As Muslims we are blessed with countless blessings from Allāh . Among them is that He has prescribed the fasting during the month of Ramadan and has favored us over any other faith group in the past by multiplying our deeds especially in this blessed month. Another immeasurable blessing which Allāh has favored us with is the night of power. Worshiping in this night sincerely and expecting the reward from Allāh carries great reward for the servants. In an authentic narration from the Prophet , we read:
“Whosoever worshiped on laylat'l-qadr, with faith and with a sincere intention, all of his previous sins are forgiven.” [i]
This night is special for the Ummah of the Prophet Muḥammad . Worshiping Allāh in it is equivalent to worshiping Him for 1000 months.
I do not wish to delve into the views and opinions of the scholars regarding the timing and date of this powerful and blessed night. There are a plethora of articles and books on these topics. The reader may wish to read the writings of imām Ibn Rajab al Hanbali in his much celebrated book Lataif al Ma'arif in the chapter of Ramadan.
I wish to focus on how we can prepare ourselves to reap the rewards of this night and hopefully be granted the forgiveness of our Lord. Below is a step by step guide to achieving success during laylat'l-qadr inspired by the writings of imām Ibn Rajab and others:
1. Start preparing for it at Fajr. After Fajr ṣalāh, ensure you recite the morning adhkar (remembrance), especially:
لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له له الملك وله الحمد وهو على كل شيء قدير
'La ila illahu wahdau la sharika lahu, lahul mulku walahul hamd wahuwa 'ala kulli shayin qadeer'
There is no God but Allāh; He is alone without any partner. To Him belong the dominion and to Him belong all praise and He is over all things able.
Repeat this 100 times.
The Prophet said whoever recites it 100 times in the morning and evening, 100 good deeds will be recorded for him and 100 evil deeds will be erased from his tab, and he will be protected from the Shaytan. An important note here is that he will be free from the whisperings of the Shaytan to prepare for the Night of Power.
2. Treat Iftar to a fasting person, either by inviting him to your house, or by buying the food for him and sending it to him. The Prophet said that whoever gives food to break another person's fast, he will receive the same reward as the person without his reward being diminished.
3. When the day breaks, make as much du‘ā’ as possible that Allāh helps you and makes it easy for you to worship Him during this night.
4. If you haven't paid your Zakat money, pay it this night as the rewards will be magnified. If you have, then prepare some sadaqah (charity) to give in the way of Allāh. Remember charity burns our sins as fire burns wood.
5. During the course of the day, try and avoid people as much as possible (except those who need your support). This way you will not be harmed and will not be in a position to harm anyone, thus entering the night with a clean heart and mind.
Note: this also applies to the various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter etc. You do not need to tell the whole world you're going to the Mosque at Tahajjud!
6. Throughout the daytime make sure you perform the obligatory duties such as praying on time with the additional Sunnah and optional prayers. Repeat the phrases of adhān after the muadhin and make the necessary supplications.[ii]
7. When you break your fast, make sure you're mindful that Allāh may not accept your fasting, so you should yearn for and anticipate His mercy and reward. Supplicate with the following:
اللهم اعني و وفقني لقيام ليلة القدر
''allahumma 'ainni wa waffiqni li qiyami Laylatul qadr'
O Allāh help me and facilitate for me to worship You in this Night'.
8. Constantly make the chosen du‘ā’ for this night:
اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعف عني
''Allahumma innaka 'afuwun tuhibbul 'afwa fa'fu 'anni''
O Allāh you the Most Forgiving, and You love to forgive, so forgive me''[iii]
9. If you have parents, make sure you are dutiful towards them. Break Iftar with them and fulfill all their needs.
10. If you are not in good terms with a family member, try and resolve it before the night starts.
11. If you can, have a bath and perform wuḍūʼ like the Prophet.
12. Put on clean clothes and put nice perfume on before going to the Mosque.
13. When you enter the Mosque perform all the etiquette of the Mosque. Try not to speak to people too much, just focus all your energy to be alone with Allāh.
14. Pray the prayers with khushu (humility) and try to cry. If tears do not come out, try and make them come (I DON'T mean you should cut onions in the Mosques )
15. When you return home, make sure you are still doing the dhikr of Allāh.
16. When you arrive at your house, eat and make du‘ā’, make wuḍūʼ and take some rest (sleep) if you need to. Your sleep will be counted as ibadah.
17. Wake up in due time and pray Tahajjud (many Mosques pray Tahajjud in a Jama'ah), eat and then pray fajr. After fajr, read the Qur'an, make constant du‘ā’ and plead to Allāh to forgive you. Do that and the morning dhikr until sunrise, all the while being mindful of the presence of the angels.
Remember this is the night in which Allāh decrees your rizq (provisions) for the coming year, so implore Allāh; cry your heart out as they say so that He may give you what you desire. Don't think what you're asking for is too much for Allāh, nothing you ask will decrease His dominion. You want money ask Him, you want a wife/husband ask Him, you want a job ask Him, you want children ask Him, you want peace of heart ask Him, anything you desire ask. Remember that you must focus and concentrate when you pray and make du‘ā’.
18. When you make du‘ā’, remember that there is certain etiquette you have to follow:
a) Praise Allāh first,
b) then send salutations upon the Prophet,
c) then make du‘ā’ for your yourself,
d) then make du‘ā’ for your family and the rest of the Ummah.
Try and follow this order as much as you can.
19. Remember when you supplicate you should have certainty and expect the best from Allāh. Pray with humility and fear in front of Allāh. Acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings and implore and beseech Him alone to forgive you. Also supplicate to Allāh quietly – there is no need to raise one's voice.
20. And finally, please do not forget to make du‘ā’ for this poor servant who is in need of your prayers.[iv]
Important note for sisters:
Many sisters who are on the monthly menses ask what they can do during this night. They feel left out from the blessings of this night.
Although she is not allowed to perform the prayers and recite the Qur'an by touching it. The scholars have stated that she may perform as much du‘ā’ as possible, remembering and praising Allāh. They also state that she is allowed to recite the Qur'an from her memory. And finally if her intention and ardent desire is to worship her Lord in this night but due to the valid excuse in the Shari'ah she is not able to perform the normal prayers; she should be certain that Allāh will reward her fully according to her sincerity and intention.
Allāh knows best.[i] Bukhāri and Muslim [ii] See Hisnul Muslim. Alternatively visit: http://www.makedua.com/ [iii] Please watch a short video clip explaining briefly the meaning of this du‘ā’: http://youtu.be/QU1jDhW64ak [iv] Please refer to Ibn Rajab's Lataif al Ma'arif for discussion on the virtues and some actions of this night.