Virtues of the Last 10 Nights
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the Trustworthy Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and companions.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to strive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan in a way that he did not strive at any other times.
[Muslim, 1175, from ‘A’ishah]
Among the things he did were secluding himself in I’tikaf and seeking Laylat al-Qadr during this time.
[Al-Bukhari, 1913; Muslim, 1169]
In al-Sahihayn it is reported from the hadith of ‘A’ishah that when the last ten days of Ramadan came, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins.
[al-Bukhari, 1920; Muslim, 1174]
Muslim added: he strove hard and girded his loins.
Her phrase “girded his loins” is a metaphor for his preparing himself to worship and strive hard in worship, more than usual. It has the meaning of “rolling up one’s sleeves” to worship (i.e. getting ready to make a great deal of effort).
It was also said that it was a metaphor for keeping away from women and abstaining from sexual relations.
The phrase “stay up at night” means that he would stay awake, spending the night in prayer, etc. It was reported in another hadith that ‘A’ishah said: “I never saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) recite the entire Quran in one night, or spend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, except in Ramadan.”
[Sunan al-Nasa’i, 1641]
The words “stay up at night” may mean that he spent most of the night in worship, or that he did not stay up for the entire night, but he did that at the times of ‘Isha’ and Suhur, and other times, in which case it would mean that he stayed up for most of the night.
The phrase “and wake his family” means that he would wake his wives to pray qiyam. It is known that he (peace be upon him) used to wake his wives all year round, but he used to wake them to spend part of the night in qiyam. In Sahih al-Bukhari it is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) woke up one night and said, “Subhan Allah! What tribulations have come down tonight! What treasure has come down tonight! Who will wake up the dwellers of the apartments? There may be women who are clothed in this world and naked in the Hereafter.”
It was also reported
[in Sahih al-Bukhari]
that he (peace be upon him) used to wake ‘A’ishah when he wanted to pray Witr.
But when he woke his wives during the last ten nights of Ramadan, this was more persistent than at other times of the year.
The fact that he (peace be upon him) did this indicates the importance he attached to worshipping his Lord and making the most of this special time.
The Muslim should follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for he is the best example, and he should strive hard in worshipping Allah. He should not waste the hours of these days and nights. For we do not know, perhaps this time will never come again, for the spoiler of pleasures, i.e., death, which must come to all men, may come and snatch him and his life will end; then he will feel regret at the time when regret will be of no avail.
Among the unique virtues of these special nights is that Laylat al-Qadr is among them. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Ha-Meem. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.]
By the manifest Book (this Quran) that makes things clear.
We sent it (this Quran) down on a blessed night [(i.e. the Night of Al-Qadr) in the month of Ramadan]. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship].
Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments.
As a Command (or this Quran or the Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messengers),
(As) a mercy from your Lord. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”
[Noble Quran 44:1-6]
Allah sent down the Quran on this night which the Lord of the Worlds has described as blessed. It was reported from a group of the companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) Salaf – including Ibn ‘Abbas, Qutadah, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, ‘Ikrimah, Mujahid and others – that the night on which the Quran was sent down was Laylat al-Qadr.
The phrase Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments means, on that night the destiny of all creatures for the coming year is decreed. On that night it is written who will live, who will die, who will be saved, who will be doomed, who will be destined for Paradise, who will be destined for Hell, who will be granted honor, who will be humiliated, where drought and famine will occur, and everything else that Allah wills in that year.
What is meant by the idea that the destiny of all creatures is written on Laylat al-Qadr is – and Allah knows best – that on Laylat al-Qadr they are transferred from al-Lawh al-Mahfooz. Ibn ‘Abbas said: “You may see a man furnishing his home or plowing his field, and he is one of those who are going to die,” i.e., it has been decreed on Laylat al-Qadr that he is one of those who are going to die (in the coming year). And it was said that on this night, the destiny of people is shown to the angels.
The meaning of “Qadr” is veneration or honor, i.e. it is a night that is venerated because of its special characteristics, and because the one who stays up during this night becomes a man of honor. And it was said that Qadr means constriction, in the sense that the knowledge of precisely when this night is, is hidden. Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad said: it was called Laylat al-Qadr because the earth is constricted by the great numbers of angels on that night, and Qadr means constriction. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life [fa qadara ‘alayhi rizqahu].”
[Noble Quran 89:16]
, i.e., by constricting or reducing his provision.
And it was said that Qadr means Qadar, i.e., that on this night the decrees for the coming year are ordained, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments”
[Noble Quran 44:4]
and because Allah’s decrees are decided and written down on this night.
