When the Night Equals a Thousand
by Muhammad Alshareef
It was narrated that in the days that Musa alayhis salaam wandered with Bani Israeel in the desert, an intense drought befell them. Together, they raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rain to come. Then, to the astonishment of Musa alayhis salaam and all those watching, the few scattered clouds that were in the sky vanished, the heat poured down, and the drought intensified.
It was revealed to Musa that there was a sinner amongst the tribe of Bani Israeel who had disobeyed Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala for more than forty years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala told Musa alayhis salaam. “Only then shall I shower you all with rain.”
Musa alayhis salaam then called out to the throngs of humanity, “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for forty years. Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.”
That man waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did. Sweat poured forth from his brow and he knew that he was the one. The man knew that if he stayed amongst the congregation all would die of thirst and that if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity.
He raised his hands with a sincerity he had never known before, with humility he had never tasted, and as tears poured down on both cheeks he said, “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! O Allah, forgive me!”
As Musa alayhis salaam and the people of Bani Israeel waited for the sinner to step forward, the clouds hugged the sky and the rain poured. Musa alayhi salaam asked Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though the sinner did not come forward.”
And Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala replied, “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that very person that I blessed all of Bani Israeel with water.”
Musa alayhis salaam, wanting to know who this blessed man was, asked, “Show him to me O Allah!”
Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala replied, “O Musa, I hid his sins for forty years, do you think that after his repentance I shall expose him?”
Ibn Jareer narrates on the authority of Mujaahid, that there was a man from Bani Israeel who used to spend the night in prayer. Then during the day he would fight the enemy in the way of Allah until the evening and he did this for a thousand months. And so Allah revealed:
Verily, We have sent it (the Qur’an) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (the Night of Destiny or the Night of Power). / And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is? / The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah this night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months) (Al-Qadr 97/1-3).
Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala revealed the Qur’an in the most blessed month – the month of Ramadan. And on the 27th night of this month comes the Night of Al-Qadr (Laylatul Qadr), which is better than a thousand months. On the authority of Mujaahid, Sufyaan Ath-Thawree reports that Laylatul Qadr being better than a thousand months means that the good deeds performed on it, fasting on it, and standing in prayer on it are better than a thousand months worth of good deeds, prayer and fasting.
It is reported from Abu Hurayrah that when the month of Ramadan came, the Messenger of Allah said:
“The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast; in it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. In it is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable” (Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaa'i).
It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, that Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Whoever stood in prayer on Laylatul Qadr in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven” (Bukhari and Muslim).
This one night surpasses the value of 30,000 nights. The sincere believer who worries day and night about his sins and phases of neglect in his life, patiently awaits the onset of Ramadan. During it, he hopes to be forgiven by Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala for past sins, knowing that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam promised that all who bow down during the last ten days shall have all their sins forgiven. To achieve this, the believer remembers the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam’s advice in different sayings wherein he used words like ‘seek’, ‘pursue’, ‘search’ and ‘look hard’ for Laylatul Qadr.
Laylatul Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. The mu‘min should search for it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, passing the nights in worship and obedience. For those who catch the opportunity, their gift is that of past sins wiped away.
The Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam illustrated for us some of the things we should be doing on this Grand Night. From his blessed Sunnah we find the following:
Praying Qiyaam (Night Prayer):
It is recommended to make a long qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many ahadith, such as:
“Whoever stands [in qiyaam] in Laylatul Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation [of Allah’s reward], will have all of his previous sins forgiven” (Bukhari and Muslim).
It is also recommended to make extensive supplications on this night. Aisha radi Allahu anha reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam:
“O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say, “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa ‘fu ‘annee – O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi).
Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship:
It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr is likely to fall. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala. Aisha radi Allahu anha reported:
“When the [last] ten nights started, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam would tighten his izhaar [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” (Bukhari and Muslim).
And she, radi Allahu anha, said:
“Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam used to exert more [in worship] on the last ten than on other nights” (Muslim).
Have we estimated Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala correctly? Life is about people who take advantage of their opportunities to win the love of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala, and Laylatul Qadr is one of them.
Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu was one of those who found an opportunity and won that which is greater than the heavens and the earth. An adult companion of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and thus belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim, so the orphan boy went to the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam to complain. With his justness, the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam asked the companion, “Would you give him the palm tree and to you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, missed the opportunity and went away angry.
But someone else saw the opportunity – Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu. He went to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and asked, “Ya RasulAllah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?”
The Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “Yes.”
Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?”
The companion answered, “Take it, for there is no good in a tree that I was complained to the Prophet about.”
Immediately, Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Darda. “We’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snatched the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”
When Abu Darda was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Darda now have in Paradise?”
What did Abu Darda lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.
Abu Darda did not miss his opportunity, and I pray to Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala that we do not miss our opportunity of standing to Allah on Laylatul Qadr.
Dear brothers and sisters, we do not obey, worship and revere Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala in a way befitting of His Majesty.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala revealed:
No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him. On the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand. Glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him (Az-Zumar 39/67).
When someone dies we say inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him we shall return). This is not a supplication just for when a soul is lost. It is a supplication for every calamity that befalls a believer, even if his sandal were to tear. Why? Because everything belongs to Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala and everything shall come back to him. Sit and try to count the blessings Allah has bestowed upon you. Have you ever tried to count stars?
And He has given you all that you ask for. But if you count the favors of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude (Ibrahim 14/34).
We have not understood the weight of this Qur’an that we rest on our high shelves; this noble book that was sent to give life to the dead. For even if our hearts were as solid as mountain they would have crumbled to the ground in fear and hope of Allah’s punishment and mercy. Could it be that our hearts are harder than that mountain?
Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, you would have seen it humble itself and split asunder in fear of Allah (Al-Hashr 59/21).
Dear brothers and sisters, as you fill the masajid for Qiyam-ul-Layl in the last ten nights of Ramadan, remember what Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala wants you to know:
…that Allah is strict in punishment and that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
There shall be a night, some night in your life, that you shall awaken in Jannah or Hellfire. On his deathbed, Anas ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu prayed to Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, “O Allah, protect me from a night whose morning brings a journey to Hellfire.” Think about that morning.
Peace shall descend on Laylatul Qadr until the dawn. It may be that you shall leave the masjid after Fajr one day soon forgiven by Allah, Glorious and Most High.