Allah, al-ʿAẓīm (The Magnificent), says:

إِنَّآ أَنْزَلْنَـٰهُ فِيْ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ ( 1) وَمَآ أَدْرَىٰكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ (2) لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ (3) تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ وَالرُّوْحُ فِيْهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِّنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ (4) سَلَـٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ (5)

“Indeed, We sent this (Qur’ān) down on the Night of Qadr. And what will make you realise what the Night of Qadr is? The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit (Jibrīl) descend in it, by the permission of their Lord, for every matter. It is Peace — until the rising of the dawn” (97:1-5).

Let us reflect on this sūrah to help us understand the significance of this incredible night:

Ayah 1

إِنَّآ أَنْزَلْنَـٰهُ فِيْ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

Indeed, We sent this (Qur’ān) down on the Night of Qadr.

This Night is special as it marks one of the most magnificent events in history: the first revelation of the Qur’ān. Even if we worshipped Allah for a thousand years, it would not be enough to appreciate and thank Him for this favour.

Ibn ʿAbbās (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā) said that the Qur’ān was revealed in its entirety from the highest heaven to the lowest heaven, and was subsequently revealed to Muḥammad ﷺ over the span of twenty-three years.

Qadr could refer to:

1) Honour and nobility. It is a noble night as the Qur’ān descended in it, Allah’s noble angels descend in it, and the mercy of Allah descends on the entire earth. A noble angel (Jibrīl (ʿalayhis-salām)) was chosen to descend with a Noble Book – the words of the Entirely Noble- upon the heart of the most noble man. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) states, “Indeed, We sent it down on a blessed night…” (44:3). Likewise, the one who worships Allah on this night is noble and honoured by His Lord.

2) Decree. The angels descend with the allotted decree of each person for the next year. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “On that night every matter of wisdom is ordained” (44:4).

3) Constraint and congestion. This could refer to the earth becoming restricted as angels fill up the earth, and there is no room for any evil. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Indeed there are more angels on the earth on that night than the number of pebbles (on the earth)” (Ibn Khuzaymah). It could also allude to the specific identity of this night being unknown (‘constrained’).

There is a significance of the Qur’ān being revealed at ‘night’, as opposed to the day. Elsewhere in the Qur’ān, Allah says,

– “Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah] to the Aqṣā Mosque [in Jerusalem] (17:1);

– And pray during a part of the night, offering additional prayers, so your Lord may raise you to a station of praise (17:79);

– Indeed, rising by night (for prayer) makes for a stronger impression (on the soul), and is best for the recitation (of Allah’s words) (73:6).”

These verses indicate a strong connection between worship at night and enjoying a lofty rank in the sight of Allah. At night, when one sacrifices the comfort of their sleep and company of their spouse, and instead turns towards His Creator, his heart brimming with His love and trembling from His fear, he is closer to receiving the exclusive outpourings of Allah’s mercy and light. In the stillness of the night, the heart is calmer, distractions are limited, and one is able to absorb the weighty message of the Lord of Majesty and Nobility. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) descends to the lowest heaven every night when one-third of the night remains and says, “Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?” (Bukhārī).

Ayah 2

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ

And what will make you realise what the Night of Qadr is?

‘Mā adrāka (what will make you realise)’ is a powerful rhetorical question which draws our attention to the importance of this night. We can never fully appreciate the greatness of this night. It is something which we should not take for granted.

Ayah 3

لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍۢ

The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months.

Worshipping Allah in this one night is not just equivalent to a thousand months (more than 83 years), but even better than that. Allāhu Akbar! Look at the kindness of Allah! We struggle to worship Him for more than few hours, let alone spend a major portion of our lives in worshipping Him – and yet, from His immense generosity, He gifts us with Laylat al-Qadr. Not once in our lifetime, but once every year throughout our time on this earth.

“The Messenger ﷺ was shown the lifespans of the people before him, or what Allah willed of that; and it was as if he thought that the lifespan of his ummah was short, and they would be unable to reach the level of deeds as others before them had due to their long lives. Thus, Allah gave him Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” (Muwaṭṭa’)

The average lifespan of this ummah is between 60 and 70 years. Despite such short lives however, Allah blessed us that we are able to gain the rewards of worshipping Him for many lifetimes. Just as every deed is potentially multiplied by ten, this one night brings with it immeasurable rewards, blessings and goodness.

Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said, “In it, Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived!” (Nasā’ī).

Juwaybir (raḥimahullāh) said: “I asked Ḍaḥḥāk, ‘Do women experiencing post-natal bleeding and menstruation, those travelling, and those asleep (due to illness) have a share of Laylat al-Qadr?’ He replied, ‘Yes. Whoever’s deeds Allah accepts, He will give them their share of Laylat al-Qadr.’”

Ayah 4

تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ وَالرُّوْحُ فِيْهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِّنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍۢ

The angels and the Spirit (Jibrīl) descend in it, by the permission of their Lord, for every matter.

Ibn Kathīr (raḥimahullāh) wrote, “The angels descend in abundance during this night due to its abundant blessings. The angels descend with blessings and mercy, just as they descend when the Qur’ān is recited and surround the gatherings of dhikr.”

Allah announces the decree of the upcoming year to His angels on this Night, as they will be carrying out His commandments. This includes births, deaths, provisions and calamities.

The earth is full of goodness and blessings on this night, as there are a huge number of angels filling up the entire earth.

The ‘spirit’ refers to Jibrīl (ʿalayhis-salām), the greatest of all angels, the link between the heavens and the earth, the angel tasked with the most prestigious job: conveying the message of the Creator to His creation. This is the only time of the year in which he ascends to the earth. We can only imagine how blessed this night is.

It is difficult to appreciate the spiritual and physical greatness of Jibrīl. He has 600 wings. If he was to unroll a pair of them, it would fill the space between the sky and the earth. Allah describes him as an angel of ‘mighty power, and great perfection’ (53:5-6).

Ayah 5

سَلَـٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ

It is Peace — until the rising of the dawn.

‘Salām’ (Peace) could mean that this night is full of peace. All of it is good and there is safety from all harm and evil until dawn. As the earth is full of angels, there is goodness and peace throughout the earth.

It has also been said that angels greet (say salām to) the believers. They pray for the protection, and the removal of evil and harm, for every slave who is worshipping Allah.

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