Verses from Surah Al-Isra’ (73-79)

[73] And indeed,122 they were close to tempting you away (O Muhammad) from that which We have revealed unto you so that you fasten upon Us something other than it. In that event they would have taken you a close ally.123


122. “In” here is a contraction of “inna.” This “in” is called the lightened “in,” and is usually without government (Majid).

123. As context of revelation Ibn `Abbas said that once the Thaqif tribesmen came to the Prophet and said, “Give us a year to receive the gifts that our idols receive. Thereafter we shall abandon them and embrace your religion.” The Prophet was wondering if he should allow them the reprieve when Allah revealed this and the next verse (Ibn Jarir).

Sayyid adds: “The allusion is perhaps to several efforts made by the Quraysh to soften the Prophet. On one occasion they asked him to give up criticizing their deities, in return of which they would include Allah in their worship. On another occasion they said that he should appoint a time when their chiefs and the honored ones could see him: a time when the lowly ones were not around. And so on.

“Those were efforts at a compromise of the kind that those in power of every age try to work out between themselves and the callers to Islam. The objective is to deviate them – a little to start with. Sometimes a caller is deceived by the offer, imagining that he is after all making a small concession. Those in power do not demand that he give up the call altogether. They ask for minor adjustments that might make it possible for both of them to meet at a midpoint between the two ways: theirs and his. In consequence, the caller is most tempted, especially in view of what he sees as some advantages to the call. But a minor deviation at the beginning of the path leads to a total deviation at the end of it. The caller is unable to take back what he surrendered, (and the list grows), adding to his weakness. In fact, his own willingness to give in increases with every new compromise deal that he strikes.

“Consequently, the question is that of the caller’s own faith in his call. He who compromises, even though a little, and is silent about something that is wrong, even if apparently minor, doesn’t have full faith in what he offers to others.

Does he truly believe in the goodness and beneficence of his call? For a true believer, every part of the whole is like any other part: neither less important nor more. There isn’t anything that is redundant. So, how can he give up anything? On the other hand, those in power, first try to buy off a little. The process, once started, ends with a sell out of the whole.”

[74] And, had We not strengthened you, you were about to tilt towards them a little.124


124. The addition of the word “a little” at the end of the verse implies that the Prophet (saws) did not incline to them even a little (Au.). Hence his prayer-words: “O Allah, do not hand me over to myself even for a moment”

(Qatadah – Ibn Jarir).

[75] In that case We would have surely made you taste double (the chastisement) in life and double in death,125 and you would not have found against Us a helper.


125. The promise of double the punishment is to impress on us that the punishment from Allah (swt) is proportionate to the level of elevation: the more is one elevated in Islam, the greater the punishment for him (Zamakhshari). Qurtubi adds, “Hence the verse (33: 30), ‘O womenfolk of the Prophet. If anyone of you comes with a clear indecency, the chastisement will be doubled for her.’”

[76] And they were close to scaring you from the land, to expel you from it. But then they would not remain after you except for a little.126


126. The Quraysh in fact did not enjoy a long stay in Makkah after they had forced the Prophet out. They were destroyed at Badr (Ibn Jarir). Luckily though, the Makkans escaped with this lighter punishment because they did not exactly exile the Prophet, but rather, only forced him out (Razi).

[77] The way of those We sent before you of Our Messengers. You will not find any change in Our way.

[78] Establish the Prayer127 at the sun’s decline128 until the darkness of the night129 – and recital of the dawn.130 Indeed, recital of the dawn is witnessed.131


127. Commentators have pointed out the relationship of Prayers with hardships. In Mawdudi’s words, “Reference to these (above) difficulties and hardships is followed by the command to establish Prayers. In a subtle way, this draws our attention to the fact that the patience and steadfastness required of a believer in times of such adversity can only be obtained by establishing Prayer.”

