As the month of Ramadan winds down into the last ten days, it marks perhaps the most anticipated time of the holy month– not because the month is ending – but because there is a coveted treasure hidden in these last ten days that Muslims eagerly search for. It’s a night for fulfillment of prayer; a night when the Grace of God descends with abounding bounties and blessings. It’s a night God Almighty Himself describes:
‘Surely, We sent it down on the Night of Destiny. And what should make thee know what the Night of Destiny is?The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months. Therein descend angels and the Spirit by the command of their Lord — with every matter. It is all peace till the rising of the dawn.’[i]
It is indeed a most blessed night, one which every Muslim covets, in order to reap the blessings of a time, ‘wherein descend angels and the Spirit.’ So, when is it? On which night can one ensure that they are present on the prayer mat, ever-ready to soak in the abundance of these blessings?
There’s no telling the exact day that this manifests. The only person to ever know the exact time of the Night of Destiny was the Holy Prophet (sa). He narrowed the search for the Night of Destiny to the last ten days of Ramadan.[ii]In fact, one day, when he had been informed of the exact night, he came out to tell the companions of the great news, however as Hazrat `Ubada bin as-Samit (ra) narrates:
‘The Prophet (sa) came out to inform us about the Night of Qadr but two Muslims were quarreling with each other. So, the Prophet (sa) said, “I came out to inform you about the Night of Qadr but such-and-such persons were quarreling, so the news about it had been taken away; yet that might be for your own good, so search for it on the 29th, 27th and 25th (of Ramadan)’[iii]
And so, on the odd nights of Ramadan, Muslims supplicate, seeking to find that which is better than a thousand months. But what makes this so special? No doubt, the blessings and bounties of God Almighty descend on a daily basis, especially in the month of Ramadan. So what is it about this night, the Night of Destiny, that makes it unique?
It’s important to understand that the Night of Destiny transcends merely the last ten days of Ramadan. The Night of Destiny is a concept which has manifested itself time and again, entirely changing the landscape of the world. In fact, Laylatul Qadror the Night of Destiny is synonymous with the revelation of Divine word.
This is gleaned from the very words of Laylatul Qadr. The word Laylahhas appeared a total of eight times in the Holy Qur’an. Each time, it is in connection with the revelation of God’s word.
For example, the retreat of Moses to Mount Saini where Divine communion would take place and he received Divinely revealed commandments, is mentioned in the following words:
وَ وٰعَدۡنَا مُوۡسٰی ثَلٰثِیۡنَ لَیۡلَۃً وَّ اَتۡمَمۡنٰہَا بِعَشۡرٍ فَتَمَّ مِیۡقَاتُ رَبِّہٖۤ اَرۡبَعِیۡنَ لَیۡلَۃً
‘And We made Moses a promise of thirty nights and supplemented them with ten. Thus the period appointed by his Lord was completed — forty nights.’[iv]
It was on the occasion outlined by this verse that God sent down Divine commandments with ‘angels and the Spirit by His command’and the darkness which had spread over the world was lifted. Thus the manifestation of Moses (as) and the teachings given to him was a form of the manifestation of Laylatul Qadr
Similarly, the word Laylah has been used with reference to the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. The state of Arabia before the advent of Islam has been well documented. It was known as the ‘time of ignorance’ – a dark peril wherein the age along with the people therein were wandering aimlessly surrounded by the darkness of Godlessness, resulting in every vice and evil imaginable. It was when this darkness had reached its pinnacle that God Almighty manifested His Divine Decree and sent down His word. Regarding that momentous night when the first revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (sa) took place, God Almighty says:
اِنَّاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنٰہُ فِیۡ لَیۡلَۃٍ مُّبٰرَکَۃٍ اِنَّا کُنَّا مُنۡذِرِیۡنَ
‘Truly, We revealed it in a blessed Night. Truly, We have ever been warning against evil.’[v]
Thereby, the revelation of the Qur’an and the manifestation of Muhmmad (sa) as God’s greatest messenger, along with his subsequent dispensation was yet another manifestation of Laylatul Qadr. And so, these were no ordinary nights, but were nights for the manifestation of the magnanimous magnificence and majesty of the Omnipotent God. Thus the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) states:
‘…some of the verses of the Holy Qur’an indicate that the condition of the darkness of the world is also a Night of Decree on account of its hidden qualities. In that condition of darkness, sincerity and steadfastness, and piety and worship, have great value in the estimation of God. It was because of that condition of darkness which at the time of the advent of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] had arrived at its climax and demanded the descent of a Grand Light, that observing this dark condition and having mercy on the creatures afflicted with darkness, there was an up-surge in the attribute of Rahmaniyyat and heavenly blessings addressed themselves to the earth. That dark condition became blessed for the world and the world thereby received a grand mercy so that the Perfect Man and the Chief of the Prophets, like whom there had been no one, nor ever will be, came for the guidance of the world and brought that bright Book for the world whose match no eye has beheld. It was a great manifestation of spiritual perfection of God that, at a time of gloom and darkness, He sent down a Grand Light.’[vi]
The Night of Decree signifies the enlightenment of the entire world in a time of grave darkness through the revelation of Divine light. Now remains the questions as to the connection between the Night of Destiny and the month of Ramadan.
