Surah Al-Isra Ayat 4 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 4
And We conveyed to the Children of Israel in the Scripture that, “You will surely cause corruption on the earth twice, and you will surely reach [a degree of] great haughtiness.
And We gave (Clear) Warning to the Children of Israel in the Book, that twice would they do mischief on the earth and be elated with mighty arrogance (and twice would they be punished)!
Then We clearly declared to the Children of Israel in the Book: “Twice you will make mischief in the land and will commit transgression.”
And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture, that indeed you would do mischief on the earth twice and you will become tyrants and extremely arrogant!
And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture: Ye verily will work corruption in the earth twice, and ye will become great tyrants.
And We decreed for Seeds (Or: Sons) of Israel) in the Book: “Indeed you will definitely corrupt in the earth twice, and indeed you will definitely (become) exalted a great exaltation.
We declared to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, ‘Twice you will spread corruption in the land and become highly arrogant.’
Quran 17 Verse 4 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Isra ayat 4, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(17:4) Then We clearly declared to the Children of Israel in the Book: Twice you will make mischief in the land and will commit transgression.
5. The original Arabic word Al-kitab does not stand here for the Torah but for all the divine Books.
6. Such warnings have been given in different Books of the Bible. As regards to their first mischief and its evil consequences, the Israelites were warned in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the warnings about their second mischief and its severe punishments are found in Matthew and Luke. Given below are some extracts to confirm this statement of the Quran.
Prophet David was the first to warn the Israelites in his Psalms of their first mischief:
They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them. But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters. Therefore, was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; Psalms: Chapter 106, vv. 34-38, 40, 41. The above events have been described in the past tense as if they had already actually happened. The Scriptures employ this mode of expression to emphasize the importance of the prophesies.
When this mischief actually came to pass, Prophet lsaiah warned them of its ruinous consequences: Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more: How is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: everyone loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel. Ah I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore, the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn: and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground. Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: Therefore, this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall. And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a shred to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit. (lsaiah, Chapter 1: verses 4-5, 21-24; Chapter 2: verses 6,8; Chapter 3: verses 16-17, 25-26; Chapter 8: verse 7; Chapter 30: verses 9-10, 12-14).
After this Prophet Jeremiah raised his voice when the flood of corruption swept away everything before it.
Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity and are become vain?
And I brought you into a plentiful country to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy hands: and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed: they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble; for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with sticks. Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgments that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? Saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understand what they say. Their quiver is an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men. And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds; they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword. And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.
And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. (Jeremiah, Chapter 2: verses 5-7, 20, 26-28; Chapter 3: verses 6-9; Chapter 5: verses 1, 7-9 15-17; Chapter 7: verses 33, 34; Chapter 15: verses 2, 3).
Then Prophet Ezekiel was raised to warn them in time. Addressing Jerusalem he said:
The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself. Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood. In thee they have set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my Sabbaths. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. And one hath committed abomination with his neighbor’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter. In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion and hast forgotten me, can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel, Chapter 22: verses 3, 6-12, 14-16).
Besides the above mentioned warnings which were given to Israelites at the time of their first mischief, Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) warned them of the consequences of their second great mischief. In a forceful address he criticized their morel degeneration like this:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gatherth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. (Matthew, Chapter 23: verses 37, 38; Chapter 24: verse 2).
Then, when the Roman officials were taking Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) out for crucifixion, and a great company of people including women were following him bewailing and lamenting, he addressed them and gave his final warnings:
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say; Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, fall on us; and to the hills, cover us. (Luke, Chapter 23: verses 2830).
4. And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture: “Indeed you would do mischief in the land twice and you will become tyrants and extremely arrogant!” 5. So, when the promise came for the first of the two, We sent against you servants of Ours given to terrible warfare. They entered the very innermost parts of your homes. And it was a promise (completely) fulfilled. 6. Then We gave you a return of victory over them. And We helped you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in manpower. 7. (And We said): “If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” Then, when the second promise came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to disgrace your faces and to enter the Masjid as they had entered it before, and to destroy with utter destruction all that fell in their hands. 8. It may be that your Lord may show mercy unto you, but if you return (to sins), We shall return (to Our punishment). And We have made Hell a prison for the disbelievers.
