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And what do you know about Laylatul Qadr?

Written by Kashif Hussain

What is the Night

Many of us patiently await for this night on the 27th Ramadhan. But what do you know about this night?

The night of Qadr is the single most important night in the whole year. We enter Ramadhan with the intention of giving it our all for all 30 days. Then there’s those of us, who turn it up a notch with the ten days of itikaaf. And for the true seekers there is Laylatul Qadr.

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

Allah says ‘Surely We revealed it on the grand night.’ This relates to the noble Quran, the date of the night is not mentioned, we just know the night was in Ramadhan. The Quran being eternal speech of God and its first revelation, indicates the loftiness of the night.

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ

لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

Allah asks you, ‘And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is?’ This is in the rhetorical, signifying already its greatness. Then Allah gives us something to compare it with, ‘The grand night is better than a thousand months!’ but that’s not all. We sometimes limit the night to where rewards are multiplied by 83.33 years. In fact the night is better than this. It’s better than your lifetime, so do not let it pass un-kindled!

Then Allah says:

تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ

Allah still does not say what the Night is. But he tells us what will happen. ‘The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair.’

There are three parts to this, why do they descend (significance)? What is the spirit and what is the relevance of ‘for every affair’.

Imam Razi says, when man first appeared on earth, the Angels looked on him with scorn. When Allah informed them of His intention of placing man on earth, they even ventured to ask: ‘Will you place in this earth one who shall commit evil therein and shed blood?’

Similarly, when his parents noted his original form as a mere drop of sperm, they too looked upon it with scorn and resentment, so much so, that they considered it as something which polluted clothing and had to be washed away. But later when Allah made that same despicable sperm into a fine form of man, they began to love and cherish him.

So far have things now progressed that when on this Night of Power we see that same man worshipping Allah and adoring Him, those very same Angles which had previously looked down on him with scorn, descend towards him, repentant for the thoughts they had once harboured against him. And as witnesses of the superiority of Man.

One meaning of Qadr is ‘constriction’, since the earth becomes constricted due to the vast number of angels that descend. The people of the heavens and the earth intermingle on this night. This is the only night on which these angels descend to the earth and they join the angels who are already on the earth seeking out gatherings of remembrance. This is makes it significant.

The Spirit here refers to Jibraeel. You may ask, ‘is he not included as part of the Angels, why a separate mention?’ Scholars have previously disagreed on this. Here are some interpretations:

  1. It means one angel of such extra ordinary gigantic proportion that before him heavens and earth appear as almost nothing (as a morsel).
  2. One such group of Malaa’ikah who never appear and only on this night are they seen by other Malaa’ikah.
  3. One such creation of Allah, which although it partakes of food and drink, still is neither man nor angel.
  4. Isa comes down with the Malaa’ikah to view the righteous deeds of this ummah.
  5. Allah’s special mercy which comes in the wake of the angels descent.

However most scholars maintain it is Jibraeel, as per the hadith of Anas, wherein Rasulullah said, ‘On Laylatul Qadr, Jibraeel comes down with a group of angels and make dua’ for mercy for every one whom they find busy in ibaadah.’ Another narration with a good chain of transmission states: ‘Jibraeel will shake his hand on Laylat al-Qadr and if Jibril shakes hands with someone, his heart will be softened and he will weep in abundance.’

It is also in this month when Jibraeel descended with the first revelation, so he descends year on year at the same point.

In relation to descending for every affair, scholars say this is when the decree for the following year is made. Just as a person awaiting the decree of a judge in the courtroom prays most intensely at the moment when that decree is about to be decided, likewise Laylatul Qadr may signify the final opportunity to change one’s fate. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani notes the difference between the contingent decree (al-Qada’ al-Mu’allaq) which God has given the angels and the irrevocable decree (al-Qada’ al-Mubram) which is with God. The recording of one’s fate which the angels possess can be subject to change, as the Qur’an states ‘God erases and confirms what He wills’ (13:39) and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, ‘Nothing averts fate except supplication.’ However, one’s record with God in the Preserved Tablet is immutable. Thus, a person praying on Laylatul-Qadr may result in their records with the angels being altered, before those records seal one’s fate for the coming year. Du’a on this night has the greatest power to change decree, hence the night is both the Night of Power and the Night of Decree.

Abu Hurayrah reports Rasulullah S.W. said, “Whoever stands in prayer and ‘ibaadah on the night of Power with sincere faith and with sincere hope of gaining reward, his previous sins are forgiven”

Bukhari and Muslim

It is in this, we understand what Laylatul Qadr is. What is decreed is decreed, and cannot be changed. But the power of this night, allows such change.

