The Night of Power

The Night of Power
 

The Night of Power

Part of the significance of the Night of Power, has been previ-
ously mentioned. Let’s to analyze this topic with commentary,
(tafseer) on chapter 97 of Al-Qur’an, Al-Qadir (the Night of
Power).

Al-Qadr

This chapter {surah) was revealed in Makkah, and its basic
theme is honoring the revelation of this blessed book, the Holy
Qur’an. The Night of Power or honor is a special gift only to
the community (Ummah) of Islam. The night is one which
even the angels in the heavens see as worthy of witnessing. The
night is so rich with holiness, as the night when good deeds are
returned, and is equal to a thousand months in the sight of Al-
lah.

Occasion Of Revelation

In a report by Abi Hatim and Al-Wahidi, by way of Mujahid,
the Messenger (saas) mentioned that there was a man among
the Israelites who devoted his life to the cause of Allah for a
thousand months. The companions were amazed and im-
pressed, but were saddened because they knew there would be
no way that they could reach this status of devotion. So Allah
(SWT) revealed this surah to inform them that He had just
blessed this Ummah with the Night of Honor, which is equal to
a thousand months.

“We have indeed revealed it, (Al-Qur”an) in the
Night of Power.”

(Al-Qur an97:l)
There are several points pertaining to the meaning of this verse:

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The meaning and the use of the pronoun “We” is a style in Al-
Qur’an that when the Creator (SWT) is mentioned as a pro-
noun, He is referred to by “We” or “I,” as is evidenced in this
surah. Elsewhere He said,

“Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will cre-
ate a vicegerent…’ ” (Al-Qur an, 2:30).

There is no problem when Allah uses the pronoun “I” to refer
to His Exalted Self, but when he uses “We” the explanation
becomes warranted because it cannot be perceived to indicate
plural. There is unanimity among the scholars that “We” indi-
cates respect and exaltation for the Creator and Cherisher of all
the worlds, whose greatness is incomprehensibly vast and be-
yond our imagination.

Or, it is referring to Allah (SWT) and the angels who carry out
his words to one all, in every level of His dominion. It cannot
mean plural, or more than One Allah, for that would necessitate
dropping in ranks, the absoluteness, and the powers of each
competing deity. If each is capable of being absolute, each
would have been independent from the other and the idea that
each deity can be independent from the other, is evidence that
none is absolute. This is inconceivable of Allah (SWT) there-
fore, “We” cannot mean anything but respect and exaltation of
the One and Only.

“…Have Indeed Revealed It In the Night of
Power”

(Al-Our’ana?:!)

There is again unanimity among the commentators that “it” re-
fers to Al-Qur’an, meaning “We revealed” Al-Qur’an in the
Night of Power. He (SWT) did not mention Al-Qur’an explic-
itly because to refer to Al-Qur’an by the pronoun implies a cer-
tain divine uniqueness of this book, as well as greatness and
honor that may not be attained if the word Al-Qur’an was used
instead. First, it ascribed the revelation of Al-Qur’an to Him-

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self, and not to anyone else. Second, referring to Al-Qur’an by
pronoun is an indication that the revelation of this book was
not a secret that no one knew about. Its revelation was an event
widely known to all during the time of Muhammad (saas) and
after, guarding against anyone who may like to challenge it or
claim any honor of teaching Muhammad (saas) Al-Qur’an.
Third, the statement also meant to honor and memorialize the
time period in which Al-Qur’an was revealed.

By revealing Al-Qur’an in the Night of Power, Allah (SWT)
inaugurated or started its revelation for the beginning of the
prophethood (‘Bi’ethah), and the Prophet’s mission of Al-Islam
began in the month of Ramadan on that Night. Al-Qur’an was
not revealed in one night; it was revealed over the course of 23
years. Ibn Abbas (raa) said: The whole Qur’an was revealed to
the lower heavens from the protective slate (Lawhul Mahfuz)
on the Night of Power, then from there to the earth in the
course of 23 years.

The word power, Al-Qadr, has several implications and mean-
ing, but we cover only those implications which are relevant to
the issues here.

