Seeking Laylat ul-Qadr
Aa’isha (radi Allahu anha) said that the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Seek Laylat ul-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Our Lord, may He be blessed and exalted, has told us that Laylat ul-Qadr is better than a thousand nights, Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’an) 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 Allaah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).
Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] 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” [Al-Qadr 97:1-5]
The scholars differed as to the exact night of Laylat ul-Qadr, and there are many opinions, more than forty as Ibn Hajr (may Allah have mercy upon him) mentions in Fath al-Baari. The most likely to be correct is the view that it is one of the odd-numbered nights among the last ten nights of Ramadan.
So as the above Hadith indicates the Muslim is encouraged to seek Laylat ul-Qadr during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Imam Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) included the above Hadith in a chapter entitled: “Seeking Laylat ul-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights (of Ramadan).”
The reason why it is hidden is to encourage the Muslim to strive hard in worship and du’aa’ and dhikr during all the last ten nights of Ramadan. This is the same reason why the time when du’aa’ is answered on Friday has not been defined, and why the ninety-nine names of Allah have not been defined, concerning which the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever learns them by heart will enter Paradise.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy upon him) said:
The words of Imam al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) – “Seeking Laylat ul-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights (of Ramadan)” – indicate that it is most likely that Laylat ul-Qadar cannot be in any month other than Ramadan, and is in the last ten nights thereof, and is one of the odd-numbered nights, but not on any particular night. This is what is indicated by a number of the reports that have been narrated concerning it.”
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy upon him) also said:
The scholars said: “The reason why Laylat ul-Qadar has been concealed is so that people will strive to seek it, because if its timing was known, they would limit their efforts to that night only, as we have explained previously about the time on Friday (when du’aa’s are answered).”
Based on this, it is not possible for anyone to be certain that a particular night is Laylat ul-Qadr, especially since we know that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) wanted to tell his ummah when it was, then he told them that Allah had taken away that knowledge.
It was narrated from ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit (radi Allahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) came out with the news of Laylat ul-Qadr, but two men among the Muslims started arguing. He said: “I came out to tell you about Laylat ul-Qadr, but So and so and So and so started arguing, so (that knowledge) was taken away. Perhaps that will be better for you. So seek it on the (twenty-) seventh and the (twenty-) ninth and the (twenty-) fifth.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Hence the Muslim should not assume that any particular night is Laylat ul-Qadr, because that would mean that he is being certain about something concerning which we cannot be certain, and because it means that he is missing out on something that is good for him. It may be the night of the twenty-first, or the twenty-third, or the twenty-ninth. If he spends the night of the twenty-seventh only in prayer (as most people do today), then he will have missed out on a lot of goodness, and he may have missed that blessed night.
The Muslim should strive his hardest to do acts of obedience and worship throughout Ramadan, and more so in the last ten days. This is the teaching of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).
And Allah knows best!