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 9 (Verses 17:78–17:84): Truth will Prevail


اَقِمِ الصَّلٰوۃَ لِدُلُوۡکِ الشَّمۡسِ اِلٰی غَسَقِ الَّیۡلِ وَ قُرۡاٰنَ الۡفَجۡرِ ؕ اِنَّ قُرۡاٰنَ الۡفَجۡرِ کَانَ مَشۡہُوۡدًا ﴿۷۸﴾

17:78 Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night, and the recital of the Quran at dawn. Surely the recital of the Quran at dawn is witnessed.1

وَ مِنَ الَّیۡلِ فَتَہَجَّدۡ بِہٖ نَافِلَۃً لَّکَ ٭ۖ عَسٰۤی اَنۡ یَّبۡعَثَکَ رَبُّکَ مَقَامًا مَّحۡمُوۡدًا ﴿۷۹﴾

17:79 And during a part of the night, keep awake by it,2 beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.3

وَ قُلۡ رَّبِّ اَدۡخِلۡنِیۡ مُدۡخَلَ صِدۡقٍ وَّ اَخۡرِجۡنِیۡ مُخۡرَجَ صِدۡقٍ وَّ اجۡعَلۡ لِّیۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ سُلۡطٰنًا نَّصِیۡرًا ﴿۸۰﴾

17:80 And say: My Lord, make me enter a truthful entering, and make me go forth a truthful exit, and grant me from Your presence an authority to help (me).4

وَ قُلۡ جَآءَ الۡحَقُّ وَ زَہَقَ الۡبَاطِلُ ؕ اِنَّ الۡبَاطِلَ کَانَ زَہُوۡقًا ﴿۸۱﴾

17:81 And say: The Truth has come and falsehood vanished. Surely falsehood is ever bound to vanish.5

وَ نُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الۡقُرۡاٰنِ مَا ہُوَ شِفَآءٌ وَّ رَحۡمَۃٌ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ۙ وَ لَا یَزِیۡدُ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ اِلَّا خَسَارًا ﴿۸۲﴾

17:82 And the Quran that We reveal is a healing and a mercy to the believers, and it only increases the wrongdoers in loss.6

وَ اِذَاۤ اَنۡعَمۡنَا عَلَی الۡاِنۡسَانِ اَعۡرَضَ وَ نَاٰ بِجَانِبِہٖ ۚ وَ اِذَا مَسَّہُ الشَّرُّ کَانَ یَــُٔوۡسًا ﴿۸۳﴾

17:83 And when We bestow favours on man, he turns away and behaves proudly; and when evil afflicts him, he is in despair.

قُلۡ کُلٌّ یَّعۡمَلُ عَلٰی شَاکِلَتِہٖ ؕ فَرَبُّکُمۡ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَنۡ ہُوَ اَہۡدٰی سَبِیۡلًا ﴿٪۸۴﴾

17:84 Say: Everyone acts according to his manner. But your Lord best knows who is best guided on the path.7


  1. After describing how the opponents wanted to bring the Prophet’s mission to failure by various means, the Prophet is told to resort to prayer as a solu­tion of the great difficulties he faced. From the declining of the sun to sunset are ẓuhr and ‘aṣr, or the early and late afternoon prayers, while from sunset till darkness are maghrib and ‘ishā’, or the sunset prayer and the prayer at night­fall. The fifth is the morning prayer, which is called here Qur’ān al-fajr, or the recital of the Quran at dawn. Thus this verse, which is one of the very early revelations, mentions all the five prayers.
  2. This refers to the tahajjud prayer, whose name is derived from the words “keep awake” (fa-tahajjad). The time for this prayer is the latter portion of the night in the early hours. It is not an obligatory prayer but, as stated here, it is the means of raising a man to a position of great glory. The time at which it is said is most suited for the concentration of mind and for communion with God.
  3. The man whom the opponents had planned to expel from their city as a helpless man was to be raised to a position of eminent dignity through prayer to God, the tahajjud prayer in the night in particular. As time passes on, the Prophet is ever rising to positions of greater and greater glory. But while the verse speaks in particular of the Prophet and of the great glory to which he was destined to rise, it gives a promise in general as well that whoever is sincere in calling upon God, especially at night, is raised to a position of glory.
  4. The reference here is a prophecy of the Prophet’s Flight, entering Madinah and going forth from Makkah. But the words are also general, man being taught here to pray that his entering into any affair and his exit may be marked by truthfulness, and that he may be granted Divine help in all his under­takings.
  5. The advent of the Prophet is here spoken of as the advent of the Truth, in reference to the prophecy in John 16:13: “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come.” The vanishing of falsehood is here spoken of in the past tense to indicate the certainty of its occurrence. Falsehood finally disappeared from Makkah when the Prophet entered it as a conqueror, and as the House of the Holy One was cleared of the idols, the Prophet recited this verse, The Truth has come and false­hood vanished (Bukhari, 46:32), thus showing that he understood it to contain the prophecy of the conquest of Makkah. The statement made here, however, is general and it means that falsehood cannot stand before Truth and that Truth must finally prevail in the whole world.
  6. The Quran is here called a healing and a mercy for spiritual diseases, and history bears testimony that spiritual diseases were all swept away by the Quran. But, it is added, it is a healing for the believers who follow it, and not for those who reject it, and its rejection brings only greater loss.
  7. Both the believer and the disbeliever act according to the rules of con­duct which they have set before themselves. Who is on the right path is made clear by the consequences which appear later but which are always known to God.