Monday 27 May 2019

Surah Al Qadr - The Power: Exegesis / Tafseer of 97th Chapter of the Quran

Surah Al Qadr is the ninety seventh surah with 5 ayahs, part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Surah takes its name after the word al-qadr in the very first verse. A study of the contents also shows that it should have been revealed at Makkah.

Thematically, the surah is constructed to acquaint man with the value, worth and importance of the Quran. The mere fact that it being placed just after Surah Al-Alaq in the arrangement of the Quran explains that the Holy Book, the revelation of which began with the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq. was sent down in a destiny making night. It is a glorious Book and its revelation for mankind is full of blessings.

At the outset, Allah says: "We have sent it down." That is, it is not a composition of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessing) himself, but We Ourself have revealed it.

Then, it is said that "We sent it down in the Night of Destiny." Night of Destiny lies two meanings and both are implied here: 
First, that it is the night during which destinies are decided; or, in other words, it is not an ordinary night like the other nights, but a night in which destinies are made or marred. The revelation of this Book in this night is not merely the revelation of a book but an event which will change the destiny of not only the Quraish, or of Arabia, but of, the entire world. The same thing has been said in Surah Ad-Dukhan.
The other meaning is that this is a night of unique honor, dignity and glory; so much so that it is better than a thousand months. Thus, the disbelievers of Makkah have been warned, as if to say: "You on account of your ignorance regard this Book, which Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has presented, as a calamity for yourselves and complain that a disaster has befallen you, whereas the night in which it was decreed to be sent down was such a blessed night that a task was accomplished in it for the wellbeing of mankind, which had never been accomplished even during a thousand months of history. This also has been said in verse 3 of Ad-Dukhan in another way, which we have explained in the introduction to that Surah.
In conclusion, it has been stated that in this night the angels and Gabriel descend with every decree (which in verse 4 of Surah Ad- Dukhan has been described as amr-hakim: wise decree) by the leave of their Lord, and it is all peace from evening till morning; that is, there is no interference of evil in it, for all decrees of Allah are intended to promote good and not evil. So much so that even if a decision to destroy a nation is taken, it is taken for the sake of ultimate good, not evil.

Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Surah. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to a heartwarming commentary by Nouman Ali Khan in English:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

اِنَّاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنٰهُ فِىۡ لَيۡلَةِ الۡقَدۡرِ ۖ ۚ‏ 
(1)   Behold, We revealed this (Qur'an) on the Night of Power.
The words in the original are anzalana hu: We sent it down. Although there is no mention of the Quran before it, the Quran is implied, for sending down by itself points out that the Quran is meant. And there are numerous instances of this in the Quran that if from the context, or the style, the antecedent of a pronoun is apparent, the pronoun is used even if the antecedent has not been mentioned anywhere before or after it.

Here, it has been said: We sent it down (the Quran) in the Night of Destiny, and in (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 185), Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down. This shows that the night in which the Angel of God had brought down revelation for the first time to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Cave of Hira, was a night of the month of Ramadan. This night has been described as Lailat-ul-qadr here and as Lailat-im-mubarakah in (Surah Ad-Dukhan,Ayat 3).

There can be two meanings of sending down the Quran in this night: First, that in this night the entire Quran was entrusted to the bearers (angels) of revelation, and then Gabriel continued to reveal its verses and Surahs, from time to time, to the Prophet (peace be upon him) during 23 years as the occasion and conditions demanded. This meaning was given by Ibn Abbas. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn al- Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Hakim, lbn Marduyah, Baihaqi). Second, that the revelation of the Quran began in this night. This is Imam Shabi’s view, although from him too the other view is also related, which is the view of Ibn Abbas as cited above (Ibn Jarir). Anyhow, in both cases, the meaning is the same that the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) began in this very night, and this was the night in which the five opening verses of (Surah Al-Alaq) were revealed. The fact, however, is that Allah did not compose the verses and the Surahs of the Quran right at the time guidance was needed by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) for his message of Islam in respect of an occasion or affair, but even before the creation of the universe, in the very beginning, Allah had a full plan of the creation of mankind on the earth, of raising the Prophets in it, of sending down the Books to the Prophets, of raising the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) at the end of the line of the Prophets and of sending down the Quran to him. In the Night of Destiny only the execution of the final phase of the plan began. No wonder if at that very time the entire Quran was entrusted to the bearers of revelation.

