This chapter was revealed in Mecca and contains 5 verses
As it is understood from the name, this chapter refers to the revelation of the Noble Qur’an on the Night of Ordainment (al-Qadr) and then it describes the importance of the night and the blessings within it.
Was this chapter revealed in Mecca or Medina? Amongst the commentators it is widely known as a Meccan chapter, although some hold that it was revealed in Medina as a narration states that the Noble Prophet dreamt that the Ummayads were climbing his pulpit (mimbar).
It disturbed the Prophet to have such a dream and thus Surah Al-Qadr was revealed to comfort him. (Therefore, some believe that the verse: “The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months” refers to the length of time that the Ummayads governed, which was about one thousand months). In addition, we know that the masjid and mimbar (pulpit) were established in Medina and not in Mecca.1
However as it has been stated above, the chapter is known as Meccan and the opinion may be a kind of application and not related directly to the occasion of revelation.
In regards to the virtue of studying this chapter, there is a narration from the Noble Prophet which states:
مَنْ قَرَأَهَا أُعْطِىَ مِنَ الأَجْرِ كَمَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ وَ أَحْيَا لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ
He who recites it (Surah Al-Qadr) will be rewarded like the one who has fasted the whole month of Ramadhan and has kept vigil the entire night of al-Qadr.2
A narration from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir says:
مَنْ قَرَأَ إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ بِجَهْرِ كَانَ كَشَاهِرِ سَيْفِهِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ وَ مَنْ قَرَأَهَا سِرّاً كَانَ كَالْمُتَشَحِّطِ بِدَمِهِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ
He who recites Indeed We have revealed it (Surah Al-Qadr) in an audible voice is like a person who fights in the way of Allah with his sword drawn, and he who recites it in an audible whisper is like a person who drowns in his own blood for the sake of Allah (due to being killed in the battle field).3
It is obvious that these rewards are not for that person who merely recites the chapter and does not comprehend its real meaning; rather, such rewards are reserved for that person who recites this chapter, understands its contents, and then embellishes all of his daily actions with its comprehensive teachings and considers the Qur’an as something important and implements its verses in one’s daily life.
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ
Surely, We sent it (the Qur’an) down on the Night of Ordainment. (97:1).
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ
And what will make you know what the Night of Ordainment is? (97:2).
لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months. (97:3).
تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِّنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
The Angels and the Spirit descend therein by their Lord’s leave for every affair. (97:4).
سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ
Peace! It is until the rising of the dawn. (97:5).
The night when the Qur’an was revealed
From a review of the verses of the Noble Qur’an, it is clearly evident that this book was revealed in the blessed month of Ramadhan:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ...
Ramadhan is the (month) in which the Qur’an was sent down... (2:185).
From the apparent reading of this verse (just mentioned), the entire Qur’an was revealed in this month and in the first verse of Surah Al-Qadr we are additionally told:
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ
Surely We sent it (the Qurʾan) down on the Night of al-Qadr. (97:1).
Even though in the above mentioned verse, the word ‘Qur’an’ is not explicitly mentioned, however it is certain that the objective pronoun existing in the phrase “إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ” refers to the Qur’an and its being mentioned in this format is to show its greatness and importance.
The phrase “إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ” – “Surely We sent it” is another indicator which shows the importance of this great Heavenly-Sent book for which Allah(s) has attributed its descent to Himself – and that too by using the plural pronoun, ‘We’, which further shows the Qur’an’s greatness.
The descent of the Qur’an on the Night of Ordainment, the very night on which the fate of each and every human being is decided, is another reason to show the importance of this Divine Book in its role in forging the destiny of people in this world.
With the combination of the meaning of this verse, as just stated, and the above verse from Surah Al-Baqarah, we can conclude that the Night of Ordainment is in the month of Ramadhan – however which of the nights is it?
It is not clearly understood from the Qur’an which of the nights of the month of Ramadhan is the Night of Ordainment, and indeed this has been left as a mystery for us, however there are many indicators about it in the narrations which will be dealt with later in the exegesis of this chapter.
Here, a question arises regarding the history and the content of the Noble Qur’an in connection with the events in the life of the Noble Prophet .
