Surat Al-Qadr 97, Night of Celestial Power


This spectacular sura appears to be simple and easy to understand, but examined in greater depth, unleashes its power, as shown in the analysis below.

This analysis shows the word and letter counts, which contain many exponents. The use of squares and numbers with exponents relates to the power of this night and are in bold. Although the sura itself mentions Laylatul Qadr, the night of decree, its title is simply Al-Qadr or “Decree/Power” without the word for ”night.” This further emphasizes the power aspect of that night. Notice the many “celestial” elements here, in both the meaning and the word/letter counts, even reflected in the sound of the words.

Al-Qadr 97:1

إِنَّآ أَنزَلۡنَٰهُ فِى لَيۡلَةِ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ

Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree.

5 words, 20 (2²•5) letters, total 25 (5²)

Laylatul Qadr (consists of 9 or 3³ letters + 11 letters in the other 3 words) – the name itself with nine letters brings 3 to the third power to each of 3 ayat.

The repetitions of laylatul qadr (2 words, 9 letters) are measured separately in the word and letter counts here to show how Allah the Omniscient gives textual weight to this subject, how it really dominates the sura. 

The translation mentions “the Quran” here but in Arabic it merely says “it,” understood to mean “the Quran.” This does not mean there is any doubt that what is meant is the Quran, but there are other reasons for not naming it here. In sura 44:3-6, there is a clear reference to this same night, ”Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn. (44:3)/ On that night is made distinct every precise/wise decree. (44:4)/ A Decree from Us — We were surely to send [a messenger/message] (44:5)/ As mercy from your Lord. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (44:6) The word translated “decree” here is amr (translated also as “affair” or ”matter”) which also could be translated “command” or ”order.” The word qadr in the title, also translated ”decree,” is associated with “power, measurement, to determine, destine.” The choice of ”decree” is because the word amr used here tells us this night is filled with what kind of power, i.e. decrees or commands from Allah the Almighty.

Second, the emphasis in this sura is Laylatul Qadr itself. Clearly Allah the Exalted wants us to know and understand something about that night and its importance in sending books/ revelations or other significant events. It is a time which nonetheless has celestial value and plays a celestial role. That role relates to the final aya of this sura, which indicates two things: one, the dual meaning of salam described below, and two, that this is night, when we can see the heavens revealed and thus a more “celestial” time as described below, and the significance of that in knowing which night it could possibly be.

Al-Qadr 97:2

وَمَآ أَدۡرَىٰكَ مَا لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ

And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree?

6 words, 19 letters, total 25 (5²)

Laylatul Qadr + 4 words (3³ + 10 letters)

This is the same expression “wa ma adraka ma”, meaning “and what can make you know what is,” frequently used in the Quran to emphasize important events or meanings. It was used twice in Surat Al-Qari’a, explained here, to emphasize what aspects of the Day of Resurrection are to be feared most. But here we are introduced to an entirely different time and event, one that brings mercy and guidance, indicated in 44:6 above, words that are used in the Quran to describe the Quran itself.

Al-Qadr 97:3

لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ خَيۡرٌ مِّنۡ أَلۡفِ شَهۡرٍ

The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.

6 words, 20 (2²•5) letters, total 26 (2•13)

Laylatul Qadr + 4 (2²) words – 3³ letters + 11 letters (double one’s)

Here is the first aya actually describing something about that night, Laylatul Qadr. It repeats the name of it here for the third time (also resembling Surat Al-Qari’a in this aspect of the first three ayat repeating the name of an important event). 

