Published in  
April 5, 2024

Navigating The Night of Al-Qadr (Laylatul Qadr)

Allah tells us, لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ “The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months.” [Surah al-Qadr, 3] This is one of the most sought after nights in the whole year. We spend all ten nights working hard so that we can make the most of this blessed night. Let's learn more about it. This article covers: - Laylatul Qadr: A Gift for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his Ummah - When Is The Night of Qadr (Laylatul Qadr)? - Does Laylat al-Qadr change for different parts of the world? - How do I make the most of Laylat al-Qadr? I am so busy! - Why Am I Not Able to Pray Qiyam Al-Layl? - What are the Signs to Recognize the Night of Laylatul Qadr

Laylatul Qadr: A Gift for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his Ummah

In Surah al-Qadr, Allah tells us about Laylat al-Qadr by saying:

لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

Laylat al-Qadr is better than one thousand months. [Surah al-Qadr, 3]

Commenting on this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi رحم الله said,

Ibn Abbas and ‘Ataa’ said, "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was told about a man from Banu Israel who carried a sword on his shoulder in the path of Allah for one thousand months. So Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was amazed by this and wished this for his ummah, saying, 'O Lord, You made my ummah the shortest of nations in terms of lifespan and the least of them in terms of deeds?' So then Allah gave him Laylat al-Qadr and said,

لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

“Laylat al-Qadr is better than one thousand months.

in which that man from Banu Israel carried a sword in the path of Allah. It is for you and your ummah until the Day of Resurrection.” [Tafsir al-Baghawi]

Something similar is also narrated by Imam Malik رحم الله in his Muwatta which states, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ 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.”

Imam al-Baghawi رحم الله further said, "The scholars of Tafsir have said that the meaning of 'Laylat al-Qadr is better than one thousand months” is that righteous deeds done during Laylat al-Qadr are better than the deeds of one thousand months which do not contain Laylat al-Qadr.'

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet ﷺ said, 'Whoever stands Laylat al-Qadr in prayer with Iman and the expectation of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.'

Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib رحم الله said, 'Whoever is present for Maghrib and Isha in congregation has certainly caught his share of Laylat al-Qadr.'

Aishah رضي الله عنها said to the Prophet ﷺ, 'If I come upon Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say?” He replied, “Say:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي

O Allah, Indeed You are Pardoning and love pardoning, so pardon me!'" [Tafsir al-Baghawi]

When Is The Night of Qadr (Laylatul Qadr)?

Firstly, why is this night so important? Allah tells us,

لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

“The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months.” [Surah al-Qadr, 3]

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Search for Laylatul-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” [Bukhari]

The Prophet ﷺ taught us, "Whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari]

The scholars say, "He has lost, he has lost, he has surely lost - the one who does not sell a few hours today to buy a thousand months of worship"

This is the Night where:
- Allah Revealed the Qur'an. The Qur'an was sent from the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz) to Bayt al-Izzah in the first heaven, from whence it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ over 23 years.
- The Divine Decree of the coming year is established.
- The Mercy and Blessings of Allah Descends.
- Angelic presence floods the dunya.

So when is this blessed night? Imam an-Nawawi رحم الله said, "The hadith of Ubayy ibn Ka‘b says that he used to swear that it was the night of the twenty-seventh, but this is one of several opinions concerning it. Most of the scholars are of the view that it is an unknown night among the last ten nights of Ramadan, and it is most likely to be on an odd-numbered night, and the most likely night is the night of the twenty-seventh or the twenty-third of the twenty-first, but most of them are of the view that it is a specific night that does not move. However, some scholars said that it does move, so in one year it may be the night of the twenty-seventh, and in another year it may be the night of the twenty-third, and in another year it may be the night of the twenty-first, or some other night, and this is more likely to be correct. In this way we may reconcile among the different ahadith. [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said, "Laylat al-Qadr occurs in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. This is how it is authentically reported from the Prophet (ﷺ), that he said, 'It is on the last ten days of Ramadan.' And it happens on one of the odd nights (of these ten).

However, the odd nights can be in terms of what has passed, so it is sought on the nights of the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh, and the twenty-ninth.

And (odd nights) can also be in terms of what remains (of the month), as the Prophet ﷺ said: "(Seek it), when nine (nights) remain, when seven remain, when five remain, or when three remain.' Based on this, if the month is thirty days long, these (odd remaining nights) correspond with the (last ten) even nights from the (beginning of the month). And the twenty-second is when nine remain, and the night of the twenty-fourth is when seven remain. This is how it was explained by Abu Saeed al-Khudri in the authentic hadith. Thus, this is how the Prophet ﷺ held the night prayers during the month.