Most clearly, this Heavenly Book was gradually revealed over the period of 23 years, so then how does this fit with the above verse which says: Surely We sent it (the Qur’an) down on the night of al-Qadr (97:1) during the month of Ramadhan?
The reply to this question, as many scholars have said, is to say that the Qur’an has two kinds of revelation:
The first is the revelation of the entire Qur’an at one time, in one night to the blessed heart of the Noble Prophet or to Bayt al-Mamur, or from the Lawh al-Mahfuẓ (the Preserved Tablet) to the lowest sky of this world.
The second kind of revelation is that the Noble Qur’an came down in portions, gradually, during the entire period of the call which lasted 23 years.4
Some have also said that the initiation of the revelation of the Qur’an began on the Night of Ordainment and that it was not the entire book which was revealed on this night, however this idea does not fit with the apparent meaning of the verse which says:
Surely We sent it (the Qur’an) down on the Night of Ordainment. (97:1).
It should be noted that in regards to the descent of the Qur’an, some of the verses have made use of the notion of “إِنْزَالٌ”, while other verses have spoken about “تَنْزِيلٌ” and from a review of some Arabic dictionaries, we understand that the difference between these two Arabic terms is that “إِنْزَالٌ” has a broad meaning, and here it implies ‘bringing down all at once’ while “تَنْزِيلٌ” implies ‘bringing down gradually’.5
This difference, which is seen in various verses of the Qur’an, can be taken as an indication to the above mentioned two types of descent.
In the next verses, referring to the greatness of the Night of Ordainment it says:
And what will make you know what the Night of Ordainment is? (97:2).
Right after this we are told,
The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months. (97:3).
This phrase shows that the importance of this night is so great that even the Noble Prophet, with his vast knowledge, did not know the status of this night prior to it being revealed to him!
We know that one thousand months is equal to more than eighty years and truly, what a great night it is whose worth and value is as much as the length of a fairly long blessed life (which a person could have).
It is cited in some commentaries that the Noble Prophet has said: “One of the members of the Children of Israel (the Israelites) had spent one thousand months with his fighting armor on and was always prepared for war in the path of Allah.
The companions of the Prophet became surprised and wished that there might have been that sort of virtue and honor for them too and it was at this time that the above verse came down and said,
In another tradition, the Noble Prophet has been quoted as speaking about four individuals from amongst the Children of Israel who had worshipped God for a consecutive span of 80 years each, and during this time committed no acts of transgression (against His orders). The companions of the Prophet, upon hearing this all wished that they too could have been so fortunate and it is at this time that the above quoted verse was revealed.’7
A question comes up that: Is the amount of ‘one thousand’ which is mentioned in this verse in the meaning of the actual number of 1,000 or does it refer to a “multitude”?
Some have said that the figure given of ‘one thousand’ mentioned in this verse is for augmentation denoting that the value of the Night of Ordainment is more than thousands of months, but the above said narrations indicate that the figure is used in order to show the amount, and generally figures are used to show numbers, except for the time when clear evidence for augmentation is available.
Then, describing the Night of Ordainment in greater detail, it says:
The Angels and the Spirit descend therein by their Lord’s leave for every affair. (97:4).
Regarding the term “تَنَزَّلَ” which is a future tense verb with the sense of continuity and comes from the root “تَتَنَزَّلَ”, this word makes it clear that the Night of Ordainment is not only for the period of the time of the Noble Prophet and the era in which the descent of the Qur’an was taking place, rather, it is a permanent fixture in this religion and it is a night that will repeat every year.
As for the meaning of “أَلرُّوحُ” or “The Spirit” some have said that it refers to Gabriel, the trustworthy, who is also called “رُوحُ الأَمِينُ” – “Ruh al-Amin”. Other scholars have rendered the meaning of “أَلرُّوحُ” to mean “وَحِيٌّ” or ‘Divine revelation’ and have used verse 52 of Surah Al-Shura to prove this:
“وَكَذٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا…”
Thus have We revealed to you the spirit of Our dispensation… (42:52).
Therefore, the meaning of the verse becomes:
The Angels along with the Divine revelation descend therein for every affair. (97:4).
