Surah Bani Israil
(No.17 - The Night Journey) Verses 78 - 84
Healing and Mercy for Believers
Healing and Mercy for Believers
The teachings of the Quran are described as a healing and mercy for believers in the 9th Ruku comprising verses 78 to 84 of the 17th Surah (Bani-Israil). Pickthall has rendered into English the Ruku and verse 85 as follows except for alteration made in the light of the translation of Shah Waliuallah indicated in the notes.
" Establish worship at the declining of the sun until the dark of night, and (the recital of) the Quran at dawn. Verily, (the recital of) the Quran at dawn is ever witnessed.
"And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised state.
"And say: My Lord! Cause me to enter with a just entry and to go forth with just going forth. And grant me from Thy Presence a power to assist (me).
"And say: 'Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Verily, falsehood is ever bound to vanish'.
"And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the evil doers in naught save loss.
"And when We favour man, he turneth away and is averse; and when ill toucheth him he is in despair.
" Say: 'Each one doth according to his manner, and thy Lord is best aware who is best guided in the path'.
They will ask thee concerning the soul. Say: 'The soul is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little.'"
- The word "duluk" in the text of verse means both declining and setting of the sun. Pickthall has taken the word to mean setting for which the word declining has been substituted in accordance with the translation of Shah Waliullah who has used the word "Zawal". Some people say that the Quran prescribes "Farz" (ordained) prayers only three times a day. This is an obvious error. The consensus of opinion based on a large number of Ahadis of unimpeachable authority is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said Farz prayers five times a day regularly except on rare occasions when he combined Zohr with Asr and Maghrib with Esha. Those who perform the Haj are required to do the same when they go to Arafat and return from there. There is another verse of the Quran which indicates the times of prayers which are ordained:
"And glorify thy Lord by praising Him before the rising of the sun and before its setting and during the hours of the night do glorify (Him), and during parts of the day" (XX-130).
A believer who is anxious to comply with the ordinances of the Quran in accordance with the precepts and practice of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) can have no doubt about the correctness of the rule of prayers five times a day on which Muslims of all sects are agreed. It is a different matter if one tried to find pretexts for failure to comply wit the ordinance of the Quran.
- Verse 79 relates to Tahajjud prayers, for which the time is between midnight and dawn. The stillness of night is a good time for communion with the Almighty. Prayer at this time is Nafl (supererogatory) and not Farz (ordained). It is remarkable how some spiritually advanced people who spend several hours in Tahajjud prayer manage at the same time to remain active and alert during the day and to get through even more work and better work than other people. Tahajjud prayer is also a good exercise in self-discipline for those who seek spiritual advancement.
- It is believed that verse 80 refers to the departure of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) from Mecca for Medina and his subsequent victorious return. Truth and justice were the dominant consideration in all his dealing. The Khulafai Rashideen (may Allah be pleased with them) also considered no sacrifice great for upholding the principles of truth and justice. That remained, with a few exceptions, the guiding principle of leaders of Muslims for several centuries and they were favoured with Allah's help and achieved such success in various forms of beneficial human activity as to excite the admiration of the world. Zeal for truth and justice is an important characteristic of a true believer. Falsehood may have the appearance of success for a short time, but in the end truth and justice may prevail. A few decades or a few centuries may appear to us to be long periods of time, but they are short periods in the affairs of the Lord and Sustainer of the universe.
- The teachings of the Quran are indeed a healing and mercy to believers. Evil- doers, who must necessarily be perverse and wanting in faith, are apt to find a way to mislead themselves and suffer harm. It has been made clear in the opening verses of Surah Baqar that the:
"Quran is a guidance unto those who ward off evil. Who believe in the unseen, and establish prayer, and spend out of what We have given them. And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter."
One who fulfils these conditions and sincerely seeks guidance in the Quran is sure to find a healing and mercy in it, so as to be able to free his mind of all evil and corruption (VIII-29), and fear and frustration. (II-38). Freedom from fear and grief which often takes the form of frustration is repeatedly mentioned in the Quran as the reward of believers to the Sirat-al-Mustaqim or the path of moral rectitude which is described in verses 152 to 154 of the sixth Surah (Al- Anam). The Quran imparts to believers who sincerely seek guidance in it a discipline and sense of values which make it easy for them to meet the trials and tribulations of life with equanimity. Those who lack faith and do injustice to themselves by transgression and sin are prone to become arrogant when they enjoy material prosperity and to crumple into despair when faced with adversity. None despaireth of Allah's mercy save disbelieving folk (XII-87).
- The maxim in verse 84 gives us an important lesson in tolerance. No two persons think or act alike. No one has a right to enforce his opinion on another, especially in matters of religion. There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error (II-256). Even to unbelievers we are required to say:
"Unto you your religion and unto me my religion" (CIX)
and thus politely to avoid futile controversy. It is a regrettable fact that there have been, in the past, and continue to some extent even in the present times, bitter theological controversies amongst Muslims, If the teachings for the Quran has been given the attention which is due to them, Muslims would not have suffered so much from internecine strife brought about by intolerance. It is important for success in all walks of life that we should bear in mind that everyone acts according to his own manner and that we have no reason for resentment as another person not acting as we think that he should act. Except for matters of principle in which there can be no question of compromise, it is our duty to try to avoid bitterness and strife. The Quran has made the right direction distinct for error. For the rest Allah knows best whose way is more right. A believer should never forget this.
- The word "Rooh" in verse 85 has been variously interpreted by different commentators. In the Kitabut-Tasfeer of Bokhari the word has been used in its plain sense. Shah Waliullah and Shah Rafiuddin have also merely reproduced the word in their translations. It is thus safe to interpret the word in its usual as meaning the soul. The plain meaning of the verse, therefore, is that the soul is by command of our Lord and that of knowledge we have been vouchsafed but little. This should set at rest fruitless and perplexing speculation about the nature of the soul. We ought to be content with what the Quran says that it is the affair of Allah and that little is the knowledge about it which has been vouchsafed to us about it.