A thousand months can be computed to 83.333 years, an approximate human lifetime. It’s the only place in the Quran where such an expression for months is used, indicating that this night is indeed concerned here with humanity. Elsewhere in the Quran, “thousand” is used in celestial references: counts of angels, and to translate time from our perspective into an expression of time from Allah’s perspective. “And indeed, a day with your Lord is like a thousand years of those which you count.” (22:47) Also this same idea is mentioned in 32:5. This is not meant to be taken literally (although it says “of those which you count”) but rather to show the difference between our earthly dunya (“this life”) perspective and Allah’s “celestial” (for us, in the Hereafter) perspective. The word “thousand” is not to be taken as years “which we count” in the literal sense but rather the “uncountable” years of Allah’s timeless realm, and hence, the word “thousand” gives that being described a “celestial” value relating to the Divine realm/dimension. “A thousand months” is used with the expression khairan which means “better” in the qualitative sense, not quantitative as in “counting.”

Most of the interpretations applied here emphasize that worship on this night will be given more “credit” or weight than at any other time. That is in some ways implied here — but the explicit emphasis of this sura is not on what we do on that night but on what Allah the Exalted and His angels and spirit (ruh Jibreel) do on that night, and from there we can extrapolate what it means for us. More on this below. 

Al-Qadr 97:4

تَنَزَّلُ ٱلۡمَلَٰٓئِكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذۡنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمۡرٍ

The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.

10 (2•5) words, 36 (6² or 2²•3²) letters, total 46

Reference to laylatul qadr (1 word) + 9 words 

This is the “heart” of the sura, telling us what the angels and Spirit (Jibreel) do on this night. From our perspective “for every matter/decree” means such things as our du’as and salat and thikr (dhikr) — our worship of Allah, as well as charitable spending in His path, or working for justice on earth. These acts may be given special attention during this night. But this does not mean they are not also attended to on other nights. It does imply that the presence of angels on this night may bring us closer to Allah or increase our receptivity to Him, and in that sense is of great value to us.

It also means, from Allah’s perspective, that this is the night when especially important actions and events are undertaken. The event mentioned here is the sending down of the Quran. But it is likely also the night (in the sense of a recurring night) in which Jibreel came down and gave Maryam the “word” from Allah “her Lord” resulting in the conception of ‘Isa/Jesus. Because in the Quran his birth occurred in the season of dates, around September, the conception was likely in December, the Gregorian solar month in which the winter solstice occurs. In the Quran architectural chart which is a solar-year astronomical chart (see below), the winter solstice is at the very apex or top of the chart, at the end of the month of Ramadan, making it the longest night, and night being the “celestial” time, this is the most celestial night of the year. Hence the most likely time for such a miraculous conception. And by inference could also be the astronomical “opening” for Laylatul Qadr.

Other significant events likely took place on Laylatul Qadr or (possibly) winter solstice night too. One can correlate the fact that the angels visited prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to give him the news of a child to be born by his barren elderly wife (and he too was old at that time) — an unusual conception, even miraculous, by Divine intervention — and at the same time (11:70-83) visited his cousin prophet Lut/ Lot to warn him of the impending destruction of his rebellious and sinful nation (about which prophet Ibrahim argued), which struck at night, although mentioned in 11:81 “their appointment is for the morning.” But this could refer to when the destruction is done, and just before that is mentioned in the same aya 11:81 “So set out with your family during a portion of the night and let not any among you look back –  except your wife; indeed, she will be struck by that which strikes them.” The advisory was to leave at night, one presumes to be “under cover of night” to avoid attack, but then he was told “let not any among you look back” behind them. Why? 

The answer lies in the fact that his wife was allowed to look back — “except your wife” — and “she will be struck with what strikes them.” What strikes them then struck during that portion of the night, when the decree of Allah was accomplished. But there’s another aspect to this: were any of his people to look back, they too would be struck, because the action taken was done by angels from the celestial realm, and there is a barrier between the celestial realm and the dunya or “lower” realm of time in which we live. To merely see the angels enacting a destructive event of this nature would be deadly. This is further evidenced by the many times in the Quran where, when ignorant disbelievers demand that an angel be sent down, Allah’s response in the Quran is to say “But if We had sent down an angel, the matter would have been decided; then they would not be reprieved.” (6:8) Because amr or a Divine command enacted by angels is from the celestial realm and cannot be withdrawn, and also because merely witnessing angels in such a case can effect immediate consequence such as death, except within the protection of Allah in which case they appear in human form (as was made emphatically clear in the case of the visitation of prophets Lot and Abraham, and as in the case of Maryam). To see them (while one is an adult — newborn babies may be able to see them) in their actual form would breach a boundary necessitating death of the witness or fulfillment of a command already given. 