There is also a third commentary which seems the most appropriate of all which states that “أَلرُّوحُ” – ‘The Spirit’ is an important creation (of Allah s) which is greater than the angels; just as it has been mentioned in a tradition from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq in which a person asked him whether ‘al-Ruh’ was the same as (angel) Gabriel and he replied:
جِبْرَائِيلُ مِنَ الْمَلآئِكَةِ وَ الرُّوحُ أَعْظَمُ مِنَ الْمَلآئِكَةِ. أَلَيْسَ أَنَّ اللهَ عَزَّوَجَلَّ يَقُولُ: تَنَزَّلَ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَ الرُّوحُ؟
This means that in the sequence of comparison, those two are different entities.
There are also other commentaries cited on the word ‘al-Ruh’, but as they do not have any supporting evidences, we will not mention them here.
The meaning of “مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ” - ‘for every affair’ is that the angels descend to proportionate and assign the fates and to bring the blessing and goodness on that night and it is the fulfillment of these actions which is the purpose of their descent; in addition, it may be stated that they also bring any good affair and any fate (for humanity).9 Other scholars have opined that the meaning is that they descend by the command of Allah , however the very first meaning is more fitting.
The meaning of “رَبِّهِمْ” or ‘their Lord’ of which the emphasis is on the subject of Lordship and management of the world, has a close relationship with the action of these angels, saying that they descend to proportionate and assign the affairs, and their accomplishment is a part of the Lordship of Allah .
In the last verse of the chapter, it says:
Peace! It is, until the rising of the dawn. (97:5).
It is a night on which both the Qur’an descended, and worship and spiritual vigilance therein is equal to a thousand months; in addition, it is a night in which Divine Blessings come down and one in which His special mercy covers all of the creatures; lastly, it is also a night in which the angels and the Spirit descend.
Thus, it is a night full of peace - from the beginning to the end - in which, according to some narrations, even Satan is fastened in chains, and from this point of view, this night is also a night of (spiritual) security.
Therefore, the use of ‘سَلاَمٌ’ - ‘peace’ which means peace and safety (instead of the word سَالِمٌ – ‘safe’) has been employed, because a kind of emphasis is also contained in this - just as it is sometimes said that, ‘Such and such a person is the epitome of justice.” (Thus, Allah is saying that this night is the complete manifestation of “peace and safety”)
Some have also said that using the word ‘سَلاَمٌ’ - ‘peace’ in regards to that night is because on this night, the angels greet one another; or that they greet the believers, or that they are present with the Prophet and his sinless successors and greet them – and to combine these commentaries together is also possible.
In any case, it is a night filled with Divine light, grace, mercy, blessings, goodness, spiritual safety and felicity which is unique in all aspects!
It is cited in a tradition, that Imam Muhammad al-Baqir was asked if he knew which night the Night of Ordainment was and he replied:
كَيْفَ لاَ نَعْرِفُ وَ الْمَلآئِكَةُ تَطُوفُ بِنَا فِيهَا
How can we not know it whereas the angels go round us therein?10
In the story of (prophet) Abraham we find that a few of the angels of the Divine came to him and greeted him, and gave him the glad tidings of a son:
وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْ رُسُلُنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ بِالْبُشْرَى قَالُوا سَلاَمًا قَالَ سَلاَمٌ فَمَا لَبِثَ أَنْ جَآءَ بِعِجْلٍ حَنِيذٍ
Certainly Our messengers came to Abraham with the good news, and said, ‘Peace!’ ‘Peace!’ He replied. Presently he brought [for them] a roasted calf. (11:69).
فَلَمَّا رَأَى أَيْدِيَهُمْ لاَ تَصِلُ إِلَيْهِ نَكِرَهُمْ وَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً قَالُوا لاَ تَخَفْ إِنَّا أُرْسِلْنَا إِلَى قَوْمِ لُوطٍ
But when he saw their hands not reaching for it, he took them amiss and felt a fear of them. They said, ‘Do not be afraid. We have been sent to the people of Lot.’ (11:70).
وَامْرَأَتُهُ قَائِمَةٌ فَضَحِكَتْ فَبَشَّرْنَاهَا بِإِسْحَاقَ وَمِنْ وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ
His wife, standing by, laughed as We gave her the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, and of Jacob, after Isaac. (11:71).