The words, ‘Surely, We sent it down’ refer to the words in the preceding chapter, the first words ever revealed to the Holy Prophet (sa), the first words revealed of the Holy Qur’an:
‘Convey thou in the name of thy Lord Who created, Created man from a clot of blood. Convey! And thy Lord is Most Generous, Who taught man by the pen, Taught man what he knew not.’[vii]
The greatest manifestation of the Night of Decree was the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. As for when the Holy Qur’an was revealed:
‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance for mankind’[viii]
And so, as taught by the Holy Prophet (sa), we search for the Night of Destiny in the last ten days of the month in which it manifested itself in the highest form. We seek for it to have the same impact upon our individual beings, as it did on the entire world; to enlighten our souls, imbibing within them the Divine spirit by way of His grace and mercy. Just as the world, was, so do we seek to be enlightened by the light of God.
Now comes the matter of actually searching for this night in the last ten days; how is it to be done? In fact the first step to finding the Night of Destiny begins well before the last ten days of Ramadan. It is narrated that the first ten days of Ramadan are of God’s mercy, the second ten days are of His forgiveness, and the last ten days signify salvation from the fire.[ix] It is found in another narration that the Holy Prophet (sa) said that in the month of Ramadan, the gates of heaven are flung open and the gates to Hell chained shut.[x] Though the gates of hell may be chained shut, one can only attain true salvation from it when he makes the appropriate efforts during the ten days of mercy, and the ten days of forgiveness, as explained by the Fifth Caliph and worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba):
‘It cannot be that for the duration of Ramadan, one pays no attention to fasting, reciting the Qur’an nor establishing prayer, but then suddenly begins paying attention to these forms of worship in the last ten days – no – rather it is necessary to pay due attention to these forms of worship from the outset of Ramadan…when due attention is paid to fulfilling the rights of God and the rights of humanity from the outset of Ramadan and these righteous deeds are done, then will the doors to hell be shut and the doors to heaven opened.’[xi]
Once the first step has been taken care of, and one has spent the first twenty days of Ramadan fulfilling these obligations to the best of their abilities, then can they begin the search for the Night of Destiny, especially on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.[xii]In fact, the Holy Prophet (sa) outlined for us even further as to how we can attain the blessings of the Night of Destiny. He said:
‘Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards then all his past sins will be forgiven.’[xiii]
In this narration, the Holy Prophet (sa) has effectively answered two pertinent questions; how, and why? How can one attain the Night of Destiny? By immersing one’s self in prayer, with true sincerity, in ardent hope for His blessings. Why should one search for this Night of Destiny? Because just as it previously brought the world out from the depths of darkness, it can bring an individual out from the darkness of sin. His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masoor Ahmad (aba) explains:
‘True faith is when one believes in all attributes of Allah Almighty with complete conviction. For example, if one is convinced that of all those who show mercy, He is the most Merciful, He is the Forgiver; He can forgive all faults and He does. At the same time, He also has the right to punish and with this thought, and in His fear the hearts melt; and while keeping this in mind one analyzes himself and seeks forgiveness, then does He forgive all his past sins.’[xiv]
Then, when all these things are in place, how can one know that they have successfully attained the Night of Destiny? The Second Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) answers the question:
‘Is there any sign by which it can be known as to which night in Ramadan was the Night of Decree? The answer to this question is that it is narrated in some Hadith that there are some flashes of light, the wind blows and there is a slight drizzle; a light can be seen either going to or coming from the heavens. However, at the outset, a sign is not necessary. Though, it has been experienced that it often does occur in this way and the last sign, of seeing light, has been experienced by the righteous. This is a vision, not a physical sign that can be seen by everyone. I have also had experiences, however what I have seen has not been seen by others. The right way is that a believer prays to God throughout Ramadan and fasts with sincerity. Then, Allah Almighty manifests the Night of Destiny upon him in one way or another.’[xv]
Thus, one must embark upon a journey which transcends the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan, which in fact transcends the month of Ramadan itself, as it requires a level of preparation which entails striving on a daily basis. Its manifestation can vary from person to person, yet one thing remains certain – it is a night which, if achieved, can be the source of attaining an infinite amount of blessings, bounties, rewards, favors, and enlightenment. Such that when one comes across, it, they will be sure, that they have indeed found the Night of Destiny.
[i]The Holy Qur’an Chapter 97 Verses 2-6
[ii]Bukhari Kitabul I`tikaf
[iii]Bukhari Kitab Fadhlu Laylatul Qadr
[iv]The Holy Qur’an Chapter 7 Verse 143
[v]The Holy Qur’an Chapter 44 Verse 4
[vi]Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 1 pp. 414-435 footnote 11
[vii]The Holy Qur’an Chapter 96 Verses 2-6
[viii]The Holy Qur’an Chapter 2 Verse 186
[ix]Sahih ibn Khuzaimah Kitabus Siyam
[x]Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal Vol. 2 p. 445
[xi]Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) November 14, 2003
[xii]Bukhari Kitab Fadlu Laylatul Qadr
[xiii]Bukhari Kitabus Saum
[xiv]Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) November 14, 2003
[xv]Tafsir Kabir by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) Vol 9 p. 399