The virtue of the last ten days of Ramadaan and Laylat al-Qadr
Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace andblessings be upon the Trustworthy Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family andcompanions.
The Prophet used tostrive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of Ramadaan in a way that hedid not strive at any other times.
(Muslim, 1175, from ‘Aa’ishah). Among the things he did were secluding himself inI’tikaaf and seeking Laylat al-Qadr during this time. (Al-Bukhaari, 1913; Muslim, 1169). Inal-Saheehaynit is reported from thehadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah that when the last tendays of Ramadaan came, the Prophet would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins. (al-Bukhaari, 1920; Muslim, 1174). Muslim added: he strove hard and girded hisloins.
Her phrase “girded his loins” is a metaphor for his preparinghimself to worship and strive hard in worship, more than usual. It has themeaning of “rolling up one's sleeves” to worship (i.e. getting ready to make agreat deal of effort).
It was also said that it was a metaphor for keeping away fromwomen 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 said: “I never saw the Prophet (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) recite the entire Qur’aan in one night, orspend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, exceptin Ramadaan.”
(Sunan al-Nasaa’i, 1641). The words “stay up at night” may mean that he spent most of the night in worship, or thathe did not stay up for the entire night, but he did that at the times of ‘Ishaaand 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 hiswives to pray qiyaam. It is known that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) used to wake his wives all year round, but he used to wake them to spend part of the night in qiyaam. InSaheeh al-Bukhaariit is reported thatthe 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 (inSaheehal-Bukhaari) that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used towake ‘Aa’ishah when he wanted to pray Witr. (al-Bukhaari, 952). But when he woke his wives during thelast ten nights of Ramadaan, this was more persistent than at other times of theyear.
The fact that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did this indicates the importance he attached to worshipping his Lord and makingthe most of this special time.
The Muslim should follow the example of the Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him), for he is the best example, and he shouldstrive hard in worshipping Allaah. He should not waste the hours of these daysand nights. For we do not know, perhaps this time will never come again, for thespoiler of pleasures, i.e., death, which must come to all men, may come andsnatch 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 Laylatal-Qadr is among them. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Haa-Meem. [These letters are one of the miracles of theQur’aan and none but Allaah (Alone) knows their meanings.]
By the manifest Book (this Qur’aan) that makes thingsclear.
We sent it (this Qur’aan) down on a blessed night [(i.e. theNight 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 ofLordship and in Our Oneness of worship].
Therein (that night) is decreed every matter ofordainments.
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 ofthe Worlds has described as blessed. It was reported from a group of the Salaf – including Ibn ‘Abbaas, Qutaadah, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, ‘Ikrimah, Mujaahid andothers – that the night on which the Qur’aan was sent down was Laylatal-Qadr.
The phraseTherein (that night) is decreed every matter ofordainmentsmeans, on that night the destiny of all creatures for the comingyear is decreed. On that night it is written who will live, who will die, whowill be saved, who will be doomed, who will be destined for Paradise, who willbe 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 thatyear.
What is meant by the idea that the destiny of all creatures iswritten on Laylat al-Qadr is – and Allaah knows best – that on Laylat al-Qadrthey are transferred fromal-Lawh al-Mahfooz. Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “You maysee 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 ofthose who are going to die (in the coming year). And it was said that on thisnight, the destiny of people is shown to the angels.
The meaning of “Qadr” is veneration or honour, i.e. itis a night that is venerated because of its special characteristics, and becausethe one who stays up during this night becomes a man of honour. And it was saidthatQadrmeans constriction, in the sense that the knowledge ofprecisely when this night is, is hidden. Al-Khaleel ibn Ahmad said: it wascalled Laylat al-Qadr because the earth is constricted by the great numbers ofangels on that night, andQadrmeans constriction. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “But when He tries him, by straitening hismeans of life [fa qadara ‘alayhi rizqahu]…” [al-Fajr 89:16], i.e., byconstricting or reducing his provision.
And it was said thatQadrmeansQadar, i.e., thaton 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 thisnight.
So Allaah has called it Laylat al-Qadr, because of its greatvalue and high status with Allaah, and because so many sins are forgiven and somany faults are concealed during this night. For it is the night of forgiveness, as it was reported inal-Saheehaynfrom Abu Hurayrah 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 ofearning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
(al-Bukhaari, 1910; Muslim, 760).
