Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yusuf Ali’s explanation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s explanation of this Chapter.
Laleh Bakhtiar’s explanation of this Chapter.
'Power/ Utmost Projection’
From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
'The Night of Power/ Honor'
From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
“OPENING with a reference to the revelation of the first five verses of the preceding surah - that is, to the beginning of Muhammad's prophetic mission - Al-Qadr undoubtedly belongs to a very early part of the Mecca period.”
This is such an important Chapter.
Firstly, it is crucial for our faith in God that we fully comprehend the meaning of the word 'qadr,' which is not, as many Believers think, about Him decreeing and imposing our fate upon us!
The traditional understanding -which we have shown evidence against- revolves around unsupported belief in human 'pre-destination:' Traditionalists believe that whatever takes place in our lives was already 'pre-ordained' by God; 'pre-written' in a 'kitaab.' We have already discussed 'kitaab,' so I shan't get into that topic here, but since this Chapter is about 'Qadr,' we must revisit the root-verb 'qadara' (please put it in 'Search').
Regular Readers will remember that Yusuf Ali had earlier said:
“The root qadara not only implies power, ability, strength, but two other ideas which it is difficult to convey in a single word, viz., the act and power of estimating the true value of a thing or persons... and the act and power of regulating something so as to bring it into correspondence with something. "Judgment of values" I think sums up these finer shades of meaning. ...”
Please read our earler discussion of 'Qadr' by putting the words 'Utmost Projection' in 'Search.'
Also see our explanation of the beautiful Chapter 87, which tells us that God 'qaddara' everything, and guided/ gifted قدّر فهدى:
'Motivate yourself/ Glorify the Attribute of your Lord Most High:
Who created, and thereupon 'sawwaa/ duly proportioned (all Creation) in a process.
And Who projected to the utmost (all capabilities),
and thereupon guided and gifted (each to fulfillment)'
Creation and the process of 'taqdeer' go together, as we realized earlier, see here.
Secondly, it is crucial for our faith IN, and benefit FROM, the dynamic Qur'an, that we try to comprehend the significance of 'Laylatul Qadr:'
It is not as simple as many Believers think; it is not just about commemorating a certain 'night' every year in Ramadan. It is about appreciating the magnificent occurrence, the momentous occasion, the wonder that is awarded to us Cognizant Humans, resulting in the possibility of our living a relationship with God at a level of Awareness and Knowledge of Him (and ourselves) that would not have been possible without the Qur'an (which tells us so much about both), PLUS the amazing fact that everything we are and everything we have:
HAS THE CAPACITY TO BE PROJECTED TO ITS UTMOST
That is what few of us realize!
Think about that.
The Time of Qadr is when God's Message to Humanity was sent down as; when the 'kitaab/ compilation' became, for OUR benefit, Qur'an (I).
Unfortunately however, most of us 'Muslims,' having lost track of the dynamism of Qur'an, have been revering the static 'Kitaab' for the past thousand years.
PAGE 598 Arabic Qur’an
- In the first verse we find echoed the words ‘We have indeed sent it down on...إنا أنزلناه 'We'd heard these words earlier, in HQ 44:3 (see all 3 instances in Qur'an). Also, put the word 'anzala' in 'Search' to understand its meaning.
Regular Readers will remember that the Qur'an, God's Message to Humanity, is instrinsically Supreme, and exists in 'Secured Radiance/ Looh MaHhfouth’ (في لوح محفوظ-) (HQ 85:22):
‘But it is a Supreme Qur’an. In Secured Radiance.’
Such is its existence in itself (i).
As related to us, however, it had to be rendered to a humanly comprehendible state ('anzala') in preparation for its transmittal (to God's Messenger, peace upon him, and then to us).
This momentous event (taking place for our benefit but still apart from us) is what these verses seem to be telling us about:
‘We have indeed 'anzalnaahu' sent it down (rendering it comprehendible)
on the Night of power/ of Utmost Projection…’
The term 'night' here could be related to what we understand as 'night,' relative to our knowledge of space and our earthly existence, or to the (as yet) absence of 'light/ enlightenment,' or to a time of utter 'sakeena,' as we (spoke about earlier and) can see in these verses linking 'night/leyl' with 'sakan.'
But there is more information out there, regarding 'Laylatul Qadr.'
