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In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 97

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 97
Syed Qutb

            In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful!

  We revealed it (the Qur'an) on the Night of Power. Would that you
  knew what the Night of Power is like. Better is the Night of Power
  than • thousand months. On that night the angels and the Spirit
  descend by their Lord's permission, with all His decrees. That
  night is peace, till the break of dawn.

Th!s surah speaks about the promised great night which the whole
umverse marked with joy and prayers. It is the night of perfect com-
munion between this world and the Highest Society. It is the night
which marked the beginning of the revelation of the Qur'an to
Muhammad (peace be on him), an event unparalleled in the history
of mankind for Its splendour and the significance it has for the life of
mankind as a whole. Its greatness is far beyond human realisation
"We revealed it on the Night of Power. Would that you knew what the
Night of Power is like. Better is the Night of Power than a thousand

The Qur'anic statements which relate this great event radiate with
Allahs clear and shining light: "We revealed it on the Night of
power. There is also the light of the angels and the Spirit moving be-
between the earth and the Highest Society. "On that night the angels and
the Spirit descend by their Lord 's permission with all His decrees." In
addition, there is also the light of dawn which the surah represents as
perfectly harmonious with the light of the Qur'an and the angels as
well as with the spirit of peace: " That night is peace, till the break of
The night in question here is the same night referred to in surah 44,
(Smoke) We revealed it (the Qur'an) on a blessed night, for We
would warn (mankind), on a night when every precept was made plain as
a commandment from us. We have ever sent forth messengers as a
blessing from your Lord, who hears all and knows all. " It is established
that it is a night in the month of Ramadhan, as stated in surah 2
("The Cow"): "In the month of Ramadhan the Qur'an was revealed, a
book of guidance distinguishing right from wrong. " This means that
the Night of Power marked the beginning of the revelation of the
Quran to the Prophet and his charge of conveying it to mankind

Ibn Ishaq related that the first revelation, consisting of the opening
of surah 96, ("The Blood Clots"), took place in the month of Rama-
dhan, when the Messenger of Allah was at his devotion in the cave of

A number of traditions specifying this night have come down to
us: some stress that It is the twenty-seventh of Ramadhan, others the
twenty-first; a few others say it is one of the last ten days and some
others do not go beyond saying that it is in Ramadhan.

Its title "The Night of Power" may be taken to mean assignment
designation and organisation, or it may mean value, position and
rank. Both meanings are relevant to that great universal event of the
revelation of the Qur'an and the assigning of the message to the
Prophet. For it is the greatest and most precious of all events which the
universe has witnessed. It is also the event which explains more
clearly than any other the place of assignment, designation and
organisation in the life of mankind. This night is better than a
thousand months. The figure here and elsewhere in the Qur'an does not
signify its precise number. It simply denotes a very high number.
Many thousand months and many thousand years have passed with-
out leaving behind a fraction of the changes and results brought
about in that blessed and happy night.

This night is of an essence too sublime to be understood by human
intellect: " Would that you knew what the Night of Power is like. "
There is no reason to attach any value to the legends circulating
among the masses concerning this night. It is great because Allah has
chosen it for the revelation of the Qur'an, so that its light may spread
throughout the universe, and Divine peace may spread in human life
and conscience. That night is great because of what the Qur'an in-
cludes: an ideology, a basis for values and standards and a compre-
hensive code of moral and social behaviour, all of which promote
peace within the human soul and in the world at large. It is great be-
cause of the descent of the angels, and Jibril in particular, by their
Lord's permission carrying the Qur'an which was first sent down on
that night. They fill all the space between heaven and earth in such a
splendid, universal celebration, vividly portrayed in this surah.

When we look today in retrospect, after the lapse of numerous
generations, at that glorious and happy night, and imagine the fasci-
nating celebration the world witnessed on that night, and ponder
over the essence of revelation and its far-reaching effects on human
life and its values we appreciate the greatness of this event. We can
then understand, io some extent, why the Qur'anic reference to that
night is made in such an equivocal way: " Would that you knew what
the Night of Power is like ".

On that night every matter of significance was made plain and dis-
tinct; new values and standards were established; the fortunes of
nations were determined; and values and standards were sifted.

Humanity, out of ignorance and to its misfortune, may overlook
the value and importance of the Night of Power. When humanity
ignores all that, it loses the happiest and most beautiful sign of grace
which Allah bestowed on it. It loses the real happiness and peace
gifted to it by Islam, namely, the peace of conscience, family and
society. What it has otherwise gained of material civilisation cannot be
adequate compensation for its loss. Humanity is miserable in spite of
higher production levels and better means of existence. The splendid
light which once illuminated its soul has been put off; the brilliant
touch of happiness which carried it high up to the Highest Society
has been smothered; the peace which overflowed on the hearts and
minds has disappeared. Nothing can compensate for the happiness
of the soul, the heavenly light and the elevation to the loftiest ranks.

We, the believers in Islam, are commanded not to forget or
neglect this event. The Prophet has taught us an easy and enjoyable
way to commemorate that night, so that our souls may always be in
close communion with it and with the universal event which took
place in it. He has urged us to spend this night of each year in devo-
tion. He said "Seek the Night of Power in the last ten nights of
Ramadhan." 'He who spends the Night of Power in worship, with a
pure motive of faith and devotion, will have all his past sins forgiven."
Islam is not mere formalities. Hence, the Prophet specified that
the consecration of that night must be motivated by faith and devo-
tion. This would make its consecration by an individual an indi-
cation of his full awareness of the far-reaching effects of what took
place in that night.

The Islamic method of character building links worship with faith
and the truth it establishes in the heart and conscience of the indi-
vidual. In this method, worship is considered a means for main-
taining full awareness of this truth, its clarification and firm
establishment in one's mind, heart and soul. This method has been
proved to be the best for the revival of this truth so that it may have a
constant influence on men's consciences and behaviour. The theor-
etical understanding of this truth cannot, on its own and without
worship, establish it or give it the necessary impetus for its operation
in the life of the individual or the life of the society. This link between
the anniversary of the Night of Power and its consecration in faith
and devotion is a part of the successful and upright method of Islam .





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