Imam Mahdi (as) and Night of Decree

Shabe’ Qadr or The Night of Decree is regarded as the most important and sacred night in the Islamic calendar. Among all nights and days of the year, this night holds the highest position. Holy Quran has declared it better than a thousand nights i.e. worship in this night is better than that of a little over 83 years.

It is the most important night for Muslims – be it the 19th, 21st, or 23rd night according to Shiahs, or 27th night of the month of Ramazan according to Ahle Sunnah. Regardless of the disagreement on the date, the significance of this night is accepted by all. On this night, special arrangements for worship are made in mosques and other places of worship. People generally spend the entire night in worship.

Destiny is decree on this blessed night

This night is important because destiny is written in this night. Life and death, sustenance, children, marriage, dignity, honor, disgrace, rains, famine, flood, war, unrest and all that would occur in this world is decreed in this night.

The Holy Quran has explained this reality in the following words, “The angels and Jibraeel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair”. (Chapter 97 verse 3)

The word “for every affair” is explained in the 2nd and 3rd verse of Surah Dukhan – “Surely We revealed it on a blessed night, surely We are ever warning. Therein every wise affair is made distinct.”

Merits of the Night of Decree

The Night of Decree arrives every year and bears two very important merits,

The first one is related to the revelation of Quran, which contains everything – wet or dry. Secondly, Holy Quran has all the information of changes about everything since the day of creation. The progress of time depends on years, months and days. These changes with time and their indications are understood only by those entrenched in knowledge. Therefore all changes that would occur during the year are scribed in a scroll brought down from the heaven to the earth by an angel. The Archangel, who is also known as Spirit (Ruh), descends at a point and fulfills his responsibilities. We will provide additional explanation about this event.

The Night of Decree arrives every year. Muslims, who make arrangements for this every year, also narrate its reality. Revelation of the Holy Quran is mentioned as an event of the past since the word is used in its past tense, “Surely We revealed it on the grand night.”

In the Surah Dukhan as well, the past tense is used,  “Surely We revealed it on a blessed night.”

However, the coming down of angels and affixing of destiny is mentioned in the present tense.

“The angels and Jibraeel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair.”

In Surah Dukhan as well, the distribution of affairs and destiny is mentioned in its present tense. “Therein every wise affair is made distinct.”

Scholars know that present tense is used to explain an event of continuity and sequence. Since revelation of Quran was a past event and a completed affair at a specific time, and is not ongoing, past tense was used for its revelation. But the descent of the angels and the distribution of affairs and destiny is a continuous affair and hence present tense is used.

“The angels and Jibraeel descend… and… Therein every wise affair is made distinct” are both used in the present tense and prove that this is an ongoing event.

Another important aspect is that this Night of Decree is not only an existing and continuous affair but also a great bounty from Allah. It is narrated from Holy Prophet (sawa), The Almighty Allah has bestowed the great bounty – the Night of Decree – only to my nation, while He has not granted this privilege to other nations. (Tafseere Namuna volume 27 page 190)

A Night in the Blessed Month

To add to its importance is that it is one of the nights in the holy month of Ramazan and not in the remaining 11 months. Allah revealed in the 185th verse of Surah Baqarah, “The month of Ramazan is that in which the Quran was revealed.”

It is mentioned in Surah Qadr, “Surely We revealed it on the grand night.”

In Surah Dukhaan it is said, “Surely We revealed it on a blessed night.”

This confirms that the Night of Decree is a part of the blessed month.

Significance of this Night

Almighty Allah placed infinite reward for worship in the holy month of Ramazan. Even the breath of a fasting person is glorification, while his sleep is considered worship. On the other hand, forgiveness of our sins, relief from severities of the judgment day, passing over the bridge of Serat and entry in Paradise, all of these would be an outcome of otherwise many good actions. Therefore, Allah’s mercy and grace demanded that the Night of Decree was kept hidden within a few nights so that on this pretext we perform few more good actions and increase our reward.

Therefore, it was mentioned that it is among the odd nights of the last ten days of the holy month of Ramazan. Sometimes it was mentioned as one of the nights from 19th, 21st or 23rd of the holy month. Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) has mentioned about the three nights in the following manner,

“Affairs are decided in the 19th night. On 21st night a ruling is made and on the 23rd a final verdict is passed for execution.” (Al-Kafi volume 4 page 159 tradition no. 9]

We are heedless of the great bounties of these nights and hence do not utilize our time even during these three nights completely for worship. We must ponder that these nights are the best means of our forgiveness. Especially, the grief about the martyrdom of Ameerul Momineen (as) is an important means for us to acquire proximity of Allah. We must consider these nights as transient and by the intercession of Aale Mohammed (as), attempt to acquire Allah’s forgiveness and pave the way to Paradise. Otherwise, it is found in traditions that if a person is not forgiven in the holy month of Ramazan, then he is never forgiven except that he is blessed with the performance of Hajj and he seeks forgiveness in the land of Arafah.

Upon whom do the Angels descend?
Who is the recipient of divine affairs?

