The Night of Decree is a blessed night, the best night of all. These are the best hours we encounter in our lives. Allah says: “Indeed, We sent it down during the Night of Decree. And what would let you know what the Night of Decree is?” [Sūrah al-Qadr: 3-5]
It is a night whose blessings are extolled in Allah’s Book: “Hā Mīm. By the Book that makes things clear. Surely We revealed it [the Qur’an] on a blessed night. Surely We ever wish to warn (against evil) – On this night, every wise matter is made distinct. A command from Us; surely We are sending it, a mercy from your Lord. Surely, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Sūrah al-Dukhān: 1-6]
The early Qur’an commentators form the Companions and Successors, including Ibn `Abbās, Qatādah, Sa`īd b. Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Mujāhid make it clear that these verses refer to Laylah al-Qadr, the night in which the Qur’an was sent down.
It is the night in which all affairs are set forth and recorded. Some Qur’an commentators say that the events of the world are presented to the angels on this night. Others say that everything that is decreed to take place in Creation in the upcoming year is duly apportioned and recorded, including who will live and who will die, who is going to find success and who is to fail, who will be happy and who will be sad, who will be mighty and who will be weak, and where there will be famine and drought. Everything that Allah wills to take place that year is set forth.
It appears that the recording of the decrees on this night means that these eternal decrees are transcribed from the Preserved Tablet. Ibn `Abbās said: “A man can be walking among the people but he has been recorded among the dead.” Then he recited the verses: “Surely We revealed it [the Qur’an] on a blessed night. Surely We ever wish to warn (against evil) – On this night, every wise matter is made distinct.” [Sūrah al-Dukhān: 3-4] Then he said: “The affairs of the world for the one year are made distinct from the rest.”
The Virtues of Laylah al-Qadr
1. It is better than a thousand months. Allah says: ““Laylah al-Qadr is better than a thousand months.” [Sūrah al-Qadr: 3]
Mujāhid comments: “Our deeds, our fasts, and our prayers are better in virtue on that night than if we were to observe their like for a thousand months.”
The wisdom behind this night may be that those whose lives are short and those who have been neglectful in the past can get the rewards of those who live long lives engaged in worship by taking advantage of this blessed night.
2. The angels and the Spirit descend. Allah says: “The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with every decree. (This night is) peace, until the rising of the dawn.” [Sūrah al-Qadr (4)] The “spirit” refers to the angel Gabriel.
Al-Baghawī writes in his commentary on this verse: “With Allah’s permission, the angels with Gabriel among them descend on Laylah al-Qadr with every blessed and good affair.”
Ibn Kathīr writes in his commentary: “The angels descend in greater number on this night due to the night’s greater blessings. The angels descend when Allah’s blessings descend. They descend when the Qur’an is being recited. They likewise surround a gathering of people who remember Allah’s name, and lower their wings over someone who sincerely seeks after religious knowledge, in respect for him.”
3. It is a night of peace. Allah says: “(This night is) peace, until the rising of the dawn.” [Sūrah al-Qadr (5)] Mujāhid comments that “peace” refers to the security that people have from the machinations of Satan during this blessed night. Others explain that “peace” here refers to the goodness and blessings the night holds. This was Qatādah’s view. Some commentators say that when we recite the verse, we should pause on the word “peace”, because it means that the angels descend, giving this salutation.
In any event, it is a call for us, encouraging us to peace, love, and reconciliation. It is a call for us to refrain from abusive behaviour and to draw closer to family, friends, and neighbours in a spirit of goodwill. We need to set aside our animosities, jealousies, and grudges. We should know that peace (al-Salām) is one of Allah’s names, and it is the greeting that Allah has prescribed for His servants.
Those who are unable to purify their hearts from animosity on this night will find it all the more difficult to do so at other times. We cannot have the purest, happiest experience of life unless we can inculcate a sense of peace in our hearts.
4. Whoever observes this night in prayer, believing in Allah and seeking His reward, will be forgiven. Abū Hurayrah relates that the Prophet said: “Whoever spends Laylah al-Qadr in prayer, believing in Allah and seeking His reward, will be forgiven all of his past sins.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (35) and Sahīh Muslim (760)]
Ibn Battāl says that “believing in Allah and seeking His reward” means to believe in the sacred duty of fasting Ramadān as well as in the reward we are promised for observing this month in fasting and this night in prayer.
Al-Nawawī elaborates that belief here encompasses the belief that it is true and that the virtues of this night are to be attained. The meaning of “seeking Allah’s reward” is to engage in worship on this night solely for Allah’s sake, not to be seen by the people nor for any other worldly motive. Prayer refers to the Tarāwīh Prayer, which all scholars agree is a recommended prayer.
We should beseech Allah in supplication during Laylah al-Qadr as much as we can, especially the supplication the Prophet taught `Ā’ishah to offer on that night: “O Allah! You are the Pardoner. You Love to pardon. So pardon me.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (3513)]
Likewise, we should be steadfast in offering the Tarāwīh prayer and observing i`tikāf. We should repent to Allah in earnest and engage in as much worship as we can, especially the devotions of the heart. Many people compete in performing conspicuous acts of worship and pay less heed to the inner devotion which is the essence of worship. Every good deed in the heart brings manifold good to our outward conduct.