While Ramadhan in its entirety is encompassed with significance and blessings, the last ten days are at the essence of the month, as it is these days in which the Prophet PBUH levelled up his acts of worship. In one hadith, `A’isha RA narrated, “When the last ten nights began, the Messenger of Allah PBUH remained awake at night, wakened his family, and prepared himself to observe salah (with more vigour).” [Sahih Muslim]
However, despite the significance of the last ten nights of Ramadhan, the night known as Laylat al-qadr is without a doubt the best of all these nights. Many prophetic traditions discuss the night’s high status and superiority, but the Qur’an goes above and beyond by dedicating an entire chapter to the night of Laylat al-qadr:
Indeed, We revealed [the Qur’an] during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn. (97:1-5)
The night is filled with so many blessings that the human mind is unable to comprehend the magnitude of it all. It’s for this reason that Allah explained that it is better than a thousand months. And there’s a good reason for this. “The Messenger of Allah PBUH was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” [Muwatta Malik]
However, despite its significance, no clear mention has been made as to its precise date. Instead, we have been instructed to search for Laylat al-qadr as the Prophet PBUH said, “Search forLaylat al-qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.”
The reason for this was due to an argument that occurred when the Prophet PBUH initially intended to give his Companions a precise date. The Prophet PBUH mentions, “I came to inform you of the (specific) night ofLaylat al-Qadrbut found so-and-so arguing and (in the process of mediating) had the knowledge of the night lifted from me.”[Sahih Bukhari]
Nevertheless, many scholars have pointed out the wisdom behind not knowing the precise date of Laylat al-qadr. Ibn Qudamah states in his book al-Mughni:
“God has concealed this night from the ummah so that they may strive in seeking it and performing worship throughout the month in the hopes of catching it.”
Why We Were Gifted Laylat al-qadr?
A question may arise as to why Laylat al-Qadr was gifted to the nation of the Prophet PBUH and not any other nation. Imam Malik answers this concern by including the following Hadith in Muwatta Malik: “The Messenger of Allah PBUH was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al-qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” [Muwatta Malik]
Why Is It Called Laylat al-qadr?
Scholars have a variety of views on the matter. Though its important to note that each and every meaning is significant, with each meaning tying in with one another.
The three major meanings are destiny/decree, power and the Quran or revelation.
According to the majority of scholars, the word qadr refers to decree and refers to a night when each and every person’s destiny such as lifespan, wealth, and deeds are decided. This has been corroborated by renowned Muslim scholars such as Hasan al-Basri who mentions, “all the affairs of lifespan, deeds, creation, and provision are decreed on Laylatul-Qadr in the month of Ramadan.” [al-Bayhaqi]
Laylat al-qadr has also been defined as the night of power. This meaning is associated very closely with the magnificence and might of the night, as well the enormous value righteous deeds hold on this night. Whether one worships on this night knowingly or unknowingly, the rewards are equally significant and far more rewarding.
Due to the Qur’an’s notable connection with Laylat al-qadr, many scholars have fixated on this being the reason for the night being exceptional and special. While Imam al-Sha’bi wrote that the Qur’an was initially revealed to the Prophet PBUH on Laylat al-qadr, Ibn Abbas goes further by explaining that the Qur’an was revealed from the highest heaven to the lowest on this night, after which it was revealed to the Prophet PBUH over 23 years. [al-Bayhaqi]
How To Spend The Night
There is no sole specified act which has been prescribed for this night, except that there is a specific invocation to recite on Laylat al-qadr. Seeking forgiveness on this night is the one thing that has been stressed dearly by the Prophet PBUH. After Aisha RA enquired as to what Du’a should be recited if one knew when Laylat al-qadr was, the Prophet PBUH instructed her to say:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عُفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي
“O Allah! You are Most Forgiving, and you love to forgive. So forgive me.”
Practically, the night should be spent in the recitation of the Qur’an, Du’a or in prayers. This was stressed by Imam al-Shafi’i who mentions that the pious predecessors spent their night in one or all of these three acts of worship, and whosoever does this, has surely been rewarded. The integral point is that one does not miss worshipping on this night, as one who does so has missed out on a great thing.
Praying Isha and Fajr in the mosque has also been greatly emphasized by the Prophet PBUH and scholars. The Prophet PBUH mentions the following regarding the Isha and Fajr prayer: “He who observed the ‘Isha’ prayer in congregation, it was as if he prayed up to midnight, and he who prayed the morning prayer in congregation, it was as if he prayed the whole night.” [Sahih Muslim]
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
Juber's favourite Quote...
"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]