How sound is the narration about the Night of Power (Qadr) being on the 27th night of Ramadan?

The Details of the Question

- Muhammad b. Hatim and Ifani Abi Umar narrated to us from Ibn Uyayna. Ibn Hatim said: Sufyan b. Uyayna reported to us from, Abda and Asim b. Abun-Najud. They heard Zirr b. Hubaysh say:

«I asked Ubayy IbnKa'b and said: Your brother (in faith) Ibn Mas'ud says: He who stands (for the night prayer) throughout the year would find Laylatul-Qadr. Ubayy said Ibn Mas’ud said these words with the intention that people might not rely only (on one night). He knew that it (Laylatul-Qadr) is in the month of Ramadan and it is the twenty-seventh night. He then took oath that it was the twenty-seventh night without any exception.

I said to him: O Abu Mundhir! On what ground do you say that? Ubayy said: By the indication or by the sign which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave us: On that day (the sun) would rise without having any ray in it. (Muslim, Siyam, Bab 40, Hadith no: 220, 762)

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The narration above is sound but it is a view belonging to Ubayy. It is not a statement of the Prophet (pbuh) (see Muslim, Salatul-Musafirin 179, Siyam 219; Tirmidhi, Sawm 71, Tafsirus-Sura 97/2; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 406, 457; V, 130-324)

The existence and virtue of the Night of Power (Laylatul-Qadr) is stated by Allah Himself in the Quran but it is not stated on what night it is. It is not stated accurately in hadiths but some possible nights are indicated.

Although the ummah has a general acceptance and preference that the twenty-seventh night of the month of Ramadan is the Night of Power, we can say that it is only one of the possibilities.  

The 27th night of the month of Ramadan, which is one of the possibilities, has been regarded as valuable and has been revived with the expectation and consideration that it is the Night of Power so that people will not experience any gaps and will remember this night, which is full of virtues, together with the nights before and after it.   

In fact, the virtue of reviving (worshipping in) the nights of Ramadan is great. Even if the night that is revived is not the Night of Power, one of the nights of Ramadan is revived and it is not spent in vain.

There is some news about the signs of the Night of Power like the sky being like this or that on that night. However, it cannot be said that such signs are valid for the Night of Power of every year. As a matter of fact, let us analyze the issue with the narration mentioned in the question:

Zirr b. Hubaysh, one of the narrators of Tabiun narrates: "I said to Ubayy b. Ka'b, one of the Companions: Will you tell me about the Night of Power? For, when Ibn Mas'ud was asked about it, he said, "He who worships every night during the year will come across with it."

Thereupon, Ubayy said, "May Allah have mercy on Ibn Mas'ud! He knew that the Night of Power was in Ramadan. It (the Night of Power) is definitely in Ramadan and on the twenty-seventh night."

The hadith scholar Musaddad interprets it as follows:

"It is understood that Ibn Mas’ud advises people to worship on all days of the year since he does not want them to act lazily related to worshipping."

Zirr b. Hubaysh continues as follows: I asked Ubayy b. Ka'b, "How do you know it?" Ubayy said: I know it by the sign the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told us.  

Asim from Tabau-Tabiin, who narrated this narration, asked Zirr b. Hubaysh what that sign was. He answered as follows:

The sun rises like a plate in the morning of that night; it does not have any glitter until it rises high. (Muslim, Salatul-Musafirin 179, Siyam 219; Tirmidhi, Sawm 71, Tafsirus-sura 97/2; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 406, 457; V, 130-324)

Such issues recorded related to the signs of the Night of Power are not narrations reported directly from the Prophet but the narrations of the Companions or Tabiun.

Once, it rained during the Night of Power when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. In the morning of that night, the sun was in misty horizon and it was not bright. Its brightness became manifest after it rose high.  

Such a sign was not seen in the years that followed; therefore, it is not possible for that sign to be permanent.

It is not exactly expressed in the hadiths of the Prophet on what night the Night of Power is but the whole Ramadan, some nights of the Ramadan, especially the last ten nights and the odd nights are indicated.