Finally Allah ends with:

سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ

Allah reminds us that this night isn’t infinite, i.e. long for it throughout the whole night! A night full of peach, ‘Peace be until the rise.’ The Night ends at the break of dawn, but Laylatul Qadr continues, it’s unlike any other night. Allah extends the bounty of this night till the Sun rise. The night is also not about the fire of hell, or punishment peace, mercy and forgiveness.

When is the Night?

The question we all ask is when is Laylatul Qadr? You will have heard the 27th night. Although many scholars, Awlia, people claim they have felt it on the 27th, there are reports for it falling on various other nights.

Aisha reports that Rasulullah ﷺ said, ‘Seek Laylatul Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of the month of Ramadhan.

According to the vast majority of authorities, the last ten nights commence on 21st night. Such is the case that whether the month of Ramadhan consists of 29 days or 30 days, one should seek Laylatul Qadr on the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th night. If the month is 29 days then too, these will be termed as the last ten.

Ibn Hazm says the word Asharah as used in the Hadith means ten. As such the above calculation will only be correct where the month of Ramadhan consists of thirty days. However, when there are only twenty night days in the month (as often happens), the last ten days in the month will commence with the 29th day and the night being the 29th night. According to this calculation it will mean that the unevenly numbered nights will be the 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th and 28th night.

However other scholars have pointed, when Rasulullah ﷺ sat for Itikaaf, it was on the 21st night. Where Ramadhan was 29 days, it would still be counted as 10 days Itikaaf.

In another narration He ﷺ said, ‘…So seek it among the ninth, seventh and fifth nights.’

If we start from the 20th, counting up, then these three nights are the 25th, 27th and 29th, if, on the other hand we start counting from the 29th down, where Ramadhan has 29 days, these nights are the 21st, 23rd, and 25th. And in the case where the month has 30 days it would be 22nd, 24th and 26th.

Some have said that Laylatul Qadr does not occur on one and the same night every year. There are times when Rasulullah commanded the companions to search among a number of nights, whereas at other times again he used to fix a certain night.

Abu Hurayrah reports Rasulullah ﷺ said, ‘What is the date today?’ They said, ’22nd Ramadhan.’ Rasulullah ﷺ replied, search for it following this day.’ i.e. 23rd Night.

Abu Tharr reports Rasulullah ﷺ told him to find ‘it in the first ten and in the last ten days.’ After a while he asked for a more specific date, which he was told ‘search for it among the last seven nights, and ask no more.’

Ibn Abbas reports, ‘While sleeping once, somebody said to me in my dream, ‘Rise up. This is Laylatul Qadr. I woke up and proceeded in haste to Rasulullah ﷺ , there I found him in salah. That was the 23rd night.’

Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood R.A. said, ‘Whoever remains all nights of the year in ibadah can find Laylatul Qadr.’

Imam Abu Hanifa says Laylatul Qadr moces throughout the year, while another view of this is that it moves about throughout the month of Ramadhaan.

Imam Muhammad and Imam Abu Yousuf, were of the opinion that this night is fixed on one special night which is unknown, during the Holy month.

Imam Shafi believes it occurs on 21st. Imaam Ahmad and Immam Maalik hold view it comes only among the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadhan, moving from year to year and is not fixed.

Ibn Arabi says, ‘In my opinion the view of those who believe that Laylatul Qadr comes on various nights throughout the year, is most correct, because twice have I seen it in Sha’baan once on the 15th, and once on 19th and twice have I seen it in the middle ten nights of Ramadhan, the 13th, and the 18th. And I have also seen it on every odd night of the last ten, for this reason I am certain that it could occur on any night of the year but comes mostly in Ramadhan.

Shah Waliullah believed that Laylatul Qadr comes twice every year: (a) One Laylatul Qadr is that one on which Allah’s commands are revealed (to the angels). This night does not come in Ramadhaan alone but moves and can come on any other night of the year. However, the night on which the Holy Qur’aan was revealed fell in Ramadhan and mostly falls during Ramadhan. (b) The second Laylatul Qadr is the one of tremendous spiritual value, when angels descend in large numbers, while shay’taans are held back, and a time when prayers and ibaadah are accepted. This comes only in Ramadhan during the ‘uneven’ nights of the last ten days.

The inconsistency, also begs the question of hat happens on nights where Ramadhan starts on different night. When it’s the 21st night for some, it may be the 22nd night for others. Does the night of Power occurs twice?

