Lailatul Qadr: A Different Interpretation

Within traditional Islamic thought, it is believed that the Lailatul Qadr (The night of Power) was the night in which Prophet Mohammad first received divine revelation. Therefore, it is considered to be a “holy” night during which God forgives everyone, accepts all prayers, and is the night in which the destiny of people for the coming year is decided.

Revealingly, this interpretation has almost no basis in the Quran. The Quran only talks about Lailatul Qadr in Ch 97, calling it a night of peace, which is better than a thousand months. However, even if we take the traditional interpretation at its face value, we come across the following problems:

1) If God really accepts all prayers in this night, then why don’t our prayers get answered? For years, Muslims have been praying for Palestine! Why, then, does the situation only deteriorate?

2) Human beings are provided with freewill, and that’s the whole purpose of revelation! There is no point of a test if the outcome has already been decided by God. This is unjust, while God is just.

3) The Quran says that it is a night of peace. What sort of peace? External peace or spiritual peace? If it’s external, then is there such a night in which there is no disharmony whatsoever, with no bloodshed, and every human being fully clothed and well fed? There isn’t.

If it is referring to internal peace, then is there such a night in which every human being feels profound peace within themselves? Again, no such evidence proves this. In fact, that is exactly why the Ulema are unsure of its precise date.

 

Because of these inconsistencies, I don’t subscribe to this interpretation.


In my opinion, Lailatul Qadr is not a specific night in Ramadan. Rather, it signifies the general phenomenon of attaining revelation. Thus, the Night of Power occurs when you have that eureka moment; when you understand something from the Quran.

The reason why it’s called the “Night” of Power is because night is considered to be an idle time in Quranic parlance; a time of seclusion (73:6-7). Thus it is advised that the reader ponders over the Quran at night (73:4), and God, in turn, would bestow upon him a profound message (73:5). Attaining this profound message is what the night of Power signifies, and is thus better than a thousand months of ignorance (97:3)! Receiving this profound message then brings us Islam, or peace, which is the ultimate purpose of revelation (97:5).

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11 thoughts on “Lailatul Qadr: A Different Interpretation

  1. Thank you for posting your idea about this special night.

    For me it is a rather strange experience to see an idea brought forward, which is based on assumptions, which though they might be prevalent among certain parts of the so-called Islamic world, are of no value nevertheless, simply because they defy reason and rationality – that is, in my humble opinion.

    E.g. you wrote, that many people infer from the expression “min kulli amr” (for every affair), that on this night all decisions for the following year regarding the administration and other affairs of the world are determined. This deduction is not correct. “Kul” (every) is a relative word and its application depends on the context or the situation and covers only such matters that are under discussion. For example, if on the occasion of a feast it is said that all the people have arrived, it cannot mean that all the people in the world are present there. What it means, in fact, is that all the invited guests are present. Similarly, when the Prophet Noah was given the following command in the chapter Hud: „We (Allah) said: Carry in it two of all things, a pair” (11:40), it did not mean that he had to take a pair of all the animals on earth, but the order extended only to those animals that he would need lateron. So here the expression “min kulli amr” (for every affair) does not refer to all the affairs of the world, but only to such spiritual blessings and favours which are pertinent to that glorious and honourable night on which the Holy Qur’an was revealed.

    “Ar-Ruh” (the Spirit) refers to those angels who descend with the word of Allah on the hearts of the righteous infusing them with spiritual life. That is why they are called the “Spirit”.

    The word “salaam” means peace and freedom from every kind of fear or anxiety. In other words, everything that descends on that night is aimed towards the giving of physical and spiritual blessings to man. Thus, if we study the Holy Qur’an, which was revealed on that night of Majesty, we shall discover that it contains a message of complete peace, the chief objective of which is to save man from sin and evil, and trials and tribulations, and make him attain a life of peace and tranquillity.

    Therefore, if a person derives the benefit of this night and through worship and strenuous efforts towards goodness he makes his heart worthy of spiritual blessings, then it is inevitable that the angels will bring divine communication and spiritual blessings to his heart with such force that his soul shall be freed from the straight-jacket of sins and shall enter the sanctuary of peace.

    See, what I mean?