Allaah has given this night special characteristics which makeit unique:
1. It is the night on which the Qur’aan was sent down, as we havestated above. Ibn ‘Abbaas and others said: “Allaah sent down the Qur’aan at onetime fromal-Lawh al-MahfooztoBayt al-‘Izzahin the firstheaven, then it was revealed to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah 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 Hesaid (interpretation of the meaning): “The night of al-Qadr is better than athousand months” [al-Qadr 97:3].
· Allaah described it as being blessed, as He said (interpretationof 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 theangels come down when Allaah’s blessing and mercy come down, just as they comedown when Qur’aan is recited, and they surround the circles of dhikr (gatheringswhere Allaah is remembered), and they beat their wings for the one who sincerelyseeks knowledge, out of respect for him.”
(SeeTafseer IbnKatheer, 4/531). The Spirit [al-Rooh] is Jibreel (peacebe upon him), who is specifically mentioned in this manner as a sign of respectfor him.
· This night is described as peace, i.e., it is safe, for theShaytaan cannot do any evil or cause any harm on this night, as Mujaahid said.
(SeeTafseer 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 ofthat year are dispatched fromal-Lawh al-Mahfoozto the angels who recordthe 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 isdecreed, and it cannot be altered or changed. (SeeTafseer IbnKatheer, 4/137, 138). All of this is already known to Allaahbefore it is even written down, but He makes known to the angels what is tohappen, 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 andprays during this night out of faith and in hope of earning the reward from Him. It was reported in the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoeverfasts the month of Ramadaan out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, allhis previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadrout of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will beforgiven.” (Agreed upon). The phrase “out of faith and in the hope of earningreward” means, believing in Allaah’s promise of reward for this, and seeking thereward, 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 willbe recited until the Day of Resurrection, in which He mentions the honour andgreat value of this night. This is the soorah in which He says (interpretationof the meaning):
“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).
And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?
The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allaah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousandmonths, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).
Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel] by Allaah’sPermission with all Decrees,
(All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allaah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn.” [al-Qadr 97:1-5]
The phraseAnd what will make you know what the Night ofAl-Qadr (Decree) is? serves to draw attention to the importance and greatsignificance of this night.
The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) isbetter than a thousand monthsmeans, it isbetter thanover eighty three years, as we have already mentioned. This is a great virtue, the value of which no one can fully understand except the Lord of the Worlds, may He be blessed and exalted. This encourages the Muslim to spend this night inprayer and to seek the Face of Allaah by doing so. The Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) used to seek this night, hoping to gain somegood from it, and he is the example for this Ummah.
It is mustahabb to seek it during Ramadaan, especially in thelast ten nights of the month. It was reported inSaheeh Muslimthat AbuSa’eed al-Khudri said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did I’tikaaf during the first tendays of Ramadaan, then he did I’tikaaf during the middle ten days in a Turkishtent [the wordqubbah, translated here as “tent”, refers to a tent or any circular structure] in which a mat was placed. He said: so he took the mat inhis hand and put it at the side of the tent, then he raised his head to speak tothe people, so they came closer to him. He said: “I did I’tikaaf during thefirst ten days, seeking this night, then I did I’tikaaf during the middle tendays. Then someone came to me and told me that it is in the last ten days, sowhoever among you wants to do I’tikaaf, let him do so.” So the people didI’tikaaf with him. He said: “I was shown an odd-numbered night, in the morningof which I was prostrating in mud and water”. Then in the morning of thetwenty-first, he got up to pray Subh and it was raining; the roof of the mosque leaked, and there was mud and water. He came out when he had finished praying, and there was mud and water on his forehead and nose. That was the morning ofthe twenty-first, one of the last ten days.
(Saheeh Muslim, 1167).
In a report, Abu Sa’eed said: “It rained on the night of thetwenty-first, and the roof of the mosque leaked over the place where theMessenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was praying. Ilooked at him, when he had finished praying Salaat al-Subh, and his face was wetwith mud and water.”
(Agreed upon). Muslim narrated ahadeeth from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Unays that wassimilar to the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed, except that he said, “it rained on thenight of the twenty-third.” According to a hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas , the Prophet said: “Seek it in the last ten days of Ramadaan, when there are ninedays left, and seven days left, and five days left.” (Narrated byal-Bukhaari, 4/260).
Laylat al-Qadr is in the last ten days of Ramadaan, as statedin the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed quoted above, and as stated in the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, and in the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar who said that the Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Seek Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten daysof Ramadaan.”
(The hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah was narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4/259; the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar was narrated by Muslim, 2/823. This wording isthat of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah).
