When is the Night of Qadr (Night of Decree)?

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Night of Decree

In the Qur’an, it is stated that the Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months, but the specific date or night of the Night of Qadr is not mentioned. Although some possible nights in the month of Ramadan are hinted at in the hadith, it is left ambiguous.

Although there is a general acceptance and preference within the Ummah that the 27th night of Ramadan may be the Night of Qadr, this is only one of the possibilities mentioned in the Hadith. Indeed, for people not to miss out and to remember this night filled with virtues, one of the many possibilities, which is the 27th night of Ramadan, has been attributed with significance. This night has been celebrated with the hope and belief of being the Night of Qadr from the past to the present, so that people do not forget its existence and remember it along with its preceding and subsequent virtues.

Indeed, the virtue of observing the nights of Ramadan is immense. The night that is observed, even if it is not the Night of Qadr, is still honored and never goes to waste.

Regarding the signs of the Night of Qadr, there are some reports suggesting certain phenomena in the night sky. However, it cannot be said that such signs are applicable to every Night of Qadr each year. During the era of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), there was a unique occurrence: one Night of Qadr happened to be rainy. In the morning of that night, the sun was obscured by a misty horizon and was not shining brightly. However, after rising, its brightness became apparent. There was no such sign before or after that year, nor is it a continuous occurrence.

When is Laylatul Qadr

Hadiths Regarding the Timing of Laylat al-Qadr

The question of when Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) occurs is a matter of curiosity for many, but there is no definitive answer to when Laylat al-Qadr is. However, we will narrate the hadiths on this subject to you.

Firstly, we can classify the hadiths on this topic as follows:

1.It is Concealed Throughout the Entire Month of Ramadan

The respected Ibn Umar reported: Once, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about Laylat al-Qadr, and I was listening. He replied, “It is in every Ramadan.”1

2.It is During the Last Ten Nights of Ramadan

The respected Aisha reported: “The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights of Ramadan more than at any other time. He would wake up his family to perform extra prayers and devote himself entirely to worship, severing ties with family relations.”2 In another narration, the respected Aisha said: “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) used to observe itiqaf in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan and would say, ‘Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan!’”3

One of the pearls of wisdom – perhaps the most important one – of spending the last ten days of Ramadan in seclusion (itiqaf) was to be able to observe Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a

thousand months because those who spent their nights and days in seclusion had a higher chance of encountering Laylat al-Qadr.

3. It is During the Single Nights Within the Last Ten Days

The respected Abu Sa’id al-Khudri narrates: “Once, we were with the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the mosque for itiqaf during the middle ten days of Ramadan. When the twentieth day dawned, we began to move our belongings to our homes to end our itiqaf. At that moment, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) called us and said, ‘Those who have observed itiqaf should return to their places of seclusion, for it was informed to me which night Laylat al-Qadr falls on, but I was made it forgotten.

Search for it in the last ten days of Ramadan, particularly in the single nights. Moreover, on that night, I saw myself prostrating in water and mud.’ When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) returned to his place of seclusion, it was near the end of the day, and the sky became dark, and it rained. At that time, the mosque was covered with a canopy of branches.

In the morning prayer, I saw marks of water and mud on the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) forehead and nose. That night was the twenty-first night.”4

From a narration attributed to the respected Aisha, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the single nights of the last ten days of Ramadan!”5

According to a narration from the respected Ibn Abbas the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan, particularly in the remaining ninth, seventh, and fifth nights.”6

4. It is During the Last Seven Nights of Ramadan

According to the respected Ibn Umar, some Companions saw in their dreams that Laylat al-Qadr was in the last seven nights of Ramadan. When they described their dreams, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to them: “I see that your dreams about Laylat al-Qadr are focused on the last seven nights of Ramadan. Search for it in the last seven nights of Ramadan!”7

5. It is Twenty-seventh Day

According to a narration from Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr) is the twenty-seventh night.”8

The respected Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: When the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about the timing of Laylat al-Qadr, he replied, “Do you not remember the night when we stayed in the place called As-Suhbawat? That was the Night of Decree.” I responded, “Yes, O Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him), I remember that night; it was the 27th night.”9

