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) to the Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) — the environs of which We have blessed — so that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is the One who hears all and knows all.[/color]
[i](The Night Journey, Al-Isra', 17: 1)[/i]
A journey for reassurance
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb[/center]
We mentioned previously the circumstances of the Prophet's night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and his ascension from there to heaven before he was returned to his home town on the same night. We referred to how the non-believers received his report of his trip, trying to make capital of its seeming impossibility in order to be more intransigent in rejecting his message. In fact they managed to persuade some people who had accepted Islam to turn away from it. Abu Bakr summed up the proper attitude of a firm believer when people asked him how could he believe such a singular story about an impossible journey. He said: "What is so surprising? I believe him when he says something even more incomprehensible. He says he receives revelations from God and I believe him."
The people of Quraish had ample hard evidence of the truth of this journey when they asked the Prophet to tell them about their trade caravan, and their subsequent verification of every point of detail he mentioned. But they were bound to meet his story with total disbelief at first. The point to be noted here is that the Prophet did not listen to his cousin, Umm Hani, when she tried to persuade him not to tell them about his journey for fear of their reaction to what would sound to them totally impossible. The Prophet's trust in the truth of his message and the reality of his journey was such that he went out and told them, paying little heed to how they would receive his news. His mission was to convey to them his message complete, and he was not one to evade his duty. Some of those who had believed in the new faith turned back. Nonbelievers found in his story material for ridicule and raising doubts about everything he said. But nothing of that could make him hesitate to declare the truth as he saw it and believed in it. In this the Prophet teaches a lesson to the advocates of Islam in all generations: they must declare the truth plainly in all situations. They should not fear what reaction that would bring about. They must not try to tailor their faith so as to fit in with what people would like to hear.
We also note that the Prophet has not tried to describe the event in terms of a miracle or a supernatural event which should make people believe in his message. In fact they were always asking him for a miracle to prove his claims. Now they had the miraculous event and they knew it to be true when they verified the details the Prophet mentioned. That is due to the fact that Islam does not rely on miraculous events to present itself to people. It relies only on the nature of its message and its direct appeal to human nature when it is purged of all corrupting influences. When the Prophet spoke out about his journey, he did not seek to make it a proof confirming the truth of his message. He only stated a true event simply because it was true.
The Surah begins with glorifying God, the most fitting action to confirm the bond between God and His servants in the atmosphere of compassion and friendliness imparted by the mention of the night journey: "Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) to the Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) — the environs of which We have blessed — so that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is the One who hears all and knows all."
The Surah emphasizes the position of man as God's servant: "He who transported His servant by night." The emphasis here is needed in the context of the Prophet's ascension to heaven where no human being had ever reached before. It is important in this context that the status of man's servitude to God should always be remembered. There must be no confusion of status similar to what happened in the case of Jesus on account of his birth and his being raised to heaven at the end of his life on earth, and the powers which were given to him. All these caused some people to confuse his status and to claim that he had a divine nature. In its simplicity and purity, Islam insists that no similarity could ever exist between God and any creature.
The Arabic text of this opening verse uses a verb, asra, which denotes "traveling during the night". It is sufficient then to use this verb to denote the time of the action. Yet the verse adds the phrase, "by night", to give an added sense of the still night and the easy travel. The journey from the Sacred Mosque to the Aqsa Mosque is one chosen by God, the Compassionate who knows everything. It provides a link between all monotheistic faiths from the time of Abraham and Ishmael to the time of the last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon them all). It also establishes a link between the holy places in all these religions. It seems that this unusual journey serves as an announcement that the last messenger is the heir to all the heritage of all former messengers. His message makes a claim to all these holy places. Thus it becomes a journey that goes beyond the scope of time and place.
The opening verse describes the Aqsa Mosque as one the environs of which God has blessed. This description shows the blessings surrounding the mosque and flowing in abundance. This impression could not have been given with a direct description such as "the mosque which we have blessed." This is another example of the refined use of language which is characteristic of the Qur'anic style.
The Prophet's night journey was a telling sign, and it was accompanied by other signs, as the opening verse says in stating the purpose of the journey, "so that We might show him some of Our signs." Covering the distance between the Sacred Mosque in Makkah and the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, in a very short period that did not allow the Prophet's bed to become cold, is a sign of God's power, whatever the means used to accomplish it. It opens our minds to new horizons in the universe and reveals latent potentials within mankind. It shows that those human beings chosen by God to be the bearers of His message have the latent ability to receive whatever greater powers God wishes to give them. It is God who has honored man, giving him a favored position among His creation, and endowed him with such potentials. "He alone is the One who hears all and sees all." He indeed hears and sees all that is beyond the reach of our hearing and seeing faculties.
It is highly impressive to consider how this opening verse of the Surah starts with glorifying God, "Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night." It goes on to make a statement about God's power and purpose, "so that We might show him some of Our signs." It finishes with highlighting two of God's attributes, "He hears all and sees all." This quick change reflects even the finest elements of meaning and expression. The glorification is addressed to God Himself, and the statement about the purpose of the night journey comes from Him, while the description of God's powers is made in the form of an indisputable statement. All these forms are combined in one verse to give their different imports.
[i]Arab News - 10 September 1999[/i]
Insha Allah, more to follow....... until the end of the Surah.
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
Individual posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Jannah.org, Islam, or all Muslims. All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the poster and may not be used without consent of the author.The rest © Jannah.Org