When the Night Equals a Thousand

Amongst the nights of Ramadhân, there is one called ‘Laylatul Qadr’, a night that is noted for its great blessings. The Qur’ân Karim describes it as being greater in blessedness and spiritual virtue than a thousand months, which in turn means that it is more valuable than eighty three years and four months. Fortunate indeed is that person who attains the full blessings of this night by spending it in the worship of Allâh, because he has then attained the reward of “ibâdah” [worship] for eighty three years, four months and even more. Indeed (the granting of) this night for the faithful Muslims is a great favour.

Regarding this night, in a Hadîth reported by Anâs Radiallâhu anhu in Durre Manthur, Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam is reported to have said: “Laylatul Qadr” was granted to this “Ummah” (of mine) and not to any other “Ummah” before this.” As regards the reason for the granting of “Laylatul Qadr”, various views are held. According to some ahâdith, one reason is given thus: Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam used to ponder over the longer lives of peoples of the past ages and when compar­ing them with the much shorter lives of his “Ummah”, he became greatly saddened, because if his ‘Ummah” wished to compete with the people before them, then because of their shorter lives, it would be impossible for them to either emulate or surpass the previous “Ummahs” in the doing of righteous deeds. Therefore, Allâh in His Infinite Mercy granted them this night of great blessings. This means that, if any fortunate person of this “Ummah” during his life‑time spends ten such nights in the worship of his Maker, he would have gained the reward of Ibâdah [worship] for eight hundred and thirty three years and even more. Another report states that Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam once related to the’Sahâba’ the story of a very righteous man from among the Bani Isra’il, who spent one thousand months in ‘Jihâd’. On hearing this, the ‘Sahâba’ enviously felt that they could not attain the same reward, whereupon Allâh granted them this Night (of Power). Still another report states that it so happened that our Nabî Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam once mentioned the names of the four most pious people from among the Bani Isra’îl, each of whom spent eighty years in Allâh’s sincere service, worshipping Him and not trans­gressing in the last. They were Nabî Ayyub Alayhis salâm Zakariyya Alayhis salâm, Ezkeel Alayhis salâm and Youshâ Alayhis salâm. The “Sahâba” heard this, wondering how to emulate their achievements. Then Jibra’îl Alayhis salâm appeared and recited “Sûrah Qadr”, wherein the blessings of this particular night were revealed.

There are other reports too, explaining the origin of the Night of Power. But no matter which of these you accept, the important fact remains that Allâh has granted us this night, as a great favour, and how fortunate are those believers who have never missed worship in this night. As to which particular night it is, here again approximately fifty different views are reported. It is not easy for me to enumerate them all, but the most generally accepted versions, shall follow in the ensuing pages of this chapter. Since the Qur’ân Majîd itself mentions the night, we shall commence with a short commentary of ‘Sûrah Qadr’.

[“We indeed revealed this (message) in the Night of Power.”]

Reference here is made to the fact that, on this specific night, the Qur’ân was sent down from the ‘Lawhul Mahfuz’ [the preserved Tablet] to the heavens (above the earth). The mere fact that the Qur’ân was revealed on this night would have been sufficient to ensure its greatness. But apart from this fact, it is also noted for many other things. In the very next verse, by way of increasing our interest in the matter under discussion a question is asked:

[And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is?]

In other words, the question asked there is: Have you any knowledge as to the greatness and importance of this night? Have you any knowledge as to the great favours and bounties that go with it? The next verse proceeds to explain its greatness.

[The Night of Power” is better than a thousand months.]

The true meaning here is that the reward for spending this night in worship [Ibâdah] is better and more than that for having spent one thousand months in worship [Ibâdah]; but as to how much more rewarding it is, we are not told here.

[Therein come down the Angels and the Spirit, by Allâh’s permission, on every errand.]

A fine explanation is given for this verse by Imâm Râzi. Rahmatullâhu ‘alayhi. Com­menting on this verse, he explains that when man first appeared on earth, the “Mala’ikah” looked upon him with concern. They even ventured to ask Allâh “Will You place on this earth, one who shall be riotous therein and shed blood?”

Similarly, when his parents noted his original form as a mere drop of sperm, they too looked upon it with dislike, so much so, that they consi­dered it as something which polluted the clothes and had to be washed away. But later, when Allâh made that same sperm into a fine form of a child, they began to love and cherish him. So far have things now pro­gressed that, when on this Night of Power we find that same man worship­ping Allâh and adoring Him, then those very Angels [Malâ’ikah] descend towards him, obviously repentant for the thoughts they had once har­boured against him. In this verse, where it is mentioned (War‑rûh) ‘and the Spirit the reference is to Jibra’îl Alayhis Salâm who descends to the Earth during this night. Commentators of the Qur’ân have given various meanings of this word. Let us look at some of them:

a)     The vast majority of commentators are agreed that Jibra’îl Alayhis Salâm is meant here and, according to Imâm Râzi Radiallâhu anhu this is the most correct meaning. Allâh first makes mention of the’Malâ’ikah’ and then because of ‘Jibra’îl’ Alayhis Salâm’s special status among them, a separate mention is made of him.

