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)

Section 12 (Verses 17:101–17:111): Comparison with Moses

Translation:

17:101 And certainly We gave Moses nine clear signs; so ask the Children of Israel. When he came to them, Pharaoh said to him: Surely I think you, Moses, to be one bewitched.
17:102 He said: Truly you know that none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has sent these as clear proofs; and surely I believe you, Pharaoh, to be lost.
17:103 So he desired to scare them from the land, but We drowned him and those with him, all together;
17:104 and We said to the Children of Israel after him: Abide in the land. But when the latter promise came, We brought you all rolled up.1
17:105 And with truth have We revealed it, and with truth did it come. And We have not sent you but as a giver of good news and as a warner.
17:106 And it is a Quran We have made distinct, so that you may read it to the people by slow degrees, and We have revealed it in portions.
17:107 Say: Believe in it or do not believe. Surely those who are given the knowledge before it, fall down prostrate on their faces, when it is recited to them,
17:108 and they say: Glory be to our Lord! Surely the promise of our Lord was to be fulfilled.2
17:109 And they fall down on their faces, weeping, and it adds to their humility.Prostration
17:110 Say: Call on Allah or call on the Beneficent.3 By whatever (name) you call on Him, He has the best names. And do not be loud in your prayer nor be silent in it, and seek a way between these.4
17:111 And say: Praise be to Allah! Who has not taken to Himself a son, and Who does not have a partner in the kingdom, and Who does not have a helper because of weakness; and proclaim His greatness, magnifying (Him).

Commentary:

  1. The latter promise here relates to the promise given to Moses for the raising up of another prophet like him. This is corroborated by what is said in the next verse about the revelation of the Quran, which came with truth, i.e., in fulfil­ment of a true promise. By the rolling up of the Israelites is meant that they would make way for another people, who would inherit the kingdom of God.
  2. The promise spoken of here is no doubt the promise given to the former prophets regarding the advent of the Holy Prophet; and by knowledge in the previous verse is also meant knowledge of the prophecies.
  3. The name Raḥmān (Beneficent) seems to have been particularly objectionable to the Arabs, who objected to its use even so late as the truce at Hudaibiyah. The Christians also do not recognize Allah to be Raḥmān, because it means that Allah shows mercy to His creatures without their having done any­thing to deserve it, while the Christian doctrine of atonement is based on the belief that Allah cannot show mercy to His creatures without receiving some satis­fac­tion.
  4. The two extremes with regard to prayer are its utterance in a very loud voice or not uttering any word at all with the tongue, thinking that God knows what is in the hearts. Muslims are told to take the middle course between the two extremes. Utterance of words makes the prayer go deeper down into the heart of man, and thus makes it more effective.

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