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Surah Qadr
Qur'anic Exegesis
Amin Ahsan Islahi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Central Theme

In the preceding Sūrah1, it has been pointed out that the revelation of the Qur’ān was a great blessing and favour of the Almighty. The fact that it was safeguarded in written form to provide mankind with Divine Guidance, has also been indicated. Now, this Sūrah deals with the topic of the revelation of the Qur’ān itself. A special reference is made to the Night in which the Qur’ān was revealed with a mention of its greatness and importance in relation to other nights. Although these matters pertain to the unknown, and a complete understanding of their nature is not possible, yet any revealed portion is always beneficial to the seekers of truth.

The purpose of this delineation is to inform the people addressed that whatever attitude they adopt about this Book, they must first seriously contemplate a few realities:

Firstly, this Book is not the result of human whim, but it is a part of a Divine Scheme, and has been revealed under the direct surveillance of the Almighty Himself.

Secondly, this event is not temporary or transient in nature. Everyone should be aware that it has taken place in a night in which important decisions are made and executed. This night is superior to a thousand nights. Matters of paramount importance are settled and decided during it. Those who deprive themselves of its blessings can gain them in no other way.

Thirdly, the Book is totally free from any sort of evil interference from Satan as the night has been specially protected from his intrusions and interventions.

Meaning of the Sūrah

Indeed, We sent it down in the Night of Destiny. And what do you imagine what the Night of Destiny is? Better is the Night of Destiny than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein (with decrees) about all mattes, by the permission of their Lord. The night is peace in its entirety. It remains until the rise of dawn.

Explanation of the Sūrah

Inna anzalnaahu fee lailatil qadr

(Indeed, We sent it down in the Night of Destiny) (1)

In the previous sūrah, God’s great blessing of providing guidance to His creation by revealing the Qur’ān has been mentioned. Now in this sūrah without any prior introduction, it has been stated that the Almighty had revealed it in the Night of Destiny. Though at first it seems that the accusative pronoun (dhameer-i-maf’ool) in the word anzalnaahu does not have an antecedent, the arrangement of this sūrah with the previous one clearly indicates the antecedent. Infact, a little deliberation shows that this strongly supports the argument that every preceding sūrah has a deep coherent relationship, intrinsic as well as extrinsic, with the succeeding one.

The stress in the word inna (indeed We) has a very special purpose. It is meant to dispel the doubt that the Qur’ān is the result of a human endeavour. It emphasises that the Qur’ān is totally free from the evil inspiration and influences of Satan, as its opponents had contended. On the contrary, It has been solely revealed by the Almighty Himself to provide guidance and direction of mankind. Laila tul Qadr means the night in which matters are decided and their enforcement entrusted to the angles, as mentioned in Sūrah Dukhaan:

We have revealed this (Qur’ān) in a Blessed Night. Verily, by its means, we are going to warn mankind. During this Night all decrees of wisdom are assigned [to the angels], by our special command. Indeed, we were to send a Prophet. [44:3-4]

If we reflect upon these verses, two of their implications become very clear:

Firstly, the Almighty has fixed a Glorious Night to specially hand over His decrees to the angels which are to be enforced by them in this world.

Secondly, the annunciation of our Prophet (sws), the revelation of the Qur’ān and the Inzaar2 to the Quraish are among the Divine Decrees entrusted to the angels, which s a clear proof of the extraordinary significance of these events. They are a part of an important plan devised by the Almighty which must reach certain completion.

The verse does not mean that the whole of the Qur’ān was revealed in a single night. All that it necessitates is that after a decision was made and the matter handed over to Gabriel, its first revelation took place during the night. Subsequently, the Qur’ān was revealed in sections over a period of twenty three years, which in no way contradicts the actual meaning of the verse.

Wa maa adraaka maa lailatul qadr (2)

And what do you imagine what the Night of Destiny is?)

The verse tells us that the greatness and splendour of the Night of Destiny is beyond the realms of imagination. The reason behind its majesty and grandeur is that important decisions about this world are made in it. When the days on which the petty administrations of this world chalk out their countries’ future year projects have great importance, then how can the significance of the Night in which Divine Directives are issued forth to decide the fate of the whole universe be estimated.

These decisions are both positive and negative in their nature: At one place destruction might take place while at another something might be created. At some other place the pangs of punishment might be at work, while an adjacent place might witness God’s blessings. But since these diverse manifestations emanate from the Almighty whose justice, wisdom and mercy are beyond question and whose schemes are based upon the collective good of man, all decisions are beneficial to man in their overall capacity and augur well for the future. This is precisely the reason why the Night has been termed as the Night of Blessing in sūrah Dukhaan as quoted earlier, and why it has been called better than a thousand months. These attributes and characteristics of the Night, as we have pointed our before, are to indicate to the adversaries of the Qur’ān that they are thoroughly mistaken if they consider a Book revealed in sūrah an exalted night to be a product of fantasy or sorcery. They have failed to distinguish a gem from a pebble. There is no possibility that an evil inspiration can penetrate during this majestic night, as in this night the priceless pearls of revelation are showered by the Creator of the heavens .