In the case of angels who are witnesses to, and help humankind generally, these are not made manifest to us, and there is a barrier through which we cannot see them, as a protection and mercy from Allah. In fact, their actions are barely perceptible except to those of great faith, and to those people it does not entail the senses except as described above in relationship to the prophets and certain others, by taking human form. Hadiths or other narratives describing prophet Mohammad as “seeing” Jibreel should not be taken so literally as to suggest seeing him in his actual form. In any case, certainly Allah the Exalted protected his important final messenger and prophet Mohammad in all that he was given to see or know, and we do understand he had been given access to see some of what others could not see. 

Al-Qadr 97:5

سَلَٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطۡلَعِ ٱلۡفَجۡرِ

Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.

5 words, 17 letters, total 22

Reference to Laylatul Qadr (1 word) + 4 words

Note the references to laylatul qadr in the Arabic text are in bold. 

The word salam, translated “peace,” also means “security.” For without security there can be no peace. The presence of hosts of angels itself secures and hence creates peace in that night. It is translated as a noun because the Arabic word is indeed a noun, although that usage sounds awkward here in English. To properly convey the meaning one would have to say “it is itself imbued with an essential Peace” or “filled with peace.” I have seen it rendered as “peaceful” which technically works better, but that felt weaker than the Arabic, for the lack of the “secure” element. In any event, this description is relating specifically to the relationship between humans and Allah the Exalted, between our lower dunya life and the celestial realm or “dimension” which is not subject to merely empirical analysis or understanding.

Here those of Christian background might be reminded of “silent night, holy night,” the words of a Christmas carol describing the night they allege Jesus was born. But the mistake here is that the angelic hosts were indeed present at ‘Isa/Jesus’ conception not his birth, possibly this important detail altered to accommodate the fact that people are more concerned with celebrating births than moments of conception (with good reason — normally such moments are obviously highly private and personal). Catholics do celebrate the annunciation — when archangel Gabriel (Jibreel) “announced” to Mary (Maryam) that she would conceive and bear a child, ‘Isa/Jesus. That announcement was followed by a word of creation (Be!) delivered to her via Jibreel on the same night of announcement, thus enabling the immaculate conception, i.e. virgin conception and later birth. So as described above in reference to aya 97:4, this occurred as well on Laylatul Qadr. It indeed was a holy night, and a silent night as well in the sense of being secure and filled with peace. 

Summary and Analysis of Counts

Below are the totals of the word and letter counts. Note the predominance of exponents for a sura describing this powerful celestial night:

Total words: 32=2⁵ (note 32 is also the number of sura Al-Sajda, ”The Prostration,” the body language of submission to Allah, which expresses the meaning of ”peace” and security on this night – all are submitted, no rebellion or “loose cannons”)

Total letters: 112=74² or 2⁴ •7 (note 112 is also the number of sura Al-Ikhlas, the essential sura of tawheed, of Allah’s singularity and sole Ultimate Authority)

Total words + letters: 144=12², a “perfect” number, also expressed as the product of 2 squares – 3²•4² — or prime factorization 2⁴•3²

Total Laylatul Qadr mentions: 3, + 2 pronoun refs=5

The title is taken from the 2nd word alone Al-Qadr, which in Arabic contains 5 letters — 5 symbolizes ”hand” which refers (symbolically) to the ”Hand of God” whose commands/decrees dominate this night. This is reflected in the total word count 2⁵, or 2 to the 5th power, and in the totals from ayat 1 and 2 as 25 each (5²) or 5 to the 2nd power (squared) – where the number/exponent are reversed.

