There was a time when hearing of Laylatul Qadr would send shivers of awe down my spine. It conjured up images of star-studded skies, strange whisperings in the wind and mysterious things afoot. As I grew older and the imagery changed, the shivers receded but the awe remained. Laylatul Qadr is translated as the Night of Power or the Night of Decree. It’s the night when the Qur’an, the literal words of Allah (God), descended from the Guarded Tablets to the Lowest Heaven, ready to be dispensed in small stages to humans and jinns.
Chosen for the task of disseminating this message, was an unlettered man who was pure of heart and firm of purpose. He would often seclude himself from the decadence of the society around him, to meditate, contemplate and grapple with the great questions that have puzzled philosophers over the ages. This yearning to connect with his Creator was not merely by chance but a preparation for a momentous commission ahead. This man was Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the last in a long line of prophets sent to various peoples of the earth.
The first revelation occurred on Laylatul Qadr when he was forty years of age. As was his habit, he had retreated to Cave Hira in the hills of Makkah, to seek peace and solitude. On this night, his life would change forever. From a husband and a father, he would be initiated into the illustrious brotherhood of prophethood. It began when he was visited by an otherworldly being who told him to read. Only later would he learn that this was the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel), the angel who had brought revelations to all the previous prophets.
In great agitation, the Prophet (pbuh), who was known as Al-Amin (The Trustworthy), could only answer with the truth. He did not know how to read. The angel caught him forcibly and pressed him hard before telling him to read again. Again, the Prophet (pbuh) replied that he cannot read. After he was pressed for the third time and replied once more with the same answer, the angel commanded, “Read, in the name of your Lord, who created, who created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the most bountiful, Who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not…” (96:1-5)
The stirring words of this first revelation and those that followed for the next twenty-three years until his death, became etched in the Prophet’s (pbuh) mind like writing carved in stone. Each revelation he received took a physical toll, causing his body to become heavy, sweat to break out on his face and other manifestations. And each one would be committed to memory and imparted word for word to his growing group of faithful followers.
In turn, many of them would memorize each message too. It was only after the death of the Prophet (pbuh) that the Qur’an was compiled into book form, comprising of 114 chapters and 6,236 verses. Anyone who’s memorized the entire book earns the title of Hafiz-al-Qur’an or Guardian of the Qur’an. This trend continues to this day in all parts of the world, fulfilling Allah’s promise to keep His revelation intact and free from corruption until the Day of Judgment. It’s no surprise then, that Ramadan is known as the month of the Qur’an, with Laylatul Qadr holding a place of prominence.
- When does Laylatul Qadr occur?
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Search for Laylatul-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” This night is so special that we have to search for it. Literally. It occurs on an odd night during the last ten nights and that’s all we have to go on.
The story passed down to us is that the Prophet (pbuh) was given the exact night on which it occurs…
…but when he came out to convey the news to his companions, he found two of them arguing. Because of this, Allah caused him to forget and this knowledge was lost forever to the Muslims. This was a painful lesson that discord leads to withholding of blessings and if we wish to continue earning the pleasure of our Lord, we have to mend fences and build bridges with one another.
- What is the significance of Laylatul Qadr?
The Qur’an itself tells us that, “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).
Here, we learn that this night is better than a thousand months. And that Angel Jibril (the Spirit), descends to earth with other angels, entering every mosque and approaching every believer in worship with greetings of peace. Subhanallah, even though we cannot hear them, how splendid is that!
In a Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “This month has come to you, and in it there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it is deprived of all goodness, and no one is deprived of its goodness except one who is truly deprived.”
Finding Laylatul Qadr is like striking the mother lode. If we miss this night, we’re truly deprived. Indeed, there are some who think that the Prophet’s (pbuh) loss of memory turned out to be for the best.
A night that’s equivalent to a thousand months is certainly worth searching for.
How do we search for Laylatul Qadr?
Since we know it falls upon an odd night in the last ten nights, it behooves us to search for it on every one of those nights to ensure we catch it. One might say why not search for it on the odd nights only. This is a valid argument, but the reality is that we all live in different parts of the world and because of moon sighting, we don’t start Ramadan on the same day. Thus, odd nights will be even nights for some of us and vice versa.
We’ve also been told to be aware of some special signs. In a Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Laylatul Qadr is calm and pleasant, neither hot nor cold, the sun arises on its morning being feeble and red.” In other narrations, we’re told that the moon will look like a piece of plate and there may even be rain.
Last of all, what do we do on Laylatul Qadr?
This is the meat of the matter. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever stands in prayer during Laylatul Qadr with faith and hope in the reward of Allah, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.” Essentially, Laylatul Qadr is spent in prayer, recitation of Qur’an, supplications and other acts of remembrances.
Whatever we do during this night is so magnified that the rewards we reap is equal to a thousand months of doing the very same things. Subhanallah, how marvelous is that! One of the special supplications recommended by the Prophet (pbuh) is: “Oh Allah! You are Most Forgiving, and you love to forgive, so forgive me.”
Reminiscent of the days when he used to seek solitude in the hills of Makkah, the Prophet (pbuh) performed I’tikaf or seclusion in the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Today, this is emulated by many Muslims who wish to ramp up the rewards.
Laylatul Qadr is also significant in other ways. According to yageeinstitute.org, some scholars have defined Qadr in the context of ‘destiny’ or ‘decree.’ It means that this is the night when the destiny of each person is decided and sealed for the coming year. This includes a person’s sustenance, lifespan, and other critical matters. Other scholars define the meaning of Qadr as ‘power,’ indicating the greatness and honor of this night.
Wherever we are and no matter our age, Laylatul Qadr is for all of us. May Allah bless us with the strength to seek it in the coming nights ahead.
Written by Farah Zaman,
Her blog: //farahzamanauthor.com/