Number one as we go into the last 10 nights and as we hope that we catch Laylatul Qadr, remembering that the night starts at Maghrib. Remembering that the night does not start at Isha, but the night starts at Maghrib. Some of the salaf mentioned that this is such an important point for us as we go into these precious nights. How many people at the time of their breaking of the fast will lose out their Laylatul Qadr before they pray a single raka’ah of taraweeh, before they even make it to salah? Why? Because over iftar you might backbite, you might gossip, you might say something you should not be saying, you might do something that is not pleasing to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Ibn Qudamah rahimullahu ta’aala said “and most of the people lose it in its early part of the night.” May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us. Most of the people lose it in the early part of its night. It could be one comment that’s made at the dinner table, one comment on your way, one joke that is told that should not be told in those nights, and of course should not be told at any part of the night, but it starts at salatul Maghrib.
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says “that they forsake their beds seeking Allah subhanahu wa’ta’ala’s reward, fighting with their sides”. Imam Hasan Al-Basri rahimullah said this actually refers to the companions praying between Maghrib and Isha. So remember to include everything from the adhan of Maghrib, all the way to the adhan of Fajr as part of your Laylatul Qadr.
2:34 – 4:13 Pray Isha and Fajr in Congregation
The second thing dear brothers and sisters, (is) to make sure that we catch Isha and Fajr all ten of those nights and days within jama’ah. And if that jama’ah cannot be in a masjid for those that are not able to, then that jama’ah is formed in some other way. But pray it in congregation. We know that because the Prophet ﷺ said that whoever prays salatul Isha in congregation Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will write down for them the first half of the night in prayer; and whoever prays salat al-Fajr in congregation, in jama’ah, Allah will write down for them the second half of the night in prayer. So to put that in context just very logically, to pray three hours in the night but to miss Fajr for example – or to miss your Isha – would not be more pleasing to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Pray them in jama’ah.
Sa’id Ibn Al-Musayyib (rA) – how merciful is Allah – said whoever prays salatul Isha in congregation has taken their portion from Laylatul Qadr. So keeping that, and if it is your regular habit and you’re unable to do so then Allah will have written it down for you anyway. But have the intention insha’allah for every night and day that you can, to catch Isha and to catch Fajr in jama’ah. If you’re unable to at that time or if you sleep through one of them and it overcomes you, and you pray at home, do not grieve. Allah subhanahu ta’ala writes down in accordance with the intention. So that’s the second thing – not to miss Isha or Fajr in jama’ah in those nights.
4:14 – 5:30 Pray Qiyam with the Imam
The third thing, what the Prophet ﷺ said authentically that, “whoever prays qiyam with the imam until he finishes, Allah will write down for him the entire night in prayer”. Now, the ulama differ as to what the quantity of that is. Does that mean, for example, that if the imam comes at 3 o’clock a.m or at 2 o’clock am and prays for an hour – let’s say from 3 to 3.45 and you pray with that single jama’ah, that single group of people, that single imam, for that entire time, that that counts as the entire night in prayer? Does that mean if you pray the first eight or if you pray a group of raka’at with one imam, that that counts? And bi-iznillahi ta’ala we take the opinion, insha’allah that yes, to pray with an imam when there is an established prayer from the beginning of their qiyam until the end of their qiyam, counts as the entire night of prayer. So try to be very careful to catch it, and if you can catch both of the prayers then do so. But to at least pray one block of the night bi-iznillahi ta’ala, behind an imam throughout their entire portion of what they are to read that night. And if you can catch witr with them, then do so. That is the third thing.
5:30 – 7:56 Keep Busy with Short Du’as
Now i’ll get to the ones that get a little bit more interesting, and that require a little bit more thought bi-iznillahi ta’ala. We started off this month by talking about what the best athkar, what the best forms of remembrance in Ramadan are. What is the best du’a in Laylatul Qadr? We all know the answer to that. But I want to build on that just a little bit insha’allah ta’ala. This number four means keeping yourself busy in du’a, and particularly the short du’as. I’m going to mention the reason why.
Most people in here, if not everyone, already memorizes Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (Oh allah you are the pardoner, you love to pardon, so pardon me”). Most of us memorize that du’a. We have been taught it at a very young age. Alhamdulilah when Aisha (rA) asked the Prophet ﷺ, “what du’a i should i make?”. The Prophet ﷺ did not give her a page du’a that we would all be fumbling to try to find it and try to repeat it, and get through the arabic of it. No, anyone can memorize this du’a. And anyone can learn its meaning very quickly. That in and of itself, is a mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. However, the ulama say, “build on that concept of the short comprehensive du’as as you move around on Laylatul Qadr, even subhanallah, they said if you’re on your way to relieve yourself and come back, keep the short du’as on your tongue. Why? Because the messenger ﷺ said, “the most beloved of du’as to Allah, the most beloved of supplications to Allah, are the ones that are the most comprehensive”.
What do you say in tawaf between Rukun Al Yamani and Hajar Al Aswad, the last round of tawaf? You just keep repeating what?
Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil ‘akhirati hasanatan waqina ‘adhaban-nar
As you’re moving around, whatever you’re doing, as you’re trying to think of what you want to do next, as you’re immersed in your du’as, sandwiched in between your personal du’as, use the short comprehensive du’as you memorize from the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and let them engage you throughout the entire night. The short athkar, the short forms of remembrance, and the short comprehensive du’as from the messenger ﷺ.