The number 16 (4²) – 4 squared – is found in the total word count (2•16), total of word + letter count (9•16), and the total letter count (7•16).  

لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ (laylatul qadr in Arabic), with 2 words/ 9 letters (3²) (total words+letters 11), is mentioned 3 times in this sura, thus its counts are: 6 (2•3) words, 27 letters (3³), total 33 (3•11, 11 being the total word/letter count for the word Laylatul Qadr).

Laylatul qadr is referred to twice in two pronoun-related words, once “in it” (4 letters), once “it” (2 letters), making 2 words, 6 letters, total 8 or 2³ (23 relates to the human genome). Note how this night dominates the sura, all 5 ayat referring to it.

The number in 97:3 alf or thousand is a celestial number, further emphasizing this is a celestial night. 

Summary and Analysis of Meanings

The word Al-Qadr is taken from the root qdr which can mean, in different forms, power, decree, to measure, determine, or fate. All these meanings converge here: a decree is relating to the English word “to mete out” where the word “mete” comes from “metric” connecting “measurement” with “decree” and from there, “power” because to decree is a power. In fact, to measure is also a power, one we can sense when we are able to measure our time and control how we spend it, which in turn may affect the outcome or fate of our lives. So laylatul qadr is a night when this converges and could have a profound effect on our lives — in this case, for the better, khairun

First, it must be emphasized that Allah answers all prayers at all times. There is a misconception that a prayer given on laylatul qadr will definitely be more likely to be granted than the same prayer on other nights. Or days. But we must be reminded that Allah is not limited to this specific night or any particular time or place. Rather certain times or places are recommended to us as sacred and what happens within them may therefore have a special relationship with the Most Sacred. So we should seek to remember and worship Allah in such times or places. This is for us to feel a heightened awareness of Allah. But Allah the Omnipotent is not confined to such times or places.

Note that He sent His angels to prophets Ibrahim (Abraham) and Lut (Lot) during the day with the protective appearance of humans (as discussed in reference to aya 97:4 above). Prophets did not specifically time their du’a in order to be granted, but supplicated Allah when they felt moved to do so, more of an internal feeling they had, regardless to time or place. And some requests relate to a specific time and place relevant only to the person praying, personally, not to a known holy time or place. Allah promised to hear and respond to the du’a of any supplicant, and no limits were ever set or mentioned for this. 

However, when certain highly significant actions are done and an order or amr is given from Allah the Exalted, this is when, if He so wills, the request will be put in place by celestial means at a celestial time and sometimes even place. This is why, when Israeli police and right-wing settlers invaded the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, breaking historical glass windows, with intent to defile this sacred space, we can be assured that Allah will not let this event pass without consequence to those who intended and committed such an act. But the response will be in the time and manner ordained by Allah the Most High, the Avenger, the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing. 

The power of the night of decree/power should also then serve as a deterrent

This Quora post gives another valuable perspective on the subject, discussing the more traditional lunar calendar-based timing for this blessed night, as well as an insightful interpretation of what it means for us.

The presence, in word and letter counts, of significant numbers of exponents (also called powers of a number) emphasizes that this is indeed a night of power. The list below shows how dominating they are, as well as showing other celestial elements. Some of these are repeated from the above, giving additional insights:

