The land on which a mosque is built is no different than any other piece of land before it is dedicated for worship. These lands are inherently the same until we come and tie the piece of land to God and the servitude of people. The fact that this land then builds a relationship between God and people is what grants this land sacredness. It is us who grant this land sanctity with our own actions, as we are the ones who decide to dedicate a certain land to be a mosque, after which it becomes so sacred and valuable that one can no longer bring any impurities into it, or a person in a state of impurity cannot remain in there. When this piece of land connects humans to God, it becomes sacred and of value. Ibrahim (a) built the Ka‘ba for people, allowing them to express their servitude to God, but it is only after its construction that the land became blessed and sacred:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
[3:96] Surely the first House [of worship] established for humanity is the one at Bakkah—a blessed sanctuary and a guide for [all] people.
In the same vein, spans of time are no different from one another inherently. Tonight will be no different from tomorrow night and it was no different from yesterday night. They were all time periods where it was dark, no sunlight, and the stars were out. But if we are able to dedicate a certain span of time to serve as a means to connect humans to God, that time becomes sacred, it becomes respected, it becomes a night of value – a night of qadr. If there were no humans, there would be no nights of qadr, nights that are of value, because there would be no one to give it any value.
It is for this reason why some scholars proposed another meaning for the word qadr in the phrase Laylatul Qadr. Instead of decree or destiny, some argued qadr in this phrase means value. The qadr of Laylatul Qadr then is for two major reasons:
1) It was a time period when Allah (swt) revealed the Quran. It was revealed on a human, the final Messenger, and became the divine link of communication which ties the Prophet (p) with God, and the Prophet becomes the recipient of revelation that is then relayed to the rest of humanity.
If a human with the capacity to receive revelation did not exist, there would be no relationship nor any connection between God and humans and the night would have no qadr.
2) However, what is our relationship with the night of qadr and when does this night have any value for us? The night has value for us when we choose to give it value, just like the piece of land that becomes sacred once a mosque is built, where we make the land a means to connect humanity to God.
In the case of Laylatul Qadr, every person can give it value with the condition that they recognize their own value and the value of others. How much do we value ourselves as individuals and as a human community? If we are lost in life, if we have forgotten our identities and do not recognize our own worth, how can we give this night any value or connect ourselves and the human community to God?
If our time, youth, capacities & potentials are being lost and wasted, this is an indication we do not value ourselves, we do not recognize the importance and value of these things and are wasting them away. If that is the case, the night of qadr will come and go like any other night and we would not have achieved anything. When you observe Muslims on the night of qadr, you will see them maintain the uniqueness of the night by ambitiously partaking in a number of set rituals, but it behooves us to ask: the amount of supposed value we are granting this night through the performance of our rituals, do we grant a similar amount of qadr, sacredness, and dignity to ourselves and fellow humans?
To spend these nights while we debase ourselves in explicit or implicit ways throughout the year such that it has become a disposition, or treat others without dignity, is a contradiction. It is similar to entering a mosque in a state of impurity hoping to benefit from the sacredness of the land. The night of qadr becomes the night of value when humans can recognize their own value and worth. Much ethical work needs to be done on a communal level for us to be able to truly see ourselves and others as dignified, noble creations of Allah. Much work needs to be done to reduce the distance between our conduct and the conduct of someone like Imam ‘Ali (a) who when once passing by an old blind man who was begging, asked his companions: “What is this?” They responded: “O Amir al-Mu’minin, he is just a Christian.” The Imam (a) responded: “You made use of him up until he aged and once he aged you abandoned him? Give him financial support from the Bayt al-Mal!” [Tahdhīb al-Aḥkām, vol. 6, pg. 293].
Sayyid Ali Imran studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College of London in the summer of 2018. He continued his seminary studies in legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is also a regular instructor for Mizan Institute.