Some commentators have interpreted qadr to mean destiny (taqdir), i.e. it is the night in which Allah entrusts the decrees of destiny to the angels to be enforced. This is supported by (verse 3 of Surah Ad-Dukhan): This is a night in which every matter is decided wisely by Our command. On the contrary, Imam Zuhri says that qadr means glory and honor, thereby implying that it is a Night of Destiny. This meaning is supported by the words Lailat-ul-qadr is better than a thousand months of this Surah itself.

As for the question as to which night it was, it is disputed and there are as many as 40 different views on this subject. However, a great majority of scholars hold the opinion that one of the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan is Lailat-ul-qadr, and among these also most scholars think that it is the 27th night. Below we give the authentic Ahadith which have been reported in this connection:

According to Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, in connection with Lailat-ul qadr, that it is the 27th night. (Abu Daud Tayalisi). According to another tradition from Abu Hurairah, it is the last night of Ramadan. (Musnad Ahmad).

When Zirr bin Hubaish asked Ubayy bin Kaab about Lailat-ul-qadr, he stated on oath, and did not make any exception, that it is the 27th night. (Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Hibban). When Abu Zarr was asked about it, he said: Umar, Hudhaifah and many other companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) had no doubt that it is the 27th night. (Ibn Abi Shaibah). Ubadah bin as-Samit says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Lailat-al-qadr is one of the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan: 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th, or the last night. (Musnad Ahmad).

Abdullah bin Abbas says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Search for it among the last ten nights of Ramadan when there are still nine days in the month, or seven days, or five days. (Bukhari). Most of the scholars have understood it to mean that by this the Prophet (peace be upon him) meant the odd nights. Abu Bakr said: When nine days remain in the month, or seven days, or five days, or three days, or the last night. What he meant was that Lailat-ul-qadr should be sought among these days. (Tirmidhi, Nasai).

According to Aishah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Search for Lailat-ul-qadr among the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmidhi). Aishah and Abdullah bin Umar have also reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) observed itikaf (seclusion in the Mosque) during the last ten nights of Ramadan every year during his lifetime.

On the basis of the traditions related in this regard on the authority of a great companions like Muawiyah, lbn Umar, Ibn Abbas and others, a large number of the earlier scholars regard the 27th of Ramadan as Lailat-ul-qadr. Probably Allah and His Messenger have not specified any one night for the reason so that the people, in their zeal to benefit from the virtues of Lailat-ul-qadr, should spend more and more nights in worship and devotion and should not remain content with only one night. Here the question arises that when it is night at Makkah, it is daytime in a large part of the world; therefore, the people of those parts can never take advantage of Lailat-ul-qadr. The answer is that the word night in Arabic is mostly used for the combination of the day and night. Therefore, the night preceding the day on any one of these dates of Ramadan can be Lailat ul-qadr for that part of the world.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Virtues of the Night of Al-Qadr (the Decree)
Allah informs that He sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Al-Qadr, and it is a blessed night about which Allah says: 
(إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَـهُ فِى لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَـرَكَةٍ We sent it down on a blessed night.) (44:3) This is the Night of Al-Qadr and it occurs during the month of Ramadan. 
This is as Allah says: (شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِى أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an.) (2:185) 
Ibn `Abbas and others have said, "Allah sent the Qur'an down all at one time from the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz) to the House of Might (Baytul-`Izzah), which is in the heaven of this world. Then it came down in parts to the Messenger of Allah based upon the incidents that occurred over a period of twenty-three years.' 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Or: "of Almightiness" or "of Majesty" - thus describing the night on which the Prophet received his first revelation (see introductory note to the preceding surah). On the basis of several Traditions, it may be assumed that it was one of the last ten nights - probably the twenty-seventh of the month of Ramadan, thirteen years before the Prophet's emigration to Medina.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. xliv. 3. The 23rd, 25th or 27th night of Ramadhan, as well as other nights, have been suggested as the Night of Power. See, however, the Introduction to this Sura. It is best to take this in conjunction with verse 3 below, which says that the Night of Power is better than a thousand Months. It transcends Time: for it is Allah's Power dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, by his Revelation, in every kind of affair.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: اِنَّا٘ اَنْزَلْنٰهُ فِيْ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ. There is no antecedent of the accusative pronoun in اَنْزَلْنٰهُ because the word “We revealed” automatically shows that the Qur’ān is referred to. The verse does not necessitate that the whole of the Qur’ān be revealed in a single night. In fact, if the decision of its revelation was made in that night and the first instalment was revealed in it, then the word اَنۡزَلۡنٰهُ would be absolutely apt for it.