قَالَتْ يَا وَيْلَتَا أَأَلِدُ وَأَنَا عَجُوزٌ وَهٰذَا بَعْلِي شَيْخًا إِنَّ هٰذَا لَشَيْءٌ عَجِيبٌ
She said, ‘Oh, my! Shall I, an old woman, bear [children], and [while] this husband of mine is an old man?! That is indeed a wonderful thing!’ (11:72).
قَالُوا أَتَعْجَبِينَ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللهِ رَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ إِنَّهُ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
They said, ‘Are you amazed at God’s dispensation? [That is] God’s mercy and His blessings upon you, members of the household. Indeed He is All-Laudable, All-Glorious.’ (11:73).
It is said that all that is contained in this world was worthless in comparison with the delight that Abraham took in that greeting (of the angels).
Now if we consider that the Night of Ordainment is one in which angels come to the believers in groups and greet them - how delightful it would be (for the believer)!
When Abraham was thrown into the fire which Nimrod ordered to be fuelled to persecute him, the angels came and greeted him and he remained safe. Can the fire of hell, under the grace of the angel’s greeting to the believers on the Night of Ordainment, not become cool and a means of safety for the believers?
Yes, this is the sign of the greatness of the nation of Prophet Muhammad that in that first example, the angels descended to Prophet Abraham but here, the angels descend upon the believers in Islam!11
To answer this question on why this night is called the Night of Ordainment, various opinions have been expressed, including the following:
It is called the Night of Ordainment because all of the affairs and the destinies of humanity for the following year are determined; and the third and fourth verses of Surah Al-Dukhan (chapter 44) serve as witness to this idea, saying:
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ
We sent it down during a night: For We (ever) wish to warn (against evil). (44:3).
فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ
On that (night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom. (44:4).
This meaning is in harmony with numerous narrations which state: On that night the affairs and destinies of humanity are determined - sustenance, the end of lives, and other affairs are made distinct and clear.
This matter of course does not contradict the free-will which humanity has been given because Divine Wisdom is carried out by the angels based on humanities’ efficiencies and abilities on the level of their faith and virtue and purity of their intentions and actions - meaning that everyone is sustained with what he deserves, or in other words, the path is paved by the person himself; and not only does this belief not contradict his ‘free-will’, but rather it emphasizes it.
Some have also mentioned that the night is called the Night of Ordainment because it is of great importance and honour (beyond comprehension), like the case that is stated in Surah Al-Hajj ( verse 74:
“وَمَا قَدَرُوا اللهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ”
They do not regard Allah with the regard that is due to Him.(22:74).
Some others have said that it is called the Night of Ordainment because the Noble Qur’an, with all its of grandness, descended to the grand Apostle of Allah by the means of His grand angel.
Another meaning is that it is a night in which the descent of the Qur’an was appointed.
Yet another meaning is that the person who keeps vigil on that night obtains a grand rank.
The final meaning is that therein descend so many angels on that night that the expanse of the Earth is restricted and does not have enough room for all of them – as one of the meanings of “التقدير” is ‘restricting’ – just as we see in Surah Al-Talaq, verse 7:
...وَمَنْ قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللهُ...
…and let he whose provision has been tightened spend out of what Allah has given him… (65:7).
The combination of all of these commentaries on the vast meaning of the Night of Ordainment is quite possible; however the first commentary is the most appropriate and commonly known and accepted one.
No doubt the Night of Ordainment is taken to be a night in the month of Ramadhan since the combination of the verses of the Qur’an attests to this very fact. From one angle, we see in Surah Al-Baqarah (2), verse 185 that it says:
“شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ...”
Ramadhan is the (month) in which the Qur’an was sent down ...(2:185).
and in the chapter under discussion we read:
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ
Surely We sent it (the Qur’an) down on the Night of Ordainment. (96:1)
But which night of the nights of the Month of Ramadhan does this refer to? In this regards, many commentators and opinions have been stated which include the following nights of the Month of Ramadhan: 1st, 17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 27th, or 29th.
However the most popular in the narrations is that it is in the last ten nights of the month, emphasizing on the 21st or 23rd night, as we read in a narration which says that the Noble Prophet kept vigil and was busy praying all of the nights of the last ten nights of the Month of Ramadhan.
