By: Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi in Tafsir Nemuneh
Translated from Farsi into English by: Fatima Zabeth Beenesh
Surat Al-Qadr (The Power) – سورة القدر
This Surah was descended at Mecca and it has 5 Ayahs
The contents and the virtues of the Surah Al-Qadr
The content of this Surah from its name is evident that it is related to the descent of the dignified Quran at the Night of Qadr and then mentioned the importance of this night, its blessings and its effects.
About its descent whether it is Makki or Madani? Among the interpreters it is well-known that it is Makki (descended in Mecca). But some presumed that it is Madani (descended in Madina).
!لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
It is mentioning the Bani U’mayya’s ruling period which was the tenure of 1000 months. But we know that the Mosque and pulpit ‘mimber’ were established in the Madina not in Mecca. May be Sura Al-Qadr is showing the similarity not the event of its descent. About the virtues of its reading, it is enough to quote the prophet peace be upon him who said: The person who recites Sura Al-Qadr is like the person who observed fasting in the month of Ramadhan and kept himself all awake on the Night of the Lailatul Qadr.
!إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ
Verily! We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree)
!وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ
And What will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?
!لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is
!تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.
!سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ
Peace! It is till the break of the morning.
The Month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was descended.
And in the manifestation of its meaning it is understood quite well that the entire holy Quran was revealed in the Month of Ramadhan. And in the first Ayah it is defined that: we bring it down in the night of Qadr (announcement).
The meaning turns toward the dignified Quran as it is obscure in the appearance for its greatness and the importance.
The meaning of Inna anzalnahu too indicates the greatness of this divine book that the Mighty God related the descent of this book to his own self. Particularly the pronoun of the person who is addressing is in the plural form it is the proof of its greatness.
The descent was on the night when the fortunes and the future of the people are decided. This divine book is another confirmation for its being the great decisive future planner of man.
The result of comparing this ayat with the ayat of Sura e Baqara, it is certain that this night of Qadr (announcement) occurred in the month of ramzan but which night? By the noble Quran, nothing is obtained in this issue. But the narrations are discussed to large extent, in this matter.
By the incidents in the life of prophet peace be upon him it is certain that this divine book gradually descended within the period of twenty three ‘23’ years. This matter how much approves the aayaat that defines The Noble Quran is descended in the night of Qadr (announcement) in the month of Ramzan?
The answer of this question: the most of the researchers declared, it descended in two manners:
1 Nuzul e daf’ee, the decent of divine book the Noble Quran just in one attempt on the night of Qadr (announcement)upon the heart of the prophet peace be upon him or Baith e mamur (a place where70,000 angels perform prayers daily) or the lauh e Mahfuz(Book of Decrees) at the sky of earth.
2 Nuzal e Tadriji the gradual descend of Splendid Quran that took the period of 23 years of the prophet’s peace be upon him prophetic mission.
According to some of the books of dialects the term tanzeel are commonly used for the gradual decent.
In the next ayat to describe the greatness of the night of decree ‘shab e Qadr’ it is said: what do you know the night of decree is?
We know that thousand months is more than seventy years, truly this night is too splendid equal to the long valuable life of man full of abundance ‘barkat’.
In some of definitions it is indicated that the glorious prophet peace be upon him said: One of the man in Bani Israil dressed in the uniform of soldiers for thousand months and does not changed his clothing. And he was persistently prepared or (engaged) in fighting at the battle field in the cause of the Almighty God. His companions and the friends got astonished and wished the Mighty God to achieve this kind of glory and honour. The above ayat descended and described that the grand night lailatul Qadr is better than thousand months.
In another hadis it is mentioned that prophet peace be upon him talked about the four persons of the Bani Israil who performed the prayers before the Merciful God for eighty years without any transgression. The companions of prophet peace be upon him wished and longed to acquire such kind of the capability, the above ayat descended in that matter.
Here does the figure of the thousand stands for the number or illustrates the hugeness? Some defined the value of lailatul Qadr (the night of decree) is more than thousand months but according to the narrations which are described above shows that the above mentioned number indicates that the said figure stands for the number only. Basically the number always stands to express the numerical not for expressing symmetrical to the abundance.
Then further defined the outline of that grand night and added: the angels and the soul descend that night by the permission of the Provider God for the decision of every affair.
The above term indicates the verb which shows the continuation of a task called in Arabic fe’l e muzaare’. It proves the continuance of the assignment.
Lailatul Qadr (the night of decree) is not specifically connected to the prophet peace be upon him and the descent of Noble Quran but it is an event which shows the continuation and it is night that is repeated every year.
What is the meaning of the soul ‘Ruh’ mentioned in the ayat? Some said: The Ruh is jibril e ameen as he is called by the name of Ruhul Ameen. And some translated the Ruh by the term revelation. As mentioned in the in Sura e Shura ayat 52.
