The Virtue of Laylat al-Qadr and Clarification of Its Occurrence

The following is from a commentary on Riyadh as-Salihin.

Chapter 214
باب فضل قيام ليلة القدر وبيان أرجى لياليها
Chapter on the virtue of the night of Qadr and clarification of its occurrence

Introduction
The word Qadr literally has three meanings:

  1. Grandeur – The night is one of grandeur because the Qur’an was revealed in it and because huge groups of angels descend in it. Also, one who engages in tawbah and istighfar in it will become one of grandeur and status.
  2. Decision – In this night, decisions for the coming year are handed over to the angels.
  3. Straightened – Due to the abundant numbers of angels that descend in it, the land becomes straightened.

This night is a speciality of this ummah. There are different narrations regarding the reason for this ummah receiving this night. One narration states that the messenger of Allah ﷺ came to know of the life-spans of the previous nations, and comparing them to the short life-span of his ummah, he realized that they would not be able to perform as much actions as those before them. Allah ﷻ, therefore, bestowed this ummah with a night better than 1,000 months, which is equal to over 83 years. (al-Dur al-Manthur)

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ – 97:1
Allah ﷻ says: “surely We revealed it (the Qur’an) in the night of Qadr.”

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ – 44:3
Allah ﷻ says: “Surely We revealed it (the Qur’an) in a blessed night.”

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whosoever performs Qiyam during Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), with Faith and being hopeful of Allah’s reward, will have his former sins forgiven.”

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏من قام ليلة القدر إيمانا واحتسابًا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه‏”‏‏.‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

hadith 1189

Commentary

While the word قامَ in Arabic means to stand in salah, other acts of worship like tilawah (reciting Qur’an), dhikr, and du’a are also included in its implication. The bare minimum is that a person should perform his Isha and Fajr prayers in congregation.

According to Khattabi (رحمه الله) the phrase “in expectation of a reward,” means to stand with a happy heart having conviction of attaining reward and not regarding it as a burden.

According to all the scholars, forgiveness refers to minor sins. The reason for this is that major sins are not forgiven without repentance. Scholars state that there are two reasons why the hadith has not been qualified with the term “minor sins.” Firstly, it is against the dignity of a believer to indulge in major sins, and if a major sin does occur, a believer will not be at peace until he repents. Secondly, whenever such a blessed occasion arrives, a person who is hopeful of rewards, is bound to regret over all his bad deeds, hence his repentance from major sins is natural and inevitable.

Ibn ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Some of the Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) saw Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) in their dreams in the last seven nights of Ramadan, whereupon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “I see that your dreams all agree upon the last seven nights. Whosoever seeks it, let him seek it in the last seven nights.”

وعن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما أن رجالا من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، أروا ليلة القدر في المنام في السبع الأواخر، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏:‏ ‏ “‏أرى رؤياكم قد تواطأت في السبع الأواخر، فمن كان متحريها، فليتحرها في السبع الأواخر‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Hadith 1190

Commentary

The last seven nights could mean the 21st to the 27th of Ramadan, or the 23rd to the 30th of Ramadan. According to most scholars, the second view is preferred.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to seclude himself (in the mosque) during the last ten nights of Ramadan. He would say, “Search for Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) in the last ten nights of Ramadan.”

وعن عائشة رضي الله عنها، قالت‏:‏ كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يجاور في العشر الأواخر من رمضان، ويقول‏:‏ ‏ “‏تحروا ليلة القدر في العشر الأواخر من رمضان‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Hadith 1191

Commentary

It is sunnah to perform itikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Because one who spends his time in itikaf is regarded to be in worship all the time, such a person is fortunate to receive the reward of worship on the night of Qadr.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Seek Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) in the odd nights out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.”

وعنها، رضي الله عنها، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏تحروا ليلة القدر في الوتر من العشر الأواخر من رمضان‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه البخاري‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

[Al- Bukhari].

