Lailat-ul-Qadr, The Night of Majesty

Friday Khutba by Dr Zahid Aziz, for Lahore Ahmadiyya UK, 5 April 2024

1Surely We revealed it (i.e., the Quran) on the Night of Majesty — 2And what will make you comprehend what the Night of Majesty is? 3The Night of Majesty is better than a thou­sand months. 4The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord — for every affair — 5Peace! it is till the rising of the morning.” — ch. 97

اِنَّاۤ  اَنۡزَلۡنٰہُ  فِیۡ  لَیۡلَۃِ  الۡقَدۡرِ ۚ﴿ۖ۱  وَ مَاۤ  اَدۡرٰىکَ مَا لَیۡلَۃُ  الۡقَدۡرِ ؕ﴿۲﴾  لَیۡلَۃُ  الۡقَدۡرِ ۬ۙ خَیۡرٌ  مِّنۡ  اَلۡفِ شَہۡرٍ ؕ﴿ؔ۳﴾ تَنَزَّلُ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ وَ الرُّوۡحُ  فِیۡہَا بِاِذۡنِ رَبِّہِمۡ ۚ مِنۡ  کُلِّ  اَمۡرٍ ۙ﴿ۛ۴﴾   سَلٰمٌ ۟ۛ ہِیَ حَتّٰی مَطۡلَعِ  الۡفَجۡرِ ٪﴿۵

This is chapter 97 of the Holy Quran, which is about the Night of Majesty or Power, Lailat-ul-Qadr. This was the night, falling in the last ten days of Rama­dan, when the Quran was revealed for the first time. The chapter before this, ch. 96, begins with the verses of the very first revelation that came to the Holy Prophet. Suitably, the first verse of this chapter tells us when that first revelation came.

Many Ulama of Islam take the word “it” in the verse “Surely We revealed it on the Night of Majesty” to mean the whole of the Quran, and say that the entire Quran was revealed during that night. But then they are forced to explain how was it that the Quran reached people over a long period of 23 years? They came up with the explana­tion that on this night the whole of the Quran was indeed revealed but it only descended up to the first heaven, the heaven which is closest to the earth out of the seven heavens. Then, they say, it came into the world from there, gradually over the period of 23 years that we all know about.

However, there is no need to make up such a far-fetched and baseless explanation. “We have revealed it” here means just its first revelation. Any part of the Quran can be called the Quran. On three occasions the Quran mentions the recital of the Quran (7:204, 17:45, 17:78), for example, it says: “when you recite the Quran”. That does not mean reciting the whole of the Quran, but reciting something out of it.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad, before his appoint­ment as Messenger of God, undertook rigorous devotions and worship in the cave of Hira outside Makkah every year for a number of years in the month of Ramadan. These devotions included fasting for long periods of time and even his forgetting to eat when he was not fasting. It was after such intense and extended spiritual exertions by him by means of prayer, ponder­ing and fasting that, at the age of forty years, when he was in that cave of Hira, the Quran began to be revealed to him.

It was to his heart that the Quran was revealed by the descent of angels and the Spirit. By “Spirit” is meant the angel Gabriel or Jibrīl. In another place the Quran clearly mentions the heart of the Holy Prophet as receiving the revelation:

وَ اِنَّہٗ لَتَنۡزِیۡلُ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۲﴾ؕ نَزَلَ بِہِ الرُّوۡحُ الۡاَمِیۡنُ ﴿۱۹۳﴾ۙ  عَلٰی قَلۡبِکَ لِتَکُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡمُنۡذِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۴  بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِیٍّ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۱۹۵﴾ؕ

“And surely this is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. The faithful Spirit has brought it, on your heart that you may be a warner, (it is) in plain Arabic lan­guage.” — 26:192–195.

The descending of the angels is always expe­rienced in the hearts of humans, and this applies also to the coming of the angels in Lailat-ul-Qadr. In Surah al-Qadr, salām or “peace” is mentioned after the coming of the angels. There is a verse of the Quran in which sakīna or “tranquillity” is mentioned as coming to the believers: “He it is Who sent down tranquillity (sakīna) into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith to their faith” (48:4). That peace (salām) or tranquillity (sakīna), sent by Allah, brings satisfaction to their hearts that they are on the right path and they will succeed, not fail. Thus their faith becomes all the more.

As the revelation of the Quran commenced in the month of Ramadan, hence Islam instituted fasting in this month as a commemoration and anniversary of the revelation of the Quran. So there is a connection between fasting and the revelation of the Word of God to the human heart. In case of the Holy Prophet, the connection is that the Quran actually began to be revealed to the world through him after his hard fasting. Verse 4 of Surah al-Qadr says: “The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord — for every affair”. The Holy Prophet had been exerting himself mentally and spiritually in the cave of Hira to find solutions to the problems of humanity. Then Divine revelation came to him, which was going to inform him of the solution of all the momentous problems, “for every affair”. His anguished mind was set at peace and rest thereby during that night. Then the dawn came, and it was time to go out to people and teach them what God had taught the Holy Prophet.

