The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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. (Reported by Muslim, 1175, from ‘Aa’ishah). Among the things he did were secluding himself in I’tikaaf and seeking Laylat al-Qadr during this time. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1913; Muslim, 1169). In al-Saheehayn it is reported from the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that when the last ten days of Ramadaan came, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins. (Reported by 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 Allah be pleased with her) said: “I never saw the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recite the entire Qur’an 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 Allah 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 Allah be upon him) woke up one night and said, “Subhaan Allah! 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 Allah be upon him) used to wake ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah 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 Allah be upon him) did this indicates the importance he attached to worshipping his Rabb and making the most of this special time.
The Muslim should follow the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), for he is the best example, and he should strive hard in worshipping Allah. 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. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Haa-Meem. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.] By the manifest Book (this Qur’an) that makes things clear. We sent it (this Qur’an) 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’an or the Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messengers), (As) a mercy from your Rabb. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [Surah al-Dukhaan 44:1-6]
Allah sent down the Qur’an on this night which the Rabb 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’an 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 Allah wills in that year.
What is meant by the idea that the destiny of all creatures is written on Laylat al-Qadr is – and Allah 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. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life [fa qadara ‘alayhi rizqahu]…” [Surah 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 Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments” [Surah al-Dukhaan 44:4]
And because Allah’s decrees are decided and written down on this night.
So Allah has called it Laylat al-Qadr, because of its great value and high status with Allah, 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 Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1910; Muslim, 760).
Please write: COMMENT in this box to verify that you are human