Lailatual qadri khairum min a’lfi sha’hr. (3)

(Better is the Night of Destiny than a thousand months.)

This is an expression of the exaltedness of the Night. The relative state of being ‘better’ I because it is favourable for the achievement of certain objectives. Just as in this material world there is a certain climate in a certain pat of the year in which the seeds of a particular crop must be down if they are to sprout, and any negligence to these factors will not yield the require produce even in some other prolonged periods of time; likewise, in the spiritual world also there are special days and times of the year which are set aside for special acts of worship. If they are performed during the only then the required results are obtained, and any ignorance in this regard cannot be compensated in other periods of time even if their span is extended. A few examples will make this matter more clear. To offer the Friday prayers a certain day is set aside; similarly, a particular month has been fixed for fasting; for the performance of Haj and its rites too certain days have been appointed by the Almighty. All these acts of worship have been made conditional to certain periods of time, during which their performance yields a reward that cannot be estimated.

The Night of Destiny also is no exception to this rule. A person who prostrates himself before the Almighty during this Night might attain His nearness to an extent he may never be able to emulate in a thousand other nights. The words ‘thousand nights’ can be an expression of abundance as well as that of a relative significance over other nights, but there is no big difference between the meanings both imply. The purpose is to only point out that a lot of spiritual wealth is hidden beneath the veils of this night. Lucky are the ones who strive and reap its bounties.

It is a conceded fact that the revelation of the Qur’ān began during this night, and that this night occurred during the month of Ramadhān, as mentioned in Sūrah Baqarah:

It is the month of Ramadhān during which t he Qur’ān was revealed: [2:185]

As far as the question about the exact date is concerned, it is difficult to answer due to a disparity between the Hadiths. The only thing which can be said is that it occurs most probably during the last ten days of the month.

Due to the discrepancies in the Hadiths which relate to this matter some people have raised the question whether the Night can occur in months other than Ramadhān. Another question raised is that whether this Night comes in every Ramadhān, or does it have a different span. A satisfactory answer to these queries can only be given if the concerned Hadiths are critically analysed and examined, which is beyond the scope of this exegesis. We have indicated these difficulties so that our learned scholars can deliberate over them. If the Almighty provides this writer with an opportunity to write his proposed treatise upon the Hadith Literature of Islam, these questions may be tackled therein.

Tanazzalul malaaikatu warroohu feehaa bi’izni rabbihim min kulli amr. (4)

(The angels and the Spirit descend therein [with decrees][ about all mattes, by t he permission of their Lord).

It has been mentioned before that during his Night matters are decided and assigned to t he angles for their enforcement. This verse is an explanation of this fact. In this Night Archangel Gabriel and other angels descend upon the earth to carry out the tasks allocated to them by the Almighty, as has been mentioned in Sūrah Dukhān:

During this Night all decrees of wisdom are assigned [to the angels] by our special commandment. [44:4-5]

The Word Arrooh (the Spirit), as is evident from the context is used for Gabriel. His name has been specially mentioned here because he occupies a very high rank among the angels.

Salaam. Hiya hatta matla’il fajr. (5)

(The night is peace in its entirety. It remains until the rise of dawn).

This verse explains why the Night of Destiny is superior to a thousand months.

In our consideration salaam is the enunciative (khabar) of a suppressed inchoative (mubtadā). The complete sentence can be unfolded thus: Hiya salaam (It is peace in its entirely). An inchoative is usually suppressed to emphasise the enunciative. Just as in the sentence Zaidun ’adl (Zaid is justice) on overstatement is implied by the word ’adl (justice), likewise, the word salaam (peace in entirely) also has a strong element of hyperbole in it.

The word salaam signifies safety and protection from every sort of risk and danger in general and from any satanic interference in particular. Just as during the time of Revelation all passages into the world beyond space and time are sealed to block the penetrations of Satan and his army, as has been mentioned in the Qur’an, it look s as if during this Night also these evil creatures are under Divine Detention till  the rise of dawn. Hence, they are unable to acquire the secrets of this Night, nor are in any way able to cause disruptions in the blessings of this Night.

(Translated from Islahi’s ‘Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān)






1. Recite! thy Lord is the most Bounteous. He, who by the pen taught mankind what they did not know. [96:3-5]

2. To warn people of their fate in this as well as the next world.

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