The surah Qadr is famous for its declaration regarding the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr), during which the Quran was first revealed. This is universally believed to have occurred during the month of Ramadan, as stated in (2:185): The month of Ramadan is that wherein the Quran was sent down as guidance to mankind, as clear proofs of guidance, and as the Criterion. Muslims maintain that the Night of Power comes again every year. Many reports say that the Night of Power occurs during the last ten nights of Ramadan). On the basis of another Hadith, most maintain that it occurs on one of the odd-numbered of these last ten nights: “Look for the Night of Power in the last ten nights of Ramadan, on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.”
“We have sent it (the Qur’an) down in the Night of Qadr. And what may let you know what the Night of Qadr is? The Night of Qadr is much better than one thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend in it, with the leave of your Lord, along with every command. Peace it is till the rising of dawn.”(97:1-5).
Ibn Abi Hatim has reported from Mujahid (as mursal hadith) that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was told about a Mujahid [warrior in the cause of religion] from amongst the Children of Israel who carried weapons of war on his shoulders for a thousand months during which time he never laid down his arms. The Companions were amazed when they heard this. On that occasion, this Surah was revealed which describes that worship in the Night of Qadr granted to this Ummah exceeds by more than a thousand months of jihad persistently fought by that warrior. According to another narration of Mujahid cited in Ibn Jarir, a worshipper from among the Children of Israel used to worship Allah (SWT) the whole night, and as soon as the dawn broke, he would arm himself and fight the whole day. This continued consecutively for a thousand months. This Surah was thus revealed. This shows the superiority of the Ummah of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and that the Night of Qadr is a special characteristic of this ummah. [Mazhari].
Meaning of The Night of Qadr: One meaning of the word Qadr is greatness, honour or dignity'. Zuhri and other scholars have assigned this meaning to it. The night is called the Night of Qadr because it is a night of greatness, honour, majesty and dignity. Abu Bakr Warraq has stated that this night is so called 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 unrighteous life he might have led. Another meaning of the word Qadr is 'predestination'. From this point of view, the night is so called because the destiny of individuals and nations that was decided in pre-eternity is assigned to the relevant angels who are appointed for cosmic planning. Every man's age, death, sustenance, rain and other things are measured out to the angels to be implemented for a complete year from one month of Ramadan to another.
It is clearly stated in [44:3-51] “We have sent it down in a blessed night, (because) We had to warn (people). [31 In that (night), every wise thing is decided  through a command from Us. We were to send the Messenger [51. (44:3-5)'Laylatun Mubarakah' or the 'blessed', according to overwhelming scholars of the Qur'an, refers to the Night of Qadr. The angels record and descend with whatever Allah (SWT) has destined or decreed for the coming year. Some scholars hold that the 'blessed night' in 44: 3 refers to the fifteenth night of Sha'ban, that is, 'Laylatul Bara'ah ' or the 'Night of Immunity. This view may be reconciled with the former one by holding that the initial Divine decrees are decided on the Night of Immunity, and the details are recorded and handed over to the relevant angels on the Night of Qadr. This is supported by a narration of Ibn 'Abbas (RA) which Baghawi has recorded on the authority of Abud-Duha which states that Allah (SWT) decrees all cosmic matters on the Night of Immunity, but they are only handed over to the relevant angels on the Night of Qadr. [Mazhari].
It is explicitly stated in the Qur'an that the Night occurs in the blessed or auspicious month of Ramadan, but its exact date has not been disclosed. As a result, it is disputed and debated among scholars. There are about forty opinions recorded. Mazhari states that the most authentic opinion is that the Night of Qadr occurs in the last ten nights of Ramadan, but no specific date has been fixed. It could be any of the last ten odd nights which may alternate from year to year. According to authentic Traditions, it could be one of the following nights: 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29. Thus all the apparently conflicting Traditions relating to the odd nights are reconciled. All the Traditions pertaining to the date of the Night are authentic, and there is no need for any convoluted interpretation. Most eminent jurists - like Aba Qilabah, Imam MaIik, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, SufyanThawri, Ishaq Ibn Rahwaih, Abu Thawr, Muzani; Ibn Khuzaymah and others - agree that the Night occurs in the last ten odd nights, alternating.