The respected Abdullah ibn Umar narrates that the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Search for Laylat al-Qadr on the 27th night of Ramadan.”10

In another narration, when a Companion expressed that he saw Laylat al-Qadr on the twenty-seventh night in his dream, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) responded: “I see that your dreams regarding Laylat al-Qadr are focused within the last ten days. Therefore, seek it in the odd nights of the last ten days.”11

Narrated by Zirr ibn Hubaysh from the Tabi’un, he reported that he asked Ubay ibn Ka’b: “Ibn Mas’ud said that anyone who regularly prays at night throughout the year may coincide with Laylat al-Qadr. What is your opinion?” Ubay ibn Ka’b replied: “By the One besides whom there is no deity, the Almighty, Laylat al-Qadr is in the month of Ramadan. It is the night when the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded us to stand in prayer, and it is the twenty-seventh night. The sign of this was the sun rising on that morning without rays, pure and clear.”12

6. It is Twenty-fourth Night

It is narrated that Ibn Abbas said: “Search for the Night of Qadr in the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan.” 13

7. It is the Night of the Twenty-third or Twenty-second

The respected Abdullah ibn Unays narrated the following incident: “I was present in the gathering of the Seljuk family; I was the youngest among them. They said among themselves, ‘Who will go to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to inquire about the Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr) for us?’ It was the morning of the twenty-first night of Ramadan at that moment. I undertook this task and set out on the journey, and I met the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) during the evening prayer. After the prayer, I waited in front of the blessed house. He came to me and said, ‘Come in!’ I entered immediately. Dinner was served in front of us. Due to the scarcity of food, I held back a bit. When the meal was finished, he said, ‘Give me my shoes,’ and he stood up. I stood up with him. He asked me, ‘Do you have any need?’ I replied, ‘Yes, a group from the Seljuk family has sent me to inquire about the Night of Decree for you, O Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him).’ Upon this, he asked, ‘Which night is tonight?’ I said, ‘It is the twenty-second night.’ He said, ‘Indeed, the Night of Decree is this night.’ Then he turned to me and referring to the twenty-third night, he said, ‘Perhaps it is the coming night.’14

The respected Abdullah ibn Unays al-Juhani said: “Once I came to the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him), my home is in the countryside, I live far away, and praise be to God, I also perform my prayers there. Please tell me of a night (to observe) during Ramadan so that I may come and observe it in this mosque in Medina.’ He said to me, ‘Come on the twenty-third night!’

The narrator, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim, said: “I asked Damura, the son of Abdullah ibn Unays, ‘How did your father act on that night?’ He replied, ‘After performing the afternoon prayer, my father would stay in the mosque and would not go outside for any need until the morning prayer. After performing the morning prayer, he would mount his riding animal waiting at the door of the mosque and return to his home in the countryside.’”15

8. It is the Twenty-first Night

The respected Abu Sa’id said: “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) entered into itiqaf during the middle ten days of Ramadan, and he reached the twenty-first night, the night he would exit from itiqaf. When he emerged, he said, ‘Let those who were in itiqaf with me continue for the last ten days, for I saw the Night of Decree, but it was made to be forgotten to me. I saw myself in prostration, covered with water and mud, on the morning after that night. Seek it in the last ten nights, on the odd-numbered nights.’ The respected Abu Sa’id continued his words, saying: ‘That night it rained, and since the mosque had no roof, the water flowed in. My eyes beheld on the morning of the twenty-first-night traces of water and mud on the nose and forehead of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) due to prostration.’”16

9. It is the Twenty-seventh Night

The respected Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said to us, addressing us: ‘Search for the Night of Decree on the 17th, 21st, and 23rd nights of Ramadan!’ Then he remained silent.”17

The Wisdom Behind the Concealment of the Night of Decree

There are many reasons behind the concealment of the Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr). The Almighty has hidden certain things based on various wisdom and benefits. He has promised unexpected rewards for those things which are kept secret from us. Just as He concealed the Night of Decree during Ramadan, He also concealed the time of acceptance on Friday, the Salat al-Wusta within the five daily prayers, and the Greatest Name among hundreds of names. He has hidden His pleasure within acts of obedience and worship, His anger within sins and disobedience, and the appointed time of death within the span of a lifetime. As long as these remain hidden, importance is given not only to a limited time or portion, but to the whole.