b)     ome commentators hold the view that ’Spirit’ here means one specific Angel of such extraordinary and gigantic proportions that before him the Heavens and the Earth appear as small as a morsel.

c)     Another group of commentators opine that ‘Spirit’ here means one group of ‘Malâ’ikah’who never ordinarily appear, and only on this night are they seen by other ‘Malâ’ikah’.

d)     Some commentators believe that ‘Spirit’ here designates one specific creation of Allâh, who partake of food and drink, and yet are neither men nor angels.

e)     There is also a view that ‘Spirit’ here refers to the Nabî Îsa Alayhis Salâm, who on this night comes down to look at the righteous deeds of this Ummah.

f)      The last interpretation we wish to mention here is that ‘Spirit’ means Allâh’s special Mercy, which comes in the wake of the angels descent. There are other interpretations also, but as already stated, the first opinion given above is the best known. In this connection, Imâm Bayhaqi Rahmatullâhi ‘alayhi relates a Hadîth by Anâs Radiallâhu anhu wherein Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam is reported to have said: “On Laylatul Qadr, Jibra’îl Alayhis Salâm comes down with a group of angels and prays for mercy for every one whom they find busy in worship [Ibâdah.”

 [Peace reigns until the break of dawn.]

Indeed this night is the very embodiment of peace; through out its span, the ‘Malâ’ikah’ offer salutations to the faithful believers adoring their Rabb. As one group ascends, another group descends (with the same greetings), as indicated in some narrations. Another interpretation is that it is a night of complete safety from evil and mischief. (Extract from Teaching of Islâm)

It is reported from Hazrat Ayesha Radiallâhu anha: “I said: ‘O Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam, when I find myself in Laylatul Qadr, what shall I say?” Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam replied: ‘Say:

[O Allâh, Thou art the One who grants pardon for sins,
Thou lovest to pardon, so pardon me.]

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed the Qur’an in the most blessed month; the month of Ramadan, the month in which the Qur’an was sent down.

On the most blessed night, the Grand night: Laylatul Qadr; “Verily, we revealed the Qur’an on the night of Qadr.”

Ibn Jareer narrates, on the authority of Mujaahid that there was a man from Bani Israel who used to spend the night in prayer. Then in the morning he would fight the enemy in the Way of Allah during the day, until the evening and he did this for a thousand months.

And so Allah revealed the Surah: “Verily, We sent it down in the night of Al-Qadr” until the verse “The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months” That is, standing in prayer on that night is better than the actions of that man.

Sufyaan ath-Thawree reports, on the authority of Mujaahid (also), that the night of Al-Qadr being better than a thousand months means that the good deeds performed on it, fasting on it, and standing in prayer on it are better than a thousand months’ good deeds, prayers and fasting. (Narrated by Ibn Jareer)

It is reported from Abu Hurairah that he said: “When the month of Ramadan came, the Messenger of Allah said: ‘The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast; in it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. In it is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable.’” (Narrated by Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaa’i).

It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah, that Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever stood in prayer on the night of Al-Qadr, in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

This one night surpasses the value of 30,000 nights. The sincere believer who worries day and night about his sins and phases of neglect in his life patiently awaits the onset of Ramadan. During it he hopes to be forgiven by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) for past sins, knowing that the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) promised that all who bear down during the last ten days shall have all their sins forgiven. To achieve this, the believer remembers the Prophet’s (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) advice in different sayings wherein he used words like “seek”, “pursue”, “search” and “look hard” for Laylatul Qadr.

Laylatul Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. The Mu’min should search for it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, passing the nights in worship and obedience.

For those who catch the opportunity, their gift is that of past sins wiped away.

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) illustrated for us some of the things we should be doing on this Grand Night. From his blessed Sunnah we find the following:

Praying Qiyaam (night prayer):It is recommended to make a long qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many ahadeeth, such as “Whoever stands (in qiyaam) in Laylatul Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim; the addition “and it is facilitated for him” is recorded by Ahmad from the report of ‘Ubaadah Bin as-Samit; it means that he is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night.]

Making Supplications:It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. ‘A’ishah reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say: “Allahumma innaka`afuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee – O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.” [An authentic Hadith recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi.]

Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship:

It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr is likely to fall. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala).

‘A’ishah reported: “When the (last) ten started, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would tighten his izaar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in prayer) and wake up his family.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

And she said: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to exert more (in worship) on the last ten than on other nights.” [Muslim]

Have we estimated Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) correctly?

