The Reward for Lailatul Qadr
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ . لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is? The Night of the Decree is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months). [97: 2-3]
This blessed night was given to our ummah as a special gift upon the concern of the Prophet for the short lives of his people in comparison with those who lived before. Thus whatever is done on this blessed night will be recorded for the sincere Muslim as if he had done the same deeds without sinning for one thousand months, which is the equivalent of 83 years and four months! This was among the reasons why the Prophet (saas) said that whoever was deprived of the good of this night was truly deprived:
Abu Hurairah (ra) who said: The Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month which Allah has enjoined you to fast ... In it there is a night which is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived." (Sahih - Nasaa'i, Ahmad)
فعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال
من قام ليلة القدر إيماناً واحتساباً غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (saas) said: "Whoever spends the night of Lailatul Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, will be forgiven his previous sins."
In this authentic hadith, special care must be paid to his statement (saas) "out of faith and in hope of the reward". This shows us the importance of purifying both the intention and our sincerity, praying to Allah with full belief in Him and seeking His great reward.
What to Do on this Blessed Night
1. Remember to also work hard in the daylight hours of these nights. This helps to prepare the heart and the soul for the efforts of the night, and this was the manner of Imam ash-Shaafi'ee.
2. Be cautious of over-eating in these days. Allah says in the Quran:
وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ
And eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah does not love those who waste. [7:31]
ما ملأ آدمي وعاء شرا من بطنه
And the Prophet (saas) said on the authority of Miqdaam, "A person will not fill a pot worse for himself than his stomach." (Sahih - Jami' as-Sagheer)
And in one of the stories narrated from Bani Isra'eel, the Prophet Yayha (as) once asked Iblees if he had ever succeeded in deceiving him. Iblees stated that on only one occasion had he been able to deceive this noble Prophet and that had been when he had encouraged him to eat a lot of one of his favorite dishes to the extent that when he slept that night he didn't awaken for the night prayer.
3. Putting on your best clothes for this night. Have you not considered Allah's statement in the Quran:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُواْ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ
O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel to every Masjid. [7:31]
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْبَسُوا مِنْ ثِيَابِكُمْ الْبَيَاضَ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ خَيْرِ ثِيَابِكُم
Ibn 'Abbaas (ra) reports from the Messenger of Allah (saas) that he said, "Wear your white garments for they are among the best of your clothes." (Sahih - Abu Dawood)
And it has been narrated authentically that Anas ibn Maalik (ra) used to have a garment that he would wear only once in the year and that was the night that he expected lailatul Qadr.
And it has been reported from a number of the predecessors that they used to take showers and perfume themselves especially for the last ten nights.
What is the wisdom behind this? In order to best purify our souls and hearts, it helps to start from the outside by wearing that which is clean, pure and beautifies us, and Allah knows best.
Let us not forget though the words of Allah:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ
O' Children of Adam! We have bestowed libaas and reesh upon you to cover your privates, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the adornment of taqwa - that is the best. [7:26]
Regarding this noble ayah, 'Abdur-Rahman ibnu Zayd ibnu Aslam commented, "When one fears Allah, Allah covers his errors".
4. To make i'tikaaf - even if it be for a limited number of hours. The benefit of it is that one is recorded as being in prayer the whole time so long as he makes this intention (of remaining until the next obligatory prayer), and it was the confirmed Sunnah of our Prophet (saas) and even that of his wives after his death (saas).
5. To be sincere for the sake of Allah and to be on the lookout for the destroyers of sincerity to Allah - and they are showing off (al-riyaa') and arrogance (kibr), amongst others. Allah has said in regards to sincerity:
وَأَقِيمُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ
… And that you should face Him only, in every Masjid, and invoke Him only making your religion sincere to Him …. [7: 29]
And in the Hadith Qudsi:
أَنَا أَغْنَى الشُّرَكَاءِ عَنْ الشِّرْكِ مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا أَشْرَكَ فِيهِ مَعِي غَيْرِي تَرَكْتُهُ وَشِرْكَهُ
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (saas) said: "Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, says: 'I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else's sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.'" (Muslim)
Thus, we have to make sure that our efforts on this night, especially if there are others around us, that they are solely for the pleasure of Allah. This can be greatly alleviated if you have a certain plan in mind before you go to the Masjid regarding what you will do. We also take lessons from the lives of the early generations who used to be very cautious in this regards particularly in regards to weeping from the fear of Allah. They controlled it so well that a man could stand next to another and wet his beard with tears without his companion being aware that he was crying. This was all so that they would not draw attention to themselves.