A narration from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq denotes that the Night of Ordainment is the 21st or 23rd night of the Month of Ramadhan, and when a person insisted and asked that if one cannot worship on both of them, then which one should he choose and the Imam replied:
مَا أَيْسَرَ لَيْلَتَينِ فِيمَا تَطْلُبُ
How easy is it (to spend) two nights for what you seek!12
However, in numerous narrations from the Ahlul Bayt, the 23rd night is emphasized, while the narrations of Sunni scholars tend toward the 27th night.
Further, a narration from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq also says:
أَلتَّقْدِيرُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ تِسْعَةُ عَشْرَ وَ الإِبْرَامُ فِي لَيْلَةِ إِحَدى وَ عِشْرِينَ وَ الْإِمْضَاءُ فِي لَيْلَةِ ثَلاَثُ وَ عِشْرِينَ
Determining the proportions (taqdir) is in the Night of Ordainment - the 19th night; its confirmation (ibram) is on the 21st night, and its signing (imdha) is on the 23rd night.13
Thus through this tradition we see that all of the explanations have been combined - however, a kind of mystic ambiguity covers the Night of Ordainment and the reason for this will be discussed later.
Many commentators believe that the Night of Ordainment, being hidden among the nights of the year or in the nights of the Month of Ramadhan is for the reason that people should consider all of the nights as important, because Allah has:
Hidden His pleasure in various kinds of obedience and worship such that people practice all of them;
Hidden His wrath in sinning in general, so that people avoid all kinds of sin;
Hidden His special friendship among all of humanity so that everyone will be honored;
Concealed the supplication to which He listens (and will directly accept and fulfill), among all supplications, so that one will refer to all of the supplications when they call upon Him;
Hidden the “إسم الأعظم” or His Greatest Name, among His universal names so that people will remember and consider all of the Divine names of the Lord;
Kept hidden the time of death so that mankind will always be prepared.
and indeed this is a fitting philosophy!
The verses of this chapter apparently show that the Night of Ordainment was not specifically restricted to the time of the descent of the Qurʾan and the period of the call of the Messenger of Islam, but rather that it repeats annually until the end of this world. The application of the verb “تَنَزَّلَ” in the chapter, which is in the future tense and indicates an act of continuity and also by using the phrase:
“سَلاَمٌ هِیَ حَتَّی مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ”
Peace! It is until the rising of the dawn. (96:5).
which is a nounal phrase, shows perpetuity - and both of these conform to this idea.
In addition, there are also many narrations which reach to a level of ‘tawatur’ – a frequency of successive transmission – which also attests to this belief.
Now, a question arises whether the previous communities also had such a night?
Many narrations clearly indicate that this is a Divine blessing endowed only to the Muslims and in a tradition, the Noble Prophet is narrated to have said:
إِنَّ اللهَ وَحَبَ لِأُمَّتِي لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ لَمْ يُعْطِهَا مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَهُمْ
Surely Allah has bestowed on my community the Night of Ordainment which He did not give to any of those (peoples) who were before them.14
In commenting on the above verses there are some other narrations that indicate the same opinion.
Apparently, this night being better than a thousand months is for the value of worshipping and keeping vigil on that night. The narrations on the virtue of the Night of Ordainment and the virtue of worship in it are abundantly mentioned in the books of both the Shia and Sunni that confirm this meaning.
Furthermore, the descent of the Qur’an on that night and the descent of the Divine blessings and grace in it causes the night to be better than a thousand months!
A tradition says that Imam Jafar as-Sadiq told ‘Ali. Abu Hamzah Thumali: “Seek the virtue of the Night of Ordainment on the 21st and 23rd night and say one hundred rakʿat salat on either of them and if you can, do keep vigil on both of the nights until the break of dawn, and perform ritual bathing therein.”
Abu Hamzah says that he asked Imam Jafar as-Sadiq that if he cannot pray that many prayers in the standing position, what should he do and the Imam replied: “Pray in the sitting position.”