    Another example. Although Laylatul Qadar is commonly associated with the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, it also has other meanings which are all deeply rooted in Allah’s attribute of “Rahmaniyyat“. Against the objection that the whole Qur’an was not revealed on that night, the answer is that the word Qur’an has been used in reference to the entire Qur’an, or to a part of it, or even to a single verse as we read: “When the Qu’ran is being recited, listen to it” (7:204). Here the whole Qur’an cannot be meant, but we are commanded to listen attentively when a part or a verse of the Qur’an is being recited. Thus, when it is said that the Qur’an was revealed on that night of Majesty, it does not necessarily mean, that the whole of the Qur’an was revealed. Even if one verse was revealed, the statement would still have been true – that the Qur’an was revealed on the Night of Majesty. The fact remains that the revelation of the Holy Qur’an extended over a period of twenty-three years and its verses were revealed in various places on different occasions. But that night when the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed will always be considered as the night on which the Qur’an was sent. The reason for this is that before that night there was no Qur’an on earth.

    Moving on to the next point.

    Laylatul Qadr literally means the “Night of Decree/Might”. It is a night which is of greater value than a thousand months (1,000 being the highest numerical figure in Arabic) and in which the angels descend upon the Earth and help to breath a new life into mankind. We also know from another place in the Holy Qur’an (44:4) that it is a “Blessed Night”.

    The words: “Therein descend angels and the Spirit” signify that the Angels of God descend to meet and satisfy every religious need and to remove all obstacles and impediments from the way of the expansion and spread of the new Message.

    The words “one thousand months” have several meanings two of which are that:

    1. as Laylatul Qadr is better than a countless number of nights this signifies that the period of the Holy Prophet is greater than all other periods combined;

    2. the rich content and value of the Holy Qur’an is greater in worth than the combined research and efforts of all learned men. This definition is derived from the word “Months”, which can also mean “learned men”.

    Again, if here we perceive a wider understanding, this could also signify, that when mankind reaches a point of darkness and is in need of reform, Allah answers their need by sending a new reformer. In relation to this a period of 1,000 months roughly amounts to a century and can thus be linked to the saying of the Holy Prophet: “Verily, God will continue for ever to raise for this Ummat in the beginning of every century one who Will restore for it its faith.” (Abu Dawud, Kitabul Fitan)

    Allah is described in the Holy Qur’an as the “Ever Merciful”, and such a verse personifies the magnificence of Allah’s infinite Mercy which is safeguarded for the remainder of mankind’s existence.

    Som other venue to be kept in mind, is that although this night, according to its common interpretation, is a “Blessed Night”, some of the verses of the Holy Qur’an indicate that the condition of the darkness of the world is also a „Night of Decree” on account of its hidden qualities. In that condition of darkness, sincerity and steadfastness, and piety and worship, have great value in the estimation of God. And it was because of that condition of darkness which at the time of the advent of the Holy Prophet had arrived at its climax and demanded the descent of a “Grand Light”, that observing this dark condition and having mercy on the creatures afflicted with darkness, there was an up-surge in the attribute of “Rahmaniyyat”, and heavenly blessings addressed themselves to the earth. That dark condition became blessed for the world and the world thereby received a grand mercy so that the “Perfect Man” and the Chief of the Prophets, like whom there had been no one, nor ever will be, came for the guidance of the world and brought that bright Book for the world, whose match no eye has beheld. It was a great manifestation of spiritual perfection of God that, at a time of gloom and darkness, He sent down a Grand Light which is named the “Furqan“, and which distinguishes between truth and falsehood and which demonstrated the coming of truth and the disappearance of falsehood. It descended upon the earth, when the earth had become spiritually dead and land and sea had been greatly corrupted. It should be remembered that the descent of the Holy Qur’an, which took place for the purpose of reviving the earth, came about through the upsurge of the attribute of “Rahmaniyyat”. This is the attribute which sometimes manifests itself in a material way and causes the rain of mercy to descend upon dry land and thus makes provision for those who are afflicted with famine. The same attribute sometimes surges up spiritually and has mercy on the condition of those who are hungry and thirsty and near unto death on account of misguidance and error, and lack the nourishment of truth and righteousness which is the source of spiritual life. Thus the “Gracious One”, as He bestows nourishment upon the body at the time of need, so of His Perfect Mercy He provides spiritual nourishment also at the time of need.

