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Why Is the Night of Power in Ramadan So Important?

“It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down as guidance for all people, having in it clear proofs of divine guidance and the criterion for right and wrong.”

“It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down as guidance for all people, having in it clear proofs of divine guidance and the criterion for right and wrong.”

What is special about Laylatul Qadr (The Ramadan Night of Power)?

Everything that could possibly make one night most wondrous above all the others makes Laylatul Qadr the night.

Allah Himself speaking fittingly in the royal “We” has answered this question best in the Quran:

“Indeed, it is We who have sent this [Quran] down [from on high] on the Night of Empowering Decree. And do you realize what is the Night of Empowering Decree? The Night of Empowering Decree is better than a thousand months! Therein do the angels and the Spirit [Gabriel] descend, by the permission of their Lord, with every [divine] commandment. Peace it is till the rise of dawn!” (Surat Al-Qadr, 97:1-5)

And again in Surat Al-Dukhan (44:2-5), He called it “laylatin mubarakatin,” a blessed night, extolling it in this way:

“I swear by [the Quran,] the clear Book! Indeed, it is We alone Who have sent it down in a blessed night. For, indeed, it is We alone Who are giving humanity forewarning of a nearing Judgment. In that blessed night, every wise affair is determined by a divine command from Our providence. For, indeed, it is We alone Who have been sending messengers [to humanity].

Then, for context, He tells us:

“It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down as guidance for all people, having in it clear proofs of divine guidance and the criterion for right and wrong.”

Followed by Heaven’s instruction of how we are to memorialize this unequaled and boundless blessing in our lives:

“So whoever among you bears witness to the month shall then fast it. Yet if one among you is sick or is on a journey such a person shall then fast the same number of other days. Allah intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship. Rather, He wills for you to complete the number of prescribed days — and that you shall extol Allah for the blessing of faith to which He has guided you, so that you may give thanks to Him alone [for easing its way and establishing you in it].

Can you explain Laylatul Qadr’s (the Ramadan Night of Power) specialness in other words?

It is the way of Allah to create and then choose from His creation, gracing some above others. Place and time — creations each of Allah, Most High — hold no exception.

If there is a multiverse, Allah picked this universe to be ours. Of its countless-billion galaxies, He chose our Milky Way to host human life.

From the numberless stars He fixed our sun with its orbiting planets, and among them furnished Earth as our cradle and crucible. He formed earth’s landmasses, some say from Makkah as the navel of the world, which He blessed as its holiest ground, then ordered the Arch-Angel Gabriel and an angelic contingent to establish the Kaaba’s interlocking foundations to its very core, marking it as the earthly center of all holy space.

Likewise, Allah, splendid and resplendent, made our time-year of 12 lunar months, and marked out Ramadan, the ninth of them, to inaugurate each of His revealed Books, with the Last and culminating Heavenly Revelation His Own Recitation, the Quran, for we the people of these latter days brought to life on the eve of Resurrection’s Hour.

Yet of all Ramadan’s glorifying nights, He made Laylatul Qadr — the Ramadan Night of Power, the Night of Empowering Decree — literally shine out most hallowed.

Therein He “decreed in power” all things that the coming time-year shall frame and that no other can turn back; and wherein He multiplied the divine rewards for its devotions and ritual venerations of Him alone better than a thousand months

This is the night He sent down that first word and command from which all the Quran flows: Recite! Read! Iqra! in the name of your Lord who created. From the High Heavens it descended, piercing the skies and the heart of His beloved, Muhammad, last prophet and final messenger to both humankind and jinn-kind.

The famed Quran commentator Ibn Kathir explained the celestial descent of the Quran on Laylatul Qadr:

“Allah sent the Quran down all at one time from the Preserved Tablet of Heaven [Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz] to The Mighty House [Bayt Al-Izza], which is in the heaven of this world. Then it came down in parts to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, in accordance with the incidents that occurred in a period of 23 years.”

So as Muslims, we are to remember with humbled awe just how blessed we are, though not specially deserving, that Allah preferred us — the community of Muhammad, on him be peace — over all preceding and succeeding peoples by gracing us with The Night of Empowering Decree, the great multiplier of deeds of good and divine worship by a thousand times and more.

Why is Laylatul Qadr named as it is?