Again, he asked that if he cannot do that, then what should he do and the Imam answered: “Pray in bed, and it does not matter if you sleep a little at the beginning of the night and then begin praying, because in the Month of Ramadhan, the gates of Heaven are open, Satans are bound in chains and the deeds of the believers are accepted. What a good month Ramadhan is!”15
This book was revealed on the Night of Ordainment because the destiny of humanity for the next year is determined based on our worthiness, and thus, we should keep vigil the entire night and repent for our sins, practice self-perfection, and turn to Allah to gain a great share of an even higher amount of worthiness for His mercy.
We need to be aware of the moments that our fate forms and not spend the time in spiritual negligence, otherwise our destiny will be nothing but regret.
Since the Qur’an is a book of forging one’s destiny and leads to the path of happiness and guidance for humanity, it should be sent down on the Night of Ordainment - the night of determining the fates of mankind.
What a nice connection there is between the Qur’an and the Night of Ordainment and how meaningful their relationship is to one another!
We know that the beginning of the lunar month is not the same in all parts of the world; for example, in one region today it may be the first day of a month, but in another region that same day may be the second day of the month.
Therefore, the Night of Ordainment cannot be a definite night in the year for everyone because the 23rd of a month in Mecca may be the 22nd of that month in Iran or Iraq; but each of them must as a rule have a Night of Ordainment for themselves according to the region they live in.
Does this fact fit with the meaning understood from the verses and narrations that state that the Night of Ordainment is a definite night?
The answer to this question will be clear when we consider the following point:
The words ‘rotation’ and ‘revolution’ mean nearly the same thing. But in describing the Earth’s movements, each word is used for a different kind of motion.
Revolution refers to the motion of the Earth in its yearly orbit around the Sun. Rotation refers to the spinning around of the Earth on its own axis every 24 hours in relation to the Sun. It is 24 hours from high noon on one day to high noon on the next.
In its permanent rotation on its axis, half of the surface of the Earth is towards the sun, whereupon it is day, and on the opposite part at the same time, it is night.
The night, which is the shade of the Earth, itself turns around in a complete circle for 24 hours all over the Earth. Therefore, the Night of Ordainment may be a night of a complete circle around the Earth; that is during 24 hours, where darkness covers all of the points of the Earth, itself is the Night of Ordainment whose beginning starts from a point and it ends at another one.
Muhammad b. Qasim said that Imam Jafar as-Sadiq said:
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ أَللَّيْلَةُ فَاطِمَةُ وَ الْقَدْرُ اللهُ. فَمَنْ عَرَفَ فَاطِمَةَ حَقَّ مَعْرِفَتِهَا فَقَدْ أَدْرَكَ لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ. وَ إِنَّمَا سُمِّيَتْ فَاطِمَةَ لِأَنَّ الْخَلْقَ فُطِمُوا عَنْ مَعْرِفَتِهَا.
Indeed We revealed it (the Qurʾan) on the Night of Ordainment. (96:1).
‘The in-depth (tawil) interpretation of ‘The Night (al-Layl)’ is Fatima and the in-depth (tawil) interpretation of ‘Ordainment (al-Qadr)’ is Allah. Therefore, a person who has truly grasped a deep understanding of Fatima (and who she is) has actually witnessed and experienced the Night of Ordainment.
Indeed Fatima was called by this name as the creations have been prevented from truly knowing and having a deep understanding of Fatima (we are not able to know her true stature with Allah).17
If we have accepted the fact that the Noble Qur’an descended onto the (heart of the) Messenger of Allah on the Night of Ordainment (Laylatul Qadr) in one instance and not in portions just as the researchers from amongst the exegetes of the have Noble Qur’an have stated, then the challenges which this tradition and other such traditions pose in regards to the Blessed Night (Laylatul Mubaraka) and the ambiguities on how both of these are related and refer directly about Fatima Zahra’ are resolved:
“إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُباَرَكَةٍ”
Indeed We have revealed it on the blessed night. (44:3).
This is the case as the Noble Qur’an which descended upon the heart of the Messenger of Allah is not the written, apparent (physical) Qur’an which we have [today]; rather, it is the reality (haqiqat) of the Qur’an for which the Prophet enjoys the station of Divine Celestial Light (maqam-e-nuraniyat) and Complete Authority (wilyat-e-mutlaqah), and which is a station of absolute authority and is not autonomous with that of the Divine Authority (of Allah), which he (the Prophet), in the form of a human being and possessing his humanistic element has been referred to in these verses with the word “لَيْلَةُ” – ‘night’.