128. Although several earliest authorities, notably `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, have thought that the textual “duluk” refers to sunset, most others, including Ibn Mas`ud in a second opinion, have believed that the allusion is to the decline of the sun from the zenith. Indeed, the Prophet himself is reported to have used the word in the latter sense. In effect, the allusion is to the Zuhr Prayers (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

Qurtubi and Razi add: Authorities have disagreed over the meaning of the term “duluk”. Some say it is the time when the sun starts declining. Others have said that it is applicable to the sunset. Ibn `Atiyyah has said that “duluk” is for decline, therefore, applicable both to the decline beginning with the noon as well as to sunset. The word will thus cover the Zuhr, `Asr and Maghrib Prayers.

129. There is no difference in opinion among the scholars of the past that the allusion by “ghasaq” is to the period between sunset and appearance of the stars, that is, when darkness of the night takes hold (Ibn Jarir). Thus, if we accept the meaning of “duluk” as sun’s decline, and “ghasaq” as the early part of the night, then the four Prayers, Zuhr, `Asr, Maghrib and ‘Isha, are covered by the two terms (Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir).

130. The consensus of opinion is that by “Qur’an of the dawn” the allusion is to Qur’anic recitation in the Fajr Prayers (Ibn Jarir). And the two, the recital of the Qur’an and the Prayers have been equated to express the  importance of recitation during the Prayers in general and the dawn Prayers in particular when it should be lengthened (Zamakhshari).

131. To the question, witnessed by whom? The answer is, by the angels. According to a hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah, the angels of the night and of the day change their duties at this time and are thus, in Abu Hurayrah’s opinion, witnesses to the Qur’anic recitation in dawn Prayers (Ibn Jarir).

The hadith of Abu Hurayrah is in Bukhari which reports the Prophet as having said, “A Prayer offered in congregation is worthier twenty-five times compared to that offered singly. And the angels of the night and day get together at the time of dawn Prayers.” Abu Hurayrah added, “Read if you wish, ‘And the recital of the dawn. Indeed, the recital of the dawn is witnessed’” (Qurtubi). In fact, versions in Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and others report Abu Hurayra’s ending remark as the words of the Prophet. Another hadith in the Sahihayn says, “Angels follow you day and night. They meet each other during the Fajr and `Asr Prayers. As those who spent the night among you ascend, their Lord asks them, although He knows, ‘In what state did you leave My slaves?’ They reply, ‘When we went to them they were Praying, and when we left them they were Praying’” (Ibn Kathir).

Imam Razi and Alusi discuss the best time for Fajr prayers. The evidences either for doing them in darkness or in brightness of the dawn are, apparently, inconclusive. A Sahih report of `A’isha says, “The Prophet (saws) used to do his dawn prayer in darkness. Women also came in for the congregation wound in their veiling clothes and returned to their homes without being recognized because of darkness.” On the other hand, Tirmidhi has a Hasan Sahih report which says, “Do your (Fajr) prayer in the brightness of the dawn, for, it is more rewarding.” It is also reported through a trustworthy chain of narration that Ibrahim said, “The Prophet’s Companions never agreed on anything like they agreed on doing the Fajr in the brightness of the dawn.”

[79] As for the night, keep vigil in a part of it: an additional (prayer) for you.132 It may be that your Lord will raise you to a Station of Praise.133


133. “Station of Praise:” What station is it? Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Hasan, Qatadah and many others have said that the reference is to the grand intercession that the Prophet will be granted on the Day of Judgment. Naked, barefoot, unable to speak to one another, mankind will be awaiting the start of the Reckoning. Ultimately, after a long wait, the Prophet (saws) will be allowed by Allah to intercede with Him. That will be the Station of Praise. Indeed there is a hadith to this effect transmitted by Abu Hurayrah. It says, “People will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment. I and my followers will be the first on a hill top. My Lord will clothe me with a green shroud. Then I’ll be allowed (to intercede). I will say what Allah wills (of His praise).” That then is the Station of Praise.