It is more likely to be one of the odd-numbered nights, becauseof the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah who said that the Messenger of Allaah said: “Seek Laylat al-Qadr in the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4/259)
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 reported inal-Saheehaynthat the Prophet (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights, onthe odd-numbered nights.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1912, see also, 1913. Also narrated by Muslim, 1167, see also 1165).
According to the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas , the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights of Ramadaan, when there are nine left, whenthere are seven left, when there are five left.”
(Narrated byal-Bukhaari, 1917-1918). So it is more likely to be one of theodd-numbered nights.
InSaheeh al-Bukhaariit was narrated that ‘Ubaadah ibnal-Saamit said: the Prophet came outto tell us when Laylat al-Qadr was, and two of the Muslims were arguing. Hesaid: “I came out to tell you when Laylat al-Qadr was, and So and so and So andso were arguing, so it [the knowledge of when Laylat al-Qadr was] was taken awayfrom me. Perhaps this is better for you. So seek it on the ninth and the seventhand the fifth”
(al-Bukhaari, 1919), i.e., on theodd-numbered nights.
This hadeeth indicates how bad it is to argue and fight, especially with regard to matters of religion, and that this is a cause ofgoodness being taken away or concealed.
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah said: “But odd-numbers have to dowith what is past [i.e., when one starts counting from the beginning of themonth], so it should be sought on the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-seventh or the twenty-ninth; or it may be with regard to what is left, asthe Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘when there arenine left, or seven left, or five left, or three left.’ On this basis, if themonth has thirty days, these will be even-numbered nights, so on thetwenty-second there will be nine days left, on the twenty-fourth there will beseven days left. This is how it was explained by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri in thesaheeh hadeeth, and this is how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah beupon him) prayed qiyaam during this month. If this is the case, then thebeliever should seek it in all of the last ten days.”
(al-Fataawaa, 25/284, 285).
Laylat al-Qadr is more likely to be in the last seven days. Ibn ‘Umar reported that a man among the companionsof the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was shown Laytalal-Qadr in a dream, and that it was one of the last seven nights. The Messengerof Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It seems that yourdreams agreed that it is one of the last seven nights, so whoever wants to seek it, let him seek it in the last seven nights.”
(narrated byal-Bukhaari, 1911; Muslim, 1165). Muslim reported: “Seek it in thelast ten nights, and if any of you are weak or unable to do that, then let himnot miss the last seven.”
It is most likely to be on the night of the twenty-seventh. Itwas reported, in a hadeeth narrated by Ahmad from Ibn ‘Umar, and a hadeethnarrated by Abu Dawood from Mu’aawiyah, that the Prophet (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is the night of the twenty-seventh.”
(Musnad Ahmad andSunan Abu Dawood, 1386). The view that it is the night of the twenty-seventh is the opinion of most ofthe Sahaabah and the majority of scholars, and Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to assert, without saying “in shaa Allaah”, that it wasthe night of the twenty-seventh. Zurr ibn Hubaysh said: I said: What makes yousay that, O Abu’l-Mundhir? He said: by the signs of which the Messengers ofAllaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us: that the sun risesthat morning with no visible rays. (Narrated by Muslim,2/268).
Many marfoo’ ahaadeeth were narrated which said that it was onthis particular night.
Ibn ‘Abbaas also statedthat it is the night of the twenty-seventh. He reached this conclusion by meansof an amazing process. It was reported that ‘Umar gathered the Sahaabah together and included Ibn ‘Abbaas even though he wasvery young. They said, “Ibn ‘Abbaas is like one of our children. Why have youbrought him here with us?” ‘Umar said: “He is a youth who has a good mind andwho asks lots of questions.” Then he asked the Sahaabah about Laylat al-Qadr, and they agreed that it was one of the last ten nights of Ramadaan. He asked Ibn ‘Abbaas about it, and he said: “I think I know when it is: it is the night ofthe twenty-seventh.” ‘Umar said, “What makes you think that?” He said, “Allaahmade the heavens seven, and the earths seven, and the days seven, and He createdman from seven, and He made Tawaaf seven (circuits), and al-Saa’ee seven, andthe stoning of the Jamaar seven.” So Ibn’ Abbaas thought that it was the nightof the twenty-seventh because of this analysis. This has been soundly reportedfrom Ibn ‘Abbaas.
Another of the ways in which the conclusion was reached that itis the night of the twenty-seventh is by noting that the wordfihaa (therein) in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “Therein descend theangels and the Rooh [Jibreel]” [al-Qadr 97:4] is the twenty-seventh word ofSoorat al-Qadr [in the original Arabic].
