English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 17: Bani Israil — The Israelites (Revealed at Makkah: 12 sections, 111 verses)


This chapter opens and ends by referring to the history of the Israelites, who, after attaining to greatness, were twice punished for their misdeeds. It begins with a mention of the Mi‘rāj or ascension of the Holy Prophet, indicative of the eminence to which the Muslims would rise. It then warns Muslims of the fate which befell the Israelites, as the same fate was to befall them. Then it goes on to deal with the following subjects: every deed must have a consequence, the moral teachings Muslims must follow to do good deeds, opposition to the truth and to the righteous, and its defeat by the truth — that “truth” being the Holy Prophet himself who is the “spirit of truth” prophesied in the Gospel of John — the Quran being a miracle, and, finally, Moses’ warning to Pharaoh, a warning like it now being given by the Quran to its opponents. This chapter was revealed in the early period at Makkah, around the fifth year of the Holy Prophet’s mission.

List of Sections (Rukus):

  1. Israelites Punished Twice (Verses 17:1–17:10)
  2. Every Deed has a Consequence (Verses 17:11–17:22)
  3. Moral Precepts (Verses 17:23–17:30)
  4. Moral Precepts (Verses 17:31–17:40)
  5. Disbelievers Grow Harder (Verses 17:41–17:52)
  6. Punishment must Follow (Verses 17:53–17:60)
  7. The Devil’s Opposition to the Righteous (Verses 17:61–17:70)
  8. Opposition to the Prophet (Verses 17:71–17:77)
  9. Truth will Prevail (Verses 17:78–17:84)
  10. The Quran — a Unique Guidance (Verses 17:85–17:93)
  11. Justice of Retribution (Verses 17:94–17:100)
  12. Comparison with Moses (Verses 17:101–17:111)