Imam Shafi’i has two opinions. In one he sides with the majority, and in another he holds that the night is fixed and does not alternate. [Ibn Kathir].Sayyidah ‘A’ishah’s (RA) narration is recorded in Sahih of Bukhari; according to which the Messenger of Allah (SAW) is reported to have said: “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan." Ibn 'Umar (RA) narrates, as recorded in Sahih Muslim, that the Messenger of Allah said: "Search for it in the last ten odd nights of Ramadan." [Mazhari].The greatest virtue of the Night is mentioned in the Surah itself, that is, the acts of worship performed in this single night is better than worship in one thousand months which amounts to eighty-three years and four months. The figure here and elsewhere in the Qur’an does not signify its precise number, but simply denotes a very large or high number. Allah (SWT) alone knows how much more or better.
It is recorded in Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "He who spends the Night of Qadr in the worship of Allah, all his past sins will be forgiven." Sayyidna Ibn 'Abbas (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "All the angels resident at the 'Lote Tree of the Uttermost Boundary' descend in the leadership of Sayyidna Jibrael and greet every believer, man or woman, except one who takes wine or eats pork."Another narration reports that anyone who is deprived of the good of the Night of Qadr is in fact deprived of all good. On the Night of Qadr some people experience and witness special anwar [lights]. However, it may be noted that this is not experienced or witnessed by all and sundry nor is it part of the blessings and reward of the Night. Therefore, people should not concern themselves about it. [97:4] “The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the leave of their Lord, with every command.” Cf. 44:3–4. On this night the angels descend to bless and bring peace to the believers, although many ahadith affirm that this function is not restricted to this night, but only more effulgent in it.
Most interpret the Spirit as a reference to the Archangel Gabriel, who is the angel of revelation); others say it is a reference to a type of angel, those who are the most noble of them (Shawkani), which some say are the angels at the lote tree of the boundary); others say this verse refers to a special group of angels whose only function is to descend on this night ; still others say the Spirit refers to another archangel. It can also be seen as a reference to God’s Mercy (ra?mah). Therein (fiha) could also be taken to mean “among them,” meaning that the Spirit descends with the angels (Alusi). By the leave of their Lord is interpreted by some to mean “by the Command of their Lord” (Shawkani), as in 19:64, where the angels say, We descend not, save by the Command of thy Lord (Razi). With every command, or “with every decree,” has many interpretations. The most prevalent is that it means on account of everything that God has ordained (qa?a) for the following year (Ba?awi, Shawkani, ?abari); see 44:3–5.
An alternate reading of this verse is min kulliimri?in, meaning, “for every human being” (Ba?awi, Shawkani, ?abari).[97:5] “peace it is until the break of dawn.” Many say this verse refers to greetings of peace that the angels bestow upon those who spend this night in prayer (Ibn Kathir, Razi, Shawkani). Others say it indicates that this night itself is naught but peace (Ba?awi,Shawkani), which is interpreted to mean that there is no evil in this night whatsoever (Alusi, Ibn Kathir, Razi). Some say it indicates that there is peace in everything that God decrees or ordains for the following year during this night (Alusi). It can also be seen as conveying the pregnant quietude that precedes the emergence of the Divine Word in the human world and by analogy the stillness of heart required for the true remembrance of God.)
Sayyidah 'A'ishah (RA) once asked the Messenger of Allah (SAW) what supplication she should make if she finds the Night. The Messenger (SAW) of Allah (SWT) advised her to make the following supplication:"0 Allah! Verily, You are the Oft-Pardoning, You love to pardon, so do pardon me." [Qurtubi].
(The Author is Director International Center for Spiritual Studies, Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora Pulwama. Former Director, Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir Srinagar. He can be reached on email@example.com)