Regular Readers (and most Muslims) know that this 'Night of Power/ Projection' also refers to the event when the initial 'Tanzeel/ Transmission' was sent down from our Lord/Sustainer; the 'tanzeel' which began as Muhammad was meditating in the cave of Hiraa, and the command came to him that he should 'IQRA!' (ii) Historians tell us that this incident took place in the month of Ramadan, which is also why worshippers commemorate 'Laylatul Qadr' during Ramadan, seeking it mostly in its last ten nights.
The Qur'an mentions clearly that 'the month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur'an was sent down/ transmitted (HQ 2:185):
'The month of Ramadan in which the Qur'an was sent down;
a guide to Cognizant Humans
and manifestations of (the) Guidance and (the) Criterion...'
Most Muslims take this, not only to refer to the above mentioned 'iqra' verses, but also to the 'descent' of the entire Qur'an to a state closer to us. As we described earlier, this seems to be about it being rendered comprehendible -'anzala.'
After that initial Revelation of 'IQRA,' parts of the Qur’an began to be 'sent down/ transmitted' from within the complete, compiled state (preserved 'on high') to the Messenger Muhammad... its verses transmitted separately as per people's needs (without adherence to its compiled arrangement), over a period of 21-23 years. Finally, when the 'WaHi/ Exclusive Information/ Revelation' was completed, the verses were put together and reassembled into a 'compiled' state. That took place in the final two Ramadans of Prophet Muhammad's life, when he was reported to have recited the entire Qur'an (in its present order, as per God's instruction) overseen by Angel Gabriel. The only thing which we know that the Messenger did NOT do himself, is name the Chapters; their 'titles' came naturally depending on how people recognized them.
Everything we mentioned is about the Compilation in its informative state, transmitted to us orally. Compiling it in writing came many years later.
Q. And what is it, in the Qur'anic structure, which made it possible to preserve each verse intact, so as to bring the compilation together again, orally at first, and then in writing?
A. The 'nujoom' (✷), the markers / stars, which 'underpin/ anchor' the contents of each verse separately, so that verses do not infringe upon each other and lose their intent!
Regular Readers will remember how important these markers are (put 'underpinnings' in 'Search'), and will recall the verses (HQ 56: 75-80) which vow 'by the placement of markers/ stars' (see footnote iii). Tampering with these placements is most grievous: God's words should NEVER be taken out of context! (Yet many have done so to suit their purposes, incurring questioning on Judgment Day. Remember the verse about the 'Segmenter/ Muqtassim' who, having rendered The Qur'an into segments is promised that he SHALL, 'by your Lord' be QUESTIONED as to this deed (HQ 15: 71-93)?! This is all about the importance of CONTEXT in understanding Qur'anic intent (two things are paramount in understanding the Qur'an: the Arabic Language itself on one hand, and Qur'anic context on the other).
2. Verse 2 tells the Messenger/ Listener 'Maa adraaka,' that he would not be able to 'pursue to determine/ he would not be able to perceive' what Laylatul Qadr is (put 'daraa' in 'Search'). Some Commentators see this as a rhetorical question, as in 'How would you/ could you perceive what it is?Zamakhshari (iv) explains this as: 'Your perception has not attained the munificence and paramount eminence (of Laylatul Qadr).'
3. Verse 3 tells us that this 'Night of Qadr' is of more 'kheyr' (advantage/ commendation) than an 'alf' (multitude/ thousand) of 'shahr' (enlightenment/ month).
What I understood from this, is that the event in which the Qur'an was imparted to us is of such magnificent enlightenment, that it cannot be compared to any other occurrence in the history of Creation. However, all WE need to do is to appreciate that event without necessarily understanding it, since the Messenger himself was told: 'Maa adraaka.'
Read slowly to attempt grasping its meaning:
-'Kheyr' implies everything that is worthy, commendable, and advantageous.... similar to Goodness + Beneficial, put together).
-'Shahr' literally means 'luminescence/ enlightenment.'
The word 'shahr' came to be understood as 'month' because of the moon's luminosity in its various stages. Interestingly, most world civilizations have adopted similar connotations to this concept, month = moon (see footnote v).
The word 'shuhra' means 'fame/ prestige' and 'shaheer/ mash-hoor' mean 'acclaimed/ famous,' all from this single root-verb 'shahara.'
So is 'shahr' about enlightenment and acclaim, or merely about a 'month'...?
God knows best.