Allah named it this. The best translation for the Ramadan Night of Power may be “The Night of Empowering Decree,” because this takes into account the simultaneous prime events that occur within it of divine ordainments that cannot be withstood.

Qadr in the Arabic language has a handful of related meanings, such as “decree,” “power,” “greatness,” “proportion,” “honor,” and synonyms of these senses.

So the name of this night includes at least three of its dimensions:

  1. It is an eminent night of noble honor.
  2. In it Allah sends down all the decrees of the coming year with such power that they shall not be turned back — who shall live and who shall die; the provisions each person will have; and what will happen on and to the earth for the coming year, including wars, rainfall, droughts, quakes, storms and every other blessing and calamity on earth.
  3. The one who worships sincerely on this night because he or she believes in its holiness receives from Allah a profoundly magnified proportion in reward for each good deed and act of devotion done it, as well as forgiveness.

When is the Ramadan Night of Power, Laylatul Qadr?

Laylatul Qadr, as the Prophet, on him be peace, told us, is one of the last odd nights of Ramadan. So people should strive in their ritual prayer (salah) and other worship in each of Ramadan’s last 10 nights, with focused exertion on its 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 29th nights.

Of these, the strongest prophetic indication is one of the last three nights (Bukhari), with the 27th favored among these:

“One searching for Laylatul Qadr should seek it on the night of the 27th” (Muslim).

Commonly, there are differences of opinion in the global Muslim community on the start and end of Ramadan (which contrary to popular opinion among us is not bad but one of the excellent ambiguities indicating the true divinity of Islam’s Revelation for “human beings,” who are, after all, “human” and hence diverse of mind, place, experience, and on and on).

To be sure, then, one should labor in prayer and worship all of the last 10 nights. The period from sunset to dawn (maghrib to fajr) is only a handful of hours.

So worshippers should push themselves in each of these nights, knowing one of them will be Laylatul Qadr, especially since their devotions in it will have the reward of more than (khayrun min) 83 years and 4 months for them, a lifetime.

What does “better than a thousand months” mean?

Do the math. If one lives only until age 35, for example, and catches every Laylatul Qadr with fasting and extra prayer and worship, this believer would accrue something like 1,666 years of worship written in his or her Book of Deeds, not counting the first 15 years of life, if we count from about the time one has reached puberty, when one’s divine account was opened.

We’re talking accumulation of uncounted divine reward here, not one-for-one, but hundreds for one. Talk about stacking the scales of the Divine Balance!

In addition, worship on Laylatul Qadr has an analogous “undo” function for our past sins.

I’m trying to save this hadith for the “virtues” question, but here’s the proof for this forgiveness claim:

“One who stands much [in salah, ritual prayer] in Laylatul Qadr out of faith [in its blessedness] and anticipating reward from Allah will be forgiven all his past sins” (Bukhari and Muslim).

In case you missed it, that key prophetic term was “all,” as in ghosts of sins past — Allah forgive us every one!

So what are Laylatul Qadr’s virtues?

Too many to list, but here are seven we can rattle right off:

  1. It was the night in which the revelation of the Quran began (inna anzalnahu / Indeed, it is We who have sent it down).
  2. It is a blessed night (laylatin mubarakatin).
  3. In it the affairs of the world for the coming year are sent down to earth (fiha yufraq kullu amr).
  4. The reward of worship in Laylatul Qadr is greatly magnified (Laylatul Qadri khayrun min alfi shahr / The Night of Empowering Decree is better than a thousand months).
  5. The angels descend that night with blessings, mercy, and forgiveness. It is the only night of the year, since the sealing of Revelation, in which the Spirit (Al-Ruh), namely, the Arch-Angel Gabriel, peace on him, comes to earth.
  6. It is a night of peace, free in itself of harm and evil. In it is the doing of many good deeds. In it is much salvation from punishment. In it the restriction and confinement of Satan exceeds any other night (salamun hiya / Peace it is).
  7. It holds abundant forgiveness of sins for the believer who offers ample ritual prayer (salah), and who does so with belief in its potency and with hope for reward from Allah. (Ta-da!) The Prophet, on him be peace, said:

“One who stands much [in salah, ritual prayer] in Laylatul Qadr out of faith [in its blessedness] and anticipating reward from Allah will be forgiven all his past sins” (Bukhari and Muslim).

