Delivered on 28 June 2016 by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
To prove the significance of various important days or nights of the year, we generally rely on reported ahadith to do so. But the greatness of the Night of Qadr is highlighted in Quran itself and is thus unanimously accepted as the greatest night of the year.
Thus Surah Qadr says:
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ
“Surely We revealed it on the Night of Power
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ
What do you understand of night of Qadr?”
The purpose behind this rhetorical question is to show we have no clue regarding the real value of this night.
REVELATION OF THE “HAQIQAT” OF THE QURAN
Firstly its greatness is due to the Quran having been revealed in the Night of Qadr.
From a Quranic perspective, we understand that the Revelation of the Quran occurred at least twice (if nor more than twice).
The one revelation occurred in a gradual manner over a period of 23 years – that gradual revelation did NOT start on the Night of Qadr, but in terms of the narrations of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), it started on the 27th Rajab and continued in this gradual manner until the end of the earthly life of the Prophet (sawa).
But Surah Qadr does not say that Allah started to reveal the Quran on the Night of Qadr, but alludes to the Quran itself (“it”) was revealed on the Night of Qadr.
There are 2 forms of the verb referring to revelation that is used throughout the Quran. The one form is when the word “tanzil” is used which means a “gradual revelation”.
And the other form is when the word “inzaal” is used which means “revelation all at once.”
The use of these 2 forms of the verb very definitely supports the view that the Quran was revealed twice.
The revelation on the Night of Qadr “all at once” was not the Revelation of the 114 chapters of the Quran in one night, but was actually the Revelation of the Reality or Haqiqat of the Quran onto the heart of the Prophet (sawa). This is the meaning of “Surely we revealed ‘it’ on the Night of Power.”
It is this relationship between the “Haqiqat” of the Quran and its descent on this Night that makes it a Night so great.
A BLESSED NIGHT
The Revelation of the Quran “all at once” is also referred to in Surah Dukhan Verse 3 which says:
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ
“We sent It down on a blessed night.”
Thus secondly, its greatness is due to this Revelation of the Haqiqat of the Quran making the Night of Qadr a “Blessed Night”.
Verse 4 of Surah Dukhan states:
فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ
“Therein [the blessed night] is decreed [and explicated] every [momentous] matter of Ordainments [as per Divine Wisdom].”
And thus narrations from the Ahlul Bait (a.s) state that it is a Night in which matters like:
- The Haj allocation of the next year is decided;
- Who will die next year;
- Allocation of matters relating to sustenance;
And thus you will notice from the Duas that we read on this night, that we prayer for ease in various matters that affect our daily life.
WORTH A LIFETIME OF WORSHIP
On the third level, this Night is so great due to the value attached to it by Almighty Allah Himself when He says in Verse 3:
لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
“The Night of Power is better than a thousand months”
Reference to 1000 months has various meanings. On the one hand it is understood to mean that it is an invaluable Night.
On the other hand 1000 months refers to the average lifespan of a human being which amounts to 83 years.
By spending this night in worship, one potentially achieves the value of a lifetime of worship in the space of a few hours.
WHEN IS THIS NIGHT?
Knowing the value of the Night of Qadr has left Muslims in intrigue regarding exactly which Night it is in the Month of Ramadaan.
So the Prophet (sawa) indicated it is one of the odd nights in the last 10 nights of Ramadaan i.e. it can be any odd night between the 19th of Ramdaan to the 29th of Ramadaan.
But in our school the greatest emphasis is placed on the 23rd night of Ramadaan.
Someone by the name of Juhani once said to the Prophet (sawa) that he lives on the outskirts of Madina and must attend to his cattle and cannot come every Night of the last 10 nights to the mosque and enquired which night would be best for him to come. And the Prophet (sawa) whispered to him that he should come on the 23rd Night.
Imam Saadiq (a.s) thus also considers that the highest possibility is that the 23rd night is the Night of Qadr.
And thus we have narrations too that Lady Fatima (a.s) used to prepare her children to remain awake on the 23rd night. She would ensure that they eat less and sleep in day to remain awake the whole night. She taught us to keep our children awake too so that they are trained to know that this night must be given the utmost importance and the required spirit of sacrifice. After all, if we do not achieve the Forgiveness of Almighty Allah on this Night, then what are the chances of achieving it at any other time?!
ANGELS DESCEND – WHO RECEIVES THEM??
Verse 4 of Surah Qadr says:
تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
“The angels and the “Ruh” descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair”
The Night of Qadr occurred when the Prophet (sawa) received the Haqiqat of the Quran. But this Verse of Surah Qadr indicates that the Night of Qadr occurs every year as the verb “Tanazzalu” is in the present and future tense.”
So originally when the Night of Qadr occurred and the angels descended, the Prophet (sawa) was their host who received them.
And after the Prophet (sawa) left this material world, the Angels continue to descend. So who is their host??
Someone asked Imam Saadiq (a.s) whether they know which night is the actual Night of Qadr? The Imam responded to say “How is it possible that we don’t know when we see the Angels descend and are surrounded by them”?!
Thus Imam Saadiq (a.s) said one of the best proofs of Imamate and the fact that world cannot exist without an Imam is using this argument from Surah Qadr!
The Night of Qadr is a Reality that is indisputable and the descent of Angels is also indisputable – do they then descend without someone receiving them?
Thus we believe in the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s) that Our Imam Mahdi (a.s) receives the Angels on the Night of Qadr and is their host!
PEACE UNTIL DAWN – WHAT PEACE?
Verse 5 of Surah Qadr says:
سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ
“Peace it is until dawn”
It is a peace that we need to seek even though it is there. We can only get peace if we internally have peace.
In the various duas that we read tonight, we are taught to ask for a “heart which has no doubt in it which is content with what You have written for us.”
Thus we need sincere intention. Quantity is not the issue tonight but quality. If you read one sentence with focus and it connects to you internally, its better than a whole night with no attention. It is the rhythm of your soul and not the oscillation of your tongue that will achieve this peace.
We pray “O Allah if you have forgiven us so far, then kindly increase Your pleasure of us.
And if You have not forgiven us, then kindly forgive us from this point onwards”
And remember to pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are in difficulty in different ways, especially the soldiers who are the protectors of the shrines of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and all those oppressed throughout the world.