Qadr implies having power over something, as in the case of
the Creator over the creation. Allah’s (SWT) excellence is Al-
Qadr, capable, omnipotent, almighty, all powerful. It also im-
plies excellence and high esteem, and as for this Night of
Power, it is highly esteemed and regarded. For this night is
equal to over 80 years in the sight of Allah (SWT).

It also implies to maintain, appoint, assign or decree an order.
Thus, in the Night of Power, Allah (SWT) proclaims to the an-
gels His commands and orders in regards to the affairs of the
universe. From this meaning is derived the concept of Al-Qada
Wa Qadar, the fifth article of faith, that Allah has decreed or
preordained or, in other words, has full knowledge of all that
the human being will do with his free will. A man’s decision to

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act freely in good conscience or bad conscience is all known to
Allah (SWT), past, present and future.

Qadr also implies measurement, that is all the events of the
year will occur in accordance to the exact measurement of what
is in the knowledge of Allah, Who states:

“Verily, all things have We created in propor-
tion and measure.”

(Al-Qur an, 54:49)

Why the name, the Night of Power?

As mentioned above, it is the night of Taqdeer, meaning the
one in which Allah (SWT) announces to the angels His already
decreed commands, rules, events, etc., for the coming calendar
year, from the present Night of Power to the next Night of
Power. Allah (SWT) states:

“We sent it down during a blessed night; We forever wish to
warn (against evil). In that (night) is made distinct every affair
of wisdom!’ (Al-Qur^an, 44:3-4)

It should be known that most scholars believe Allah’s com-
mands and rules are not made on that night. It has already been
decreed in the eternity what is known to Allah, but that knowl-
edge is not known to anyone, including the angels, until He an-
nounces it to the angels on that night so that they will record it
on the protective slate.

This is also the night of honor and prestige which may be
awarded to the servant who devotes himself to special deeds, or
to the deeds themselves for the higher value they contain on
that night.

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The Night Is Concealed

Allah (SWT) in His mercy, has concealed the Night of Power
from us for the following reasons: The problems pertaining to
an exact night on which the honors are attained are not unique
with this Night. It seems that Allah conceals many things. He
conceals his pleasure from us in all our good deeds so that we
will strive in all of them. He conceals His wrath from us in all
of the sins we commit so that we will avoid them. He conceals
His most beloved servants (awliya) so that we will respect all
the believers. He has concealed the time of His acceptance of
our supplications so that we will strive in all our supplications.
He concealed his greatest name, so that we mention all His
names. He has concealed the time of death so that we will be
conscious of Him and our deeds all the time.

He has concealed the exact date of the Night of Power so that
we would double our the efforts in the whole month of Rama-
dan, or at least the last ten days. He has concealed it also to test
the serious and the non-serious. The seriously interested person
will search for the night late and in the early hours until he or
she attains it, regardless of the hardship.

Where Is The Night?

The majority of the scholars who agreed that the night occurs
in the month of Ramadan, disagreed on the exact night. Some
said it comes on the first day of Ramadan. Others said it is on
the seventh; while others say its on the 19th night. All these
opinions are not built on sound proof. There is evidence that
the night comes on the last ten days of Ramadan, specifically
on the odd numbered nights. In a report by Bukhari, the Mes-
senger of Allah (saas) said:

“Seek it on the odd nights of the last ten days of Rama-
dan.”

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In a hadith by Ibn Umar (raa), some men among the compan-
ions saw the night in a dream occurring in the last seven nights.
Responding to this, the Messenger of Allah (saas) told them,

“I see your dreams coincide on the last seven, whoever
wants to seek it should do so in the last seven.” (Agreed
upon)

In Muslim’s report, the Prophet (saas) said,

“Seek the night in the last ten days, and if any of you is
weak, or can’t observe it, he should not miss the remain-
ing seven days.”

