Sūrat al-Isrā

Sūrah No. 17, Revealed in Makkah, 111 verses.

The Sūrah gets its name from the night journey of the Prophet a that is mentioned in the first verse. The Sūrah is also known as ‘Banū Israel’ from the many verses that talk about them. Some narrations also mention it as Sūrat Sūbhāna, from the first word of the Sūrah.

Merits of reciting the Sūrah

Many hadith talk about the great rewards for one who recites this Sūrah. There is specific mention of the one who recites this Sūrah and whose heart is touched by the verses on behaviour with parents. Such a person increases in love for parents and pleases God.

Whoever recites Sūrah al-Isrā every Thursday night will not die without meeting the al-Qāim and will be from his companions. Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq (a) (Tafsīr Namūne)

Note: Scholars emphasize that such rewards are for those who ponder over the contents of the Sūrah and make efforts to follow its teachings in their lives.

General synopsis of contents

1) Proofs of Prophethood, especially the Quran and the event of Mi‘rāj.

2) Stories from the Banu Israel

3) Discussion on the free will of the human being

4) Rights of others, especially those of relatives and parents

5) Prohibition of negative characteristics

6) Knowing God

7) Miraculous nature of the Quran and its effect on inner diseases

Selected Lessons

1) Human beings often pray for what is not good for them (verse 11)

2) Those who waste, are ungrateful, like shaytān (verse 27)

3) Do not be extravagant, nor miserly (verse 29)

4) There is nothing in this universe that does not glorify God (verse 44)

5) Shaytān incites ill feeling between people (verse 53)

6) Tahajjud Salāt is a significant factor in spiritual upliftment (verse 79)

Important Messages

1) The deeds of the human being never leave him.

2) The Day of Judgment is the only judgement where the guilty bear witness against themselves.

3) Rights of parents involve more than just physical and material duties.

4) Fight arrogance by remembering your weaknesses.

5) Servitude to God is a protection from the whisperings of shaytān.

6) Without man’s efforts Allah does not grant him any spiritual status.


Suggested verses for reflection and memorization.

1) 17:15 – Whoever is guided is guided only for his own soul, and whoever goes astray, goes astray

only to its detriment. No bearer shall bear another’s burden. We do not punish [any community]

until We have sent it an apostle. 

2) 17:21 – Observe how We have given some of them an advantage over some others; yet the

Hereafter is surely greater in respect of ranks and greater in respect of relative merit.

3) 17:70 – Certainly We have honoured the Children of Adam, and carried them over land and sea,

and provided them with all the good things and preferred them with a complete preference over many of those We have created.

Activities for self-study

1) Read verses 23-24 of the Sūrah. Write down the etiquettes prescribed for behaviour with parents.

2) Verse 29-39 talk about wise characteristics and behaviour. List the different

behaviours mentioned.

3) How do the disbelievers react to the verses of Quran? (see vv. 45-47)