Lailatul-Qadr: The Night of Predestination
Allah (Ta’ala) made His first revelation to his messenger in these words:
|إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ (1) وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ (2) لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ (3) تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ (4) سَلامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ (5)|
(Translation of meaning) [“Lo! We revealed it [the Quran] on the Night of Predestination. Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Predestination is. The Night of Predestination is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. [That night is] Peace until the break of the dawn” (Al-Qadr: 1- 5)].
This is a night of great blessing. It is commendable to worship throughout this night. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that all the past sins of the one who worships on this night faithfully and wishing reward from Allah will be forgiven (Bukhari). This night is one of the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan (21, 23, 25, 27, 29). Most theologians guess that it is the 27th night of Ramadan. Hadrat Ubai Ibn Ka’b says: By God I know it. Hadrat Sho’bah says that the most I know about this night is that it was on this night that the Messenger of Allah had ordered us to pray and it was the 27th night (Muslim) .
The wisdom behind this ambiguity is that one should search it diligently and keep engaged in worship. Hadrat Ayesha (RadhiAllahu Anha) asked the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about what prayer should be recited on this night, the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied that you should recite this prayer:
اللہم اِنَّک عَفُوٌ کَرِیم تُحِبُّ العفوَ فَاعِف عَنِّی
(Translation of meaning) [“O my Lord verily you are Forgiver, Benevolent. You love forgiveness so please forgive me”] (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah).
Utmost attachment with and deep devotion to Allah (Ta’ala) is a source of contentment for a believer. In our material existence we frequently encounter a number of evil phenomena which make pollute us. So it needs occasional purification. The best way to this is to meditate in remembrance of Allah and to worship him incessantly. To secure access to Allah Almighty I’tikaaf is the best medium.
Meaning of I’tikaaf
I’tikaaf means to confine oneself to a mosque for a number of days to devote oneself exclusively to the remembrance of Allah and His worship.
Categories of I’tikaaf
- Compulsory (Wa’jib) I’tikaaf: If somebody vows to keep I’tikaaf it becomes compulsory for him to fulfil it. As narrated by Hadrat Umar (RadhiAllahu Anhu), he once asked the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): O Messenger of Allah, I have vowed to perform I’tikaaf in the holy Ka’bah. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied that you must fulfil your vow (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)). If perchance a person making a vow for I’tikaaf dies before fulfilling it there is no encumbrance on him.
- Commendable (Mustahabb) I’tikaaf
It is recommended for the last ten days of Ramadan. Conditions governing it are as follows:
- Only a Muslim can perform I’tikaaf.
- Only a sane person can perform it. The insane and mentally deranged are excluded.
- I’tikaaf is meant only for the mosque. It cannot be undertaken at home or any other place. However, a woman can undertake I’tikaaf at the place of her worship.
- Intention is necessary.
- It is essential to be free of unclean conditions, like janabat, menstruation or puerperal flow.
While in I’tikaaf, a devotee must concentrate on the remembrance of Allah, invoke the blessings of Allah (Ta’ala) for the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); frequently undertake nafil salat and fasting (in months other than Ramadan), and recurrent recitation of the holy Quran.
What is Obnoxious during I’tikaaf?
- To engage in irrelevant talk or worldly business while in I’tikaaf.
- To sit motionless when not engaged in acts of worship.
What is Permissible during I’tikaaf?
- One can exit from the mosque to attend to the call of nature.
- There is no harm in having a hair-cut or scaling of nails or washing and bathing or changing the dress or applying scents.
- Eating, drinking and sleeping in the mosque.
Commencement and End of I’tikaaf
The time for beginning and ending of I’tikaaf is determined in accordance with its category which is as follows:
- If it is to be undertaken during the last ten days of Ramadan, one must enter the mosque before sunset on the nineteenth day of Ramadan and must leave it on the last day of Ramadan after sunset.
- If one has vowed to keep I’tikaaf during specified days he must undergo it during those days. He must enter the mosque after the Adzan of Maghrib and before the Adzan of Fajr to begin the first day of I’tikaaf.
- So far as nafil (voluntary) I’tikaaf is concerned, one is free to begin and end it whenever he likes. However, the theologians have differentiated between the I’tikaaf of day-time and I’tikaaf of night-time. If one has willed to undertake the day-time I’tikaaf he must occupy the place of I’tikaaf before the dawn (fajr) and come out after sunset. Similarly, if he has willed to undertake the night-time I’tikaaf he must enter the mosque at sunset and come out after the dawn (fajr). Likewise, if somebody wills to keep I’tikaaf for a whole month he ought to enter the mosque in the night before the beginning of the month and come out on the last day of the month after sunset.
Nullifiers of I’tikaaf
- To exit from the mosque without a valid canonical excuse.
- To engage in sexual intercourse. Allah (Ta’ala) proclaims:
|وَلا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنْتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلا تَقْرَبُوهَا كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ (187)|
(Translation of meaning) [“Don’t engage with your wives while you are confined [A’kif] in the mosques. These are the limits set by Allah so do not approach them” (Al-Baqarah: 187)].
- Intoxication due to any reason.
- Suffering from a fit of insanity or prolonged unconsciousness.
- Onset of menstruation or puerperium.