Ash-Shura (The Consultation)
Therefore the meaning of ayat happen to be: the angels descend that night with the divine revelation to decide about the divine decrees and destinies. Regarding the view of the fact from the narration, it is quoted by the imam Jafar Sadiq alaihis salam when some people asked his excellence: Does the term Ruh is the same jibril alaihis salam Gabriel. Imam A.S replied: Jibril belongs to the group of angels and ‘Ruh’ The soul is superior to the angels. Does not the Almighty said: The angels and the soul descend. That means in comparison both are different they are other definitions for the term Ruh.
مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
By the above terms means the angels descend for appointing and the deciding the future and fate of man, bringing every blessing and abundance for him at that night. The cause of the angel’s descent is to perform these affairs with the permission of Supreme God.
In the last ayat it said: it is the night full of peace, wellbeing and kindness till the sunrise.
Therefore it is the night entirely bestowed with gifts, from beginning till end even according to some narrations the Satan is imprisoned in the chains. For that reason too it is the totally merciful night full of kindness.
Instead of the term saalim here the name salam is specified to this night, actually it is stressing upon the fact that that as we say some person’s character is equal to the justice.
Some said as well that this night is named as Salam (peace, greetings, salutation) for the reason, the angels constantly salutes each other or the believers by saying salam that night. Or they visit the prophet peace be upon him and his successors and greet them.
Any way this night is entirely filled with the lights, blessings, well being, abundance and fortunate, incomparable in every way.
In a hadis it is mentioned that someone asked the imam Baqir alaihis salam: Do you know which is the night of decree shabe Qadr? He replied: How is it possible that we are unaware of this night when the angels in that night salute us rotate around us. In the story of Ibrahim alaihis salam it is mentioned that some of the divine angels came to him and conveyed him the glad tiding of a child and saluted salam to him as described in sura e Hud ayat 69.
The great prophet said that the joy and delight he felt at that moment by the salutes of salam of the angels, it cannot be compared to the joyfulness in the entire world now we have to think that when the group of angels in the night of decree descent and salute the salam to the believers how much joy and delight it must have?
When prophet Ibrahim alaihis salam was thrown into the fire of the king Namrood, the angels arrived and saluted him salam and the fire became the floral garden for him. Does not the fire of hell get cooled and blessed at the night of decree by the barkat and abundance of angel’s salam and blessings upon the believers?
Yea this is the sign of the greatness of prophet Muhammad’s peace be upon him nation there it descends upon the Khalil ulllah here it come down upon the Muhammad’s peace be upon him nation of Islam.
1- The night of decree is called Shab e Qadr as it decides the fortune of the whole year of people and the witness of this fact is the Sura e Dukkhan in which it is said:
Ad-Dukhan (The Smoke)
!إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ
Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Certainly, We were to warn [mankind].
!فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ
On that night every precise matter is made distinct and declared.
This definition coordinates with different narration that stated: In that night the fate of human being is decided for one year. His sustenance, daily bread and peace, his reputation in life and other affairs are calculated, decided and reach to the conclusion in that holy night.
But this issue does not go against the human’s freedom of determination, resolution and his affairs of power and control as the destiny decided by the Glorious God through the angels is according to the pure intentions and deeds of believers.2- Which is the night of decree (Shab e Qadr)?
There is no doubt that lailatul qadr (Shab e Qadr) occurs in the month of ramzan, as the ayaat of Noble Quran emphasise upon this fact and declare that: the dignified Quran descended in the month of Ramzan Baqara 185 and on other ayat
Al-Baqara (The Cow)
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran,
From other side it reveals: It is descended on the grand night of decree.
But which is this night that is in the month of Ramzan? There are many discussions and many definitions that it is the night of first, the night of seventeenth, the night of nineteenth, the night of the twenty first, night of twenty third, night of twenty seventh and night of twenty ninth of Ramzan. But the most famous in the narrations is that it happens in the last ten days of Ramzan, the night of the twenty first, the night of twenty third of Ramzan hence we read in some of the descriptions the great prophet peace be upon him used to engage himself in worshiping the Mighty God the entire nights of the last ten days of the holy month of Ramzan.
In a narration from imam Sadiq alaihis salam, he declared that the Shab e Qadr or the night of decree is the night of twenty first or twenty third of Ramzan. Even when the narrator emphasised the imam and enquired him about the selection how to select between these two nights? Imam Sadiq alaihis salam did not selected any night and added: How easy are these two nights to achieve the abundant wishes we desire?
But in many descriptions defined by ahal baith, the sacred family of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, they mostly stressed upon the night of twenty third of Ramzan. Where as in the information from the ahal sunnat (the sunni sect of Muslims) they emphasised more upon the twenty seventh night of Ramzan as the night of decree.
In an another narration from imam Sadiq alaihis salam it is quoted: the destiny and the fate is decided in the night of nineteenth, at the night of twenty first it obtains the confirmation and at the night of twenty third the signature is registered upon it.
However there is a halo of vagueness encircled the night of decree because of hell that will be illustrated later.3- Why the night of decree is concealed?