According to Quranic verses, when it is mentioned that in the Night of Decree, Angels and Spirit descend and all affairs of the year are decided a question arises –

Upon whom do the angels descend? And to whom are the affairs of the year and in other words, Allah’s plan for human beings handed over? Who is the epicenter of the descent of angels and Allah’s mercy?

Whenever we communicate any message, we ensure to keep the recipient of the message in our mind. This is an intellectually acceptable practice. But is it also acceptable that messages keep accumulating while the sender has no clue about the receiver? The messenger stands in the middle of the road and searches for the receiver of the message?

What is the divine practice here? Has Allah sent angels without the information of a recipient and are the Angels, clueless about where to go after they descend, especially in a situation when the best of the angels, The Spirit, is descending in Night of Decree? According to traditions this angel descends from the heavens and visits earth only once a year with all the important affairs.

The method of Allah is that whenever He sent down an angel with revelation, message, book, scroll… on the earth, He also informed the angel about whom to meet and hand over the trust. Therefore, He appointed Hazrat Ibrahim (as) for the scrolls, Hazrat Musa (as) for Torah, Hazrat Isa (as) for the Bible, and Holy Prophet (sawa) for Holy Quran. Archangel Jibraeel and all other angels were well aware about the opportunity they received in meeting these lofty personalities.

The ultimate verdict of wisdom states that if “affairs” are revealed in the Night of Decree, then there is a “Master of the Affairs” and “one vested with authority who can enquire about all the affairs.” The existence of Allah’s proof is mandatory when angels and Spirit descend to meet him.

The tradition of Imam Husain (as) explains this reality, “In relation with the destiny and distribution of affairs, the decision of Allah descends in your holy presence and begins from your blessed house.” (Mafatih al-Jinan, Ziyarat Mutlaqah of Imam Husain (as), First Ziyarat)

Thus it is Ahle Bayt (as) in whose presence all the affairs are presented. The regular occurrence of the Night of Decree every year is the proof that there exists a “Master of the Affairs” who is the proof of Allah and “Wali al-Amr.”

Imam Baqir (as) said, “O Shiahs! Establish proof and argument by Surah Qadr. Surely you will succeed. By Allah! After the Messenger of Allah (sawa), who is the leader of your religion, this Surah is Allah’s proof and argument for you. O Shiahs! Use Surah Haa Meem Dukhaan as your argument. Allah says, Surely We revealed it on a blessed night surely We are ever warning. Therein every wise affair is made distinct. After the Messenger of Allah (sawa), this is specific for his vicegerents. O People! Allah reveals in the Holy Quran, And there is not a nation but a warner has gone among them (Chapter 35 verse 24) (warner refers to the divine proof).

People asked, O son of the Messenger if Allah (sawa), isn’t Holy Prophet (sawa) the warner for this nation? Imam (as) replied, Certainly, but is he present at this time? They said, No.

Then Imam (as) asked, So does not this nation need any warner like Holy Prophet (sawa)? They replied, Yes of course. Then Imam (as) responded, Holy Prophet (sawa) appointed a warner for this nation before leaving this world.

They inquired, Is Holy Quran not sufficient in this matter? Imam (as) retorted, Indeed but only when the interpreter and the teacher of the Holy Quran is present.

They further asked, Did Holy Prophet (sawa) not provide the complete exegesis of the entire Quran? Imam (as) countered, He did but only to one person and also introduced him to his nation and he was Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon them).

They probed further, Is this some special affair which common people cannot receive. Imam (as) replied, Yes! Allah has decided that till His religion does not dominate (over all other religions) and the time of its explicit manifestation does not arrive, He must be worshipped silently. Just like Holy Prophet (sawa) and Janabe Khadija (sa) did not disclose this matter till the time they were not instructed to do so.

They asked, Is it necessary that the master of the religion and the master of the affairs keep this matter concealed? Imam (as) answered, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon them) alongside Holy Prophet (sawa) did not announce this matter till Allah did not command them for it. They agreed, Yes, this is true.

Imam (as) elucidated, Our affairs are similar to this. “Till the time the book reaches its appointed time.” (Chapter 2 verse 235) (Taweel Al Ayat Al Zahirah volume 2 page 824-825 narrating from Al-Kafi volume 239 page 6; Beharul Anwar volume 25 page 8, tradition no. 68)

Therefore, for the revelation of the affair, the existence of the ‘Master of the Affairs’ is absolutely essential. Thus, The Night of Decree is only for those who believe in the existence of Imam Mahdi (as), the son of Imam Hasan Askari (as). It is for those who spend every moment awaiting his reappearance, weeping and praying to Allah to hasten his reappearance, especially in this night, they plead Him for a blessed opportunity to spend this night in his holy presence.

Among the affairs that Allah is going to decree in Night of Decree, we pray that first and foremost, He ordains the reappearance of our Imam, our master, our leader, the master of our bounties, the medium of Allah’s blessings – Imam Mahdi (as) and include us among his sincere servants.

Aameen! O Lord of the Worlds!

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