A group of believers in North America would like to inquire about that which was…
The Night of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr) is known to Muslims as the most spiritually significant night in the entire Islamic year. Observed either on the 19th, 21st, or 23rd nights of Holy Month of Ramadhan, no other night in the Islamic calendar bears so much importance for the faithful as the Night of Destiny. This prominence can be seen even further as it is mentioned in several areas of the Holy Qur’an and it has the unique distinction of being mentioned explicitly in a chapter all by itself.
“In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“We revealed the Qur’an on the Night of Destiny. (97:1) Would that you knew what the Night of Destiny is! (97:2) (Worship) on the Night of Destiny is better than (worship) for a thousand months. (97:3)
“On this night, the angels and the spirit descend by the permission of their Lord with His decree (to determine everyone’s destiny). (97:4)
“This night is all peace until the break of dawn. (97:5)”
[Chapter 97, The Holy Qur’an]
So what exactly is the significance of this night? To answer this question, the faithful need look no further than to the subjects of divine revelation, namely the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his family (Ahl al-Bayt).
The Holy Qur’an was revealed during this night
One of the most notable attributes of this night can be seen in the very first verse of chapter 97 of the Holy Qur’an: “We revealed the Qur’an on the Night of Destiny. (97:1)” According to narrations from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (p), the Qur’an is not the only sacred text to have been revealed during this month. In fact, the sixth Imam (p) has said: “The Torah was revealed during the sixth night of the month of Ramadhan. The New Testament (Injil) was revealed during the twelfth night of the month of Ramadhan. The Psalms (Al-Zabbur) were revealed during the eighteenth night of the month of Ramadhan, and the Holy Qur’an was revealed during the Night of Destiny.” (Al-Kafi, Vol. 4)
According the Islamic faith, the month of Ramadhan enjoys the special distinction of being a time full of divine revelation. However, what is even more noteworthy for Muslims is that the pinnacle of divine inspiration and the culmination of all previous divine texts, manifested with God’s final revelation to mankind on the Night of Destiny. Essentially, God chose and favored this night specially for His final testament to man in the form of the Holy Qur’an.
There are many blessings in worshiping on this night
Aside from being the night of revelation, another significant attribute of this night for the faithful can be seen from the following verse: “(Worship) on the Night of Destiny is better than (worship) for a thousand months. (97:3)” Here, God reveals the spiritual excellence of this night and that worship on this night alone is not simply equivalent to one’s spiritual devotion for a thousand months, rather it is “better” than worship for a thousand months. In the Islamic faith and particularly the Ahl al-Bayt school of thought, it is highly recommended for the faithful to stay vigilant during this night and occupy themselves in the prescribed prayers and supplications. The spiritual reward for a single act of worship performed during this night alone is multiplied many times in the Sight of God.
It is the night of determination
Perhaps the single most important attribute of this night for the faithful can be seen from the fourth verse mentioned above: “On this night, the angels and the spirit descend by the permission of their Lord with His decree (to determine everyone’s destiny). (97:4)” According to narrations from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (p), “During the night of destiny, all things of good or evil, obedience or disobedience, birth or death, or sustenance that are to take place in the year up to the next month of Ramadhan, are measured and determined.” (Al-Kafi, Vol. 4) Essentially, God determines all matters pertaining to His creation for the next year during this night, such as who lives and who dies, who has children, gets married, performs pilgrimage (Hajj), becomes wealthy or poor, and every other matter of one’s existence.
The sixth Imam (p) has also said “You should try to pray for the realization of your wishes during [these nights]…” (Al-Kafi, Vol. 4) Essentially, it is highly recommended for the faithful to take full advantage of this special night to supplicate their Lord in all matters and ask specifically for their needs with the hope that God will add these to His decree for the coming year. The sick may pray for good health, the indebted may ask for relief, and even the student may pray for success. No request is trivial, in fact, the faithful are instructed by God to describe their needs in detail and pray so that He will answer. This can be seen in chapter 2 of the Qur’an as: “(Muhammad), if any of My servants ask you about Me, (tell them that) ‘I certainly am near; I answer the prayers of those who pray.’ Allow My servants to ask Me for an answer to their call and believe in Me so that perhaps they may know the right direction.” (2:186)
The 19th, 21st, and 23rd night
As mentioned from the start, the Night of Destiny is observed either on the 19th, 21st, or 23rd nights of Holy Month of Ramadhan. The more popular narrations suggest that this night occurs on either the 21st or 23rd nights of the Month of Ramadhan. However, there are narrations recognizing a collective significance and reasoning for the three different dates. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (p) has said: “Measurement and determination are on the night of the nineteenth, verification is on the twenty-first night, and final approval is on the twenty-third night.” (Al-Kafi, Vol. 4, P 165) According to the sixth Imam (p), God grants the faithful several opportunities to take advantage of this wondrous night and only issues His final decree at dawn after the 23rd night. Therefore, Muslims are encouraged to be vigilant on all three possibilities, thus ensuring that no single chance was missed.
The Night of Destiny for this year may observed as follows:
1st observance of the Night of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr), 19th night of the month of Ramadhan:
Starts in the evening on Tuesday, June 13th and ends at dawn on June 14th.
2nd observance of the Night of Destiny, 21st night of the month of Ramadhan:
Starts in the evening on Thursday, June 15th and ends at dawn on June 16th.
3rd (final) observance of the Night of Destiny, 23rd night of the month of Ramadhan:
Starts in the evening on Saturday, June 17th and ends at dawn on June 18th.