Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Power, is the most blessed night of the entire year. Its significance and glory has been described and discussed in the Holy Qur’an itself, as well as in numerous traditions. Can we imagine its full import and can we comprehend its full glory?
The Holy Qur’an asks, “And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is?” (97:2) The night is loftier in importance and weightier in blessings than one thousand months! It’s the night of determination of our destinies, and the night when the Holy Qur’an was revealed. It’s a night of power, of glory, and of blessings.
Some of the salient features of this great night are discussed as follows:
Revelation of Holy Qur’an
The verse from Sura Qadr, “Surely We revealed it on the grand night,” (97:1) and another from Sura Baqara, “The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction…” (2:185) together signify to us that the Qur’an was revealed on the Laylatul Qadr. Was the Qur’an revealed all at once on this night? Or it was revealed in gradual time periods extending over 23 years of the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him and his progeny) prophethood?
The scholars of Qur’anic exegesis tell us that the holy Qur’an was revealed in two ways: it was revealed on this great night upon the Holy Prophet’s sacred heart, and it was also gradually revealed over a period of 23 years during his prophethood.
The month of Ramadan makes the heart of believers pliant and conducive to accept any guidance. Fasting opens our hearts for acceptance of divine guidance, thus this month is like the spring season of the Qur’an. Just as barren land which is not capable of growing any vegetation becomes fertile in spring when life-giving rains fall on it, so is the effect of Ramadan on our hearts. The Night of Power is the epitome of guidance and blessings, as this night carries the significance of being bestowed with Holy Qur’an.
Determination of Destinies
This is the night when destinies are set, as stated in the Qur’an: “Surely We revealed it on a blessed night – surely We are ever warning – Therein every wise affair is made distinct”(44:3-4). There are many traditions which inform us that on this night, our affairs are set for the whole year.
It is worth noting here from the commentary of Aqa Mahdi Puya: “On the Night of Power, the divine wisdom determines the solution of all spiritual pursuits man decides to undertake; therefore the Holy Prophet has advised the believers to pray and seek Allah’s mercy throughout this night…Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said: ‘People wrongly imagine that destiny is abiding and fate is certain. If it were so, the idea of reward and penalty becomes meaningless, promise and threat a hoax. Allah, the most praised, has given man freedom of thought and action.’
The freedom of action is conditioned by the laws made by Allah to govern the universe. No one can break them. Imam Ali said: ‘While standing, if you want to lift one of your legs you can, and you are free to lift the second leg also – but as soon as your second leg leaves the ground you will fall down, because you have broken the law Allah has so precisely put in operation.”
Some Other Related Points About this Great Night
Which night is the Night of Power?
There are different views on which night of the month of Ramadan is the Night of Power. There have been supporters for the1st, 17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 27th, or 29th night of the month of Ramadan. There are traditions that Holy Prophet would stay busy with prayers and worship especially during the last ten nights, thus there is more emphasis on those nights. Most of the traditions from the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) point out the 23rd night as the Night of Power, while most of the traditions in Ahlus Sunnah consider the 27th night as Laylatul Qadr.
Why is Laylatul Qadr hidden?
Scholars say that the philosophy behind hiding the Night is so that we pay importance to all the nights of Ramadan and thereby get the maximum spiritual benefit from them.
Is there only one Night of Power in all the regions of the world?
We are aware of the fact that the lunar calendar dates are different in different parts of the world. Taking that into consideration, will there be multiple Nights of Power in regions where the dates are different? The answer to this is that the night and day alternate with the revolution of the earth on its axis. So the Night of Power will start from one point and will continue to move over the regions where night is falling. In this way it would be a whole rotation of one night covering each region of the earth.
In conclusion is the following supplication from Sahifa Sajjadiyya:
And praise belongs to God who showed favour to us through His religion, singled us out for His creed, and directed us onto the roads of His beneficence, in order that through His kindness we might travel upon them to His good pleasure, a praise which He will accept from us and through which He will be pleased with us!
And praise belongs to God who appointed among those roads His month, the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting, the month of submission, the month of purity, the month of putting to test, the month of standing in prayer, in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance to the people, and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Separator!
Then He made one of its nights surpass the nights of a thousand months and named it the Night of Decree; in it the angels and the Spirit descend by the leave of their Lord upon every command, a peace constant in blessings until the rising of the dawn upon whomsoever He will of His servants according to the decision He has made firm.
O God, bless Muhammad and his Household, inspire us with knowledge of its excellence, veneration of its inviolability, and caution against what Thou hast forbidden within it, and help us to fast in it by our restraining our limbs from acts of disobedience toward Thee and our employing them in that which pleases Thee, so that we lend not our ears to idle talk and hurry not with our eyes to diversion, we stretch not our hands toward the forbidden and stride not with our feet toward the prohibited, our bellies hold only what Thou hast made lawful and our tongues speak only what Thou hast exemplified, we undertake nothing but what brings close to Thy reward and pursue nothing but what protects from Thy punishment! Then rid all of that from the false show of the false showers and the fame seeking of the fame seekers, lest we associate therein anything with Thee or seek therein any object of desire but Thee!