The term isrāʾ, based on the first verse of sūra 17, is typically rendered as ‘Night Journey’. There is little compelling evidence that this was the original meaning of the Qur'anic text, and medieval lexicographers and exegetes preserved a number of alternative meanings, such as that asrā was a denominal verb meaning ‘to travel through the uplands (al-sarāh)’. Another explanation is that asrā is a denominal verb of the noun sariyya (pl. sarāyā), a military expedition. By drawing on early historiog…
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