  1. The name Laylatul Qadr itself consists of 9 letters, which is . The name itself is mentioned 3 times, which if added to the letter count would give us a sum of 3 to the 4th power.
  2. The title Al-Qadr has (in Arabic) 5 letters, the sura has 5 verses, and the first aya has 5 words, 20 letters which is a multiple of 5 – or 5•4, and 4 can be written with an exponent as . The total for both aya 1 and aya 2 is (25). So we see the number 5 given a certain emphasis, and we know 5 symbolizes “hands.” Here it would mean hands in a celestial sense, i.e., the Hand of Allah, not a literal “hand” but rather Divine agency. The last aya also has 5 words.
  3. Aya 2 has a letter count of 19, a celestial number because it is mentioned in 74:30-1 as being the number of angels guarding hell. So although we do not think of hell as celestial in any sense, the angels guarding it are from the celestial realm or “dimension” and their role as guardians does not diminish their status as angels any more than the status of angels witnessing and protecting people on earth (also not in the celestial realm) would diminish them. In both cases, they are carrying out orders from Allah the Ultimate Authority, and it is indeed within their roles to carry out such orders in non-celestial locations. This leads me to consider the word “celestial realm” as more accurately termed “celestial dimension.”
  4. Aya 3 also has 20 letters, factored as 5 x . Its word count is 6, but is formulated using the name Laylatul Qadr (2 words, letters) + the rest of the aya (words, 11 letters), where the number 11 repeats two one’s, making it an unusual and distinct prime.
  5. The counts in aya 4 are celestial in different ways. The word count 10 (2•5) is a word of completion/perfection, the fulfillment of the base-10 numbering system used here. The number count 36 also signifies fulfillment/completion as it contains three 12’s, 12 being a celestial number mentioned 4 times in the Quran, one in 9:36 stating “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve months in the book of Allah the day He created the heavens and the earth.” This number is thus recorded in a celestial record, as well as seen by Divine agency in the miraculous 12 springs, the 12 tribes, and 12 leaders of Moses’ people. Note the reference to 12 is from 9:36, its verse number matching the letter count in this aya. This same aya mentions that of these months, 4 are sacred, and this is the 4th aya of this sura 97, whose digits add to 16 or . 36 is also or 2² x 3², powers within powers.
  6. This is the moment to mention the total of all words and letters counted in this sura as 144 which is 12 x 12, or 12², a powerful and beautiful numerical testament to the celestial power of this sura. The number 12 itself is related to the name Allah, spelled using 3 unique letters to form a 4-digit word. From which is derived both the number 7 (3+4) and the number 12 (3×4), both of which numbers are represented in the Basmalah as the first two words with 7 letters (bism Allah) and the last two words with 6 letters each or total 12 letters, giving it a total of the next celestial number (mentioned above), 19. All 3 numbers are mentioned significantly in the Quran as is, of course, the number 3, often partnered with other numbers.
  7. The total number of words + letters in aya 4 is 46, which happens to be the actual number of chromosomes in the human genome in “diploid” or “paired” form which is, again, the completed tally of chromosomes actually existing in human beings. The number 23 is the haploid form or the number of distinct chromosomes as in its “unique” code, but applied in living creatures, this number is doubled/paired. Some creatures only have the haploid set but humans have the full paired set. So even this number has a significant connection to human beings and to completion. Its digits also add to 10, the quintessential number of completion in base-10 which is used in the Quran and also the most widely-used base used today in normal applications. (By people, as distinct from computers using binary code.)
  8. Aya 5, the final aya in this sura, also contains 5 words, ”completing” the 5 words in aya 1, as if ”two hands.” Its letter count, 17, is the number of words in sura 112 Al-Ikhlas, the essential sura of Allah’s sole Authority, and also relates to the genetic code’s protective hydrophobicity factor discussed here in relation to sura 112. The total, 22, symbolizes perfection or completion, noting that sura 22 is Al-Hajj.
  9. The summarizing statistics are a show of power: the total words in the sura, 32=2⁵; the total letters, 112=7xor 2⁴ x 7, and as mentioned above the total of words+letters in the whole sura is 144: 12², a perfect number, or 3² x 4² or 2⁴ x 3². We find in this sura squares within squares, an indication of this power. 

And Allah surely has embedded yet more in this sura yet to be discovered. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s