In the preceding Surah1,
it is pointed out that the revelation of the Qur’an was a great
blessing and favour of the Almighty. The fact that it was safeguarded in
written form to provide mankind with Divine Guidance is also referred to.
Now, this surah deals with the topic of the revelation of the Qur’an
A special reference is made to the night in which the Qur’an
revealed together 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 disclosed 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 on a few realities:
Firstly, this Book is not the result
of some human whim; it is 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 cannot
gain them in any other way.
Thirdly, the Book is totally free
from any sort of evil interference from Satan as the night in which it
was revealed has been specially protected from his intrusions and interventions.
Text of the Surah
Meaning of the Surah
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 matters, by the permission of
The night is peace in its entirety.
It remains until the rise of dawn.
Explanation of the Surah
Indeed, We sent it down in the Night of Destiny. (1)
In the previous surah, God’s
great blessing of providing guidance to His creation by revealing the Qur’an
mentioned. Now in this surah without any prior introduction, it
is stated that the Almighty had revealed it in the Night of Destiny. Though
at first it seems that the accusative pronoun (Damir-i-Maf‘ul) in
the word Anzalnahu does not have an antecedent, the placement of
this surah after the previous one clearly indicates the antecedent.
In fact, a little deliberation shows that this strongly supports the argument
that every preceding surah 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
is the result of a human endeavour. It emphasizes that the
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 to mankind. Laylatu’l-Qadr
means the night in which matters are decided and their enforcement
entrusted to the angles. It is the same night referred to in the following
verses of Surah Dukhan:
We have revealed this (Qur’an) 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
Secondly, the commissioning of the
Prophet Muhammad (sws), his Indhar2
to the Quraysh and the revelation of the Qur’an are among
the Divine Decrees entrusted to the angels during this night, which is
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 completion.
The verse does not mean that the whole
of the Qur’an 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’an
revealed in sections over a period of twenty three years, which in no way
contradicts the actual meaning of the verse.
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
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 this night has been termed as the Night of Blessing in Surah
Dukhan as quoted earlier, and why it has been called better than
a thousand months. These attributes and characteristics of the night, as
have been pointed out before, indicate to the adversaries of the Qur’an
they are thoroughly mistaken if they consider a Book revealed in 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 .
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’ is because it is favourable
for the achievement of certain objectives. Just as in this material world
there is a certain climate in a certain part of the year in which the seeds
of a particular crop must be sown if they are to sprout, and any negligence
to these factors will not yield the required 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 offered during them, 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 has been set aside; similarly, a particular month has been fixed for
fasting; for the offering of Hajj 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 which 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 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 universally acknowledged fact
about this night that the revelation of the Qur’an began during
it, and that this night occurred during the month of Ramadan, as
mentioned in the following verses of Surah Baqarah:
It is the month of Ramadan during which
the Qur’an was revealed. (2:185)
As far as the question about the exact
date is concerned, it is difficult to answer it due to some disparities
found in the Ahadith that deal with this subject. The only thing
which can be said is that it occurred most probably during the last ten
days of the month.
Due to the discrepancies in the Ahadith
relate to this matter some people have raised the question whether the
night can occur in months other than Ramadan. Another question raised
is that whether this night comes in every Ramadan, or does it have
a different span. A satisfactory answer to these queries can only be given
if the concerned Ahadith are critically analysed and examined, which
is beyond the scope of this exegesis. I 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 Hadith, these questions may be tackled therein.
The angels and the Spirit descend therein [with decrees]
about all matters, by the permission of their Lord. (4)
It has been mentioned before that
during his night matters are decided and assigned to the 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
tasks allocated to them by the Almighty, as is also mentioned in the following
During this Night all decrees of wisdom are assigned
[to the angels] by Our special commandment. (44:4-5)
The Word Al-ruh (the Spirit), as
is evident from the context is used for Gabriel. His name is specially
mentioned here because he occupies a very high rank among the angels.
The night is peace in its entirety. It remains until
the rise of dawn. (5)
This verse explains why the Night
of Destiny is superior to a thousand months.
In the opinion of this writer, Salam
the Enunciative (Kabr) of a suppressed Inchoative (Mubtada).
The complete sentence can be unfolded thus: Hiya salam (It is peace
in its entirely). An Inchoative is usually suppressed to emphasize the
Enunciative. Just as in the sentence Zaydun ’Adl (Zaid is justice)
an exaggeration is implied by the word ’Adl (justice), likewise,
the word Salam (peace in entirely) also has a strong element of
hyperbole in it.
The word Salam 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 is mentioned at various places in
the Qur’an, it looks 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 and are unable to cause disruptions
in the blessings of this night.
(Translated from ‘Tadabbur-i-Qur’an’
by Shehzad Saleem)