The wise reasons why the Night of Power is kept hidden

There are several wise reasons why the Night of Power is kept hidden. Before mentioning those reasons, we will quote the following narration Anas b. Malik reported from Ubada b. Samit:  

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to the mosque in order to inform us about the Night of Power. However, two people were quarreling with each other in the mosque. The Messenger of Allah became engaged with them and then said to us, I

“I came to inform you about the Night of Power but I forgot it due to the quarrel of those two people. I hope it will be better for you. Search for it on the 29th, 27th and 25th nights (of Ramadan).” (Bukhari, Laylatul-Qadr 5)

As it is seen in the narration above, God Almighty kept some things secret due to some wise reasons and interests. He promised some surprising rewards for those things that are kept as secret for us.

As a matter of fact, He kept the Night of Power hidden in Ramadan; similarly, He kept the time of acceptance hidden on Friday, the middle prayer (salatul-wusta) among five daily prayers, and His greatest name among His beautiful names. He kept His consent hidden among worshipping, His wrath among harams and sins, and the time of death in a person's lifespan.

As they are kept hidden, the other things and times also become valuable and they are given more importance. There are several wise reasons and interests in the issues that people are not informed about clearly.

However, the slaves should the following:
- To keep worshipping earnestly,
- To act determinedly and steadfastly in order to attain Allah’s consent,
- To be alert throughout life without falling into heedlessness,
- To avoid forbidden deeds as much as possible,
- To keep doing righteous deeds,
- To attain high virtue,
- To attain Allah’s consent in the end.

As it is stated in a hadith,

“The most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant one even if it were little.” (Bukhari, Riqaq 18; Muslim, Salatul-Musafirin 216)

A person who revives the month of Ramadan by fasting, performing prayers, reading the Quran, making dhikr, praying to Allah and worshipping adorns his spiritual life with righteous deeds.

A person who keeps doing those deeds of worship throughout Ramadan and who makes his believing brothers share his supplication will attain the blessing of the Night of Power. Even if he cannot worship on the Night of Power, he will have his share from the virtue of that night since he is included in the supplication of his believing brothers.   

The scholars who deal with the issue of the uncertain determination of the Night of Power say that this state is more appropriate for benefitting from the blessing of the night because if the Night of Power were known for sure, people could regard it enough to worship only at that night.

However, thanks to the partial uncertainty, the believers spend all Ramadan nights by worshipping.

Besides, individuals are prevented from showing disrespect to the Night of Power or exaggerating respect to it since it is not known when the Night of Power is. (Fakhruddin ar-Razi, Mafatihul-Ghayb, Tafsir of the chapter of alQadr)

The believers who show respect to that night prefer worshipping on all nights that can be the Night of Power in order to attain its goodness and blessing, and that include all of their believing brothers in their prayers by generalizing their prayers and supplications.

Conclusion:

If we evaluate the recorded narrations in the lights of the hadiths included in the soundest resources like Bukhari and Muslim, we can reach the following conclusion:  

The hadiths indicating the last ten nights of Ramadan and especially the odd nights are narrations that are sounder.

Considering the wise reasons and interests behind this night’s being kept as a secret, it is possible for the believers to worship on all Ramadan nights or at least the last ten nights fully and hence to gain a good period of time that is better than one thousand months – which is equal to eighty-three years and four months or thirty thousand nights – as it is stated in the Quran.

In fact, the Prophet (pbuh) shows us the best example related to benefitting from the Night of Power, as he is a model for his ummah in all issues.

As a matter of fact, he followed the most appropriate path by spending the last ten days and nights of Ramadan in itikaf (retreating to a mosque and worshipping there without going out unless necessary). (see Bukhari, Itikaf: 1; Muslim, İtikaf: 2)

When the Prophet (pbuh) was in itikaf, he would worship Allah, pray to Him, repent, ask for forgiveness, make dhikr, read the Quran, perform prayers and beg Allah, representing the way of being a slave of Allah.

Thus, he spent the month of Ramadan fully in worship and benefited from the nights that could be the Night of Power. He awakened the members of his family at night, setting as a model for his Companions and hence the members of his ummah to come in the future. (For details, see Kadir PAKSOY, Rivayetler Işığında Kadir Gecesi, Harran Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, Year: 17, Issue 27, January–June 2012)

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