    The ultimate effect of a reformer being sent to the Earth is, that the world enters a period of peace as is alluded to in the concluding verse of Surah al-Qadr.

    Because the word “peace” stands for a complete sentence meaning, “it is all peace”. In the time of a Prophet or divine reformer, a peculiar kind of mental peace of equanimity descends upon the believers amidst hardships and privations. The heavenly happiness, which inspires believers at that time, transcends all material and sensuous joys.

    Therefore, the expression “it is all peace till the rising of the dawn” means, the passing of the night of hardships and the rising of the dawn of predominance and ascendancy of the cause of truth.

    Laylatul Qadr further has a significant meaning to each and every believer as it is a night in which a believer can benefit from great blessings. In a reported Ahadith the Holy Prophet said:

    ‘’Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.’’ (Bukhari, Vol.1, Bk.2, No. 34)

    In another hadith the Holy Prophet advises as to when one should seek Laylatul Qadr, saying:

    “Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Bukhari, Vol.3, Bk.32, No. 234)

    One reason behind the ambiguity of which night Lailatul Qadr falls upon, is to ensure that believers spend all of the last ten nights in “Ibaada” and do not simply ritualise one appointed night.

    The Holy Prophet said, whoever offers all their prayers during the month of Ramadan in congregation gleans a large portion of Laylatul Qadr. Therein is the significance that in order to experience this night one must maintain the highest standard of righteousness throughout the month, paying the dues of Allah and the dues of mankind.

    That much regarding interpretation.

    In the end, let me add, that in Islam the so-called philosophic problem of theodicy does not exist. That’s purely an (artificial) problem for believers or philosophers following a certain trait of thought within judeo-christian belief-systems. Thus, why to introduce such ideas to Islam, I wonder?

    I am sorry, this got a little bit long, as I can see now, and I very much hope you won’t mind. Thank you for bearing with me and your overall patience. 🙂

    Very best regards and a blessed Ramadhan to you,
    Salva

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  2. does the verse not say that we have revealed it .. Fi Laila tul Qadar and then goes on to say that it is better than a thousand months
    I

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  3. Reblogged this on 786 LOVE is all…all is LIGHT and commented:
    yes, Quran blesses all of us with the gifts of revelation. And it is a book filled with knowledge for those who seek it and who contemplate on it. And it is a book of peace for those who choose a path of peace (both peace within and as the peacemakers, offering others peace and being the peacemakers). And it is a healing book for those who seek to be healed and those hear God’s call to be healers.

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  4. yes, Quran blesses all of us with the gifts of revelation. And it is a book filled with knowledge for those who seek it and who contemplate on it. And it is a book of peace for those who choose a path of peace (both peace within and as the peacemakers, offering others peace and being the peacemakers). And it is a healing book for those who seek to be healed and those hear God’s call to be healers.

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    • So true I’ll say. People who are looking for conflicts/war/violence are taking the Quran as guidance into it (with the moto-if you are not with me,then you are against me).
      N those who are praying for peace for the Humanity/ coexistence/ mutual accepting an understanding-God help us in carying such cause as the first ones are the majority.
      Diferent philosophy, diferent Quranic interpretations.

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      • Quran is in many ways a mirror of the heart. It shows us who we are. When Allah shows unbeliever what the unbeliever sees…I wonder if Allah is not so much showing the distance, but an opportunity for coming nearer.

        About a week ago, I had a conversation in a comment section online with some people who were very against Islam and by offering them verses of peace and kindness and by reflecting the verses in my own behavior…they accepted me for who I was. They weren’t able to see that many Muslims are like me…but it made an opening. We can’t warm cold hearts with cold. I try to show them the warmth that is there. Huuuuu. Subhanallah!

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      • Indeed, I’ve witnessed that as well! I once came across an Islamophobe who was extremely disrespectful towards me, because of my faith. I didn’t give into that weak moment, thinking it would only cement his position of Muslims being violent. Instead, I spoke to him very respectfully, and within a couple of minutes, his tone changed, and he apologized for his behavior.

        Applying the Quranic commandments is what brings us near God, for we are able to witness its truth!

        As God says, “The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity will become as though he was a bosom friend.” (Holy Quran 41:34) ❤

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