Thus, by keeping in mind this point that the Prophet of Islam, with his status of being the station of the Divine Celestial Light and also his possessing the Complete Authority and that he is indeed the manifestation of the reality (haqiqat) of the Qur’an, and in addition keeping in mind that with the blessings of the infallible leaders (of which Fatima Zahra’ is also considered as being a part of) and that they too are all blessed with being the station of the Divine Celestial Light and also possess Complete Authority which is not separate from that of the Messenger of Allah, what problem is there in stating that this meaning can be applied to each and every one of the [fourteen] infallible leaders and that either of these two verses can be interpreted as referring to them!?
Therefore, there is no problem in stating that Fatima Zahra’ is the spiritual interpretation of “لَیْلَةٌ” – ‘the night’ which has been mentioned in both Surah Al-Qadr and also Surah Al-Dukhan and that this woman, with her Divine Celestial Light, is the true reality (haqiqat) of the Qur’an as:
• She is one of the [fourteen] infallibles;
• She is at the station of the Divine Celestial Light;18
• She is at the same ranking as the Messenger of Allah and the [twelve] Pure Imams ;
• From the point of view of her physical creation she can be referred to as “لَيْلَةٌ” – ‘the night’19. Thus, it is no problem for us to state that “The spiritual interpretation of ‘لَيْلَةٌ’ – ‘the night’ is Fatima and that the Qur’an was revealed within her (in regards to her Spiritual Divine Celestial Light).
However as to why the word “أَلْقَدْرُ” has been related to Allah in this tradition, it may be due to the overall universality of this grand woman (Fatima Zahra’) being the manifestation of the Divine (His titles, traits and essence). The proof of this point and the previous points are contained in a part of the tradition which reads:
فَمَنْ عَرَفَ فَاطِمَةَ حَقَّ مَعْرِفَتِهَا...
Therefore, a person who has truly grasped the deep understanding of her (Fatima)…
Even though it is possible to state that the augmentation of the word “لَيْلَةُ” to the word “أَلْقَدْرُ” in its apparent reading from the actual words and its reference to Allah in its meaning and interpretation is done in the genitive ceremonial case, for example just as we see in the Qur’an where the word ‘hand’ (يَدٌ) and ‘house’ (بَيْتٌ) are attributed to Allah, and as such we see passages in the Qur’an which speak about “Allah’s hand” (يَدُ اللهِ) or “The House of Allah” (بَيْتُ اللهِ).
Fatima is the very Night of Divine Decrees. Anyone who really knows Fatima as she is has understood the Night of Divine Decrees. Very few people know this great Lady in this way.
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) once said in a tradition recorded in the commentary of Furat ibn Ibrahim, speaking about the meaning of the Qur’anic verse: “The Night of Divine Decrees (Laylatul Qadr) is Fatima, therefore whoever knows Fatima well has understood the Night of Divine Decrees, and the reason for Fatima being named Fatima20 is that mankind has been ‘prevented from obtaining’ her acquaintance! (or knowing her real status)”21
We know that Qur’anic verses have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning, and many interpretations within them.
Without a doubt, the literal interpretation of the chapter of Qadr tells us about the night in which the Holy Qur’an descended upon the pure heart of the Prophet, and in which the Divine Decrees (destinies) of human beings are ascertained for a year, according to Divine Wisdom. As such, what was said in the tradition above is a figurative interpretation of this chapter’s meaning, or the second meaning of Surah Al-Qadr.
What a close relationship there is between the existence of the Lady of Islam and the Night of Divine Decrees! Some of the points we can derive from this connection are as follows:
The Night of Divine Decrees – the disguised, unknown night of Qadr – is undoubtedly this great Lady, whom the Prophet would refer to as a part of his flesh and reckoned her pleasure to God’s pleasure, and her anger God’s anger. She is also the disguised and unknown meaning of Qadr.
The Night of Qadr is hidden among the nights of the year. The grave of the Lady of Islam is unknown among the graves of the great Personages of Islam.