Scholars who reflect on the wisdom behind the indefinite timing of the Night of Decree have stated that this situation is more conducive for benefiting from the blessings of the night. If the Night of Decree were announced, individuals might suffice with observing only that night. However, due to partial uncertainty, believers are encouraged to spend all the nights of Ramadan in a state of worshipful consciousness, hoping for the Night of Decree. Furthermore, by not announcing the Night of Decree, individuals are prevented from either showing disrespect or going to extremes in reverence towards it.18

Those believers who show care and reverence for this night should consider all the possible nights as opportunities to attain its blessings and should include all fellow believers in their prayers by generalizing their supplications.

Conclusion

In the Qur’anic verses, the virtues of the Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr) have been emphasized, but its specific timing has not been mentioned. In the hadiths, reference is made to the entirety of the month of Ramadan, its last ten nights, and especially odd nights like the 21st, 23rd, 25th, and 27th. Different opinions and observations have been narrated from the Companions of the Prophet as well. According to some scholars, including Imam Abu Hanifa, the numbers mentioned in the hadiths regarding the Night of Decree are not valid for all years until the end of time. They are applicable only to the Ramadan months of the years when the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned these numbers. Thus, there is a possibility that a different night may be designated for each Ramadan. Therefore, it is not appropriate to restrict this night, which God and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) did not clearly specify, solely to the 27th night of Ramadan based on assumptions and certainty.

When we evaluate the narrations regarding this matter in the light of the most authentic sources such as Bukhari and Muslim, we can reach the following conclusion: The hadiths indicating the last ten nights of Ramadan and especially the odd nights are the strongest in terms of authenticity.

Taking into consideration the wisdom and benefits behind the concealment of this night, believers are encouraged to observe the entirety of Ramadan nights, at least fully engaging in the last ten nights. Thus, they can experience and observe a time period even more blessed than a thousand months, as mentioned in the Qur’an. A thousand months is equivalent to eighty-three years and four months, or nearly thirty thousand nights.

Just as he set an example for his ummah (community) in every matter, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also presents us with the best example in terms of utilizing the Night of Decree. Indeed, he followed the most appropriate path by spending the last ten days and nights of Ramadan in seclusion. During his time in seclusion, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) engaged in worship and obedience to God, offered supplications, sought forgiveness, recited supplications and Qur’anic verses, performed prayers, and devoted himself fully to the path of servitude. In this way, he not only spent Ramadan in its entirety but also made the most of the possible nights of the Night of Decree. He would awaken his loved ones, set an example for his Companions, and thereby set a practical example for the ummah to come.

Footnotes:

1.Abu Dawud, Prayer 124

2.Bukhari, Night of Decree 5; Muslim, Retreat 7

3.Bukhari, Night of Decree 3, Retreat 1

4.Bukhari, Night of Decree 2; Muslim, Fasting 213

5.Bukhari, Night of Decree 3

6.Bukhari, Night of Decree 3

7.Bukhari, Night of Decree 2; Muslim, Fasting 205

8.Bayhaqi, as-Sunan al-Kubra, IV, 312

9.Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, X, 121; Bayhaqi, as-Sunan al-Kubra, IV, 312

10.Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, II, 221

11.Muslim, Fasting 207

12.Muslim, Traveler’s Prayer 179

13.Bukhari, Night of Decree 3

14.Abu Dawud, Observing Ramadan 2

15.Abu Dawud, Observing Ramadan 2

16.Bukhari, Night of Decree 1; Muslim, Fasting 215

17.Bayhaqi, as-Sunan al-Kubra, IV, 307

18.Fakhruddin al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, XXXII, 28–29.

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