Now the word qadr, the name of this night, which we translate as “majesty”, “power” or “glory”, also means “destiny” or “decree”. From that meaning, and also from the words “for every affair”, people have wrongly concluded that on this Night Allah decides all His decrees or destiny for the next year as to what will happen in the world, who will live, who will die, what livelihood a person will get, etc. On one Islamic website ( it is stated: “It is the Night when our destiny is decreed for the next year. There is only one thing that the Prophet said can change Divine Decree, and that is dua! So what better time to make dua than on the Night that all the Decrees are sent down?” It is quite true that a person’s dua or supplication can change what Allah has decreed for him. But according to the very basic teachings of Islam dua can be done at any time of the year, night or day, and be accepted. So it is a mistake to think that Allah settles decrees on one night for the whole of the next year, and only on that night can we entreat Him about what He has willed to happen to us. And after that night, Allah, as it were, closes His office for another year.

I mentioned above the connection between the Holy Prophet’s fasting and revelation coming to Him. There is also a connection for Mus­lims in general between  fasting and revelation from God. And that is that in the month of fasting we should strive to increase our knowledge and under­stand­ing of that revelation, i.e., the Quran, and then with our minds at peace, and our hearts satisfied from all doubts, we should take that knowledge to the world in broad daylight.

The coming of the angels on the night of every Lailat-ul-Qadr is a spiritual experience. People perceive and experience it according to how much they have striven beforehand to purify themselves and open their hearts to receive the angels. If you did not strive for it, you don’t see it on its arrival. It does not happen that praying during just this night brings reward equal to, or more than, prayers of a thousand months. A thousand months is about 83 years literally, or close to the physical life span of man. If we exert our­selves throughout Ramadan, then by the time Lailat-ul-Qadr comes we may have developed enough strength to bring about some permanent change for the good within ourselves. We may have developed some realization of God in our souls which brings us permanently near to Him than before. Then that night of realization will be better for us than a whole physical life of 83 years. One single night in which spiritual life is born inside a person is better than a whole lifetime spent only in material and physical pursuits.

So to make Lailat-ul-Qadr better than a thousand months lies in our own hands. All periods of time, like a day or a night, are equal in the forgiveness we can get from God, prayers that are accepted, and favours we can receive from Him. What makes them less or more in their value is how earnestly we turn to God at that time and what is our own condition. Towards the end of Ramadan we should have developed a condition which makes us turn our hearts fervently and passionately towards God.

Lailat-ul-Qadr is better than a thousand months, but still it needs to come every year! How many Lailat-ul-Qadrs have passed in our lives already? Added up together, they would be better than a few thousand years! It comes every year because each time it can give us a step up from what we achieved before. There is no limit or end to the process of getting rid of our faults and of becoming better and better.

Apart from being a night in the last days of Rama­dan, Lailat-ul-Qadr can also be considered as the whole period of the mission of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. It was a time of the deepest darkness, in which the Quran was revealed, borne by angels. The angels also descended on the hearts of the Muslims in that period, purifying them and streng­thening their faith. The true believers are spoken of as follows in the Quran:

“These are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and strengthened them with a Spirit from Himself…” — 58:22

At the end of this period of the Holy Prophet’s work, there was a dawn in the world and spiritual peace in the hearts. The great spiritual and moral pro­gress that Muslims made during this period — people giving up evil habits, bad practices and customs, in an instant in some cases — they could not have achieved any aspect of it even in a thousand months out­side the blessed period of the Holy Prophet.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writes:

“God the Most High says in Surah al-Qadr, in fact He gives the glad tidings to the believers, that His Word and His Prophet were sent down from heaven in the Lailat-ul-Qadr. And every reformer and Mujaddid who comes from God descends during the Lailat-ul-Qadr. Do you know what Lailat-ul-Qadr is? It is the name of that dark age whose blackness is total and complete. That period, by its very nature, demands the descent of a heavenly light to dispel the dark­ness. It has been figuratively called Lailat-ul-Qadr, but it is not in fact a night. It is an age which resembles the night because of its darkness. … in this Lailat-ul-Qadr descend the angels of God the Most High and the Holy Spirit from heaven, accom­panying that reformer, by the permission of the Lord, not without purpose but in order to reach the responsive hearts and to open up the ways of peace. So they remain engaged in opening all the pathways and lifting all the veils until the darkness of indifference disappears and the dawn of guidance breaks.” (Fath-i Islam)

There is in the world today a time of deep darkness for Islam. To the ordinary eye the future prospects for Islam do not seem bright as there are two major evils prevail­ing and dominating: the outside forces who have a wrong picture of Islam before them and the internal forces who also have a similar wrong concept of Islam. It is also a period of dark­ness for our Movement, facing so many dangers, so much opposition and such serious threats of all kinds to its existence. But this night is not depressing. It is magnificent because in this very period we possess the light and guidance that has been brought to us by angels in the form of the picture of Islam pre­sented by this Movement. That guidance has brought peace (salām-un) to our hearts. Our task is to spread that light until the darkness is replaced by the outbreak of dawn.

Let us pray that Allah grants us success in receiving peace in our hearts and in taking that message of peace to others, ameen.