the last ten days of ramadhaan are blessed by allaah with unique virtues. among such virtues is that laylat al-qadr (the night of decree) is among them. about this night, allaah, the most exalted, says (what means): “ha, meem. by the clear book. indeed, we sent it down during a blessed night. indeed, we were to warn [mankind]. on that night is made distinct every precise matter - [every] matter [proceeding] from us. indeed, we were to send [a messenger]. as mercy from your lord. indeed, he is the hearing, the knowing.”[quran 44:1-6]
allaah sent down the quran on this night which he, the most exalted, described as blessed. it was reported from a group of the salaf (righteous predecessors) – including ibn ‘abbaas, qataadah, sa’eed ibn jubayr, ‘ikrimah, mujaahid and others , may allaah be pleased with them- that the night on which the quran was sent down was laylat al-qadr.
the phrase (which means): “on that night is made distinct every precise matter,” indicates that on this night the destiny of all creatures for the coming year is decreed. on that night it is written who will live, who will die, who will be saved, who will be doomed, who will be destined for paradise, who will be destined for hell, who will be granted honour, who will be humiliated, where drought and famine will occur, and everything else that allaah wills in that year.
ibn ‘abbaas, may allaah be pleased with him, said: “you may see a man furnishing his home or plowing his field, and he is one of those who are going to die,” i.e., it has been decreed on laylat al-qadr that he is one of those who are going to die (in the coming year). and it was said that on this night, the destiny of people is shown to the angels.
the meaning of “qadr” is veneration or honor, i.e. it is a night that is venerated because of its special characteristics, and because the one who stays up during this night becomes a person of honor. and it was said that qadr means constriction, in the sense that the knowledge of precisely when this night is, is hidden. al-khaleel ibn ahmad, may allaah have mercy upon him, said: “it was called laylat al-qadr because the earth is constricted by the great numbers of angels on that night, and qadr means constriction.”
it was also said that qadr means qadar (decree), i.e., that on this night the decrees for the coming year are ordained, as allaah says (what means): “on that night is made distinct every precise matter.” [quran 44:4]and because the decrees of allaah are decided and written down on this night.
so allaah has called it laylat al-qadr, because of its great value and high status with allaah, and because so many sins are forgiven and so many faults are concealed during this night. for it is the night of forgiveness, as it was reported that the prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “whoever stays up during laylat al-qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning the reward of allaah, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [al-bukhaari and muslim]
allaah has given this night special characteristics which make it unique, such as:
1. it is the night on which the quran was sent down, as we have stated above. ibn ‘abbaas, may allaah be pleased with him, said: “allaah sent down the quran at one time from al-lawh al-mahfooth (the preserved tablet in the seventh heaven) to bayt al-‘izzah (house of pride) in the first heaven, then it was revealed to the messenger of allaah, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, in stages according to events over twenty-three years.” [ibn katheer]
2. allaah described it as being better than a thousand months, as he says (what means): “the night of decree is better than a thousand months.” [quran 97:3]
3. allaah described it as being blessed, as he says (what means): “indeed, we sent it down during a blessed night.” [quran 44: 3]
4. on this night, the angels and the spirit [jibreel (angel gabriel)] descend, “i.e., many angels descend on this night because it is so blessed, and the angels come down when the blessings and mercy of allaah come down, just as they come down when the quran is recited, and they surround the circles of thikr (gatherings where allaah is mentioned), and they spread their wings for the one who sincerely seeks knowledge, out of respect for him.” [ibn katheer]
jibreel is specifically mentioned as a sign of respect for him.
5. this night is described as peace, i.e., it is safe, for the devils cannot do any evil or cause any harm on this night, as mujaahid, may allaah have mercy upon him, said: “on this night, many people are saved from punishment because of what they do to worship allaah, the most exalted.”
6. allaah says (what means):“on that night is made distinct every precise matter.” [quran 44:4], the affairs of that year are dispatched from the preserved tablet to the angels who record the decrees: who will live, who will die, what provision people will be given, what will happen until the end of that year, every matter of ordainments is decreed, and it cannot be altered or changed. [ibn katheer]
all of this is already known to allaah before it is even written down, but he makes known to the angels what is to happen, and commands them to do whatever they are enjoined to do.
7. allaah revealed a chapter concerning this night which will be recited until the day of resurrection, in which he mentions the honor and great value of this night. this is the chapter in which almighty allaah says (what means): “indeed, we sent the qur'an down 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.” [quran 97:1-5]
the verse (which means): “and what can make you know what is the night of decree?” [quran 97:2]serves to draw attention to the importance and great significance of this night.
the verse (which means): “the night of decree is better than a thousand months.”means that worship during it is better than worship during a thousand months (which means over eighty three years). this is a great virtue, the value of which no one can fully understand except the lord of the worlds, the most exalted.
laylat al-qadr is in the last ten days of ramadhaan, as stated in the narration of ibn ‘umar, may allaah be pleased with him, that the prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “seek laylat al-qadr in the last ten days of ramadhaan.” [muslim]
it is more likely to be one of the odd-numbered nights, because of the narration of ‘aa’ishah, may allaah be pleased with her, who said that the messenger of allaah, sallallaahu ``alayhi wa sallam, had said: “seek laylat al-qadr in the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights.” [al-bukhaari]
we should seek it especially in the odd-numbered nights, i.e., on the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh and the twenty-ninth. it was also reported that the prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “seek it in the last ten nights, on the odd-numbered nights.” [al-bukhaari and muslim]
it is most likely to be on the night of the twenty-seventh. this is according to the saying of the prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam: “laylat al-qadr is the night of the twenty-seventh.” [ahmad and abu daawood] the view that it is the night of the twenty-seventh is the opinion of most of the companions, may allaah be pleased with them, and the majority of scholars. ubayy ibn ka’b, may allaah be pleased with him, used to assert, without saying “inshaa allaah-god willing” that: “…it was the night of the twenty-seventh. zurr ibn hubaysh, may allaah be pleased with him, said to ubayy, may allaah be pleased with him: ‘i said: what makes you say that, o abu’l-munthir (i.e. ubay)?’ he, may allaah be pleased with him, said: ‘by the signs of which the messenger of allaah, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, told us: that the sun rises that morning with no visible rays.’” [muslim]
the fact that it is more likely the night of the twenty-seventh –allaah knows best – does not mean that this is always the case. it could be any of the other odd-numbered nights of the last ten days of ramadhaan. some of the scholars ruled that it is more likely that it moves and does not come on a specific night each year.
allaah has concealed this night so that his slaves will strive to seek it, and will strive hard in worship, just as he has concealed the blessed hour of friday.
therefore, we should strive hard during the days and nights of these ten days, seeking laylat al-qadr and following the example of our prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, and we should strive in supplication and seeking to draw close to allaah almighty.