So Allah has called it Laylat al-Qadr, because of its great value and high status with Allah, and because so many sins are forgiven and so many faults are concealed during this night. For it is the night of forgiveness, as it was reported in al-Sahihayn from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
[Al-Bukhari, 1910; Muslim, 760]
Allah has given this night special characteristics which make it unique:
It is the night on which the Quran was sent down, as we have stated above. Ibn ‘Abbas and others said: “Allah sent down the Quran at one time from al-Lawh al-Mahfooz to Bayt al-‘Izzah in the first heaven, then it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in stages according to events over twenty-three years.”
[Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 4/529]
Allah described it as being better than a thousand months, as He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“The night of al-Qadr is better than a thousand months”
[Noble Quran 97:3]
Allah described it as being blessed, as He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“We sent it (this Quran) down on a blessed night”
[Noble Quran 44:3]
On this night, the angels and the Spirit [al-Ruh] descend, “i.e., many angels descend of this night because it is so blessed, and the angels come down when Allah’s blessing and mercy come down, just as they come down when Quran is recited, and they surround the circles of dhikr (gatherings where Allah is remembered), and they beat their wings for the one who sincerely seeks knowledge, out of respect for him.”
[See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 4/531]
. The Spirit [al-Ruh] is Jibril (peace be upon him) who is specifically mentioned in this manner as a sign of respect for him.
This night is described as peace, i.e., it is safe, for the Shaytan cannot do any evil or cause any harm on this night, as Mujahid said.
[See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 4/531]
. On this night, many people are saved from punishment because of what they do to worship Allah, may He be glorified.
“Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments” [al-Dukhan 44:4 – interpretation of the meaning], i.e., the affairs of that year are dispatched from al-Lawh al-Mahfooz to the angels who record the decrees: who will live, who will die, what provision people will be given, what will happen until the end of that year, every matter of ordainments is decreed, and it cannot be altered or changed.
[See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 4/137, 138]
. All of this is already known to Allah before it is even written down, but He makes known to the angels what is to happen, and commands them to do whatever they are enjoined to do.
[Sharh Sahih Muslim li’l-Nawawi, 8/57]
Allah forgives the previous sins of the one who stays up and prays during this night out of faith and in hope of earning the reward from Him. It was reported in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
. The phrase “out of faith and in the hope of earning reward” means, believing in Allah’s promise of reward for this, and seeking the reward, with no other aim or purpose, such as showing off etc.”
[Fath al-Bari, 4/251]
Allah has revealed a surah concerning this night which will be recited until the Day of Resurrection, in which He mentions the honor and great value of this night. This is the surah in which He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, We have sent it (this Quran) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).
And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?
The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).
Therein descend the angels and the Ruh [Jibril] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees,
(All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn.”
[Noble Quran 97:1-5]
The phrase And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is? serves to draw attention to the importance and great significance of this night.
The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months means, it is better than over eighty three years, as we have already mentioned. This is a great virtue, the value of which no one can fully understand except the Lord of the Worlds, may He be blessed and exalted. This encourages the Muslim to spend this night in prayer and to seek the Face of Allah by doing so. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to seek this night, hoping to gain some good from it, and he is the example for this Ummah.
It is mustahabb to seek it during Ramadan, especially in the last ten nights of the month. It was reported in Sahih Muslim that Abu Sa’id al-Khudri said: the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) did I’tikaf during the first ten days of Ramadan, then he did I’tikaf during the middle ten days in a Turkish tent [the word qubbah, translated here as “tent”, refers to a tent or any circular structure] in which a mat was placed. He said: so he took the mat in his hand and put it at the side of the tent, then he raised his head to speak to the people, so they came closer to him. He said: “I did I’tikaf during the first ten days, seeking this night, then I did I’tikaf during the middle ten days. Then someone came to me and told me that it is in the last ten days, so whoever among you wants to do I’tikaf, let him do so.” So the people did I’tikaf with him. He said: “I was shown an odd-numbered night, in the morning of which I was prostrating in mud and water”. Then in the morning of the twenty-first, he got up to pray Subh and it was raining; the roof of the mosque leaked, and there was mud and water. He came out when he had finished praying, and there was mud and water on his forehead and nose. That was the morning of the twenty-first, one of the last ten days.
[Sahih Muslim, 1167]
In a report, Abu Sa’id said: “It rained on the night of the twenty-first, and the roof of the mosque leaked over the place where the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was praying. I looked at him, when he had finished praying Salat al-Subh, and his face was wet with mud and water.”