How can I prepare for Laylatul Qadr?

Begin preparation for this night from the Dawn Prayer (Salat Al-Fajr) of the previous day. If you want a strong night of worship in the coming evening, start increasing your worshipful and good-deed striving that morning.

Here are six things you can do to prepare for Laylatul Qadr:

  1. Remembrances of Allah:

After Fajr, be vigilant about saying all of the adhkar (remembrances of Allah) of the day, and say 100 times: La ilaha illa’Lah. Wahdahu, la sharika lah. Lahu’l-mulk. Wa lahu’l-hamd. Wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadir. “There is no God but Allah, His Oneness. No partner has He. For Him is all the dominion, and for Him is all praise. And He is over all things powerful.”

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah, on him be peace, said:

“Whoever says this one hundred times in a day, it is written for him as the reward of freeing 10 slaves. He receives 100 [additional] good deeds, and 100 of his bad deeds are erased. Moreover, it is a protection for him from Satan on that day until he sleeps, and none shall have surpassed him that day [in good works], save one who did the like or more” (Bukhari).

  1. Feed fasters:

Invite others to break fast with you, or provide food to the fasting.

  1. Pay the poor (sadaqah):

Save up, well ahead of time, so that you can give sadaqah, especially to those in need, on Laylatul Qadr so as to maximize the reward of this surpassing good deed.

Some encourage believers to save up throughout the entire year because just $1 in sadaqah on this night will equal giving at least $30,000! In some homes, they give sadaqah in each of the last 10 nights to ensure their charity goes up on Laylatul Qadr.

Pay Zakat on Laylatul Qadr, as best as you can estimate its night (hint: 27th is the insider favorite).

  1. Keep the sunnah:

Make sure to do all the known non-obligatory prayers (sunnah, or nawafil, salawat) the Prophet, on him be peace, did. The mosque in congregation beats home for men every time.

Bukhari reports on the authority of Anas ibn Malik, that the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, used to hasten to reach the pillars of the mosque [to perform behind them the non-obligatory prayers that the Prophet, on him be peace, did (sunnah)] after the call to the Sunset Prayer; and they would be making these extra ritual prayers when the Prophet, on him be peace, came out of his home to lead the obligatory (fard) prayer because there was so little time in which to do so between the call to prayer (adhan) and the summons to stand up for it (iqama).

This is why the Companions hastened so to pray the non-obligatory two cycles (rakahs) of prayer, so as to reap the extra rewards in that brief window.

Otherwise, congregational prayer at home or wherever you are bests solitary prayer. Women have a license for the mosque or home; solitary prayers also hold just as special a rank for you. 

Do other worship that the Prophet, on him be peace, did.

For example, repeat after the caller to prayer (mu’adhdhin), saying the supplications (s. dua) between the call to prayer (adhan) and the summons to stand for prayer (iqama).

The Prophet, on him be peace, said:

“One who hears the summons to the prayer and after it says: ‘O Allah, Lord of this perfected call to faith and established prayer! Give Muhammad the Sole Pinnacle of Paradise (Al-Wasilah) and eminence, and raise him back to life up to the Station of Praise You have promised him;” permitted for him shall be my intercession on the Day of Resurrection” (Bukhari).

The Arabic dua transliterated is this:

“Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-da‘wati-tammah, was-salatil-qa’imah, aati Muhammadan al-wasilata wal-fadilata, wab’ath-hu maqaman mahmudan alladhi wa‘adtahu.”

Make the prophetic supplications before one breaks one’s fast and after, always saying bismillah, in the Name of Allah.

  1. Seek pardon:

On Laylatul Qadr, say this dua constantly:

“O Allah! You are the Pardoner. You love pardoning. So pardon me” (Bukhari).

Allahumma! Anta ‘Afuwun. Tuhib Al-‘Afwa fa ‘afu ‘anni.

Aisha, beloved wife of the Prophet, on him be peace, and Mother of the Believers, reported that one should say this on the Ramadan Night of Power.

There is another report that the Companions of the Prophet, on him be peace, also asked him what they should do if they found themselves in this great night. The Prophet, on him be peace, advised them to say the same supplication of seeking pardon.

