Getting to Know Allah

The Babylonian Exile and the Roman Diaspora

17:2 We gave Moses the Book and made it a guidance to the Children of Israel [saying]: “Do not take besides Me any other guardian.”

17:3 O progeny of those whom We caused to be carried along with Noah; He was truly a very thankful servant.

17:4 And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Book: “You shall make mischief in the land twice, and you shall become very haughty.”

In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar [634 – 562 BC] destroyed the First Temple and took the Jews into captivity to Babylon. The first “mischief” in the Bible for this unfortunate turn of events was rebelling against God and disobeying His commandments. The Koran, of course, is short on specifics.

17:5 And when the punishment for the first [making of mischief] became due, We sent forth against you servants of Ours possessing great might who went after you in your country. Thus our threat was accomplished.

In 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great proclaimed what has been called The Edict of Cyrus, allowing all people who had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians to return home. It was not a military success, as intimated by the following revelation that allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and Judea, but a simple act of goodwill; it was a kindness for which the Jews honoured Cyrus in the Bible with the name Messiah (Isaiah 45:1).

17:6 Then, We gave you back your turn against them and aided you with wealth and children and increased you in number.

In A.D. 70, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus, it was time for the punishment once more. Allah’s odd servants on this occasion were the Roman legions who would destroy the rebuilt Second Temple. There is no mention of the diaspora.

17:7 [And We said]: “If you do good, you do good for yourselves, and if you do evil, you do it for yourselves too.[28] And when the punishment for the second [making of mischief] became due, [We send our men again] to afflict you, and to enter the Mosque (Temple) as they entered it the first time and to utterly destroy what they conquered.

There is hope, but don’t push it!

17:8 It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you; but if you go back [to mischief], We shall come back and make Hell a prison for the unbelievers.

Just follow the Guide and believe, and pray for good, not evil—and don’t be hasty, for God’s sake!

17:9 Surely, this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright and announces to the believers who do good works the good news that they shall have a great reward.

17:10 And those who do not believe in the Hereafter, We have prepared for them a very painful punishment.

17:11 Man prays for evil, just as he prays for good; and man is very hasty.


[28] 45:15 He who does a righteous deed, it is to his own advantage, and he who perpetrates evil, it is to his own loss. Then, unto your Lord you shall be returned.

41:46 He who performs the righteous deed performs it to his own advantage, and he who perpetrates evil perpetrates it to his loss. Your Lord is not unjust to His servants.