And the great scholar Sufyaan ath-Thawri once said, "It has reached me that a servant does a good deed secretly causing Shaytaan to come at him until he overcomes him, upon which the servant makes his good deeds public (but still maintaining a measure of sincerity). Shaytaan then continues with him further until the servant wishes that his good deeds be praised by others, upon which his name is removed from those who deeds in public and he is listed among those who show-off (commit the grievous sin of riyaa')."
That is why the Prophet said we must spend this night in hope for His reward - in other words, not in hopes of others praising us and so forth.
Furthermore, some people commit another sin in arrogance by looking down upon the deeds of others. Maybe Allah gave you the strength to pray ten voluntary rak'aahs but another only had the strength to do four. Although you may have bested the other in terms of quantity, only Allah knows the quality and so his one rakah might be better and more virtuous than all of what you have done. So let us be wary of falling into this pit of destruction - may Allah protect us!
6. To push yourself in calling upon Allah and not be lazy in this matter. Allah states in the Quran:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْإِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
And your Lord has said: "Call upon Me, I will answer you. Verily, those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation." [40:60]
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ الدُّعَاءَ هُوَ الْعِبَادَةُ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ
And an-Nu'maan ibn Bashir (ra) relates from the Messenger of Allah (saas) that he said, "Indeed the supplication is the worship; and then he recited the ayah …." (Sahih - IM)
And it is recorded that Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, "Indeed to call upon Allah in this night (al-Qadr) is more beloved to me than praying in it." And our example always is RasulAllah and let us remember that when he recited the Quran in the night prayer that he used to do so slowly - whenever a verse called for seeking forgiveness he did so, whenever it called for seeking Allah's protection from His punishment he did so, whenever it called for asking Allah for His bounty and for Jannah, he did so …. Thus the Prophet (saas) gathered four acts of worship in one: prayer, recitation of Quran, supplication and pondering over the words of Allah!
And 'A'ishah said: "I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, if I know which night is Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say on that night?' He said, 'Say: Allahumma innaka 'afuwwun tuhibb al-'afwa fa'affu 'anni (O Allah, You are forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me)."
So what then is the difference between calling upon Allah by his name of al-'Afuww instead of al-Ghafur? They both indicate forgiveness, but maghfirah means to be protected from the consequences of the sin whereas al-'afw means that it is wiped away completely.
And how can we pour more sincerity into our supplication and asking Allah for His forgiveness? As you stand there in these blessed nights then remember the condition of our Ummah today and that if you were better, if your sins were not so much then we would not be in this condition: our mothers like Dr. 'Afiyyah would not have their modesty abused, our young brothers and sisters in places like Palestine would not be gunned down or abused in the manner that they are - this is the result of our sins collectively. And it was narrated regarding one of the great scholars of the early generations that he used to say whenever any strong storm would come, "O' people, when I die then you will be removed of these trials."
7. Make this a night that you repent of your sins, a night that you change your life forever. Remember that the sign that our fasting has been accepted is that we are better afterwards. Ibnul Qayyim states in his excellent book, Madaarij as-Salikeen: "among the signs of a repentance that has not been accepted are:
A lack of tears
2. No new good deeds in your life that were not being practiced before
And indeed Allah has commanded us to repent in many places, for example:
O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow. [66: 8]
إن الله يحب التوابين ويحب المتطهرين
Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves. [2: 222]
May Allah help us to reach the night of Qadr and bless us to reap its rewards in full, forgiving us our sins and releasing us from the Hellfire - ameen.