Allah descending during the last third of the night
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
This above Hadith was narrated from the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) approximately twenty-eight of the Sahaabah (radi Allahu anhum) and the Ahl al-Sunnah are unanimously agreed that it is to be accepted.
The ‘aqeedah (belief) of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah concerning the names and attributes of Allah is to affirm the names and attributes which Allah has affirmed for Himself, without distorting or denying them, discussing how they are or likening them to anything else. They believe that which Allah has commanded them to believe, for Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “There is nothing like Him, and He is the All Hearer, the All Seer” [al-Shooraa 42:11]
It should be noted that the descent of the Lord – may He be exalted – to the lowest heaven is one of the actions that are attributed to Him and has to do with His will and wisdom. Allah descends in a manner that befits His majesty and might. Allah descends however He wills, whenever He wills. Glory be to Him, there is nothing like unto Him and He is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing. It is not permissible to distort the meaning of the Hadith by saying that what is meant is that His command or mercy descends, or that one of His angels descends.
This is false for several reasons:
1. This misinterpretation goes against the apparent meaning of the Hadith. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) attributed descent or the act of descending to Allah, and the basic principle is that a thing is attributed to the one who does it, so if it is attributed to someone else, that is a distortion that goes against this basic principle. We know that the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) is the most knowledgeable of all people about Allah, and that He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) is the most eloquent of mankind and the most truthful in what he says. There are no lies in his speech and it is impossible for him to attribute something to Allah that is not one of His names or attributes or actions or rulings. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And if he (Muhammad) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allaah), We surely would have seized him by his right hand (or with power and might), And then We certainly would have cut off his life artery (aorta)” [al-Haaqqah 69:44-46]
Moreover the only intention of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) was to guide mankind, so if he said, “Our Lord descends” and someone else says something that runs contrary to the apparent meaning of these words, such as saying that His command descends, then we say: Do you have more knowledge about Allah than the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam)? The Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Our Lord descends” but you say His command descends. Or are you more sincere towards the ummah than he was, since he (allegedly) concealed what he was supposed to tell them and told them something different. Undoubtedly the person who tells the people one thing but means something else is not sincere towards them. Or do you think that you are more eloquent than the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam)?! Undoubtedly such a misinterpretation implies that one is accusing the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) of some kind of shortcoming that a Muslim can never accept on the part of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).
2. The descent of His command and mercy is not restricted to this part of the night, rather His command and mercy descend all the time. If it is said that what is meant is a specific command or specific mercy which does not happen all the time, the answer to that is that if we assume that this interpretation is correct, then the Hadith indicates that where the descent of this thing ends is in the lowest heaven, so what benefit can it be to us if mercy descend to the lowest heaven without reaching us? Why would the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) even tell us about it?
3. The Hadith indicates that the One Who descends says: “Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?” No one can say that except Allah, may He be exalted!
And Allah knows best!