It was a night of Ramaḍān. It is evident from verse 185 of Sūrah al-Baqarah that the Qur’ān was revealed in the month of Ramaḍān.

The word قَدۡر can refer to the night of decisions and also to the night of splendour. This topic is discussed in Sūrah al-Dukhān thus: فِيۡهَا يُفۡرَقُ كُلُّ اَمۡرٍ حَكِيۡمٍ (4:44) (all wise matters are distributed in it, (44:4)). It is evident from this verse that the first of the meanings of قَدۡر is implied.

The word اِنَّا in the verse also needs to be considered. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
The stress in the word اِنَّا  (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 emphasizes that the Qur’ān is totally free from evil inspiration and influences of Satan, as its opponents contended. On the contrary, it has been solely revealed by the Almighty Himself to provide guidance and direction to mankind. No one other has any say in it. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 466)
Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Its name, Layalt al-Qadr, or the Night of Power. It is indeed the greatest and most significant event the universe has ever witnessed. It is the event which explains most clearly how human life benefits by God’s planning, management and organisation. This night is better than a thousand months. The figure here and elsewhere in the Qur’an does not signify a precise number. It simply denotes something very high. Many thousands of months and many thousands of years have passed without leaving behind a fraction of the changes and results brought about during that blessed and happy night.

وَمَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮكَ مَا لَيۡلَةُ الۡقَدۡرِؕ‏  
(2) And what can make you know what the Night of Decree is?

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Then Allah magnified the status of the Night of Al-Qadr, which He chose for the revelation of the Mighty Qur'an, by His saying: (وَمَآ أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ - لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months.) 

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah "When Ramadan would come, the Messenger of Allah would say: (Verily, the month of Ramadan has come to you all. It is a blessed month, in which Allah has obligated you all to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are shackled. In it there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good, then he has truly been deprived.)'' An-Nasa'i recorded this same Hadith. 

Aside from the fact that worship during the Night of Al-Qadr is equivalent to worship performed for a period of one thousand months, it is also confirmed in the Two Sahihs from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said: (Whoever stands (in prayer) during the Night of Al-Qadr with faith and expecting reward (from Allah), he will be forgiven for his previous sins.)

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This expression of grandeur or horror of something is adopted at many places in the Qur’ān. Here the purpose is to point to the greatness of this night. In other words, it is a night whose exaltedness and blessings cannot be imagined by anyone.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki: It is great because God chose it for the revelation of the Qur’an, so that its light may spread throughout the universe, and divine peace may spread in human life and conscience. That night is great because of what the Qur’an includes: an ideology, a basis for values and standards and a comprehensive code of moral and social behaviour, all of which promote peace within the human soul and in the world at large. It is great because of the descent of the angels, and Gabriel in particular, by their Lord’s leave, carrying the Qur’an. They fill all the space between heaven and earth in such a splendid, universal celebration, vividly portrayed. On that night every matter of significance was made plain and distinct; new values and standards were established; the fortunes of nations were determined; and values and standards were sorted out. 