According to other reports, the Prophet would be the last one to be approached for intercession after other Prophets would have refused (Ibn Jarir). The above report is in Ahmed also. Further, ahadith similar in meaning are to be found in Bukhari. Muslim has a hadith which says, “Whoever said after the Prayer-call: ‘O Allah, the Lord of this complete call, and of the Prayers about to be established, bestow on Muhammad the means of access and the bounty; and raise him to Station of Praise that you have promised’ – whoever said that – will have my intercession on the Day of Judgment.”

Tirmidhi has another hadith, termed “Hasan Sahih” by him, which has the Prophet himself answering when asked about the Station of Praise, that the allusion is to intercession (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

On the topic, it might be well to narrate a long hadith that is found in the Sahihayn transmitted by Abu Hurayrah. It says, “Some meat was brought to the Prophet. He lifted an arm, his favorite, and took a bite. Then he said, ‘I will lead mankind on the Judgment Day. Do you know why? Allah will gather the first and the last on that Day. They will hear a caller’s call, and all eyes will see. The sun will close down on them and misery will become unbearable. Some will say to others, ‘You can see how people are suffering. Why should you not find someone to intercede for you with your Lord?’ (That is, to begin the accounting). They will suggest, ‘Go to Adam.’ “They will go to Adam and tell him, ‘O Adam. You are mankind’s progenitor. Allah created you with His own hand and breathed into you a spirit from Him. He ordered the angels to prostrate themselves to you. Intercede, therefore with your Lord. Do you not see what we are in? Do you not see how we are suffering?’ Adam (asws) will reply, ‘My Lord is so angry today as He never was in the past and will never be so in future. Moreover, He had forbidden me the tree but I disobeyed. So this day, myself, myself. Go to someone else apart from me. Go to Nuh.’

“So they will go to Nuh (asws) and say, ‘O Nuh. You were the first of the Messengers to the people on the earth. Allah named you ‘the Grateful Slave.’ Intercede for us with your Lord. Do you not see what we are in? Do you not see how we are suffering?’ Nuh (asws) will reply, ‘My Lord is so angry today as He never was in the past and will never be so in future. Moreover, I was granted the acceptance of a single Prayer, which I have used against my people. Myself, myself, myself. Go to someone else. Go to Ibrahim.’

“So they will go to Ibrahim (asws) and say, ‘O Ibrahim, you are Allah’s Prophet, His Khalil from the peoples of the earth. Intercede with your Lord for us. Do you not see what we are in? Do you not see how we are suffering?’ He will reply, ‘My Lord is so angry today as He has never been in the past, and will never be so in future. Then he will recall his lies (and say), myself, myself, myself. Go to someone else. Go to Musa.’

“Next they will go to Musa (asws) and say, ‘O Musa. You are Allah’s Messenger. He chose you for His messages and for talk with you apart from others of the mankind. Intercede for us with your Lord. Do you not see what we are in? Do you not see how we suffer?’ He will reply, ‘My Lord is so angry today as He never was in the past, and will never be so in future. Moreover, I killed a man that I was not allowed to. Myself, myself, myself. Go to someone else. Go to ‘Isa.’

“So they will go to ‘Isa (asws) and say, ‘O ‘Isa, you are a Messenger of Allah, a Word that He blew into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him. You spoke to the people from your cradle though an infant. So, intercede for us with your Lord. Do you not see what we are in? Do you not see how we suffer?’ He will say, ‘My Lord is so angry today as He never was in the past, and will never be so in future. (He will not mention any of his sin, but say), myself, myself, myself. Go to someone else. Go to Muhammad.’

