By Amreen Pathan
In a tradition (hadith) narrated by Abu Salama (may Allah be pleased with him), the noble Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported to have said: ‘I was informed of (the date of the Night of Decree but I was caused to forget it; so search for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari)
‘…so search for it…’
To quash any doubt, this is not a request to stand outside with a pair of binoculars scouring the skies for a symbolic sign of the Night of Decree during the last ten nights of Ramadan!
So what did the Prophet (peace be upon him) mean by this then and why the urgency to seek such a night?
Virtues of the Night of Decree
The following verse of Allah Almighty offers complete transparency about the virtue of Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Decree):
‘Indeed, we sent it (the Qur’an) down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit (Jibra’il) descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.’ (97:1)
Let us summarise the main virtues explained in this verse.
- During the Night of Decree, a throng of angels descend on the earth and pray for every servant of Allah that is engaged in His remembrance and worship.
- The acts of worship performed in this single night is better than worship in one thousand months.
- The night is a security from every evil, harm and calamity.
Quite evidently, the magnitude of the virtue of this night is immense.
Seeking the Night of Decree
People love sales and as such, flock to these events; virtually and physically in their masses. Anticipation levels are always high and excitement is prevalent in such environments.
I wonder what I will find?
Will I get my hands on this, this and this?
Will the effort of this trip be truly worthy?
As our Creator, Designer and Architect, Allah Almighty knows the extent to which the promise of gain and merit can spur on humankind. This explains why the virtues of the Night of Decree have been made so clear. What is being offered is a discount surpassing any consumerist or commercial sale: a chance for sins to be deducted and points to be added.
Suffice to say, the mention of such virtues should be enough to inspire a craving and appetite to be included within eligible candidates for such virtuous discounts.
However, in His Wisdom, Allah Almighty has intensified the anticipation
How one may ask?
By concealing the actuality of the Night of Decree.
What this creates is a feeling of suspense as well as exclusivity thereby intensifying the desire to seek out this night and benefit in all its glory. Put simply, a person will spend every night within this ten-night period that has been specified worshipping Allah Almighty in a bid to meet the requirements for eligibility and ensure they do not miss the Night of Power whenever it may be.
Moreover, of course, Allah in His mercy will not let such commitment go unnoticed.
Requirements for eligibility
How best to seek out this night?
Bearing in mind that that the purpose of Ramadan is to:
a) gain the closeness of Allah Almighty and b) gain a clean slate and thereby entry in to Paradise and salvation from the Hellfire, it makes sense therefore that one engages in such actions that can guarantee both A and B.
What might these actions look like?
- Giving in charity every night for the last ten days. By offering charity every night, one will be ensuring that they do not miss the virtue of giving on the Night of Power. And giving on the Night of Power is akin to giving every day for a 1000 months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months!
- The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advised Ai’shah to make the following supplication if she were to find the Night: ‘O Allah! Verily, You are the Oft-pardoning, You love to pardon, so pardon me.’ (Sunan Ibn Majah) This means a believer must seek as much repentance and forgiveness as possible.
- Increased recitation of the Noble Qur’an and increased recitation of Kalimah Tayyibah, Kalimah Tamjid and Kalimah Tawhid.
- Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘….whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.’ (Sunan an-nasai)
One should strive for Qiyaam-ul-layl i.e. voluntary night prayers (Tahajjud) as it is a means of expiating sins, preventing misdeeds and attaining closeness to one’s Creator.
- Abstaining from haraam is a given whatever time of the year. Ramadan however is not a ‘whatever’ time of time year. It is a noble time of the year and wherever we have a noble time or location, the virtue of a good deed is exponentially increased. It follows then that the magnitude of committing a sin is also increased, so it is of utmost importance to stay away from impermissible acts especially during the last ten nights because the stakes are higher.
- Similarly, one must maximise every opportunity for good in the last ten nights which means not wasting any time at all. If one is unable to immerse themselves in worship in every portion of the night, they should instead rest intently with the hope of gaining strength for worship in the latter portion of the night or even the next day. This very act of sleeping then will become a purposeful and virtuous act of ‘ibadah (worship).
- In a narration by Ai’shah (may Allah be pleased with her), we learn that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to observe i’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah took his soul, then his wives observed i’tikaaf after he was gone. (Sahih-al-Bukhari)
Those fortunate enough to be afforded the opportunity to do so, should strive to perform Sunnah i’tikaaf in the last ten days; whether male or female, based on the reference to both genders in the above tradition.
I pray the final precious portion of Ramadan finds us all with the best faith, intentions and virtuousness.
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