And if the month is twenty-nine days long, then (counting the) remainder of the month (produces the) same result as (counting) what has passed."

So this shows us that Laylat al-Qadr moves around throughout the last ten nights and it is not always on one specific night from the ten.

The Sheikh further said, "That being the case, the believer should seek it (Laylat al-Qadr) on all of the last ten nights, as the Prophet ﷺ said, 'Seek it in the last ten nights and it will be more in the last seven (days).' And most often it is on the night of the 27th, as even Ubayy ibn Ka'b used to swear that it is the night of the 27th." [Majmu' al-Fatawa]

Laylat al-Qadr is more likely to be in the last seven days. Ibn Umar رضي الله عنه reported that a man among the companions of the Prophet ﷺ was shown Laytal al-Qadr in a dream, and that it was one of the last seven nights. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “It seems that your dreams agreed that it is one of the last seven nights, so whoever wants to seek it, let him seek it in the last seven nights.” [Bukhari]

Summarizing discussions on the topic, Imam al-Baghawi رحمه الله wrote. "In sum, Allah left the exact date of Laylat al-Qadr uncertain for this ummah in order that they might strive in worship during all the nights of Ramadan in hopes of attaining it. This is just as He concealed which hour of Friday is the hour in which supplications are accepted, and just as He concealed which of the five daily prayers is the middle prayer, or which of His names is the greatest. His pleasure is in acts of obedience, so let the people aspire to do them all, and His displeasure is in acts of disobedience, so let them abstain from all of them. And Allah also concealed the time of the Final Hour in order that the people would exert themselves in acts of obedience in watchfulness of its establishment." [Tafsir al-Baghawi]

But sometimes we see that some countries start Ramadan a day before or after us such that what is an even day for us is an odd day for them. So does Laylat al-Qadr change for different parts of the world. Firstly, this is from the matters of the Unseen and there is no point delving into the mechanism of how things work. Secondly, Allah is the Creator and is not bound by time or space. He Commands and everything happens.

That being said, some scholars tried to reconcile the textual proofs and said that there are as many nights of Laylatul-Qadr in one year as there are places, and that each people of each region have their own Laylat al-Qadr according to their moon-sighting and time zone. According to this opinion, Laylat al-Qadr resembles a passenger travelling to a specific destination; he arrives at different places at different times along his way, and the angels descend and ascend accordingly. Some angels descend upon a given people in some place, as Allah wills, and others descend upon other people in another place, and so on. According to this view, the virtues related to Laylat al-Qadr are realized for each people independently, as is the case with the time-bound acts of worship, the time when Allah, The Exalted, descends to the lower heaven at night, the hour when the supplications are most likely answered on Fridays, the month of Ramadan, the days of Eid, and the like. This is an attempt to explain the matter and Allah Knows best.

But I Am So Busy!

Sometimes work, family, classes, or life in general pile up to such an extent that we cannot make the most of the last 10 days of the blessed month of Ramadan. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ gave us a few gems to help us out in our predicament. It all boils down to the beauty of intention.

  1. Pray with the Imam till the end of the taraweeh. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever prays with the imam until he finishes, Allah will record for him as if he spent the whole night in prayer” [Tirmidhi]
  2. If taraweeh is tough for whatever reason, make sure not to miss Isha and Fajr in congregation. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "Whoever attends Isha (prayer) in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) stood half of the night. And whoever prays Isha and Fajr in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) spend the entire night standing (in prayer)."
  3. Pray at least two rak'at after Isha. Explaining Ayah 64 of Surah al-Furqan, "And those who spend the night, for their Lord, in prostration and standing", Imam al-Qurtubi mentions that Ibn 'Abbas held that whoever prayed two raka'at after Isha or more has spent the night in prostration and standing.
  4. Since we are in the masjid for Fajr, might as well stay back for a bit and energize ourselves by spending some time in dhikr and connecting with Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever prays the Fajr prayer then sits in his place of prayer remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two rakʿat, shall be rewarded as if he had performed Hajj and Umrah, with a reward that is complete, complete, complete.” [Tirmidhi]
  5. Even if you feel sleepy, make the intention to pray qiyam. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever comes to his carpet intending to stand for prayer at night, yet his eyes are overcome with sleep until morning, his intention is recorded for him and his sleep is charity for him from his Lord Almighty.” [Nasai]
  6. Whenever you enter the masjid no matter for how short a period of time, make the intention of I'tikaf so we are counted amongst those who did I'tikaf for Allah.
  7. Keep the tongue moist with dhikr. One of the easiest dhikr with a high reward is where the Prophet ﷺ taught us, "(There are) two words which are dear to the Beneficent (Allah) and very light (easy) for the tongue (to say), but very heavy in weight in the balance. They are: ''Subhan Allah wa-bi hamdihi'' and ''Subhan Allah Al-Azim." [Bukhari] In another narration Allah's Messenger ﷺ taugt us, "Whoever says: Subhanallahi wa bihamdihi one hundred times a day, will have his sins forgiven even if they are like the foam of the sea. [Bukari]
  8. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever regularly prays the two rakʿat of Duha, his sins are forgiven even if they are like the foam of the sea.” [Tirmidhi]
  9. Give charity as much as possible no matter how less it may seem to you for it may be greater than the charity of the rich in the eyes of Allah. Remember others in your dua so the angels will say Ameen and the same for you too.