. Muslim narrated a hadith from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Unays that was similar to the hadith of Abu Sa’id, except that he said, “it rained on the night of the twenty-third.” According to a hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten days of Ramadan, when there are nine days left, and seven days left, and five days left.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4/260]
Laylat al-Qadr is in the last ten days of Ramadan, as stated in the hadith of Abu Sa’id quoted above, and as stated in the hadith of A’ishah, and in the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Seek Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan.”
[The hadith of ‘A’ishah was narrated by al-Bukhari, 4/259; the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar was narrated by Muslim, 2/823. This wording is that of the hadith of ‘A’ishah]
It is more likely to be one of the odd-numbered nights, because of the hadith of ‘A’ishah who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Seek Laylat al-Qadr in the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4/259]
We should seek it especially in the odd-numbered nights, i.e., on the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh and the twenty-ninth. It was reported in al-Sahihayn that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights, on the odd-numbered nights.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1912, see also, 1913. Also narrated by Muslim, 1167, see also 1165]
According to the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, when there are nine left, when there are seven left, when there are five left.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1917-1918]
. So it is more likely to be one of the odd-numbered nights.
In Sahih al-Bukhari it was narrated that ‘Ubadah ibn al-Samit said: the Prophet (peace be upon him) came out to tell us when Laylat al-Qadr was, and two of the Muslims were arguing. He said: “I came out to tell you when Laylat al-Qadr was, and So and so and So and so were arguing, so it [the knowledge of when Laylat al-Qadr] was taken away from me. Perhaps this is better for you. So seek it on the ninth and the seventh and the fifth”
, i.e., on the odd-numbered nights.
This hadith indicates how bad it is to argue and fight, especially with regard to matters of religion, and that this is a cause of goodness being taken away or concealed.
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah said: “But odd-numbers have to do with what is past [i.e., when one starts counting from the beginning of the month], so it should be sought on the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-seventh or the twenty-ninth; or it may be with regard to what is left, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘when there are nine left, or seven left, or five left, or three left.’ On this basis, if the month has thirty days, these will be even-numbered nights, so on the twenty-second there will be nine days left, on the twenty-fourth there will be seven days left. This is how it was explained by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri in the Sahih hadith, and this is how the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed qiyam during this month. If this is the case, then the believer should seek it in all of the last ten days.”
[al-Fatawa, 25/284, 285]
Laylat al-Qadr is more likely to be in the last seven days. Ibn ‘Umar reported that a man among the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was shown Laytal al-Qadr in a dream, and that it was one of the last seven nights. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “It seems that your dreams agreed that it is one of the last seven nights, so whoever wants to seek it, let him seek it in the last seven nights.”
[narrated by al-Bukhari, 1911; Muslim, 1165]
. Muslim reported: “Seek it in the last ten nights, and if any of you are weak or unable to do that, then let him not miss the last seven.”
It is most likely to be on the night of the twenty-seventh. It was reported, in a hadith narrated by Ahmad from Ibn ‘Umar, and a hadith narrated by Abu Dawud from Mu’awiyah, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is the night of the twenty-seventh.”
[Musnad Ahmad and Sunan Abu Dawud, 1386]
. The view that it is the night of the twenty-seventh is the opinion of most of the Sahabah and the majority of scholars, and Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to assert, without saying “insha’Allah”, that it was the night of the twenty-seventh. Zurr ibn Hubaysh said: I said: What makes you say that, O Abu’l-Mundhir? He said: by the signs of which the Messengers of Allah (peace be upon him) told us: that the sun rises that morning with no visible rays.
[Narrated by Muslim,2/268]
Many marfu’ ahadith were narrated which said that it was on this particular night.
Ibn ‘Abbas also stated that it is the night of the twenty-seventh. He reached this conclusion by means of an amazing process. It was reported that ‘Umar gathered the Sahabah together and included Ibn ‘Abbas even though he was very young. They said, “Ibn ‘Abbas is like one of our children. Why have you brought him here with us?” ‘Umar said: “He is a youth who has a good mind and who asks lots of questions.” Then he asked the Sahabah about Laylat al-Qadr, and they agreed that it was one of the last ten nights of Ramadan. He asked Ibn ‘Abbas about it, and he said: “I think I know when it is: it is the night of the twenty-seventh.” ‘Umar said, “What makes you think that?” He said, “Allah made the heavens seven, and the earths seven, and the days seven, and He created man from seven, and He made Tawaf seven (circuits), and al-Sa’i seven, and the stoning of the Jamar seven.” So Ibn’ Abbas thought that it was the night of the twenty-seventh because of this analysis. This has been soundly reported from Ibn ‘Abbas. Another of the ways in which the conclusion was reached that it is the night of the twenty-seventh is by noting that the word fihaa (therein) in the ayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Therein descend the angels and the Ruh [Jibril]”
[Noble Quran 97:4]
is the twenty-seventh word of Surat al-Qadr [in the original Arabic].