7:57 – 12:25 Give life to the night
Finally dear brothers and sisters, number five. This is the most comprehensive way to understand Laylatul Qadr, and it’s very important. The narration about the Prophet ﷺ, that when the last ten nights would come in the Prophet ﷺ would tighten up his waist belt, and he would give life to the night. He would enliven the night. The whole night was alive – what a beautiful expression. The night of the Prophet ﷺ was alive, and he would wake up his family. He would make sure that his family also was participating in it.
Rasulullah ﷺ when he said, “do not turn your homes into graveyards”. Assign a share of your salah to your homes. Don’t turn them into graves. Why? Because dhikr gives life to the heart and it gives life to any space that we are. Imam al-Shafi has a very important reflection on this hadith. He says that when you look at the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, some of them prefer to spend the night in praying. Some of them prefer to spend the night in qiraat al-Qur’an, in the recitation of the Qur’an. Some of them preferred to spend the night in du’a. Some of them preferred to spend the night distributing their sadaqah. Each one of them had a regimen, and they weren’t all the same. Because the Prophet ﷺ’s description in this regard, was simply give life to the night – all of the deeds that would give life to the night.
So every single muslim is included in this category, that you have something to give life to, every portion of the night. And within that, you diversify your good deeds. And an easy way to remember this dear brothers and sisters, is that all of the good deeds that are preferred in Ramadan are even more preferred in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Make sure there’s a portion of each one of them in the last ten nights. This is what Imam An Nawawi rahimullah said – he said that our scholars said that “to be generous in Ramadan is highly recommended as we know from the Prophet ﷺ, the most broad definition of generosity,” and he said specifically during the last 10 nights because the best time to emulate the Prophet ﷺ is in the last 10 nights of Ramadan. So every description you have of the Prophet ﷺ to follow the Prophet ﷺ in those last 10 nights, is the best way to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, as it is to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala at any time. And the month is honored as a whole, and these last 10 nights are the most honored 10 nights of the month.
And subhanallah, we find a connection between particularly in that regard du’a and charity, du’a and sadaqah to al-qadr, to decree. Why? Because the Prophet ﷺ said that there are two things that affect your divine decree. He mentioned du’a – that nothing changes the divine decree except for supplication, except for du’a. And he mentions ﷺ that nothing extends the life of a person except for al-sadaqah, except for charity that would actually form an extension, change the decree and extend a person’s life. So you can find, what then on Laylatul Qadr? What then on the night of decree, right? To bring these types of deeds into our lives as well.
So as you are there insha’allah, as you are thinking about how do I fill these hours? Diversify. Keep going between these things and know that you are following the salaf in some way. One of the companions has a night that resembles the one that you do, or you hope that your night resembles one of the sahaba in the portions that you are assigning, because they were all different in that regard. But all of them were exerting themselves, all ten nights of Ramadan, giving life to the night in obedience to the Prophet ﷺ, and seeking the pleasure of Allah.
12:25 – 16:51 Remove Distractions
Lastly, the most simple form of advice. What is the point of i’tikaf if you’re still connected to everybody and everything in i’tikaf? A person could be sitting in the masjid all night long, would have their phone and still be checking groups and still be going on different apps and still talking to people. And they are in less i’tikaf than a person who’s sitting in their bedroom but has put their phone to the side. I’m not talking about the technical specs of it, i’m talking about the meaningful part of it. The whole point is seclusion. So even if you can’t do i’tikaf, and you know obviously we have restrictions this year in regards to how we would do i’tikaf. Even if you can’t physically do i’tikaf, do not leave room for yourself to get lost in something during the last 10 nights.
So if I could take an oath in juma’ah, i would from each and every single one of you. No social media, no whatsapp, no text messages, no nothing, except of course if you’re texting someone from your family or something, just to get something done. None of that during the last 10 nights. When the time of Maghrib comes in, put it aside. “I’m not going to check anything, i’m not going to go to anything, because Allah knows”. Allah knows that that one minute turns quickly into 30 minutes, and then that one conversation quickly turns into ten sins. Be careful. Cut it all off in the last ten nights. Rasulullah ﷺ went in complete i’tikaf in the last 10 nights. Let’s try to cut it all off insha’allah and only maintain what is necessary so that we are able to communicate with our family bi-iznillahi ta’ala or communicate in ways that need to be communicated insha’allah. But cut it all off, and don’t leave even an inch of it to corrupt any one of those precious ten nights.
Remember, subhanallah, the night of Laylatul Qadr was lost because the Prophet ﷺ came out and he saw two companions that were arguing. And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala lifted it from the Prophet ﷺ and the companions because of two people that were arguing. Do not be that person, subhanallah, where the angels are on their way to you and then you quickly do something and they leave you. Don’t do that. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to isolate our hearts, seclude our hearts, our thoughts, our bodies, our tongues everything, from that which is displeasing to Allah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to engage in that which is pleasing to Allah.
Subhanallah dear brothers and sisters, just like with hajj, don’t do anything to mess it up. Don’t do anything to mess up Arafah, the same thing is true. Don’t do anything to mess up your Laylatul Qadr. May allah protect us from doing so, and may Allah allow us to exert ourselves and connect with him in a way that gives us a lifetime of good deeds, and gives us a lifetime of consciousness and taqwa of Allah subhanahu ta’ala, so that we rise to the level of ihsan, rise to the level of excellence and be amongst his most pleasing servants. Allahumma ameen.