Why Am I Not Able to Pray Qiyam Al-Layl?

Discussing Qiyam al-Layl (the voluntary night prayers), Imam ibn Rajab al-Hanbali رحم الله brings a series of quotes from the salaf highlighting why we might experience difficulty in performing this recommended act of worship:

- It was said to Ibn Mas’ud رضي الله عنه, “We are not able to perform the Qiyam al-Layl.” He replied, “Distance yourselves from your sins!”

- It was said to al-Hasan al-Basri رحم الله, “We have been made incapable of performing Qiyam al-Layl.” He replied, “Restrict your sins!”

- Fudhail ibn Iyadh رحم الله said, “If you are not able to pray during the night and fast during the day, then know that you have been deprived and detained, shackled by your own sins.”

- al-Hasan رحم الله said, “If the slave committed a sin then he is prohibited from Qiyam al-Layl because of it.” [Lata’if al-Ma’arif]

Allah says in Surah az-Zumar,

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ  إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا  إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

Say: O My slaves who have wronged themselves, do not give up hope in Allah's mercy. Allah forgives all sins. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful." [Surah az-Zumar, 53]

In his discussion on the end of Ramadan, Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali quotes this ayah and then writes, "O you sinner - and this applies to all of us -, do not give up hope of Allah's mercy on account of your bad deeds, for how many people does Allah free from the fire on these days, people just like you! So have good expectations of your Master and repent to Him." [Lata'if al-Ma'arif]

What are the Signs to Recognize the Night of Laylatul Qadr?

Firstly, Allah Alone Knows the true time of Laylatul Qadr. Even our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ didn't know the exact time. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) went out to inform the people about the (date of the) Laylatu’l-Qadr, but a quarrel took place between two of the Muslim men. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I came out to inform you about (the date of) Laylatu’l-Qadr, but so-and-so and so-and-so quarreled, so its knowledge was taken away. And perhaps that is better for you. Search for it in the 7th, the 9th and the 5th (of the last 10 nights of Ramadan)." [Bukhari] That being said, we were given indications of a night being the Night of Laylat al-Qadr.

It is a night that is very calm, very peaceful. Ubadah ibn As-Samit رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The signs of Laylat al-Qadr are that it is serene and clear as if the moon is shining in it. It is peaceful and calm. It is neither too cold nor too hot, and no shooting star appears in it until morning. Among its signs is that the sun rises evenly the following morning without any visible rays, like the full moon. The devil will not be able to rise with it.” [Ahmad]

The moon looks like half a 'jafna' (half a plate) in the night. Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه said, “We were talking about Laylatul-Qadr in the presence of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he said,  “Does anyone amongst you remember (the night) when the moon arose and it was like a piece of plate (at the fag end of the month in a state of waning)?” [Muslim]

The sun rises the following morning without any visible rays. So that means it’s a very weak sun, such that one can look straight at it. Ubayy bin Ka’ab رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “And its indication is that the sun rises bright on that day without rays.” [Muslim]

Abdullah bin Mas’ud رضي الله عنه said, “Indeed, the sun rises from between the two horns of the devil, except on the dawn of the Night of al-Qadr.” [Ibn Abi Shaybah]

Our Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله said, "All the signs indicating the Night of Power you get to see only after the Night has passed. Most of the signs are ijtihadat of the scholars except the rain which is proven from the Prophet. Rain at the time of Fajr is one of the strongest signs of it being a Night of Power.

Say Alhamdulilah that the knowledge of this night is hidden. For was it known then no one would have worshipped Allah like they do except for that day. Go to Makkah on the 27th Night of Ramadan and it's like you are performing Hajj.

The problem is just focusing on the night of the 27th alone and neglecting the other nights. We can find it on the 21, 23, 25, 27 or the 29. For every one of these odd nights, we have authentic narrations to back them. Make the last 10 days of Ramadan come alive with your worship." [Welcoming Ramadan, IIUM]

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