There are certain times of the year which Allahhas declared sacred, as an opportunity for us to set aside worldly distractions and strive to optimize our spiritual connection with our Creator.
Of these sacred times are the nights of Ramadan. Our Prophetsaid: “Whoever spends the nights of Ramadan in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.” [Sahih;Sunan an-Nasa’i 2192] The best of the nights of Ramadan are the last ten. The Prophet’s wife ‘Ayesha said that when the last ten nights would begin, the Prophet would tighten his belt; devote the entire night in worship and waken his family [Sahih al-Bukhari 2024]. Here, the expression of tightening of the belt is figurative of how the Prophet exerted himself in the worship of Allah . Some of the scholars of Islam have said that it is not known that the Prophet spent an entire night in worship, other than the last ten nights of Ramadan.
The last ten nights of Ramadan are not only the most blessed of all nights because they are the last ten of Ramadan, but also because within them is the jewel of all nights; and that is the glorious night of Laylat-ul Qadr (Night of Decree). This night is so significant that an entire chapter of the Qur’an has been dedicated to it:
“Indeed, it is We who sent this ‘Qur’an’ down on the Night of Glory.”“And what will make you realize what the Night of Glory is?” “The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months.” “That night the angels and the Spirit descend, by the permission of their Lord, for every ‘decreed’ matter.” “It is all peace until the break of dawn.” [Surah al-Qadr;1-5]
When is Laylat-ul Qadr?
The exact night on which Laylat-ul Qadr occurs has not been stated. However, our Prophetsaid: “Search for Laylat-ul Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 2015]
There is wisdom in not knowing the precise date when it occurs. One of the scholars by the name of Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi (d. 620 H) wrote: “God has concealed this night from the Ummah so that they may strive in seeking it and performing worship throughout the month in the hope of catching it.” [Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughni, Vol4. P435]
What does Laylat-ul Qadr mean?
Scholars have differed with regards to the meaning of the word ‘Qadr’, but all of the meanings have been defined based on the significance and virtues of the Night. While there are numerous definitions, we will share three in this article.
- Some scholars say that it is called the Night of ‘Qadr’ because ‘Qadr’ means predestination, and this is the Night when the destiny of each person is announced to the angels; such as a person’s sustenance, lifespan, and other matters.
- Another opinion is that ‘Qadr’ means ‘restriction’ or ‘constriction’. This is indicative of the fact that the earth becomes very restricted because of the congestion caused by the sheer number of angels descending onto the earth. One of the greatest honours of this Night is that Angel Jibreel -the Angel who communicated with all of the Prophets, including our final Prophet Muhammad – descends upon the earth. Verse 4 of Surah al-Qadr says, “That night the angels and the ‘holy’ Spirit descend”. Since the revelation from Allah [swtp ceased, Angel Jibreel does not descend upon the earth except during Laylat-ul Qadr. Our Prophet was honored to see the Angel Jibreel twice in his original form, and he described him as being magnificent; blocking the entire horizon and having six hundred wings. One of the students of the Sahabah used to pray: “I seek refuge in Allah from being asleep on the night Jibreel visits me.”
- ‘Qadr’ is also defined as ‘power’; symbolizing the honor and greatness of this Night. This is because acts of worship and righteous deeds performed during this Night are much more powerful than on any other night.
The Blessings and Virtues of Laylat-ul Qadr
- Allah has described this Night as a blessed Night. In the opening verses of Surah Ad- Dukhan, Allah says, “Ḥâ-Mĩm. By the clear Book! Indeed, We sent it down on a blessed night.” [44;1-3]
- It was during this Night that the Prophet received the first revelation.
- It is a Night honored by the presence of the Angels, including the honorable Angel Jibreel; and so thus “all is peace” [Surah Al-Qadr;5] One of the early Muslims would adorn himself with fine clothes and perfume in honor of the descending of Angel Jibreel.
- It is a Night of forgiveness. Our Prophet said: “Whoever establishes prayers on the Night of Decree out of sincere faith and hope for reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”[Sahih;Sunan an-Nasa’i 2192] Here the Prophet has stressed two conditions for the forgiveness of sins: firstly, standing in prayer to please Allah alone and not to impress the people, and secondly, standing out of sincere belief in Allah .
- Laylat-ul Qadr is a magnanimous gift to the Ummah of the Prophet , and no other nation has been blessed with such a magnanimous gift. This Night is “better than a thousand months,” as mention in Surah Qadr. Worshipping during this month is as if one has consecutively worshipped for 83.3 years. Previous nations had longer life-spans, whereas the Ummah of the Prophet has a much shorter life-span. It is therefore from the perfect justice, grace and mercy of Allah that we have been blessed with the Night of Qadr.
What To Do During Laylat-ul Qadr
It is important to remember that Laylat-ul Qadr begins at Maghrib, and from that point we should strive to engage in as much worship as possible, and not be of those who lose this Night in the early part. During this night, we should diversify our acts of worship by reading Qur’an, making adhkar, offering voluntary prayers, giving charity, performing i’tikaf, seeking forgiveness from Allah, and even displaying exemplary manners. Our Prophet has emphasized in numerous ahadith, the excellence of good manners. All these are noble and virtuous acts which are pleasing to Allah , therefore it is important to try and capture them all so that they are quantified as being equal to over 83 years.
It is important to stress that making dua’ to Allahis critical because this is the Night of Qadr, and our dua’s can affect our Qadr. Remember, on this Night, our lifespan and our sustenance will be announced, and we must beseech Allah to avert any calamities and grant us the best year to come. The Prophet said, “Nothing increases one’s lifespan except good deeds, and nothing repels Divine Decree except du’a.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 90]. The best way to call upon Allah is by:
- Praising Him
- Seeking forgiveness for your shortcomings
- Sending salutations upon our Prophet