In Saheeh al-Bukhaari it was narrated that ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit said: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came out to tell us when Laylat al-Qadr was, and two of the Muslims were arguing. He said: “I came out to tell you when Laylat al-Qadr was, and So and so and So and so were arguing, so it [the knowledge of when Laylat al-Qadr was] was taken away from me. Perhaps this is better for you. So seek it on the ninth and the seventh and the fifth” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1919), i.e., on the odd-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 of goodness being taken away or concealed.
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah said: “But odd-numbers have to do with what is past [i.e., when one starts counting from the beginning of the month], 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, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “when there are nine left, or seven left, or five left, or three left.” On this basis, if the month has thirty days, these will be even-numbered nights, so on the twenty-second there will be nine days left, on the twenty-fourth there will be seven days left. This is how it was explained by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri in the saheeh hadeeth, and this is how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed qiyaam during this month. If this is the case, then the believer 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 (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man among the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was shown Laytal al-Qadr in a dream, and that it was one of the last seven nights. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “It seems that your dreams 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 by al-Bukhaari, 1911; Muslim, 1165).
Muslim reported: “Seek it in the last ten nights, and if any of you are weak or unable to do that, then let him not miss the last seven.”
It is most likely to be on the night of the twenty-seventh. It was reported, in a hadeeth narrated by Ahmad from Ibn ‘Umar, and a hadeeth narrated by Abu Dawood from Mu’aawiyah, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is the night of the twenty-seventh.” (Reported by Musnad Ahmad and Sunan Abu Dawood, 1386).
The view that it is the night of the twenty-seventh is the opinion of most of the Sahaabah and the majority of scholars, and Ubayy ibn Ka’b (may Allah be pleased with him) used to assert, without saying “in shaa Allah”, that it was the night of the twenty-seventh. Zurr ibn Hubaysh said: I said: What makes you say that, O Abu’l-Mundhir? He said: by the signs of which the Messengers of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us: that the sun rises that morning with no visible rays. (Narrated by Muslim, 2/268).
Many marfoo’ ahaadeeth were narrated which said that it was on this particular night.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both) also stated that it is the night of the twenty-seventh. He reached this conclusion by means of an amazing process. It was reported that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) gathered the Sahaabah together and included Ibn ‘Abbaas even though he was very young. They said, “Ibn ‘Abbaas is like one of our children. Why have you brought him here with us?” ‘Umar said: “He is a youth who has a good mind and who 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 of the twenty-seventh.” ‘Umar said, “What makes you think that?” He said, “Allah made the heavens seven, and the earths seven, and the days seven, and He created man from seven, and He made Tawaaf seven (circuits), and al-Saa’ee seven, and the stoning of the Jamaar seven.” So Ibn’ Abbaas thought that it was the night of the twenty-seventh because of this analysis. This has been soundly reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas.
Another of the ways in which the conclusion was reached that it is the night of the twenty-seventh is by noting that the word fihaa (therein) in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel]” [Surah al-Qadr 97:4] is the twenty-seventh word of Soorat al-Qadr [in the original Arabic].
There is no shar’i evidence (daleel) to support this manner of analysis, and there is no need for such calculations, because we have sufficient shar’i evidence available to us.
The fact that it is usually the night of the twenty-seventh – and Allah 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 quoted above, or it could be the twenty-third, as mentioned in the report of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Unays (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted above. According to a hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten days of Ramadaan, when there are nine days left, and seven days left, and five days left.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4/260).
Some of the scholars thought that it is more likely that Laylat al-Qadr moves and does not come on a specific night each year. Al-Nawawi (may Allah 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 to reconcile the ahaadeeth apart from saying that Laylat al-Qadr moves.” (al-Majmoo’, 6/450).
Allah 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 hour of jumu’ah, and so on.
So the believer should strive hard during the days and nights of these ten days, seeking Laylat al-Qadr and following the example of our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and he should strive in making du’aa’ and seeking to draw close to Allah.
It was reported that ‘Aa’ishah said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what do you think, if I witness Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say?’ He said: ‘Say, O Allah, You are Forgiving and Generous, and you love forgiveness, so forgive me.’” (Narrated by Imaam Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi (3515) and Ibn Maajah (3850). Its isnaad is saheeh).
Thirdly: a greater virtue is attached to I’tikaaf on this night than on any other night of the year. I’tikaaf means staying in the mosque to worship Allah, may He be exalted. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to spend these ten days in I’tikaaf, as stated in the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed quoted above. He spent the first ten days in I’tikaaf, then the middle ten days, then he told them that he had been seeking Laylat al-Qadr, and that he had been shown that it was in the last ten days, and he said: “Whoever was doing I’tikaaf with me, let him do I’tikaaf for the last ten days.” It was reported from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to do I’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadaan until he passed away, then his wives did I’tikaaf after him. (Agreed upon). There is also a similar report narrated from Ibn ‘Umar.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted to do I’tikaaf, he would pray Fajr, then enter the place where he was to do I’tikaaf, as was stated in al-Saheehayn from the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah.
The four imaams and others (may Allah have mercy on them) said that he entered it before the sun set, and they interpreted the hadeeth as meaning 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. (See Sharh Muslim li’l-Nawawi, 8/68, 69; Fath al-Baari, 4/277).
It is Sunnah for the person in I’tikaaf to keep himself busy with worship, and it is forbidden for him to have intercourse or to do anything that leads to it, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I‘tikaaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:187].
And he should not go out of the mosque except in the case of a pressing need.
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