The opportunity of Laylatul Qadr is coming in the next few days. Life is about people that take advantage of their opportunities to win the love of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), and this is indeed one of those chances. Abu Dah Daah was one of those who found an opportunity and won that which is greater than the heavens and the earth. An adult companion of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and thus belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim and off to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) went the orphan boy to complain. With his justness, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) offered the companion, “would you give him the palm tree and to you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) missed the opportunity and went away angry.

But someone else saw the opportunity, Abu Dah Daah – radi Allahu ‘anhu. He went to the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and asked, “Ya Rasul Allah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, “Yes.”

Abu Dah Daah chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?” The companion answered, “Take it for there is no good in a tree that I was complained to the Prophet about.”

Immediately, Abu Dah Daah went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Dah Daah, “we’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snached the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”

When Abu Dah Daah was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, Rasul Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Dah Daah now have in paradise?”

What did Abu Dah Daah lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.
Abu Dah Daah did not miss his opportunity, and I pray to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) that we do not miss our opportunity of standing to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) on Laylatul Qadr.

Dear brothers and sisters, we do not obey, worship and revere Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) in a way befitting of His Majesty.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed: “No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him. On the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand: Glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him” (Surat al-An’aam, Ayat 91).

Everything that we have belongs to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). When someone dies we say, Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon, Indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him we shall return. This is not a supplication just for when a soul is lost. It is a supplication for every calamity that befalls a believer, even if his sandal were to tear. Why? Because everything belongs to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and everything shall come back to him. Sit and try to count the blessings Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has bestowed upon you. Have you ever tried to count stars?

“And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favors of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude” (Surat Ibrahim, Ayat 34).

We have not understood the weight of this Qur’an that we rest on our high shelves, this Noble book that was sent to give life to the dead. For even if our hearts were as solid as rock they would have crumbled to the ground in fear and hope of Allah’s (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) punishment and Mercy. Could it be that our hearts are harder than that mountain?

“Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and split asunder in fear of Allah (Surat al-Hashr, Ayat 21).

Dear brothers and sisters, as you fill the Masajid for Qiyamul Layl in the last ten nights of Ramadan, remember what Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) wants you to know:

“Know ye that Allah is strict in punishment and that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

There shall be a night, some night in your life that you shall awaken in Jannah or Hell fire. Anas ibn Malik, on his deathbed, prayed to Allah, (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), “O Allah, protect from a night whose morning brings a journey to hell fire.” Think about that morning.

Peace shall descend on Laylatul Qadr until the dawn. It may be that you shall leave the Masjid after Fajr one day soon forgiven by Allah, Glorious and Most High. Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: “Whoever stands in Prayers and worships on the night of power, with complete faith and with sincere hope of gaining reward, all his previous sins are forgiven.”

In the above Hadith, ‘Standing’ refers to ‘Salaat’, but includes any other form of ‘Ibaadah’, as for example ‘Zikr’, ‘Tilawah’, etc. The phrase … with sincere hope of gaining reward’, means that one’s intention should be pure and one should stand before Allah in utmost humility and sincerity. According to Khattabi, it means that one should have complete faith in the promise that deeds shall be rewarded and should not have the idea that this form of ‘Ibaadah’ is a burden, nor should he have any doubts (as to whether the promised reward shall be granted). After all, it is a known fact that when one aims high and desires a great reward, while at the same time having complete certainty of receiving it, the task of striving hard in prayers to attain that goal becomes easy. This is the reason why those who have become spiritually elevated in Allah’s sight find it easy to remain in “Ibaadah” almost at all times.

It will be noted that where the Hadith speaks about previous sins being forgiven, the Ulama have said that this forgiveness (as mentioned in the above Hadith and in others) refers only to minor sins, because as indicated in the Qur’an, the major sins can only be forgiven after sincere repentance, with the vow, never to commit such sins again. So whenever the Hadith states that sins are forgiven the Ulama take it to imply minor sins. My late father (May Allah bless him and grant radiance in his resting place) used to say that for two reasons the word ‘minor’ has been omitted in the Ahaadith. First, he says, a true Muslim is one on whom no major sins should remain, because whenever a major sin has been committed by him, he will never rest or find peace until he has sincerely repented to his Lord. Secondly, during such great and blessed days and nights, when a true Muslim stands before his Lord in prayers and adoration, hoping to gain reward, then he in his conscience feels greatly grieved for his previous sins, which together with the resolution not to return to such deeds, are the most important requirements of “Towbah” (seeking forgiveness). This means that, on such days and nights, the worshipper indeed repents for maior sins that have been committed by him. (Leaving only minor sins to be forgiven). It is best however that when a night like “Laylatul Qadr” comes along, one should first of all repent verbally, with his heart full of sincere longing for forgiveness, so that Allah in his infinite Mercy may forgive all forms of sins. And when you do this remember me too in your prayers.

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