4. Verses 4-5 give us three important descriptions of this event/ night of Qadr/ Ultimate Projection:
- The Custodians/ Angels oft-descend during this entire event.. all descending together with the Al RooH/ The Spirit (who is probably the Custodian/Angelic Messenger delivering exclusive information/ waHi-وحي from God to His Messengers, believed to be Angel Gabriel). What a magnificent event, as all these heavenly creatures descend in multitudes to escort God's Message to Mankind! (The verb 'tanazzal' is in present continuous; see Asad's view on its grammatical form vi).
- They descend with God's general Announcement/'ithn' regarding every matter / 'amr.' Regular Readers will remember that the word 'ithn' is related to 'athaan' and does NOT mean 'permission, (although that is how we now use it. Put 'ithn' in 'Search').So here we have these Custodians/ Angels descending in hosts, escorting God's Message to us, His general Announcement to the world, fulfilling God's commands.
- 'Salaam/ Peace' it is, until the appearance/ outlook of 'Fajr/ Eruption/ Break of 'Day.' See these verses in both Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad's interpretations.Their interpretation helps us understand this as a recurrent theme, thus:Once every year, there is a commemoration to that first Night of Ultimate Potential/ Projection. Everything is possible during this commemoration, when the Custodians/ Angels descend in hosts, and every good intention and supplication one makes is answered in one way or another. Don't forget that taking care of us is one of the duties of these Custodians (HQ 13:11, and 40: 7-9)!But this time of 'Ultimate Projection' is our time when, if we pushed ourselves to do more, we would be that much closer to fulfilling our potential as per God's projection of our gifts and talents.Some modern-day scholars have added that 'fajr' could also be referring to the time when our world erupts, and comes to an end.God knows best.
We cannot surmise what exactly the earliest Recipients of Qur'an may have understood from these words, but we have no doubt that they, having witnessed Qur'anic Revelation and lived WITH the Messenger himself... we have no doubt that they appreciated, more than we could ever do, the magnitude of the Event, 'Laylatul Qadr,' when God sent the Qur'an down for the benefit of Humanity.
May we be appreciative and humbled by this knowledge.
Peace unto all!
Such is its existence in itself for the purpose of 'Thikr/ Evocation/ Remembrance.' Remember we said that it is only is a 'reminder' when we interact with it!
We discussed this in HQ 80:11; we said that the Qur'an, in its intrinsic state, it is held in Eminently-held 'SsuHuf صُحُف receptacles/ plates/ sheets/ records' (see 9 occurrences in Qur'an), Exalted and Purified. These 'SsuHuf' are retained by (Cognizant Beings who are) 'Safara/ Retainers and Revelators' (and are) Eminent, generous and Forthcoming (which seems to refer to the Custodians/ Angels in charge of holding/ revealing them).
(IQRA: One word which means so much; our entire research is based on ints six components related to Information Processing.)
‘I do but vow by the placement/ site of 'nujoom/ stars/ markers'
And that is indeed a mighty oath, if you (all could) discern/ know
It is indeed an eminent Qur’an
In a safeguarded/ shielded Compilation
None touches it except the Purified
A Transmission (sent down) from the Lord-Sustainer of the Worlds/ Peoples’
"ولم تبلغ درايتك غاية فضلها ومنتهى علوّ قدرها.."
Isn't human language interesting?
In English (and most European languages), the word 'month' actually comes from the word 'moon' (see Etymology here).
The lunar month still is an integral part of the Muslim Calendar. See here for amazing facts on world calendars.
شهر: يدلُّ على وضوحٍ في الأمر وإِضاءة. من ذلك الشَّهر، وهو في كلام العرب الهِلال، ثمَّ سمِّي كلُّ ثلاثين يوماً باسم الهلال، فقيل شهر. قد اتَّفق فيه العربُ والعجم؛ فإنَّ العجم يسمُّون ثلاثين يوماً باسم الهلال في لغتهم. والشُّهرة: وضوح الأمر. وشَهَرَ سيفَه، إِذا انتضاه. وقد شُهِر فلانٌ في الناس بكذا، فهو مشهور، وقد شَهَرُوه.أَشْهَرْنا بالمكان، إِذا أَقَمنا به شهراً. وشَهْرانُ: قبيلة.
M. Asad: “The grammatical form tanazzalu implies repetition, frequency, or multitude; hence – as suggested by Ibn Kathīr – “descending in hosts.”