In Hadith by Ubayy bin Ka’ab (raa), he said:

“By Allah, I know which night it is. It is the night the
Messenger commanded us to observe, the night of the
27 th .” (Ahmed/Tirmidhi)

Analyzing all these citations indicates still no one knows for
sure which night is the Night of Power, at least in a given year.
It seems that the night shifts and rotates to different nights from
one year to another. It may occur on the 27 th in one year, while
the next year it will be on the 25 th , while on the following year
it will be occurring on the 29 th , etc. There is an indication to
this in hadith by Bukhari, when the Messenger of Allah (saas)
states:

“Seek it on the twenty-ninth; it may be on the twenty-
seventh, or on the twenty-fifth.”

Imam Ibn Hajr, in his book, “Fathul Bari”, in the commentary
of the Book of Bukhari, said:

“I accept the ruling that the night occurs on the odd nights
of the last ten days of Ramadan, namely the twenty-first,
twenty-third, twenty-fifth, twenty-seventh and or twenty-
ninth.”

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Seeking The Night

It is recommended to seek the night and spend it diligently in
devotion, including night Sunnah prayers (Tahajjud), recitation
of Al-Qur’an and supplications. In a hadith related by Abu
Hurairah (raa), the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:

“He who spends the night in prayer on the Night of
Power, as a sign of His faith, and seeking rewards from
Allah, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Buk-
hari/Muslim)

This citation indicates that regardless of whether a person
knows the night or not, Allah will grant him forgiveness for
previous shortcomings.

” And what will explain to thee what the Night
of Power is?; The Night of Power is better than
a thousand months.”

(Al-Qur’an 97:2 3)

Allah (SWT) is emphasizing by putting the second verse in
question form. The answer being no one knows, or compre-
hends, the awesomeness and the depth of honor of the night.
As if to say whatever merits Allah informs you about the night
is just nothing compared to the things you have no idea about.
Nonetheless, He mentions three honors in the credit of the
night:

1 . “The Night is better than a thousand months.”

2. “Therein, come down the angels…”, and

3. “Peace!”

“The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.”

This indicates that acts of worship such as prayer, charity, and
recitation done on this night are better in reward than the same
act done on other nights. The rewards (thawaab) are being
multiplied several-fold.

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Imam Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (saas) was
shown the long life span of people of previous nations, so the
Prophet bemoaned the shortness of the life span of the Ummah,
fearing that they might not be able to save many good deeds for
the Hereafter. Therefore, Allah gave him the Night of Power to
compensate for their lack of longevity. Hence, the devoted be-
liever has as chance of adding 80 something years of worship
to his life on the Night of Power. You see, for instance, if you
worship Allah on this night every year for 65 years, by multi-
plying 65 by 80, you would have lived for 5,200 years, or
achieved the reward of a person who lived that long.

You can see why the devotions were highly encouraged by the
Prophet. Indeed, you can achieve the honor of the Night of
Power if you so wish by spending the odd nights of the last ten
days in acts of worship.

“Therein, come down the angels and the Spirit
by Allah’s permission, on every errand.”

(Al-Qur an 97:4)

This is far from the earlier cry of the angels who, when Allah
told them,

“…I will create a vicegerent on earth,” they said,
“Will you place therein one who will make mis-
chief therein and shed blood?…”

(Al-Qur an, 2:30)

You see, when the angels first looked at our spirit with its traits
of mischief, vanity and desires, and the rages of anger, they,
the embodiment of all that is good, did not like us at all. That
explains their response in the above verse. So is the case with
parents, when they first conceptualize the shape of the off-
spring, semen and congealed blood; they do not like it. They
will even wash their hands, clothes and everything that this
substance touches, a gruesome thing. They may even think
about aborting the baby in the beginning.

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But after the baby is being fashioned in the most beautiful
shape and they feel the movement of life, they change from
dislike to caring love.

That is seemingly what happened to the angels. When they saw
in us this beautiful spirit of knowing the Creator, and worship-
ping Allah alone, they changed from dislike to complete love,
and cannot wait for another Night of Power to come down so
they can pray for us. Allah states:

“…And they implore forgiveness for those who
believe…”

(Al-Qur an, 40:7)

He used the form {tanazzal) “They come”, to indicate that the
angels descend on the Night of Power, group after group; some
coming down to earth while others ascend into the heaven.
This heavenly, angelic organized traffic of good will continues
until the break of dawn.