“Finally, they will go to Muhammad (saws) and say, ‘Muhammad! You are a Messenger of Allah, and the seal of the Prophets. Allah has forgiven your past and future sins. So, intercede for us with your Lord. Do not see what we are in? Do you not see how we suffer?’ So I will rise, take a position under the `Arsh and fall into prostration for my Lord, the Mighty, the Exalted. Allah will open (my heart) and inspire me with words of praise and exaltation that no one was ever inspired with before. Then it will be said, ‘Muhammad, raise your head. Ask, you will be granted. Intercede, your intercession will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and say, ‘My own people, O my Lord! My own people, O my Lord! My own people, O my Lord!’ It will be said, ‘Muhammad, take those of your followers who are not required to undergo accounting by the right door of Paradise.’ The rest of them will share with other nations other doors. Then he added, ‘By Him in whose Hands is Muhammad’s soul, the distance between two wings of the doors of Paradise is equal to the distance between Makkah and Hijr, or Makkah and Busra’” (Ibn Kathir).

Qurtubi adds: In all, the Prophet (saws) will exercise intercession five times. First, the general intercession (referred to in the above tradition, for the Reckoning to begin); second, leading a group of people to Paradise before the reckoning begins; third, in favor of those believers in Allah’s Oneness who would deserve the Fire for their sins – he will be able to save some of them from the punishment (this is the intercession that the Khawarij and Mu`tazilah denied); fourth, in favor of those who would have entered the Fire. They will be rescued by the Prophets, angels and brother Muslims; and, fifth, for obtaining higher status in Paradise after entry into it.

The above said, there are other interpretations to the words “Station of Praise.” One comes from Mujahid. He said it refers to Allah (swt) giving the Prophet a place on the `Arsh on the Day of Judgment (Ibn Jarir). Qurtubi adds that some scholars have not accepted two of Mujahid’s interpretations. First, this one, and the second, his interpretation of the verse (75: 23), “Faces that Day will be shining; looking at their Lord,” which Mujahid interpreted as “Faces that Day will be shining; waiting for their Lord.” Mujahid stood alone in understanding “Nadira” as “waiting” instead of the commonly understood “looking.” Nevertheless, some have accepted his opinion (about the Prophet being placed on `Arsh) arguing that it is in fact a hadith – and of such strength that Naqqash reported from Abu Da’ud Sijistani that, “Whoever rejects this hadith is, according to us, himself untrustworthy. For, the traditionists have through and through reported this as a hadith.” Nevertheless, although Ibn Jarir is disinclined to accept Mujahid’s interpretation (it is said that the public stoned Tabari’s door for maintaining that the Prophet will be given place on the `Arsh: Au.), many of the classic scholars did not see anything wrong in the statement that the Station of Praise refers to the Prophet given a place on the `Arsh. Ibn Jarir himself writes that with reference to Allah and His creation, the general opinion is that once Allah existed and there was nothing in existence. Then He brought things into existence. However, after their creation He remained “apart from them;” nothing being in contact with Him; (He being in another realm altogether). Another school of thought says that it is true that all things are “apart from” Allah, and that they do not touch Him or come into (physical) contact with Him, but after Allah created `Arsh for Himself, He is in touch with it (in what sense, they do not explain), though He is “apart from” it. Now, whatever opinion we go by, Mujahid’s opinion that Allah will give our Prophet a seat on the `Arsh is not impossible.

Whether he will sit on a mimber of nur (as Sahih reports say), or on `Arsh, or on the earth, is all the same. He does not “come in contact with Allah.” But rather, remains a slave. Qurtubi also agrees that there is no ground to reject Mujahid’s interpretation. For Allah (swt) is “apart from” and “out of (physical) contact” with His creations. Their existence or nonexistence does not make any difference to Him. He creates what He will. He created the `Arsh and chose it for His “istawa’.” This “istawa’” is in keeping with His Greatness and should be interpreted as what behooves Him. He is definitely not sitting on it, occupying a part or whole of it. For, He is “apart from it” and other creations… Therefore, His placing Muhammad on the `Arsh does not affect Him in anyway, and cannot be said to be impossible. If some reports say that “He will make him sit with Him,” then the “ma`” (with) of the text should be understood in the same sense as (29: 69), “Surely, Allah is with those who do good.” Alusi is also more or less with Qurtubi in the above interpretation.

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