إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ
Innā anzalnāhu fī laylatil qadr
Indeed, We sent it down during the Night of Decree
(Sūrat al-Qadr, Ayat 1)
Every Divine Scripture that was sent down to the Prophets of Allah ‘alayhimus-salam was sent down instantaneously; in other words, all at once with the full commands and expectations provided for the people to follow. For example, Allah ‘azza wajall says about Prophet Mūsā ‘alayhis-salām: And We wrote for him in the Tablets advice concerning all things and an elaboration of all things (Q 7:145).
Uniquely, the Holy Quran had two forms of revelation, gradual and instantaneous. The gradual revelation began on the 27th of Rajab, during the event known as al-Bi‘tha (the day of Divine commission) in the 40th year of Prophet Muhammad’s life, when the first few verses of Sura al-‘Alaq (No. 96) were revealed. This revelation lasted for 23 years till the end of the Prophet’s life. There are numerous benefits associated with revealing the Quran gradually, the most important of which is mentioned by Allah when He says: And those who disbelieve say, ‘why has the Quran not sent down to him all at once?’ So it was, that We may strengthen your heart with it (Q 25:32).
The second form of revelation was the instantaneous one, which Allah describes in the verse being discussed: Indeed, We sent it down during the Night of Decree (Q 97:1). This revelation was different from the gradual revelation in that the whole Quran was revealed all at one time, unlike the 23 years it took to complete the gradual revelation. Furthermore, this revelation was not in the form of words and sentences, rather the essence and meaning of the entire Quran was sent down to the heart of the Prophet (s). This highlights the important reality that even though there are 114 chapters and over 6,200 verses of the Holy Quran, there is one message which is consistent throughout it. ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī says the following:
Fundamentally, the Quran possesses another existence and reality, hidden behinds its apparent form and far from ordinary sight and comprehension. The Quran, in its inner reality, is free from any kind of division and detail. It does not possess parts, chapters, and verses. Rather, it is a single reality, interconnected and firm (Quranic Sciences p.52).
The instantaneous revelation was sent down to al-bayt al-ma’mūr – the abode of immortality, which scholars such as al-Kāshānī consider to be the heart of the Prophet (s) (Ibid, p.52). This revelation coming to the heart of the Prophet tells us of the expanse, strength, and beauty of the soul of our beloved Prophet. Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā in another verse describes the inability of mountains to contain the message of the Quran, yet the heart of the Prophet was strong enough. Allah (swt) says: If We had sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought (Q 59:21).
As we approach the Nights of Qadr, let us pray to Allah to increase the expanse, strength and beauty of our souls, just as He did for the Prophet, so that we can follow the guidance of the Quran in our daily lives. Let us commit to seeking closeness to the Quran, and to using it as our blueprint of life. It is a time to revive our allegiance to the word of Allah ‘azza wajall.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī, Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal, Abbas Jaffer and Masuma Jaffer, Quranic Sciences, ICAS Publication.