Exegesis of Surah Al-Qadr (Tafseer Zia Ul Quran) FeaturedWritten by محبوب حسين الأزهرى
The name of this blessed surah is al-Qadr. It contains 1 Ruku, 5 verses, 30 words and 112 letters.
Era of revelation
Imam Alusi in addition to numerous other exegetes wrote that the scholars are of two opinions in relation to its revelation. Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi, in his exegesis ‘Bahr al-Muhit’, writes that this Surah is Madani. Imam Wahidi’s opinion is that its revelation was initially in Madinah, but the opinion of the majority of the exegetes is that it was in Makkah. The narrations presented in support of the first opinion are unreliable in terms of their chains of transmission. In addition, the topic of the Surah supports the second opinion. The preceding Surah mentioned the revelation of the Qur’ān, whilst this Surah discusses the prominence of that night on which its revelation took place.
Fate and destiny as well as honour and status are meanings for the word ‘Qadr’. Both meanings are acceptable here. He (Allah) informs us that this is not an ordinary night, in reality the advent of his miraculous speech occurred on this night, that alters the fate and destiny of not only one individual, tribe or nation, but the whole of humanity who acknowledge it and intend to embrace it. Furthermore, there is no time restriction here (regarding the night) just like there is no restriction upon the prophethood of his messenger. His revealed message is not subject to the limitation of time.
Alternatively, it could also refer to the honour, status of the night in whose silence revelation of the scripture of guidance took place, and the elevation to prophethood took place blessed of a pure being. We have been informed that the blessings of this night are better that the worship of a thousand months. All night the succession of the coming of angels and the revelation of blessings continues and the tidings of peace are given.
New Central Jail, Sargodha
Exegesis of Surah al-Qadr
- Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree. (1)
- And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree?
- The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. (2)
- The angels and the Spirit descend therein (3) by permission of their Lord (4) for every matter (5).
- Peace it is until the emergence of dawn (6).1)
Despite the fact that the word Qur’ān is not explicitly referred here, it is unanimously agreed upon that the pronoun of the object (Mafool) in the word ‘اَنْزَلْنَاهُ’ refers to the Qur’ān. He (Allah) states that the Qur’ān is not the speech of any angel or man, nor is it the composition of any individual or group. I am the one revealing it and it is my speech. There is not participation of another in this. I have revealed it on this night, which is unequal in terms of its great status and honour. Alternatively, I have revealed it on that night that is destiny defining, due to which not only the star of destiny rises for the people of Makkah or Hijaz, but also the misfortune of humanity is turned. Such a book is revealed on this night that grants man recognition of his self and his creator.
Imam Zuhri states “It is called that due to its greatness and honour and because the actions in this n his are of great status in the sight of Allah” (Tafsir Mazhari). Imam Qurtubi has mentioned the following in relation to why this night is called ‘Laylatul Qadr’ “It’s claimed that it is known as that because Allah revealed in it a book of great eminence, upon a messenger of great prominence upon a nation of great prestige.” The cause of revelation has been stated as the Prophet (peace be upon him) thinking to himself that his nation did not have long lives, thus resulting in them not being able to perform good deeds in abundance in comparison to the nations of the past who were long lived. Thus, Allah granted him al-Qadr that was better than a thousand months (Mazhari).
2) The greatness of the gift that Allah has bestowed upon his blessed prophet (peace be upon him) is mentioned here. He asks the question pertaining to it and personally answers. He says, “Do you know what Laylatul Qadr is?” Then he answers himself “This one night is far better than a thousand months” To what is this greatness and superiority attributed? Most exegetes state, “That deeds in this night are better than deeds of a thousand months in which there is no Laylatul Qadr.”
Imam Qurtubi expresses his opinion in the following words “The good that is distributed in this one night is greater than good distributed in a thousand months.” Another possible meaning is that the deeds of this one night (revelation of the Qur’ān) for the sake of humanity’s welfare and betterment far outweigh the efforts of a thousand months.
However, the question of when did this night occur remains. Which month and which date? The Qur’ān personally resolves the issue of the month stating that it took place in Ramadhan, proving that it was definitely a night of Ramadhan. Regarding the specific date of this night there is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars. There are approximately forty opinions, but the following words are from a Sahih Hadith “Search for Laylatul Qadr in the final ten nights of Ramadhan.” In another narration, it states in the odd nights of the last ten days. The majority of the scholars believe that it is the 27th night, something that Ubay ibn K’ab swore by.
Amongst the great wisdom in not specifying the night, the following are a few. Muslims spend at least these 5 nights in the worship and remembrance of Allah. If this night was specified, people would only engage in the remembrance and worship of Allah on this night alone. Likewise, if there was specification, those who spent it in the worship of Allah would be entitled to great reward but those who sinned would be liable for great punishment. This is because despite being aware of this night they still wasted it disobeying Allah.
Subsequently mercy demands that the night remain unspecified so that if an unfortunate soul commits sin unaware of this night his punishment would be according to that of a normal night and those who remain awake will do so on more nights. In reality any night spent awake in remembrance of the lord is Laylatul Qadr for people of love. This couplet of the great Sufi Umar ibn Farid beautifully captures this
Every night is Laylatul Qadr if spent with the beloved
Just like every day is Juma if spent with him
3) Sayyiduna Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the messenger of Allah said “On the night of al-Qadr Jibreel descends with a large party of angles, who pray for forgiveness and blessing for all those standing or sitting in the remembrance of Allah.” In another narration, it states that they shake hands with those people. How fortunate and privileged is that person who spends this night in worship of his lord, Jibreel and the angels descend from the heavens for the honour of shaking hands with him and pray for his forgiveness and mercy.