  1. Rush iftar, delay suhur:

Take advantage of every opportunity for a reward that Allah has put in all the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Break your fast (iftar) as soon as the sun sets, with the intention of following the way (Sunnah) of the Prophet, on him be peace. And when it comes to suhur, remember the Prophet, on him be peace, said:

“There will be goodness in my community (Ummah) so long as they hasten to break their fasts [when the time comes in] and to delay the pre-fasting meal (suhur).”

That is, eat suhur as late as feasible, right before dawn comes in.

What common mistakes do people make for Laylatul Qadr?

Here are three:

  1. Misperception:

Sometimes on an odd day of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, one sees a dream, or perceives some other sign, that points to the following night as Laylatul Qadr and then strives hard in that night but not the others.

Yet this may not be a true dream — and even if it is, it could be interpreted wrongly.

Once the noble Companion Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, interpreted a dream in the presence of the Prophet, on him be peace, and the Prophet, on him be peace, told him:

“You were correct in some of it and incorrect in some of it” (Bukhari).

This proves to us, and we are not nearly as aware and wise as Abu Bakr, that we could be wrong. Not to mention, leaving worship in the other nights of Ramadan deprives us of good worship in them, which is still eminently worthy and heavy in the scales.

  1. Miscalculation:

Similarly, you should not be overly concerned with confirming the signs of Laylatul Qadr such that you grow sure it has passed.

Again, we can be wrong in our assessments and miss out on the rest of the nights of beneficial worship, one of which may, in fact, be Laylatul Qadr.

  1. Complacency:

In our time, it is common for us to observe the 27th night of Ramadan as Laylatul Qadr. Our imams often complete the Quran’s recitation in prayer on that night. After this night, there is often a lessening of exertion in our prayer (salah), worship, and good deeds because we believe Laylatul Qadr has passed.

Often, we occupy ourselves in Ramadan’s final days with shopping and preparation for Eid al-Fitr. Rather, we should strive until the very end of Ramadan, and in all its days for the reasons of reward and rarity already made clear.

What is the divine wisdom for Laylatul Qadr?

In the creation and experience of this night, there is undoubtedly great wisdom. Some of it Allah made known to us:

The divine order: It shows us that Allah is utterly engaged in the momentary control of all our affairs on earth. This is a specific rejection of the idea that Allah created the world, set it in motion, and then just let it go; or the theory that as the Being of Perfection, Allah simply cannot be bothered with His imperfect creatures and creation.

Life-length: The people of previous communities used to live long lives, some into hundreds of years. But the men and women of the community of Muhammad, on him be peace, he has informed us, will live mostly between 60 and 70 years. In order for us to compete with the life-chance to accumulate good deeds granted to our predecessors in faith, Allah, Most High, gave the nation (Ummah) of the Prophet Muhammad, on him be peace, the great blessing multiplier and sin eraser, Laylatul Qadr.

Severe human limitation: Much of Laylatul Qadr’s wisdom, we cannot grasp. He has kept it hidden from us in the realm of the Unseen — which points to another wisdom for us: Allah equipped human beings with hearts intrinsically vested with the knowledge that He is the One and only God and with an imaginative faculty that can discern both man’s own knowledge and sensory limits and that the realm of the Unseen is therefore a real domain.

Any last advice?

Take care to reap as many benefits of Laylatul Qadr as you can. It is a great and uncommon blessing Allah has given to us. The inevitable truth is that some Laylatul Qadr our own death or incapacitation will be among the divine commands sent down in it.

The learned Companion Ibn Abbas, Allah be pleased with him, said:

“Indeed, you see a man walking in the market. Yet his name came down among those who shall die.”

Then he recited verses 3-4 of Surat Al-Dukhan, (verse 5 here included for context):

“Indeed, it is We alone Who have sent it down in a blessed night. For, indeed, it is We alone Who are giving humanity forewarning [of a nearing Judgment]. In that blessed night, every wise affair is determined” by a [divine] command from Our providence (Surat Al-Dukhan, 44:3-5).

We have no guarantee of life. We do not know if we will be given the next Laylatul Qadr. To exert ourselves, then, in every night of Ramadan while we are alive and able is the only certain way of knowing we have found Laylatul Qadr and striven with the deeds worthy of this, the most blessed night of Islam’s Heavenly appointed year.

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