Regardless of when this night will fall, your attitude should be the same on each night. You should give it your all, and you will Insh’Allah feel the shake of Jibraeel.

Anas reports, ‘Once when Ramadhan commenced, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘A month has verily dawned over you wherein lies a night better than one thousand months. However is deprived of its blessings has indeed deprived of (almost) all good. And none is deprived of its good except he who is completely unfortunate’.

The following has been taken from yaqeeninstitute.org

Terminology

Islamic scholars differ regarding the meaning behind the name of ‘Laylatul-Qadr’, as the word ‘Qadr’ can hold a variety of meanings, and each has its own theological significance.

Some scholars defined ‘Qadr’ in the context of this holy night as ‘destiny/decree’ (qadar). To them, this meant that this was the night in which the destiny of each person was decided. It would be this night in which a person’s sustenance, lifespan, and other critical matters would be sealed for the coming year.

In support of this, ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “It is written in Umm al-Kitab (the Heavenly copy of the Qur’an) during Laylatul-Qadr what shall come to pass in the following year of good and evil, sustenance, and lifespan. Even the pilgrimage of the pilgrim (shall be decided); it will be said ‘so-and-so will perform pilgrimage’ (on this night).”

Al-Hasan Al-Basri (d. 110 H), Mujahid (d. 104 H) and Qatadah (d. 117 H)—three renowned early Muslim scholars—shared this view and were reported to have said that “all the affairs of lifespan, deeds, creation, and provision are decreed on Laylatul-Qadr in the month of Ramadan and will come to pass in the coming year.”[

Imam Al-Nawawi concluded his discussion on Laylatul-Qadr by saying: “It was named Laylatul-Qadr, meaning: the night of judgment and discernment (in the affairs of men). This meaning is what is true and popular.”[

Other scholars defined the meaning of ‘Qadr’ as ‘power,’ indicating the greatness of the honor and might of the night.[ Similar to this view is the interpretation of ‘Qadr’ as ‘power’ in that the righteous deeds performed during this night are far more powerful than they would be on any other night.

Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said: “A person would attain the reward of the night, even if he has no knowledge of it. This is because the Prophet said ‘whoever stands (in prayer) during Laylatul-Qadr, with faith and hope, will be forgiven,’ and the Prophet did not make knowledge of the night a condition of their forgiveness. And had knowledge of the night become a necessary factor, the Prophet would have made this clear.”[

In this view, since knowledge of the night is not a prerequisite to prospering from the night, then it is not required for the worshipper to understand concepts of destiny or decree in order to achieve the rewards of worshipping on this night. All they need to do is perform acts of worship on that night.

Another meaning of ‘Qadr’ in the context of Laylatul-Qadr, involves the meaning of ‘restriction.’ This is understood to indicate that the earth becomes restricted as angels descend to the earth on the holy night, occupying the earth. This descent of the angels is referenced in the Qur’an, and since angels are typically associated with concepts such as light, guidance, and blessings, it is a symbol of how majestic Laylatul-Qadr is.[14] Furthermore, since angels occupy the highest heavens, they are described in the Qur’an as ‘close to God’; yet on Laylatul-Qadr they are ‘seeking permission’ from God to descend to earth in recognition of the divine blessings that God places on earth during this night.[ In one narration, the Prophet ﷺ stated: “Truly the angels on this night are as numerous as the pebbles upon the earth.”

Laylatul-Qadr has also been described as a gift for the Prophet Muhammad’s community (ummah). In the Muwatta of Imam Malik, there is a hadith that states: “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 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.”[

In addition to the aforementioned significance related to Divine decree and providing the Prophet’s ummah with a unique opportunity for worship, there is also a special connection that Laylatul-Qadr has with the Qur’an. In Surah al-Qadr (97:1) and Surah al-Dukhan (44:3), it is mentioned that the Qur’an was revealed on this night. Ibn Abbas has explained this by mentioning on Laylatul-Qadr that the Qur’an was revealed in its entirety from the highest heaven to the lowest heaven, and placed in a special chamber called Bayt al-`Izzah (the House of Honor). From there, it was revealed gradually over the course of twenty three years to the Prophet Muhammad. This was in order to emphasize the lofty status of the revelation and to announce to the inhabitants of the Heavens that this was the final revelation. It is also mentioned by other scholars, such as Imam al-Sha’bi (d. 105 H), that the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad began in the month of Ramadan on Laylatul-Qadr when Jibreel first descended to visit the Prophet Muhammad.

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