There is no shar’i evidence (dalil) to support this manner of analysis, and there is no need for such calculations, because we have sufficient shar’i evidence available to us.
The fact that it is usually the night of the twenty-seventh – and Allah knows best – does not mean that this is always the case. It could be the night of the twenty-first, as mentioned in the hadith of Abu Sa’id quoted above, or it could be the twenty-third, as mentioned in the report of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Unays quoted above. According to a hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten days of Ramadan, when there are nine days left, and seven days left, and five days left.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4/260]
Some of the scholars thought that it is more likely that Laylat al-Qadr moves and does not come on a specific night each year. Al-Nawawi said: “This is the apparent meaning because of the conflict between the Sahih ahadith on this matter, and there is no way to reconcile the ahadith apart from saying that Laylat al-Qadr moves.”
Allah has concealed this night so that His slaves will strive to seek it, and will strive hard in worship, just as He has concealed the hour of jumu’ah, and so on.
So the believer should strive hard during the days and nights of these ten days, seeking Laylat al-Qadr and following the example of our Prophet (peace be upon him) and he should strive in making du’a’ and seeking to draw close to Allah.
It was reported that ‘A’ishah said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what do you think, if I witness Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say?’ He said: ‘Say, O Allah, You are Forgiving and Generous, and you love forgiveness, so forgive me.'”
[Narrated by Imam Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi (3515) and Ibn Majah (3850). Its isnad is Sahih]
Thirdly: a greater virtue is attached to I’tikaf on this night than on any other night of the year. I’tikaf means staying in the mosque to worship Allah, may He be exalted. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to spend these ten days in I’tikaf, as stated in the hadith of Abu Sa’id quoted above. He spent the first ten days in I’tikaf, then the middle ten days, then he told them that he had been seeking Laylat al-Qadr, and that he had been shown that it was in the last ten days, and he said: “Whoever was doing I’tikaf with me, let him do I’tikaf for the last ten days.” It was reported from ‘A’ishah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to do I’tikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan until he passed away, then his wives did I’tikaf after him.
. There is also a similar report narrated from Ibn ‘Umar.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) wanted to do I’tikaf, he would pray Fajr, then enter the place where he was to do I’tikaf, as was stated in al-Sahihayn from the hadith of ‘A’ishah.
The four imams and others (may Allah have mercy on them) said that he entered it before the sun set, and they interpreted the hadith as meaning that he entered his place of I’tikaf and kept away from people after Salat al-Subh, not that this was the time when he started his I’tikaf.
[See Sharh Muslim li’l-Nawawi, 8/68, 69; Fath al-Bari, 4/277]
. It is Sunnah for the person in I’tikaf to keep himself busy with worship, and it is forbidden for him to have intercourse or to do anything that leads to it, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I’tikaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques”
[Noble Quran 2:187]
And he should not go out of the mosque except in the case of a pressing need.
The signs by which Laylat al-Qadr is known
The first sign: it was reported in Sahih Muslim from the hadith of Ubayy ibn Ka’b that the Prophet (peace be upon him) announced that one of its signs was that when the sun rose on the following morning, it had no (visible) rays.
The second sign: it was reported from the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas narrated by Ibn Khuzaimah, and by al-Tayalisi in his Musnad, with a Sahih isnad, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is a pleasant night, neither hot nor cold, and the following day the sun rises red and weak.”
[Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, 2912; Musnad al-Tayalisi]
The third sign: it was reported by al-Tabarani with a hasan isnad from the hadith of Wathilah ibn al-Asqa’ that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Laylat al-Qadr is a bright night, neither hot nor cold, in which no meteors are seen.”
[Narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 3/179; Musnad Ahmad]
These three Sahih ahadith explain the signs which indicate Laylat al-Qadr.
It is not essential for the one who “catches” Laylat al-Qadr to know that he has “caught” it. The point is to strive hard and to be sincere in worship, whether or not one knows that one has “caught” it. It may be that some of those who do not know that may be better with Allah and higher in status than those who did know which night it was, because the former strove hard. We ask Allah to accept our fasting and our prayer at night, and to help us to remember Him and to thank Him and to worship Him properly. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad.