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The Night of Qadr

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The Night of Qadr holds immense importance in Islam, as its significance has been explicitly stated in both the Quran and the narrations of the Ahlul Bait (a). It is the night on which Allah revealed the entire Quran to Prophet Muhammad (s), and its blessings are beyond measure. In this article, we shall delve into this night from various perspectives, shedding light on its spiritual and historical significance.

What Does Laylat al-Qadr Mean?

The first question that comes to mind is the meaning of Laylat al-Qadr. Laylah, which translates to night, is coupled with Qadr, meaning ordainment. This auspicious occasion is coined as the Night of Ordainment, as it is believed that Allah ordains the destiny of every individual on this night. The Quran substantiates this notion in Surah Dukhan:

سْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

حمٓ ‎﴿١﴾‏ وَٱلْكِتَٰبِ ٱلْمُبِينِ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَٰهُ فِى لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَٰرَكَةٍ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ ‎﴿٣﴾‏فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ أَمْرًا مِّنْ عِندِنَآ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُرْسِلِينَ ‎﴿٥﴾‏

In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful.

Ha, Meem. (1) By the Manifest Book! (2) We sent it down on a blessed night, and We have been warning [mankind]. (3) On that night is made distinct every precise matter – (4) [Every] matter [proceeding] from Us. Indeed, We were to send [a messenger] (5) [44:1-5].

The Revelation of the Quran

We have a surah in the Quran called Qadr. It attaches immense significance to this blessed night and states how Allah revealed the Quran in it. This surah reads:

بِّسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَٰهُ فِى لَيْلَةِ ٱلْقَدْرِ ‎﴿١﴾‏ وَمَآ أَدْرَىٰكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ تَنَزَّلُ ٱلْمَلَٰٓئِكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ سَلَٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ ٱلْفَجْرِ ‎﴿٥﴾‏

In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful.

Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment. (1) And what will show you what is the Night of Ordainment? (2) The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months. (3) In it the angels and the Spirit descend, by the leave of their Lord, with every command. (4) It is peaceful until the rising of the dawn (5) [97:1-5].

Now some might ask, “How was the Quran revealed to the Prophet on the Night of Qadr?” No one disagrees that the entire Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan. However, as to which specific night it was, it is agreed that it was on the Night of Qadr. Nevertheless, it is not known exactly when the Night of Qadr is. We believe that it is either on the eve of the 19th, 21st, or 23rd of the month of Ramadan. Moreover, it is well-known that the Quran was revealed in two ways: all at once in its entirety and gradually over the course of 23 years. It was revealed entirely and all at once on the Night of Qadr.

As the verses of Surah Qadr point out, the Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months. What makes it so special? There are various things that add to the significance of this blessed night, including:

1. The Quran being revealed in this month

2. The ordainment of people’s destiny for the next year

3. Descending of the angels and the Spirit

4. Peace until the rising of the dawn

When Is the Night of Qadr?

According to Twelver Shia, it is believed that the Night of Qadr is either on the eve of the 19th, 21st, or 23rd of the holy month of Ramadan. Shiites believe that most likely the Night of Qadr is on the 23rd. Nevertheless, we also commemorate the 19th and 21st eves of Ramadan as they are nights that are dedicated to Imam Ali (a). The Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a) was struck on the head on the 19th of Ramadan and was martyred on the 21st.

What Should We Do on the Night of Qadr?

Now that we know the importance of this blessed night, is there anything special in terms of acts of worship that we must perform on this night? In general, reciting the Quran, praying, supplicating, and asking Allah for forgiveness are recommended acts on the Night of Qadr because it is said that their reward is multiplied. After all, doing these things on a night that is greater than a thousand months must bring greater rewards compared to other nights.

Now, there are specific acts that are performed on this night. One of the famous supplications that is recited on this night is called al-Jawshan al-Kabir, literally meaning the “Greater Armor.” In this supplication, 1001 names and attributes of Allah are mentioned, and we ask Allah to save us from the punishment of the Fire. The second thing that is done is holding the Quran on one’s head and swearing by Allah, Prophet Muhammad (s), Lady Fatima (a), Imam Ali (a), and the other eleven Imams while asking them to grant us the best things in the upcoming year. Also, the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a) is mourned on these nights.

The Special Occasion on the Eve of the 19th and 21st of Ramadan

On the 19th of the month of Ramadan, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) was struck on the head with a poisoned sword of “the most wretched person in the world, Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljam.” Imam Ali became severely ill and was martyred two days later. We remember and mourn for Imam Ali on the 19th and 21st of Ramadan by wearing black and shedding tears for him.

Conclusion

The Night of Qadr is a blessed night that is better than a thousand months, according to the Quran. On this night, we engage in various acts of worship, such as praying, supplicating, reciting the Quran, and asking Allah for forgiveness. The first night that is thought to be the Night of Qadr is the eve of the 19th of Ramadan. This was when Imam Ali (a) was struck on the head with a poisoned sword, which caused his martyrdom two days later. We mourn for him on this night and remember his virtues and merits. The second and third nights of Qadr are the eve of the 21st and 23rd of the month of Ramadan, respectively.

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