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Holy Quran and other scriptures were revealed during Ramadan

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

In Islam, there are some specific days, nights, and months, that are exceedingly meaningful and highly rewarding for prayers. As per the Holy Qur’an, the best amongst those auspicious occasions is Shab-e-Qadr—Laylat-ul-Qadr or The Night of the Decree. Allah says in the Qur’an: “The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months” (Surah Al-Qadr: 3).

The night was chosen to reveal the Qur’an to all mankind through the holy Prophet in the Cave of Hira. As it comes with an abundance of divine bounties and spiritual blessings, Shab-e-Qadr assumes great significance for the Muslims in India during the last 10 days Of Ramzan, called the third Ashra or Ashra-e-Nijat (10 days of seeking salvation). These days also bring joy and festive flavour to the Indian sub-continent with the end of Ramazan and the expectations about Eid-ul-Fitr approaching.

Once, one of the Prophet’s companions Abdullah bin Anas asked him: O Prophet, what is the Night of Power? The Prophet answered: “If I was to tell you which night it is, then you would quit all days and nights to pray in that night only. You wouldn’t do anything else”.

With the whole night being spent in divine invocations and remembrance (zikr), this holy night is also one of the mystical nights in Islam. Popularly known in India by its Persian name Shab-e-Qadr (meaning the ‘night of power’), it is believed to fall on any of these odd nights: the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, or 29th of the final days of Ramazan.

In Urdu, Persian, and Arabic, Nijat or Nejat means deliverance from errors or sins. Thus, Shab-e-Qadr is also a harbinger of salvation and spiritual liberation. On these nights of Ramazan, especially on the 27th, it is believed that Allah descends from heaven and forgives all sinners.

Most Hadith scholars and Qur’an exegetes and commentators believe that Shab-e-Qadr is most probably on the 27th night of Ramazan. Thus, this year it would be the night of the 8 April. However, it is encouraged to seek the Night of Power in all these odd nights and not just the 27th. The Sufi insight on Shab-e-Qadr, however, is deeper and more meaningful. Once Hazrat Muhammad Saleh asked his father, an eminent Sufi saint of his times, Imam Ahmed Al-Kabir Al-Rifa’i: when is actually the Night of the Decree (Laylatul Qadr)? He replied: My son! If the mirror of your insight becomes clear with the true thought, every time of yours would be like the Night of Decree. Source: Al-Fajr Al-Munir by Imam Muhammad Abu Al-Huda Al-Sayyadi Al-Rifa’i).

Similar words of wisdom were expressed by the Grand-Sheikh in the modern Sufi order of Naqshbandiyya—Sheikh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Kubrusi al-Haqqani, a Turkish-Cypriot Sufi saint. He heard his first spiritual master (Murshid) say: “Consider every night as the Night of Power and every person as Khidir (a potentially immortal wise man)”. 

He meant that everyone should be respected as a Friend of God (Wali), and mandatory prayers must not be missed out on any single night. This is the deeper Sufi insight into this most Powerful Night. Shab-e-Qadr from a Sufi point of view is not just the night of power and decree but also an opportune time for one’s salvation, spiritual liberation, and deliverance.

Shab-e-Qadr is so sacred in Islam that even searching for this night is equal in importance to praying during it. The most important reason is the revelation of the holy Qur’an in it. But another distinct virtue of this night is that the Angels and the Spirit (Rooh) also descend on this night, as mentioned in Qur’an (97:4). There are various interpretations of how, where, and when the Holy Qur’an was revealed on this night. The common belief is that the Qur’an descended from the Preserved Tablet (Lauh-e-Mahfooz) to the Heaven of this world (Aasman-e-Dunya) on Shab-e-Qadr. It descended there and then the Angel Gabreil (Jibril) brought it to the Prophet part by part.

Other scriptures and holy books were also reportedly revealed in Ramadan. Allah sent the books to His Major Prophets (Rasool) during the Ramadan only—including the books that descended upon Abraham, and Torah which descended upon Moses, Psalms, and the Holy Bible. They descended on the 6th, 12th, and 16th of Ramadan according to some Qura’nic commentaries. However, the Quran which was also revealed in Ramadan, came down in the Night of Power—Laylatul Qadr. Therefore, Muslims celebrate it on the night of the 27th, though, but it could be a different night.

Some of the authentic traditions of how the Qur’an was transferred from Lawh-e-Mahfuz to the memory of Prophet Muḥammad were relayed by prominent Sufi scholar of the Qur’an Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti. He explains the process of the divine revelation in his magnum opus, al-Itqān fī ‘ulūm al-Qur’an, an encyclopedia of Qur’anic sciences, in this order:

1) On the Night of Power, God brought the Qur’an in its totality down to the lowest heaven, after which He revealed it in parts over a period of 20, 23, or 25 years.

2) The Qur’an descended in its totality on the Night of Power, and it was between the spheres of the stars. Then God revealed it to His messenger part after part.

3) In one night (Shab-e-Qadr), the Qur’an descended towards the lowest heaven, after which it was revealed over 20 years.

4) The Qur’an was separated from the Dhikr and was placed within the Abode of Glory (Bayt al-ʿizza) in the lowest heaven, after which Gabriel revealed it to the Prophet.

5) The Qur’an was given to Gabriel who placed it within the Abode of Glory, after which he brought it down to earth in parts.

All Muslims, more or less, feel a sense of sadness when Ramazan ends. However, the best thing we could do on this occasion is to take an account of ourselves on the Night of Power. We need to evaluate where we stand now after remaining hungry and thirsty for so long. We should ask ourselves certain questions like where we were before the arrival of Ramazan and where we are moving now after passing the thirty days of fasting. Let this self-introspection lead us to feel infinite happiness for the good we have done throughout the month and remorse for the bad which we have not yet changed, even at the end of Ramazan.

ALSO READWhy is the night of 27th Ramadan an extraordinary event this year, explains Tanseem Kausar

One of the best times to do this evaluation is the last part of this powerful night, as reported by Abu Hurayrah in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim. He quoted the holy Prophet as saying: “When the last one-third of the night remains, our Lord, the Glorious One descends towards the lower heaven and proclaims: Is there anyone supplicating to Me, so that I grant his supplication? Is there anyone asking Me for anything so that I grant him his wish? Is there anyone who seeks My forgiveness, so that I forgive him?”

The Author is a Sufi Scholar

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