Hadith 1192

Commentary

There are close to 50 different opinions with regard to which night is the night of Qadr. While some scholars state that the night is restricted to a specific night, others state that it rotates throughout the year. Some say that it occurs every Ramadan and it rotates in the odd nights of the last ten nights.

It is advisable to search for this night by engaging in additional worship during the last ten nights of Ramadan, especially the odd nights. One should also make the effort to perform Maghrib and Isha in the masjid every night of the year so that one receives the reward of spending every night in worship.

Imam Razi (رحمه الله) has provided an informative explanation regarding why the night was not expressly stipulated. He said, “Allah ﷺ concealed it as He concealed many other matters. He concealed His pleasure in various acts of obedience so that people could endeavor to engage in all of them. He concealed His anger in sins, so that people would abstain from all sin. He concealed His awliya’ (saints/friends) amongst people so that people would honor all people. He concealed acceptance in du’as, so that people would strive to make all the du’as. He concealed the ism al-Azam (اسْمُ اللَّهِ الأَعْظَمُ the great name of Allah) so that people would respect every name of Allah ﷺ. He concealed the middle salah (salat al-wusta) so that people would safeguard all the salahs. He concealed the acceptance of repentance so that people would continuously engage in every form of repentance. He concealed the time of death so that people would fear death at all times. He concealed this night so that people would honor every night of Ramadan.”

Scholars have mentioned five benefits of concealment:

  1. If man knew the exact date, he would not have worshiped Allah ﷺ on any other night during the year. As it is unclear, people will engage in more worship hoping to find the night.
  2. If one commits sin on a night knowing it to be a great night, then the punishment will be severe because this is tantamount to audacity in the face of Allah’s ﷺ mercy.
  3. If that night passes by without one engaging in worship, then one will not worship in any other night either.
  4. There is an additional reward for every night spent in Allah’s ﷺ worship.
  5. Allah ﷺ boasts to the angels about those who exert themselves in worship during Ramadan.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
When the last ten nights (of Ramadan) would begin, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would keep awake at night (for prayer and devotion), awaken his family and tightened his mi’zar (lower garment).

وعنها رضي الله عنها، قالت‏:‏ كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏:‏ ‏ “‏إذا دخل العشر الأواخر من رمضان، أحيا الليلة، وأيقظ أهله، وجد وشد المئزر‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Hadith 1193

Commentary

This hadith means that the messenger of Allah ﷺ would generally not engage in worship the entire night, however in the last ten nights of Ramadan he would. Therefore, during the month of Ramadan and especially the last ten nights, one should exert oneself in worship. One should encourage his family members to also do the same and thereby draw the benefits of such moments of acceptance.

“He would fasten his lower garment” means that he would exert himself in worship, or that he would abstain from conjugal relations with his spouses.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to strive more in worship during Ramadan than he strove in any other time of the year; and he would devote himself more (in the worship of Allah) in the last ten nights of Ramadan than he strove in earlier part of the month.

وعنها قالت‏:‏ كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، يجتهد في رمضان ما لا يجتهد في غيره، وفي العشر الأواخر منه، ما لا يجتهد في غيره‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه مسلم‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

[Muslim].

hadith 1194

Commentary

The month of Ramadan is more virtuous than other months, and the last ten nights of it are even more virtuous. A person should therefore strive to perform acts of worship in this month, especially in the last ten days.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).”

وعنها قالت‏:‏ قلت‏:‏ يا رسول الله أرأيت إن علمت أي ليلة القدر ما أقول فيها‏؟‏ قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏قولي‏:‏ اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعفُ عني‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه الترمذي وقال حديث حسن صحيح‏)‏‏)‏

[At-Tirmidhi].

Hadith 1195

Commentary

“If I were to know the night of Qadr” means that “if I were to see the signs of the night.”

The hadith teaches us that the greatest objective in the life of a Muslim should be to gain forgiveness and purity from sins.

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