What are the wisdoms behind the fact that the time of the Night of Power changes in Ramadan and that it is secret?

Details of the Question

Why is it stated in the resources that the time of the Night of Power (Laylatul-Qadr) is not certain though the Quran was first sent down on the 17th night of Ramadan?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Although it is not definitely known when the Night of Power is, it is usually accepted to be on the 27th night of Ramadan. The Prophet (pbuh) did not state its exact date but he said:

"Look for the Night of Power in the last ten days of Ramadan among the odd-numbered nights." (Bukhari, Laylatu'l-Qadr, 3; Muslim, Siyam, 216)

The time of the Night of Power is not based on the calendar; it is secret. The first verses were sent down on the twenty-seventh of Ramadan but the following Nights of Power do not have to be on the twenty-seventh of Ramadan. It may be before or after the twenty-seventh of Ramadan. For instance, the Night of Power could be on the nineteenth of Ramadan last year and it could be on the twenty-fifth of Ramadan this year. Allah changes the time of the Night of Power due to some reasons.

Some things are secret due to their values. Besides, they elevate everything resembling them to their level:

- Saints are hidden among people. Therefore, it is necessary to regard everybody as saints.
- On Friday, there is a time period calledtime of acceptance. The prayers (duas) said at that time are accepted. Since it is secret, it elevates every moment of Friday to the value of this time period.
- Time of death is secretin a person's lifespan. Thus, we live as if we can die any moment, keeping away from sins.
- Doomsday is secret in the lifespan of the universe.
- The Night of Power is secret in Ramadan so that every Ramadan night will be regarded as the Night of Power and people will worship.

However, the Prophet (pbuh) gave some clues. He enlightened the ummah by saying, 

“Look for the Night of Power in the last fifteen days, especially in the last ten days of Ramadan among the odd-numbered nights.”

If he had mentioned it openly, it would have been contrary to the wisdom of Allah.

It is possible for a time and place to gain value due to the holy incidents taking place in them. In the eye of the believers, the Kaaba is the holiest place. For, Allah made it the qiblah (the direction to be faced while worshipping) for all believers. The month of Ramadan, which is described as "the sultan of the eleven months" by saints is also a holy time. The Quran, which distinguishes between the right and the wrong and which is a guide for the true path, was sent down in Ramadan. This is certain by the following verse: 

"Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spent it in fasting." (al-Baqara, 2/185)

The incident of the Quran being sent down from Lawh al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet) took place on the Night of Power, which is better than one thousand months.  Imam Qurtubi attracts attention to a subtlety by saying,

"It is definite that the Quran was sent down in the month of Ramadan by Allah's statement, "Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an." It is stated definitely in the chapter of al-Qadr that the Quran was sent down on the Night of Power. Acting upon those verses, mujtahid imams of Ahl as-Sunnah agreed unanimously that the Night of Power is definitely in the month of Ramadan."(1)

In some resources, the following determination of Imam Abu Hanifa is included:

"The Night of Power is in the month of Ramadan. However, it is not fixed; it sometimes moves forth and sometimes back."(2)

It is in compliance with Sunnah to regard every night of the month of Ramadan as the Night of Power and to worship accordingly. Hz. Abdullah Ibn Umar narrates the following:

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was asked about the Night of Power. Thereupon, he said,

'It is in the month of Ramadan.'" (3)

It is stated in sound hadith collections that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) performed itikaf in the mosque in the month of Ramadan. That he performed itikaf (stayed in the mosque) on different dates each year is related to the fact that he sought the Night of Power. Fiqh scholars agree unanimously that it is mustahab to seek the Night of Power. The following is stated in Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

"It is mustahab to seek the Night of Power. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, the Night of Power is in the month of Ramadan. However, it is not known on what night it is. It sometimes moves forth and sometimes moves back. According to Imamayn (Imam Abu Yusuf and Muhammad), the Night of Power is in the month of Ramadan. It is a certain night that is secret. It does not move forth and back. It is sunnah to seek that night."(4)

It is necessary for Muslims to perform fasting, which is zakah for their bodies, and to seek the night which is better than one thousand nights (the Night of Power) in the month of Ramadan.

Footnotes:

(1) Imam Qurtubi, al Jamii li Ahkami'l Qur'an, Cairo: 1967, XX/136.
(2) Imam Qadihan, al Fatawa, Cairo: 1282, I/190.
(3) Imam Bayhaqi, as-Sunanu'l- Kubra, Hyderabad: 1350, IV/307.
(4) Sheykh Nizamuddin et al, Fatawa al-Hindiyya, Beirut: 1400, I/216.

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