Laylat al-Qadr: The importance and significance
Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) is a glorious and powerful night. On this night, Allah’s mercy is showered in innumerable streams. On this night so many angels of mercy descend on the earth that a unique peace prevails in the heart of the world till dawn. In the words of Allah Almighty, Laylat al-Qadr is better than a thousand months. The virtues and significance of this holy night are immense.
The reason for naming Laylat al-Qadr
The word ‘Layl’ means night and the word ‘al-Qadr’ means to measure, to make an object in moderation according to its usefulness. In Shari’ah terminology, the word al-Qadr is also used in the sense of decree or ordinance. That is, the word al-Qadr means destiny. Since this night is very glorious and honored, this night is called Laylat al-Qadr. This night is also called Laylat al-Qadr because the obligatory ordinances of the next year are handed over to the angels in this night.
The background of the revelation of Surah Al-Qadr
Ibn Abi Hatim (R) said: Once the Messenger of Allah (SAW) discussed with the Companions about one of the four men of the Children of Israel who lived a long life and spent most of his life in worship. During this time they did not disobey Allah.
Upon hearing this from the Prophet (SAW), the Companions were astonished and began to feel sorry for themselves (because of the shortness of life).
At that time, in view of this regret of the Companions, Allah revealed Surah al-Qadr to the Prophet (SAW) through Gabriel.
Allah says, “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 is until the emergence of dawn.” (97: 1-5)
The importance of the powerful night
To explain the virtues of this holy night, Allah has revealed a separate Surah in the Holy Qur’an called ‘al-Qadr’. Besides, the virtue of Laylat al-Qadr has also been narrated in many hadiths.
Allah says: “Indeed, We sent it (the Qur’an) down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind]. On that night is made distinct every precise matter.” (44: 3-4)
It is narrated in the hadith that on this night, Gabriel descended to earth with a large party of angels and prayed for mercy for all the men and women who were engaged in worship.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “If you want the grave to be illuminated, then worship in Laylat al-Qadr.”
Besides, the Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever spends the Laylat al-Qadr in Qiyam al-Layl (Tahajjud) out of faith and in the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
When is the powerful night Laylat al-Qadr?
There is no specific date of Laylat al-Qadr in the Qur’an or Hadith. It is the special wisdom of Allah. Many people think that the 27th of Ramadan is the night of Laylat al-Qadr. In fact, this idea is not correct.
The Prophet (SAW) never said that the 27th night of Ramadan is the night of decree. However, the odd night of the last decade, that is, any odd night from the 21st of Ramadan to the 29th of Ramadan can be Qadr night.
The Prophet (SAW) said about the date of Laylat al-Qadr, ”I was shown Laylat al-Qadr, then (by special wisdom) I forgot it. So look for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights.” (Bukhari)
When Ubaydah (R) once asked the Prophet (SAW) about the night of Qadr night, he said, “Look for the odd nights of the last ten decades of Ramadan.” (Bukhari)
Therefore, the nights of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 29th of Ramadan should be given more importance.
The Prophet (SAW) said about those who are heedless of this glorious night, “Whoever is deprived of Laylat al-Qadr, let him be deprived of all good.” (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet (SAW) used to perform I’tikaf throughout the last decade of Ramadan and encouraged his Ummah to perform I’tikaf so that the opportunity of worshiping on the night of Laylat al-Qadr would not be missed.