Most of the people believe that the concealment of the night of decree ‘Shab e Qadr’ among the nights of the year or the nights of the Ramzan, it is for the reason that the people must give importance to each and every night of the month of Ramzan. Such as the Benevolent God concealed his favour in the various kinds of devotions so that the people eagerly carry out every kind of worship and the devotion and he had hidden his anger in the sins so that people entirely avoid the evil deeds and sins. And the Almighty God concealed his friends in the middle of the people so that the human beings should respect each and every one in the society. And he held in secret the acceptance of the prayers so that people should get attracted to every manner of prayers. He concealed his great name Ism aazam in the midst of his names in order that the people respect his names entirely, kept in secret the moment of death, to make the human beings alert.
This logic appropriately fits in the thoughts.4- Does the night of decree was existed in the previous nations or not?
The out ward appearance of ayat shows that the night of decree does not merely belongs to the period of prophet peace be upon him or the hours of the descent of the noble Quran but it occurs every year till the end of this worldly life.
The above term indicates that the verb of continuation which proves the prolongation of an event.
Apart from this does Shab e Qadr occurs in other nations also?
There are many narrations that this divine favour is gifted to the nation of Muslims hence in a hadis it is mentioned by the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him who said: The Merciful God blessed my nation of Islam the favour the Lailatul Qadr’ Shab e Qadr” and not a single nation was gifted such a blessing by the Holy God Allah.
5- How ‘Lailatul Qadr’or Shab e Qadr’ is superior to the thousand nights?
It is apparent that Lailatul Qadr’ Shab e Qadr” is better than 1000 nights, it got this superior value specifically for the worshiping and remaining awake the entire night in the adoration of Majestic God. And the narration about the virtues of the worshiping in the Lailatul Qadr’ is revealed in the books of shia as well as sunni sects and completely approving it.
Apart from the descent of Noble Quran in that night the descent of the barkaat, favours and blessings is the cause of its being superior to the thousand nights.
In a quotation from imam Jafar Sadiq alaihis salam who addressed Ali bin Abu Hamzah Somali and said: Request the Generous God to gain the virtues of the ‘Lailatul Qadr’or shab e Qadr’ at the night 21 twenty first of Ramzan and 23 twenty third of Ramzan. In each of these nights perform one hundred rakat namaz and if possible keep awake till the sunrise in morning and perform gusl ‘full ablutions’ (ritual washing) in that night.
Abu Hamzah said: I had asked: If it is not possible to perform in standing position all these great number of namaz prayers?
He said: You worship in the sitting position. I said: if it is not possible? he said: worship in your bed spread, it has no objection. In the beginning of the night one must take a short nap and then get engaged in the worshiping the Exalted God, the doors of heaven are open in the month of Ramzan and the devils are tied up in chains and the iron collars. And the practices of the believers are get accepted by the Generous God. Such an excellent month is the month of Ramzan.
6-Why the noble Quran descended on the night of decree ‘Shab e Qadr’?
The night of decree ‘Shab e Qadr’ decides the destination of the human beings for one whole year according to their ability and capability. That night one should be remain awake and seek pardon for the sins from the All Hearing God and make efforts for self building and go to the threshold of the Gracious God and try to achieve more and better ability to attain his grace and blessings.
Yea the moments when our future is going to reach the phase of decision those hours the person must not remain slept, unaware of everything and must not be in the state of ignorance, in that case the future will get fruitless and distressed.
As the Gracious Quran is the book that constructs the future of man and the line of the well being, the prosperity and the guidance of the human beings is distinguished in it and in the night of the decree Shab e Qadr, the night when the destiny are decided it descended. How beautiful is the relation between the Noble Quran and the Night of Decree ‘Shab e Qadr’. How meaningful is the connection of these two with one another?
We are aware that the beginning of the lunar months in all the domains is not same. Possibly in a dominion today it is the first of the month and in another is the second of the month. Therefore the night of decree ‘Shab e Qadr’ cannot be a fix day in a year. For example it is the night of twenty third in the city of Mecca probably it can be the night of the twenty second in the Iran and the Iraq. Like this manner each of them must contain the night of decree Shab e Qadr. Does it suites well to the ayaat and the narrations which state that the night of decree ‘Shab e Qadr’ that is a fixed night?
The answer to this issue is according to this point gets apparent and that point is: The night is the same shadow prevails upon the half of the earth sphere. And we know that this shadow moves along with the earth. And one complete circle gets finished in twenty hours. Therefore it is possible that Shab e Qadr is a complete circular movement around itself that is a period of twenty four hours of darkness in the entire world which covers every point of the earth. Its beginning is from one point and its end is in another point.
O Guardian of Faith Allah! Grant us such awareness so that we can achieve more and more virtues from the night of decree ‘Shab e Qadr’.
O Creator and Sustainer God! We hopefully believe in your kindness and decide our fate according to your kind-heartedness.
O Exalter and the most Glorious God! Do not deprive us of this month; there is no deprivation worst than that.