Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Lailatul Qadr - The Night of Power


Allah The Almighty revealed the goodness of Lailatul Qadr in ‘surah’ or chapter Al-Qadr, in the Holy Al Quran. This chapter was revealed in Makkah. Its basic theme is honoring the revelation of this blessed Holy Al Quran.

The Night of Power is a special gift only to our Prophet, his companions and the Ummah i.e.

Muslims, mankind of the Islam faith, after Nabi Muhammad SAW. The night is one, when even the angels in the heavens see as worthy of witnessing. The night is so rich with holiness, as the night is when good deeds are returned, and Allah promises the best of HIS blessings which equals to that of a thousand months, which in essence is equal 83 years and 4 months.

It was revealed the our Great Prophet, Nabi Muhammad SAW was saddened by the fact that his Ummah would not be able to get as much abundance and blessings as those of the earlier time because of our shorter lives. So Allah SWT revealed this Surah to inform that HE had just blessed Rasulullah, his companions and the Ummah with this Honor, Night of Power, “We have indeed revealed it (the Quran), in the Night of Power.” (Al Quran 97:1). [ "We" here means respect and exaltation of the One and Only]

By revealing the Quran in the Night of Power, Allah SWT inaugurated or started its revelation for the beginning of the prophethood, and the Prophet’s mission of Islam began in the month of Ramadhan on that Night. Incidentally, we are also told that the Holy Al Quran was not revealed in one night. Instead it was revealed over the course of 23 years [Ibn Abbas (RAA) said, "The whole Qur'an was revealed to the lower heavens from the protective slate (Lawhin Mahfuz) on the Night of Power, then from there to the earth in the course of 23 years."].

The power word, Al-Qadr, has several implications and meanings. We will briefly look at the relevant implications.

‘Qadr’ implies having power over something. In the case of Allah, the Creator, it is HIS power over HIS creations. Allah’s SWT The All Excellent implies HE is Omnipotent, Almighty, All-powerful and Most Capable. This Night of Power is highly esteemed and Allah in HIS power, promises HIS blessings of over 80 years for the Lailatul Qadr.

It also implies to maintain, appoint, assign or decree an order. Thus, in the Night of Power, Allah SWT proclaims to the angels His commands and orders in regards to the affairs of the universe. This is the essence of Al-Qada Wa Qadar, the fifth article of faith; that Allah has decreed or preordained. Allah has full knowledge of all that the human beings will do with his free will; A man’s decision to act freely in good conscience or bad conscience is all known to Allah SWT, including all the past, present and future.

‘Qadr’ also implies measurement, i.e. all the events of the year will occur in accordance to the exact measurement of what is in the knowledge of Allah. We are told, “Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure.” (Al Quran, Surah Al Qamar, 54:49)

The Night of Power is also known as the Night of Taqdeer for Allah SWT announces to the angels HIS already decreed commands, rules, events, etc. for the coming calendar year, from the present Night of Power to the next Night of Power. Allah SWT revealed, “We sent it down during a blessed night; We forever wish to warn (against evil). In that (night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom.” (Al Quran, Surah Ad Dhukhan, 44:3-4).

Most scholars believe Allah’s commands and rules are not made on that Night of Power itself. It has already been decreed in the eternity what is known to Allah, but that knowledge is not known to anyone, including the angels, until HE announces it to the angels on that night so that they will record it on the protective slate. This is also the Night of Honor and Prestige which may be awarded to the servant who devotes himself to special deeds, or to the deeds themselves, in the higher value attached to that night.

The Night Is Concealed

The problem pertaining to the exact night on which the honors are attained are not unique to the Night of Power only. Allah SWT in His Mercy, has concealed many things such as:

HIS pleasure from us in all our good deeds so that we will strive in all of them.

HIS wrath from us in all of the sins we commit so that we will avoid them.

HIS most beloved servants, the ‘Awliya, so that we will respect all the believers.

The time of HIS acceptance of our supplications so that we will strive in all our supplications.

HIS greatest name, so that we mention all HIS names.

The time of death so that we will be conscious of HIM and our deeds all the time.

Thus, in HIS GREATNESS, Allah has concealed the exact date of the Night of Power
so that we would double our efforts in the whole month, or at least in the last ten days of Ramadhan. He has also concealed the exact date so as to test the serious and the non-serious. The seriously interested person will search for the night late and in the early hours until he or she attains it, regardless of the hardships.

When Is The Night?

There is evidence that the night comes on the last ten days of Ramadan, specifically on the odd numbered nights. In a report by Bukhari, our Prophet said, “Seek it on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” In another incident, The Prophet said, “Seek the night in the last ten days, and if any of you is weak, or can’t observe it, he should not miss the remaining seven days.” In yet another incident, Rasulullah stated, “Seek it on the 29th; it may be on the 27th or on the 25th.” Imam Ibn Hajr in his book, ‘Fathul Bari,’ concurred, “I accept the ruling that the night occurs on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadhan, namely the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and/or 29th.”

The fact remains that still no one knows for sure which night is the Night of Power, in any given year. It seems that the night shifts and rotates to different nights from one year to another. It may occur on the 29th in one year, while the next year it will be on the 27th, while on the following year it may fall on the 25th. The only concensus is that it will fall in the final 10 days of Ramadhan.

Seeking The Night

It is recommended for us to seek the night and spend it diligently in devotion, such as performing the night Sunnah prayers or Tahajjud, recitation of Al-Qur’an and supplications. In a hadith related by Abu Hurairah (RAA), Rasulullah said, “He who spends the night in prayer on the Night of Power, as a sign of His faith, and seeking rewards from Allah, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

This citation indicates that regardless of whether a person knows the night or not, Allah will grant him forgiveness for previous shortcomings, as HE stated, “… And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is?; The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.” (Al Qadr:2-3)

Allah SWT emphasized the significance by putting the second verse in question form. The answer being no one knows, or comprehends, the awesomeness and the depth of honor of the night. Nonetheless, HE mentions the honors of the night such that “The Night is better than a thousand months … and Peace! This (The Night of Power is better than a thousand months) until the rise of Fajr (dawn)”. Thus, it indicates that acts of worship such as prayer, charity, and recitation done on this night are better in rewards than the same act done on other nights.

For the sake of illustration, let us just try to put this down mathematically. If you worship Allah on this night every year for 55 years after attaining your puberty, then you would have 55,000 months to your credit. It is likened to as if you had lived for over 4,500 years, and achieved the rewards of a person who had lived that long and much more.

We are told, “Therein, come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, … ” (Al Quran, Al Qadr, 97:4). The angels descend on the Night of Power, group after group; some coming down to earth while others ascend into the heaven. Allah further stated, “…On every errand…” This indicates the angels and the Spirit descend for different purposes: some come down for prostration, some for bowing, and others for supplications for the believers and salutations. Or they come down carrying with them the proclamations of the coming year. What is evidently clear is that the angels will only bring good things on this particular night “…Until fajr, (break of dawn)” (Al Quran 97:5); The heavenly, angelic traffic of blessings will continue until the break of dawn, and the entire honor, blessings and peace of the Night of Power will continue in every second of the night until Fajr.

That is why the devotions are highly encouraged by our Prophet. Indeed, you can achieve the honor of Lailatul Qadr or the Night of Power and reap its maximum benefits if you so wish by spending the odd nights of the last 10 days with acts of worship. [Wallahu Wa A'alam - Allah SWT is the Best Knower.]

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