Surah Qadr (The Power
Mainly due to the remaining nights of the blessed month of Ramadhān, I have been reading through Imām Fakhr al-Din al-Rāzīs’ (D.1209/606 AH) ‘Mafātīhul Ghaib’ (The Key to the Unknown). It is one of the most extensive commentaries on the Qur’ān, running to eight volumes in quarto and known more popularly as simply ‘al Tafsīr al Kabīr’ (The Great Commentary).
I have been reading his commentary of Surah Qadr (The Power), Anyone familiar with his works will vouch for his love of scholastic debates (There are perfectly good reasons for this given the historical milieu he was in) and the manner in which he weaves through the meanings of the Qur’ān. Below, I have attempted to make a number of brief notes from his commentary. This is just a summary with some observations, for I can never dream of doing justice to such a masterful work. Insha’Allāh, I’ll add more later.
1. The Mufasirūn (The exegetes of the Qur’ān) are unanimous when God (May He Be Exalted) opens the Surah by stating: “Indeed, We sent it down during the Night of Decree”, the ‘it’ here is referring to the Qur’ān. This is because God (May He Be Exalted) has ascribed the revelation to Himself and this can only mean the exalted Qur’ān. Secondly, the act of revelation is specific to God (May He Be Exalted) and no-one else. Thirdly, the time of revelation (i.e. Night of Decree) makes it clear that this can only mean the Qur’ān.
2. This is for the grammarians. The use of the particle of emphasis in the first person plural as opposed to first person singular here is used to emphasise the exaltedness and loftiness of the Qur’ān. (I have intentionally left this part sparse, if you want to read more, I recommend you look at the commentary itself).
3. The Qur’ān was not revealed in its entirety on this night. Imām Sha’bi says what it does mean is that the process of revelation began on this night. Ibn Abbās further mentions that the entire Qur’ān was brought down to the earthly heaven (from The Preserved Tablet) on this night and then revealed to mankind piecemeal (over a period of twenty three years).
4. There are varying reasons as to why this night was named ‘Qadr’. Firstly, and the one that is preferred by the majority of the scholars, is that of ‘predestination’. What this means is that the destiny of individuals and nations decided in pre-eternity is assigned to the relevant angels. The age, death, sustenance, rain and other things are measured out to the angels to be implemented for a complete year from month of Ramadhān to another. The second reason, ascribed to Imām Zuhrī and others is that it is a night of greatness, honour, majesty and dignity. This is because a person becomes a man of honour and dignity on account of repentance, seeking pardon and righteous acts during this night, whilst prior to this he might have lacked honour and dignity on account of an unrighteous life he may have led.
Insha’Allāh, time permitting I shall continue with this later. This is sufficient to digest for now.
And only Allāh knows best.