The Noble Qur'an 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 Allah, because he has then attained the reward of 'Ibaadah' (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 Hadith reported by Anas (RA) in Durre Manthur, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu 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 Ahaadith, one reason is given thus:
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu 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, Allah 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 'Ibaadah' (worship) for eight hundred and thirty three years and even more. Another report states that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) once related to the 'Sahaaba' the story of a very righteous man from among the Bani Israaeel, who spent one thousand months in 'Jihaad'. On hearing this, the Sahaaba enviously felt that they could not attain the same reward, whereupon Allah granted them this Night (of Power). Still another report states that it so happened that our Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) once mentioned the names of the four most pious people from among the Bani Israaeel, each of whom spent eighty years in Allah's sincere service, worshipping Him and not transgressing in the least. They were Nabi Ayyub, Zakariyya, Ezkeel and Yu'sha (Alayhimus salaam). The 'Sahaaba' heard this, wondering how to emulate their achievements. Then Jibraaeel (Alayhis salaam) appeared and recited 'Surah Qadr', wherein the blessings of this particular night were revealed.
There are reports too, explaining the origin of the Night of Power. But no matter which of these we accept, the important fact remains that Allah has granted us this night, as a great favour, and how fortunate are those divines 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. Because the Qur'an Majeed itself mentions the night, we shall commence with a short commentary of Surah Qadr.
'We have indeed revealed this (message) in the Night of Power.' Reference here is made to the fact that,on this specific night, the Qur'an was sent down from the 'Lawhul Mahfoodh' (the preserved Tablet) to the heavens (above the earth). The mere fact that the Qur'an 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 out 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 here 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 that a thousand months' The true meaning here is that the reward fors pending this night in worship (Ibaadah) is better and more than that for having spent one thousand months in worship (Ibaadah); but as to how much more rewarding it is, we are not told here.
'Therein come down the Angels and the Spirit, by Allah's permission on every errand' A fine explanation is given for this verse by Imaam Raazi. Commenting on this verse, he explains that when man first appeared on earth, the 'Malaaikah'looked upon him with concern. They even ventured to ask Allah, 'Will You place on this earth, one who shall be riotous therein and shed blood?'
Similarly, when his parents noted his original formasa 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 Allah 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 Allah and adoring Him, then those very Angels (Malaaikah) descend towards him, obviously repentant for the thoughts they had once harboured against him. In this verse, where it is mentioned (Wa-rrooh) 'and the Spirit...', the reference is to Jibraaeel (Alayhis salaam) who descends to the Earth during this night. Commentators of the Qur'an have given various meanings of this word. Let us look at some of them:
The vast majority of commentators are agreed that Jibraaeel (Alayhis salaam) is sent here and, according to Imaam Razi, this is the most correct meaning. Allah first makes mention of the 'Malaaikah' and then, because of Jibraaeel (Alayhis salaam)'s special status among them, a separate mention is made of him.
Some commentators hold the view that 'Spirit' here means one specific Angel of such extra-ordinary and gigantic proportions that before him the Heavens and the Earth appear as small as a morsel.
Another group of commentators opine that 'Spirit' here means one group of 'Malaaikah' who never ordinarily appear and only on this night are they seen by other 'Malaaikah'
Some commentators believe that 'Spirit' here designates one specific creation of Allah, who partake of food and drink, and yet neither men nor angels.
There is also a view that 'Spirit' here refers to the Prophet Jesus (Alayhis salaam), who onthis night comesdown to look at the righteous deeds of the 'Ummah'
The last interpretation we wish to mention here is that 'Spirit' means Allah'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, Imaam Bayhaqi (RA) relates a Hadith by Anas wherein Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said: 'On 'Laylatul Qadr' Jibraaeel (Alayhis salaam) comes down with a group of angels and prays for mercy for every one whom they find busy in worship (Ibaadah).'
'By Allah's permission, descend on the Earth for blessed errands...' The author of Mazaaire Haqq writes that on this night, ages ago, the 'Malaaikah' were created, long before the creation of Aadam (Alayhis salaam) was begun in the shape of a nucleous; on this same night Paradise was planted with tree and numerous Ahaadith bear witness to the fact that on this night prayers are accepted. Similarly, we read in the book, Durre Manthoor, that according to a Hadith it was on this night that the Prophet Jesus (Alayhis salaam) was lifted up bodily into the Heavens, and also it was on this night that the repentence (Tawbah) of Banu Israaeel was accepted.
'Peace reigns until the break of dawn' Indeed this night is the very embodiment of peace; the 'Malaaikah' offer salutations to the faithful believers adoring their Lord. As one group ascends, another group descends (with the same greetings), as indicated in some narrations. Another interpretation is that it is that it is a night of complete safety from evil and mischief. These blessings last all night until the break of dawn, and are not limited to anyone part of the night. And now, having noted a few virtues of this night as explained in the Words of Allah, we now turn to the Hadith where we read more about the virtues of the night.
Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ءlayhi 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.