Those who wish to pay pilgrimage to her and enter Medina, visit the shrines of all of the other great ones, and seek her grave but only to be unable to find it, will well understand the heavy load of this sorrow.
The Night of Qadr is better than 1,000 months of worship –and the virtue of its worship is greater than that of a long life of 80 years. The virtue of this great Lady is also greater than thousands upon thousands of virtuous persons and her rank is more superior than them.
The Night of Qadr was the time in which the Qur’an descended upon the pure heart of the Prophet of Islam, and it was a sudden, all-together revelation even though its gradual descent took over 23 years. The “Night of Qadr” may also therefore be named as the Night of the Descent of Virtue, Perfection, Knowledge and Wisdom.
The being of Fatima is also the source of luminosity of the guardianship and Imamat; divine knowledge and wisdom. The written Qur’an descended on the Night of Qadr, but Fatima is the one from whom 11 speaking Qur’ans (Qur’an-e-Natiq) have descended!
The Night of Qadr is the night in which, by the command of Allah, the Angels ascertain the destinies of all human beings and present them to the Wali al-Amr, the Guardian of His Command. It is a night of peace and good in its entirety:
“Peace! It is until the rising of the dawn.” (97:5).
The brief life of this Lady of Islam was also goodness, soundness and blessed from the beginning to the end, and was given the attention and interest of the Angels.
The close relationship between the Night of Qadr and the being of Fatima deems it necessary for all of us to strive harder to know her and obtain greater benefit from the blessings of her radiance.
O Lord! Bestow on us such a spiritual awakening that we take sufficient benefit from the virtue of the Night of Ordainment.
O Lord! We hope only that our predestined fates are determined based on Your Grace.
O Lord! Do not put us among those who are deprived from this month, because it is the worst deprivation.
…So be it, O Lord of all the Worlds
- 1. Ruh al-Maani, vol. 30, p. 188; and Durr al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 391.
- 2. Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 516.
- 3. Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 30, p. 516
- 4. A deeper explanation of this division of the method of revelation has been covered under the exegesis of verse 3 of Surah Al-Dukhan contained in volume 21 of Tafsir Namuna on page 148 and beyond.
- 5. Al-Mufradat of Raghib, under the letters “نزل”
- 6. Durr al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 371
- 7. Ibid.
- 8. Tafsir al-Burhan, vol. 4, p. 481.
- 9. According to the first explanation, the meaning of the first “مِنْ” is that conveyed in the particle “لام” and thus, the interpretation of “من كل أمر” is “لأجل كل أمر” – and according to the second explanation, the meaning of the first “مِنْ” is that conveyed in the particle “باء مصاحبة”.
- 10. Tafsir al-Burhan, vol. 4, p. 488, tradition 29.
- 11. Tafsir Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi, vol. 32, p. 36.
- 12. Tafsir Nur ath-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, p. 625, Tradition 58.
- 13. Tafsir Nur ath-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, p. 626, Tradition 62.
- 14. Tafsir Durr al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 371.
- 15. Tafsir Nur ath-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, pg. 625, tradition 58 (summarized).
- 16. This section is not from Tafsir Namuna; rather, it has been translated from the book, “Manifestation of the Divine Light” written by Shaykh ‘Ali Sa’adat Parvar and translated specifically for this booklet. (Tr.)
- 17. Tafsir Durr al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 371.
- 18. The meaning here is that of the Spiritual Divine Celestial Light and not her creation from Divine Light; the explanation between the difference which exists between these two has been mentioned in the first chapter of this book [The Manifestation of the Divine Light]. For a further explanation, please refer to section 2 of the book, ‘The Branches of Martyrdom’.
- 19. It goes without saying: Why the use of the word “night” and its darkness? The response to this is that attribute of manifestation (of Fatima Zahra’) in the face of the Pure Light (of Allah) and Divine Authority (of Allah) is nothing other than a shadow and obscurity.
- 20. Fatima is from the root fa-ta-ma, originally meaning “weaning from milk”. Among the reasons that have been mentioned for the appropriate choice of this name for this Lady of Islam, the above meaning has also been included.
- 21. Bihar al-Anwar.