There is no shar’i evidence (daleel) to support this manner ofanalysis, and there is no need for such calculations, because we have sufficientshar’i evidence available to us.
The fact that it is usually the night of the twenty-seventh – and Allaah knows best – does not mean that this is always the case. It could be the night of the twenty-first, as mentioned in the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed quotedabove, or it could be the twenty-third, as mentioned in the report of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Unays quoted above. Accordingto a hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas , theProphet said: “Seek it in the lastten days of Ramadaan, when there are nine days left, and seven days left, andfive days left.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4/260).
Some of the scholars thought that it is more likely that Laylatal-Qadr moves and does not come on a specific night each year. Al-Nawawi (mayAllaah have mercy on him) said: “This is the apparent meaning because of the conflict between the saheeh ahaadeeth on this matter, and there is no way toreconcile the ahaadeeth apart from saying that Laylat al-Qadr moves.”
Allaah has concealed this night so that His slaves will striveto seek it, and will strive hard in worship, just as He has concealed the hourof jumu’ah, and so on.
So the believer should strive hard during the days and nightsof these ten days, seeking Laylat al-Qadr and following the example of ourProphet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and he should strive inmaking du’aa’ and seeking to draw close to Allaah.
It was reported that ‘Aa’ishah said: “I said, ‘O Messenger ofAllaah, what do you think, if I witness Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say?’ Hesaid: ‘Say, O Allaah, You are Forgiving and Generous, and you love forgiveness, so forgive me.’”
(Narrated by Imaam Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi (3515) and IbnMaajah (3850). Its isnaad is saheeh).
Thirdly: a greater virtue is attached to I’tikaaf on this nightthan on any other night of the year. I’tikaaf means staying in the mosque toworship Allaah, may He be exalted. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to spend these ten days in I’tikaaf, as stated in the hadeeth ofAbu Sa’eed quoted above. He spent the first ten days in I’tikaaf, then themiddle ten days, then he told them that he had been seeking Laylat al-Qadr, andthat he had been shown that it was in the last ten days, and he said: “Whoeverwas doing I’tikaaf with me, let him do I’tikaaf for the last ten days.” It wasreported from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do I’tikaaf during the last tendays of Ramadaan until he passed away, then his wives did I’tikaaf after him.
(Agreed upon). There is also a similar report narratedfrom Ibn ‘Umar.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wanted to do I’tikaaf, he would pray Fajr, then enter the place where he was todo I’tikaaf, as was stated inal-Saheehaynfrom the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah.
The four imaams and others (may Allaah have mercy on them) saidthat he entered it before the sun set, and they interpreted the hadeeth asmeaning that he entered his place of I’tikaaf and kept away from people after Salaat al-Subh, not that this was the time when he started his I’tikaaf.
(SeeSharh Muslim li’l-Nawawi, 8/68, 69; Fath al-Baari, 4/277). It is Sunnah for the person in I’tikaaf to keep himselfbusy with worship, and it is forbidden for him to have intercourse or to do anything that leads to it, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are inI‘tikaaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leavingthe worldly activities) in the mosques” [al-Baqarah 2:187].
And he should not go out of the mosque except in the case of apressing need.
The signs by which Laylat al-Qadr is known
The first sign: it was reported inSaheeh Muslimfrom the hadeeth of Ubayy ibn Ka’b that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) announced that one of its signs wasthat when the sun rose on the following morning, it had no (visible) rays.
The second sign: it was reported from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas narrated by Ibn Khuzaimah, and by al-Tayaalisi in hisMusnad, with a saheeh isnaad, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is a pleasant night, neither hot nor cold, and thefollowing day the sun rises red and weak.”
(Saheeh IbnKhuzaymah, 2912; Musnad al-Tayaalisi).
The third sign: it was reported by al-Tabaraani with a hasan isnaad from the hadeeth of Waathilah ibn al-Asqa’ that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is a bright night, neither hot nor cold, in which no meteors are seen.”
(Narrated by al-Tabaraani inal-Kabeer. SeeMajma’ al-Zawaa’id, 3/179; Musnad Ahmad).
These three saheeh ahaadeeth explain the signs which indicate Laylat al-Qadr.
It is not essential for the one who “catches” Laylat al-Qadr toknow that he has “caught” it. The point is to strive hard and to be sincere in worship, whether or not one knows that one has “caught” it. It may be that some of those who do not know that may be better with Allaah and higher in status than those who did know which night it was, because the former strove hard. Weask Allaah to accept our fasting our prayer at night, and to help us to remember Him and to thank Him and to worship Him properly. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.