praise be to allaah, the lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the trustworthy prophet muhammad and upon all his family and companions.
the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) used to strive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of ramadaan in a way that he did not strive at any other times.
(muslim, 1175, from ‘aa’ishah). among the things he did were secluding himself in i’tikaaf and seeking laylat al-qadr during this time. (al-bukhaari, 1913; muslim, 1169). in al-saheehayn it is reported from the hadeeth of ‘aa’ishah (may allaah be pleased with her) that when the last ten days of ramadaan came, the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins. (al-bukhaari, 1920; muslim, 1174). muslim added: he strove hard and girded his loins.
her phrase “girded his loins” is a metaphor for his preparing himself to worship and strive hard in worship, more than usual. it has the meaning of “rolling up one's sleeves” to worship (i.e. getting ready to make a great deal of effort).
it was also said that it was a metaphor for keeping away from women and abstaining from sexual relations.
the phrase “stay up at night” means that he would stay awake, spending the night in prayer, etc. it was reported in another hadeeth that ‘aa’ishah (may allaah be pleased with her) said: “i never saw the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) recite the entire qur’aan in one night, or spend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, except in ramadaan.”
(sunan al-nasaa’i, 1641). the words “stay up at night” may mean that he spent most of the night in worship, or that he did not stay up for the entire night, but he did that at the times of ‘ishaa and suhoor, and other times, in which case it would mean that he stayed up for most of the night.
the phrase “and wake his family” means that he would wake his wives to pray qiyaam. it is known that he (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) used to wake his wives all year round, but he used to wake them to spend part of the night in qiyaam. in saheeh al-bukhaari it is reported that the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) woke up one night and said, “subhaan allaah! what tribulations have come down tonight! what treasure has come down tonight! who will wake up the dwellers of the apartments? there may be women who are clothed in this world and naked in the hereafter.”
(al-bukhaari, 1074). it was also reported (in saheeh al-bukhaari) that he (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) used to wake ‘aa’ishah (may allaah be pleased with her) when he wanted to pray witr. (al-bukhaari, 952). but when he woke his wives during the last ten nights of ramadaan, this was more persistent than at other times of the year.
the fact that he (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) did this indicates the importance he attached to worshipping his lord and making the most of this special time.
the muslim should follow the example of the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him), for he is the best example, and he should strive hard in worshipping allaah. he should not waste the hours of these days and nights. for we do not know, perhaps this time will never come again, for the spoiler of pleasures, i.e., death, which must come to all men, may come and snatch him and his life will end; then he will feel regret at the time when regret will be of no avail.
among the unique virtues of these special nights is that laylat al-qadr is among them. allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“haa-meem. [these letters are one of the miracles of the qur’aan and none but allaah (alone) knows their meanings.]
by the manifest book (this qur’aan) that makes things clear.
we sent it (this qur’aan) down on a blessed night [(i.e. the night of al-qadr) in the month of ramadaan]. verily, we are ever warning [mankind that our torment will reach those who disbelieve in our oneness of lordship and in our oneness of worship].
therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments.
as a command (or this qur’aan or the decree of every matter) from us. verily, we are ever sending (the messengers),
(as) a mercy from your lord. verily, he is the all-hearer, the all-knower.” [al-dukhaan 44:1-6]
allaah sent down the qur’aan on this night which the lord of the worlds has described as blessed. it was reported from a group of the salaf – including ibn ‘abbaas, qutaadah, sa’eed ibn jubayr, ‘ikrimah, mujaahid and others – that the night on which the qur’aan was sent down was laylat al-qadr.
the phrase therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments means, on that 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.
what is meant by the idea that the destiny of all creatures is written on laylat al-qadr is – and allaah knows best – that on laylat al-qadr they are transferred from al-lawh al-mahfooz. ibn ‘abbaas 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 honour, 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 man of honour. 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 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. allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “but when he tries him, by straitening his means of life [fa qadara ‘alayhi rizqahu]…” [al-fajr 89:16], i.e., by constricting or reducing his provision.
and it was said that qadr means qadar, i.e., that on this night the decrees for the coming year are ordained, as allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments” [al-dukhaan 44:4]
· and because allaah’s decrees 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 in al-saheehayn from abu hurayrah (may allaah be pleased with him) that the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said: “whoever stays up during laylat al-qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
(al-bukhaari, 1910; muslim, 760).
allaah has given this night special characteristics which make it unique:
1. it is the night on which the qur’aan was sent down, as we have stated above. ibn ‘abbaas and others said: “allaah sent down the qur’aan at one time from al-lawh al-mahfooz to bayt al-‘izzah in the first heaven, then it was revealed to the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) in stages according to events over twenty-three years.”
(tafseer ibn katheer, 4/529)
· allaah described it as being better than a thousand months, as he said (interpretation of the meaning): “the night of al-qadr is better than a thousand months” [al-qadr 97:3].
· allaah described it as being blessed, as he said (interpretation of the meaning): “we sent it (this qur’aan) down on a blessed night” [al-dukhaan 44:3].
· on this night, the angels and the spirit [al-rooh] descend, “i.e., many angels descend of this night because it is so blessed, and the angels come down when allaah’s blessing and mercy come down, just as they come down when qur’aan is recited, and they surround the circles of dhikr (gatherings where allaah is remembered), and they beat their wings for the one who sincerely seeks knowledge, out of respect for him.”
(see tafseer ibn katheer, 4/531). the spirit [al-rooh] is jibreel (peace be upon him), who is specifically mentioned in this manner as a sign of respect for him.
· this night is described as peace, i.e., it is safe, for the shaytaan cannot do any evil or cause any harm on this night, as mujaahid said.
(see tafseer ibn katheer, 4/531). on this night, many people are saved from punishment because of what they do to worship allaah, may he be glorified.
· “therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments” [al-dukhaan 44:4 – interpretation of the meaning]
, i.e., the affairs of that year are dispatched from al-lawh al-mahfooz 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. (see tafseer ibn katheer, 4/137, 138). 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. (sharh saheeh muslim li’l-nawawi, 8/57).
· allaah forgives the previous sins of the one who stays up and prays during this night out of faith and in hope of earning the reward from him. it was reported in the hadeeth of abu hurayrah (may allaah be pleased with him) that the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said: “whoever fasts the month of ramadaan out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever stays up during laylat al-qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (agreed upon). the phrase “out of faith and in the hope of earning reward” means, believing in allaah’s promise of reward for this, and seeking the reward, with no other aim or purpose, such as showing off etc.”
(fath al-baari, 4/251).
allaah has revealed a soorah concerning this night which will be recited until the day of resurrection, in which he mentions the honour and great value of this night. this is the soorah in which he says (interpretation of the meaning