Contacting God, Late-night Prayer, Seeking Power
Issue 647 » August 19, 2011 - Ramadan 19, 1432
Al Insan (Man) - Chapter 76: Verses 25-26
The Prophet is told these are the means to maintain the bond with God who gave him the Quran and who entrusted him with His message. He is the source of all power. The way ahead is long, the burden he carries is heavy, and he needs much support. Now, the support is identified as maintaining contact with God by glorifying Him through the long night. Thus, the servant meets his Master alone, speaking to Him directly, looking up to Him for favour and support, feeling His compassion that removes all trouble and relieves exhaustion. His power will transform His servants' weaknesses and lack of numbers. When they shed their earthly burdens and look at the great task entrusted to them, they will think little of all the hardships they are going through and their resolve to get on with the task ahead will be that much strengthened.
God is ever merciful. He entrusted his servant, the Prophet, with His message and revealed the Quran to him. He is aware of the hardship he would meet along his way. Therefore, He did not leave him without support. On the contrary, He gave him the support and help He knew to be most useful and effective along his difficult journey. This remains the support needed by all advocates of the divine message, regardless of time, circumstance or place. It is the same message, with the same circumstances, facing the same unyielding opposition by falsehood, and for the same reasons. Falsehood employs the same tool and means against it. Let, then, the means the truth employs be the ones God knows to be the most effective.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 17, pp. 417, 418
"The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is that during the depths of the night." [Muslim]
"You should perfom the late-night prayer for verily it was the custom of the pious people before you. Certainly, the late-night prayer is an act that takes one closer to Allah, keeps one away from sins, expiates for evil deeds and repels disease from the body." [Tirmidhi]
There are many aspects that make the late-night prayer special. First and foremost, it is a prayer. The best action or matter is prayer.
Second, al-Haitami points out that, in general, the prayer performed in the late-night is more virtuous than the voluntary prayers during the day because it is further from ostentation and being done for show. In other words, the intention behind the late-night prayers should be a pure one. Furthermore, it is easy to have the fear of Allah and concentrate on the prayer in the late-night prayer as there are fewer disturbances at the time.
Thirdly, it makes the person realize his real purpose and goal in this life. He is getting up in the middle of the night and forsaking his sleep because he realizes that his goal is not the pleasure or relaxation of this world. Instead, he has a much greater purpose and goal in life. For that reason, he is getting up to pray when the rest of mankind are either sleeping or committing sins under the cover of night.
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 1100, 1101
Laylat ul-Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. If a believing person is zealous to obey his Lord and increase the good deeds in his record, he should strive to encounter this night and to pass it in worship and obedience. If this is facilitated for him, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.
There is no consensus of the Ummah over when the night of Qadr occurs. Imam Razi has a few novel points to offer on why that is the case:
Allah concealed its knowledge from His slaves since His rida (approval and pleasure) is concealed in devotions to Him, and in concealment of the night is the cause of increase in devotions. This is following His general method: He concealed His friend (waliyy) among the people in order that all people might be respected; He concealed His response to supplications in order that they might resort to it oftener; He concealed His Great Name (Al-Ism al-A'zam [some scholars believe that Allah is the Ism al-A'zam. YMFN ED]) in order that all of His Names might be revered; He concealed the accepted prayer in order the people pay special attention to every Prayer; He concealed the time of death in order that the people never be oblivious of it.
Again if the night of Qadr been known, the sins of the sinners in that night would have weighed heavily upon them, since, to commit sins on a known blessed occasion is greater in enormity than when committed on the same blessed occasion but without the sinner knowing that it is a blessed occasion.
Three Ways to Seek Laylat ul-Qadr
1. Performing Night Prayer (Qiyam)
It is recommended to make a long night prayer during the nights on which Laylat ul-Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many hadiths, such as the following:
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever stands (in qiyam) in Laylat ul-Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation (of Allah's reward), will have all of his previous sins forgiven." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad]
2. Making Supplications
It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that she asked Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), "O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylat ul-Qadr, what should I say during it?" And he instructed her to say: 'Allahumma innaka afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fafu annee - O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love to forgive. So forgive me.'" [Recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmithi. Verified to be authentic by Al-Albani]
3. Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship
It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylat ul-Qadr is likely to be. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: "When the (last) ten started, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would tighten his izaar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in prayer), and wake up his family." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
"Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma'ani" - Syed Iqbal Zaheer
“How to Seek Laylat ul-Qadr” – Muhammad Nasir-ud-Deen al-Albani