لَيۡلَةُ الۡقَدۡرِ  ۙ خَيۡرٌ مِّنۡ اَلۡفِ شَهۡرٍؕ‏ 
(3) The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.
The commentators in general have understood this to mean that the good acts performed in this night are superior in value to the good acts of a thousand months in which Lailat-ul-qadr is not included. There is no doubt that this is in itself correct and the Prophet (peace be upon him) has described great excellences and virtues of the good acts and devotions of this night.

According to a tradition related in Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The one who remained standing in worship in the state of belief and for the sake of rewards from Allah during Lailat-ul-qadr, would have all his previous sins forgiven. And in Musnad Ahmad, there is a tradition from Ubadah bin as-Samit, saying that the Prophet said: Lailat-ut-qadr is among the last ten nights of Ramadan. The one who stood up in worship in order to take advantage of their rewards, Allah will forgive all his former and latter sins. But the verse does not say: To act righteously in Lailat-ul-qadr is better than acting righteously in a thousand months, but it says: Lailat-ul-qadr is better than a thousand months. And a thousand months also does not imply 83 years and 4 months exactly, but a very long period of time as a thousand denoted among the Arabs. Therefore, the verse means that in this one night a task was accomplished for the welfare of mankind the like of which had not been accomplished even during an indefinitely long period of history.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"A thousand" must be taken in an indefinite sense; as denoting a very long period of time. Cf. notes 3632 and 3634 to xxxii. 4-5, and n. 5678 to lxx. 4. This does not refer to our ideas of time, but to "timeless Time". One moment of enlightenment under Allah's Light is better than thousands of months or years of animal life, and such a moment converts the night of darkness into a period of spiritual glory.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This style denotes a large number and must not be understood in the literal sense. The purpose is to show that since in this night important decisions are implemented, it has so many blessings in it and so many opportunities of procuring the nearness of God that a thousand nights do not have them. No doubt, the decisions which are taken on this night relate both to mercy and punishment yet since they are from the being every decision of Whom is replete with mercy, wisdom and justice all of them are blessed. On this very basis, in verse 3 of Sūrah al-Dukhān, this night is called: لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
… The objective of mentioning these characteristics of the night … to the adversaries of the Qur’ān is that they are thoroughly mistaken if they consider a Book revealed in an exalted night to be of the genre of soothsaying, poetry or sorcery. They have failed to distinguish a pearl 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. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 467)
A secondary guidance that can be understood from this is that just as in this material world there is a certain climate and months prescribed for certain activities, similarly, in the spiritual world also there are special days and times of the year which are set aside for special tasks and activities. If a certain matter is assigned in these days by God, then people reap the benefit of this matter by observing it on the day and month fixed for it. Thus if the messenger of God fervently sought this night of destiny or urged others to do so, then this should not be a cause for wonder. After being informed by the Almighty that this is a blessed and exalted night, this is the only reaction that can emanate from a believer. Muslims while trying to follow the Prophet (sws) try to seek this night every year in the month of Ramaḍān and diligently worship God.
Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Humanity, out of ignorance and to its misfortune, may overlook the value and importance of the Night of Power. When humanity does so ignore it, it loses the happiest and most beautiful sign of grace which God bestowed on it. It also suffers the loss of the real happiness and peace gifted to it by Islam, namely, the peace of conscience, family and society. What it has otherwise gained of material civilisation is inadequate compensation for its loss. Humanity is miserable in spite of higher production levels and better means of existence. The splendid light which once illuminated its soul has been put out; the happiness which carried it high up to the Supreme society has been destroyed; the peace which overflowed in people’s hearts and minds has disappeared. Nothing can compensate for the happiness of the human soul, the heavenly light and elevation to the loftiest ranks.

Islam is not mere formalities. Hence, the Prophet specifies that the consecration of that night must be motivated by faith and devotion. This would make its consecration by any individual an indication of his or her full awareness of the far-reaching effects of what took place on that night.