As for the reasons why they come, there are several explana-
tions including:

(1) they descend to witness how we worship and obey Allah,
and

(2) to show their deep love for the believers. This is why they
seek permission from Allah to come and meet us. This is a
once-a-year opportunity they do not like to miss.

(3) Allah promised the believers that in the hereafter, angels
will approach on them with greetings:

“…And the angels shall enter into them from
every gate (with the salutation): Peace be unto
you for that you persevered in patience…”

(Al-Qur an, 13:23-24)

Now, if you preoccupy yourself with worship of Allah, the an-
gels will descend on you with salutations.

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(4) Allah (SWT) singles out this night with honors on the earth
so the angels can come down and increase their rewards, and as
a means to encourage the human race to worship.

(5) Realization that the angels are around is encouragement for
the servants to devote more time to good deeds as a man will
work harder when a foreman is present.

“…And the Spirit…”

(Al-Qur an 97:4)

There are several explanations for the meaning of the Spirit:

(1) The Spirit is comprised of groups of special angels who are
seen only on the Night of Power;

(2) it is referring to Al-Qur^ an, as Allah (SWT) stated: “And
thus have We, by Our command sent inspiration (spirit) to
thee…” (Al-Qur”an 42:52),

(3) This is a reference to Angel Jibreel, as this is a special
honor to Jibreel who has been mentioned twice Surah 42 first
with another angel, and separately as the spirit of Allah (SWT)
as the Qur’an says:

“Verily this is a revelation from the Lord of the
Worlds. With it came down the spirit of faith
and truth.”

(Al-Qur an, 26:192-193)

Thus the correct explanation of the spirit, Ruuh, is Jibreel in
this verse to indicate the angels on one side and Jibreel on the
other, while they were descending.

“…By Allah’s permission…”

This indicates the angels extend a request to come to meet the
believers; and to underscore the fact that angels are infallible;
that they do not make a move without explicit permission from
their Lord. Allah (SWT) states:

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“They speak not before He speaks, and they act
(in all things) by His command.”

(Al-Qur an, 21:27)

“(The angels say) We descend not but by com-
mand of thy Lord…”

(Al-Qur an 19:64)

“(Their) Lord.” It indicates honor for the angels. It is as if Al-
lah (SWT) is saying “They are for Me and I am for them”.
Similarly, Allah (SWT) said regarding us:

“Verily your Lord is Allah Who created the
heavens and the earth in six days…”

(Al-Qur an, 10:3)

And regarding Prophet Muhammad (saas) Allah said:

“Behold, your Lord said to the angels…”

(Al-Qur’an, 2:30)

It has been reported that when Prophet David was terminally
ill, he asked Allah to be for his son Solomon, as He was for
him. Allah (SWT) replied, saying:

“Tell Solomon to be for Me as you are for Me.

(Al-Qur’an 2:30)

“…On every errand…”

This indicates the angels and the Spirit descend for different
purposes: some come down for prostration, some for bowing,
and others for supplications for the believers and salutations.
Or they come down carrying with them the proclamations of
the coming year.

“Peace!…”

(Al-Qufan 97:5)
There are several explanations to this verse:

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(1) The whole Night of Power, from sunset to the break of
dawn, will be spent by the angeles in salutation.

(2) The purpose is to describe the night with peace because of
the salutation from the angels. That is very important, because
when seven angels visited Prophet Ibrahim (saas) and saluted
him, he was very happy, and when Nimrod threw him in the
fire, it turned ice-cold when the angels saluted him.

(3) This is a wish of safety and peace from all evil and harmful
things, or the angels will only bring on this night, good things!

“…Until the rise of morn.”

(Al-Qur an 97:5)

All the honor, blessings and peace of the Night of Power will
continue in every second of the night until Fajr. Allah (SWT) is
the Best Knower.

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