This Surah takes its name (Bani Israil) from v. 4. But this
name is merely a distinctive appellation like the names of
many other surahs and not a descriptive title, and does not
mean that "Bani Isra'il" is the theme of this Sarah.
Period of Revelation
The very first verse indicates that this Surah was revealed
on the occasion of Mi`raj (Ascension). According to the Traditions
and books on the life of the Holy Prophet, this event happened
one year before Hijrah. Thus, this Surah is one of those which
were revealed in the last stage of Prophethood at Makkah.
The Holy Prophet had been propagating Tauhid for the previous
twelve years and his opponents had been doing all they could
to make his Mission a failure, but in spite of all their opposition,
Islam had spread to every corner of Arabia and there was hardly
any clan which had not been influenced by his invitation.
In Makkah itself the true Believers had formed themselves into
a small community and were ready and willing to face every
danger to make Islam a success. Besides them, a very large
number of the people of Aus and Khazraj (two influential clans
of Al-Madinah) had accepted Islam. Thus the time had come for
the Holy Prophet to emigrate from Makkah to Al- Madinah and
there gather together the scattered Muslims and establish a
state based on the principles of Islam.
These were the conditions when Mi`raj took place and on his
return the Holy Prophet brought down the Message contained
in this Surah.
Theme and Topics
This Surah is a wonderful combination of warning, admonition
and instruction, which have been blended together in a balanced
The disbelievers of Makkah had been admonished to take a lesson
from the miserable end of the Israelites and other communities
and mend their ways within the period of respite given by Allah,
which was about to expire. They should, therefore, accept the
invitation that was being extended by Muhammad (Allah's peace
be upon him) and the Quran; otherwise they shall be annihilated
and replaced by other people.
Incidentally, the Israelites, with whom Islam was going to
come in direct contact in the near future at Al-Madinah have
also been warned that they should learn a lesson from the chastisements
that have already been inflicted on them. They were warned, "Take
advantage of the Prophethood of Muhammad (Allah's peace be
upon him) because that is the last opportunity which is being
given to you. If even now you behave as you have been behaving,
you shall meet with a painful torment."
As regards the education of mankind, it has been impressed
that human success or failure, gain or loss, depends upon the
right understanding of Tauhid, life-after- death and Prophethood.
Accordingly, convincing arguments have been put forward to
prove that the Quran is the Book of Allah and its teachings
are true and genuine the doubts of the disbelievers about these
basic realities have been removed and on suitable occasions
they have been admonished and rebuked in regard to their ways
In this connection, those fundamental principles of morality
and civilization on which the Islamic System of life is meant
to be established have been put forward. Thus this was a sort
of the Manifesto of the intended Islamic state which had been
proclaimed a year before its actual establishment. It has been
explicitly stated that that was the sketch of the system on
which Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) intended to build
human life first in his own country and then in the outside
Besides these, the Holy Prophet has been instructed to stick
firmly to his stand without minding the opposition and difficulties
which he was encountering and should never think of making
a compromise with unbelief. The Muslims who sometimes showed
signs of impatience, when they met with persecution, calumny,
and crooked arguments, have also been instructed to face adverse
circumstances with patience and fortitude and keep full control
over their feelings and passions.
Moreover, salat was prescribed in order to reform and purify
their souls, as if to say, "This is the thing' which will produce
in you those high qualities of character which are essential
for everyone who intends to struggle in the righteous way Incidentally,
we learn from Traditions that Mi'raj was the first occasion
on which the five daily Prayers were prescribed to be offered
at fixed times.