تَنَزَّلُ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ وَالرُّوۡحُ فِيۡهَا بِاِذۡنِ رَبِّهِمۡ​ۚ مِّنۡ كُلِّ اَمۡرٍ ۛۙ‏  
(4) The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.
The Spirit: Gabriel, who has been mentioned separately from the angels in view of his unique eminence, honor and merit. That is, they do not descend of their own accord but by leave of their Lord, and every decree implies amr hakim (a wise decree) as described in (Surah 44. Ad-Dukhan, Ayat 5).

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Descent of the Angels and the Decree for Every Good during the Night of Al-Qadr
Allah says: (تَنَزَّلُ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ وَالرُّوۡحُ فِيۡهَا بِاِذۡنِ رَبِّهِمۡ​ۚ مِّنۡ كُلِّ اَمۡرٍ ۛۙ‏   Therein descend the angels and the Ruh by their Lord's permission with every matter.) meaning, the angels descend in abundance during the Night of Al-Qadr due to its abundant blessings. The angels descend with the descending of blessings and mercy, just as they descend when the Qur'an is recited, they surround the circles of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and they lower their wings with true respect for the student of knowledge. In reference to Ar-Ruh, it is said that here it means the angel Jibril. Therefore, the wording of the Ayah is a method of adding the name of the distinct object (in this case Jibril) separate from the general group (in this case the angels). 

Concerning Allah's statement: (مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ with every matter.) Mujahid said, "Peace concerning every matter.' Sa`id bin Mansur said, `Isa bin Yunus told us that Al-A`mash narrated to them that Mujahid said concerning Allah's statement - Please continue reading the explanation from the reference: Surah 97. Al-Qadr

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
(in hosts descend in it the angels,) The grammatical form tanazzalu implies repetition, frequency or multitude; hence - as suggested by Ibn Kathir - "descending in hosts".

(Bearing divine inspiration) Lit., "and [divine] inspiration". For this rendering of ruh, see first sentence of 16:2. The present instance is undoubtedly the earliest example of the Qur'anic use of this term in the sense of "divine inspiration".

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Spirit: usually understood to be the angel, Gabriel.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: الرُّوۡحُ. It refers to Gabriel. His name has been specially mentioned here because he occupies a very high rank among the angels.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
The Qur’anic statements which relate this great event radiate with God’s clear and shining light. There is also the light of the angels and the Spirit moving between the earth and the Supreme society.

سَلٰمٌ  ۛهِىَ حَتّٰى مَطۡلَعِ الۡفَجۡرِ 
(5) Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.
That is, the entire night, from evening till morning, is peaceful, free from every evil and mischief.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "it is salvation (salam, see surah {5}, note [29]) - i.e., it makes the believer secure from all spiritual evil: thus Mujahid (as quoted by Ibn Kathir), evidently implying that a conscious realization of the sanctity of this night acts as a shield against unworthy thoughts and inclinations.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
When the Night of spiritual darkness is dissipated by the glory of Allah, a wonderful Peace and a sense of Security arise in the soul. And this lasts on until this life closes, and the glorious Day of the new world dawns, when everything will be on a different plane, and the chequered nights and days of this world will be even less than a dream.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Ie., until the appearance of dawn, this night is peace in its totality. No devil can in any way interfere in it.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
There is also the light of dawn which the surah represents as perfectly harmonious with the light of the Qur’an and the angels as well as with their spirit of peace.

The Islamic method of education and character-building links worship with faith and establishes truth in our hearts and consciences. By this method, worship is considered a means for maintaining full awareness of this truth, its clarification and firm establishment in our minds, hearts and souls. This method has been proved to be the best for the revival of this truth because it has an unfailing influence on people’s behaviour. The theoretical understanding of this truth cannot, on its own and without worship, establish it or give it the necessary impetus for its operation in the life of the individual or society. This link between the anniversary of the Night of Power and its consecration in faith and devotion is a part of the successful and straightforward method of Islam.

You many now listen to the tafseer/exegesis of the surah by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 

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