Allah tells us that He made a declaration to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, meaning that He had already told them in the Book which He revealed to them, that they would cause mischief on the earth twice, and would become tyrants and extremely arrogant, meaning they would become shameless oppressors of people, Allah says:
(And We made known this decree to him, that the root of those (sinners) was to be cut off in the early morning.)(15:66), meaning, We already told him about that and informed him of it.
(So, when the promise came for the first of the two) meaning the first of the two episodes of mischief.
(We sent against you servants of Ours given to terrible warfare.) means, `We unleashed soldiers against you from among Our creatures who were given to terrible warfare,’ i.e., they had great strength and weapons and power. They entered the very innermost parts of your homes, meaning they took possession of your land and invaded the very innermost parts of your homes, going between and through your houses, coming and going freely with no fear of anyone. This was the promise (completely) fulfilled. The earlier and later commentators differed over the identity of these invaders. Many Isra’iliyyat (reports from Jewish sources) were narrated about this, but I did not want to make this book too long by mentioning them, because some of them are fabricated, concocted by their heretics, and others may be true, but we have no need of them, praise be to Allah. What Allah has told us in His Book (the Qur’an) is sufficient and we have no need of what is in the other books that came before. Neither Allah nor His Messenger required us to refer to them. Allah told His Messenger that when (the Jews) committed transgression and aggression, Allah gave their enemies power over them to destroy their country and enter the innermost parts of their homes. Their humiliation and subjugation was a befitting punishment, and your Lord is never unfair or unjust to His servants. They had rebelled and killed many of the Prophets and scholars. Ibn Jarir recorded that Yahya bin Sa`id said: “I heard Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib saying: `Nebuchadnezzar conquered Ash-Sham (Greater Syria, including Palestine), destroying Jerusalem and killing them, then he came to Damascus and found blood boiling in a censer. He asked them: What is this blood They said: We found our forefathers doing this. Because of that blood, he killed seventy thousand of the believers and others, then the blood stopped boiling. This report is Sahih from Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, and this event is well-known, as he (Nebuchadnezzar) killed their nobles and scholars, and did not leave alive anyone who knew the Tawrah by heart. He took many prisoners from the sons of the Prophets and others, and did many other things that would take too long to mention here. If we had found anything that was correct or close enough, we could have written it and reported it here. And Allah knows best. Then Allah says:
((And We said): “If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.”) As Allah says elsewhere:
(Whosoever does a righteous good deed, it is for (the benefit of) himself; and whosoever does evil, it is against himself.) ﴿45:15﴾
Then Allah says:
(Then, when the second promise came to pass,) meaning, the second episode of mischief, when your enemies came again,
((We permitted your enemies) to disgrace your faces) meaning, to humiliate you and subdue you,
(and to enter the Masjid) meaning, Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem).
(as they had entered it before,) when they entered the very innermost parts of your homes.
(and to destroy) wrecking and inflicting ruin upon it.
(all that fell in their hands.) everything they could get their hands on.
(with utter destruction. It may be that your Lord may show mercy unto you) meaning that He may rid you of them.
(but if you return (to sins), We shall return (to Our punishment).) meaning, if you return to causing mischief,
(We shall return) means, We `will once again punish you in this world, along with the punishment and torment We save for you in the Hereafter.’
(And We have made Hell a prison ﴿Hasir﴾ for the disbelievers.) meaning, a place of permanent detention, a prison which cannot be avoided or escaped. Ibn `Abbas said, “Hasir here means a jail.” Mujahid said, “They will be detained in it.” Others said like- wise. Al-Hasan said, “Hasir means a bed of Fire.” Qatadah said: “The Children of Israel returned to aggres- sion, so Allah sent this group against them, Muhammad and his companions, who made them pay the Jizyah, with willing submission, and feeling themselves subdued.”
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