The messenger of Allah would make special preparations for the last ten days of Ramadhan. Sayyidah Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) states “It was the practise of the Messenger of Allah when the last ten days of Ramadhan would enter that he would put on his dhoti, spend the nights in the worship of Allah and would wake his family up to participate in the worship.”
She also states that the amount of effort he would exert in these last ten days was more than any other time. He would perform I’tikaf (retreat) in the last ten days, a practise that he continued until he passed away and would encourage servants to engage in this. After he passed away the Mothers of the Believers continued this practise of his.
The word ‘al-Ruh’ in the verse refers to Jibreel. In view of his prominence, he is mentioned here. According to some scholars, ‘Ruh’ refers to an especially elegant group of angels who are greater than the normal angels. Just as we cannot see normal angels, normal angels cannot see them due to their great elegance. Some scholars that ‘al-Ruh’ refers to mercy. Thus the group of angles that descend under Jibreel’s leadership on that night bring with them Allah’s limitless store of mercy.
4) This means that the angels do not descend on their own accord, but Allah instructs them to roam the earth from east to west, wherever a servant of mine engaged in my worship go to him and give him tidings of my mercy. Shake his hand and pray for his forgiveness. How great is the status of the beloved of Allah and through him the status of his servants.
Shah Abd al-Aziz writes on this occasion “Angels descend from the heavens and souls from ‘Iliyyeen’ to meet with exceptional humans taking blessing from their deeds and to enrich themselves with the love filling the hearts of these people have for the beloved servant of Allah.
5) Imam Qurtubi writes that ‘every matter’ refers to all those matters that Allah has decreed for the coming year.
6) This is a night of peace and tranquillity. The whisperings of the ego and satan will not will not distract those worshipping. With great peace of mind they remain connected to their lord taking pleasure from his remembrance and this exhilarating and faith rejuvenating sensation remains with them throughout the night until sunrise.
Some scholars have said, “After mentioning the angels descent to the earth, their method of greeting is mentioned here that on this night they convey salutations on the believers and meet the people of excellence (Tafsir Azizi).
Another merit of this night is that any prayer uttered will be accepted. It is necessary for every person to fervently search for this night, without being lazy and languid. He should remain awake passionately in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadhan, spending them in the remembrance of Allah. When he implores Allah he should ask in such abundance that he has no regrets about it later. Sayyidah Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) asked “O messenger of Allah! What prayer should I offer on Laylatul Qadr? The messenger of Allah replied “Offer the following prayer
اَلَّلهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنىْ
"O Allah, you are the One who grants pardon for sins. You love to pardon so pardon me".
Another tradition of the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is presented here
“مَنْ قَامَ لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ"
“Whoever stands in prayer on the Night of Power, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
واعف عنا واغفر لنا وارحمنا انت مولنا فانصرنا على القوم الكافرين. اللهم صل و سلم وبارك على خاتم الأنبياء و سيد المرسلين شفيع المذنبين رحمة للعالمين و على اله و أصحابه ومن تبعه بإحسان الى يوم الدين.
Allama Hafiz Mahboob Hussain al-Azhari BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), MA (RES) Secretary of WAAG (World Association of Al-Azhar Graduates) UK, a mureed of Hazrat Zia-Ul-Ummat Shaykh Pir Justice Pir Karam Shah Al-Azhari and a student of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada. As such, Mahboob Hussain is the founder and resident scholar of PirKaramShah.com. He was born in Pakistan in 1976 Mahboob Hussain arrived in the UK in 1978 where he settled in Dewsbury. In 1980 he began his primary Islamic studies under Abul In’am Muhammad Abdul Bari Chishti and followed that by memorisation of the Qur'ân. After completing his GCSE’s in 1993 he rejoined his teacher in Jamia al-Karam, which at that time was at the former site in Milton Keynes, where under his tutelage and the auspicious guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, he began his studies in Arabic and Islamic studies and A Levels. Here he was fortunate to meet with his Shaykh, the Ummah’s Luminary, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (ra) and pledged his allegiance to him.
After completing his A Levels and studies in Jamia al-Karam in 1997, he was fortunate to pursue his studies in Jamia al-Azhar, Cairo where he gained a BA honours from the Department of Theology, specialising in the science of Prophetic Traditions. After completing his studies in 2000, he returned to the UK and spent a year teaching Arabic and Islamic studies in his local town Dewsbury. In 2001 he began BSc in Computing and Information Studies in the University of Bradford, which he completed in 2005 and immediately rejoined Shaykh M I H Pirzada at Jamia al-Karam as a teacher. Mahboob Hussain has achieved his MA thesis by research at the University of Leeds titled ‘Jewish Anecdotes in Qur'ânic Exegesis’ and is currently looking forward to his upcoming PhD InshAllah. He is also involved in alot of other literary work, such as English translation of selected surahs of Tafsir Zia-Ul-Quran, soon to be exclusively released on pirkaramshah.com.