The Last Ten Nights of Ramadan - Don't Miss Them!
by Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
The last ten
nights of Ramadan are very special. The first of these nights occurs on
the eve of the 21st day of Ramadan. In other words, it is the night that
commences after the completion of the 20th day of fasting. Sometimes there
are only nine nights, whenever the month of Ramadan lasts for only 29
days. Nevertheless, they are still traditionally referred to as "the last
The last ten nights of Ramadan are very special.
These are the nights that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would spend in
constant worship. Among these nights is Laylah al-Qadr – a night
more blessed than a thousand months.
The Prophet (peace be upon
him) used to single these nights out for worship and the performance of
good deeds. He would exert himself in worship during these ten nights more
than any other nights of the year.
`Â'ishah tells us: "During the
last ten nights of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would tighten
his waist belt and spend the night in worship. He would also wake up his
family." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1920)]
`Â'ishah also says: "I
had never known Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) to read the entire
Qur'ân in a single night, or to spend the whole night in prayer up until
the morning, or to spend a whole month in fasting – except in Ramadan."
[Sunan al-Nasâ'î (1641) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (1348)]
When we say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) spent the whole
night in worship, we should qualify it. This is because he would spend
some time eating dinner, partaking of his pre-dawn meal, and other similar
activities. However, he would spend most of the night in worship.
Waking Up the Family
`Â'ishah informs us
that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to wake up his family during the
last ten nights of Ramadan. Indeed, he used to wake up his wives for
prayer throughout the year, but that was so that they could pray for a
small fraction of the night.
We know this, because Umm Salamah
relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) woke her up one night and
said: "Glory be to Allah. What has been sent down of trials during this
night? What has been sent down of treasures, so that the denizens of the
bedchambers will be awakened? O Lord! To be clothed in this world by naked
in the Hereafter." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1074)]
last ten nights of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would wake up
his wives to pray for a much longer portion of the night than during the
rest of the year.
Exerting Oneself in Worship
`Â'isha tells us: "The Prophet would exert himself in worship
during the last ten nights more than at any other time of the year."
[Sahîh Muslim (1175)]
The great jurist, al-Shâfi`î
declares: "It is Sunnah for one to exert greater efforts in worship during
the last ten nights of Ramadan." [al-Majmû` (6/397)]
`Â'ishah tells us that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would "tighten his
waistbelt", she is speaking figuratively. The phrase means to set about to
devote oneself fully and wholeheartedly to the task at hand.
Seeking Out Laylah al-Qadr
of the greatest distinctions of these ten special nights is that one of
them is Laylah al-Qadr – the Night of Decree. This is the
greatest night of the year – better than a thousand months. This means
that a Muslim can earn more rewards on Laylah al-Qadr than he
would if – excluding this special night – he were worship his Lord for
eighty-four years straight. This is one of the immense favors that Allah
has bestowed upon the Muslim community.
Ibrâhîm al-Nakha`î says:
"Good works performed on this night are better than those performed
consistently for a thousand months."
Abû Hurayrah relates that the
Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever spends Laylah al-Qadr in prayer, believing in Allah and seeking His reward, will be forgiven all
of his past sins." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1802) and Sahîh
Belief in Allah, in this hadîth, means not only
to believe in Allah, but to believe in the reward that we are promised for
observing prayer on this night.
Laylah al-Qadr is on one
of the odd nights. `Â'ishah relates that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon
him) said: "Seek out Laylah al-Qadr in the odd nights during the
last ten nights of Ramadan." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1913) and Sahîh Muslim (1169)]
It is most likely one of the last
seven odd nights. Ibn `Umar relates that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon
him) said: "Look for it in the last ten nights. If one of you falls weak
or unable to do so, then he should at least try on the seven remaining
nights." [Sahîh Muslim (1165)]
The most likely candidate
for Laylah al-Qadr is the 27th night of Ramadan. This is
indicated by the statement of `Ubayy b. Ka`b: “I swear by Allah that I
know which night it is. It is the night in which Allah’s Messenger (peace
be upon him) ordered us to observe in prayer. It is the night on the eve
of the 27th of Ramadan. Its sign is that the Sun will rise in the morning
of that day white without exuding any rays.” [Sahîh Muslim (762)]
A Muslim should seek out this special night by spending the last
ten nights of Ramadan engaged in various acts of worship. These include
reciting the remembrances of Allah, reading the Qur'ân, and begging
It is best for us to strive hard on all ten
nights, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The way we "look
for" Laylah al-Qadr is by engaging in extra worship.
the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Look for it in the last ten
nights" he did not mean that we should literally "look for" signs and
indications that distinguish Laylah al-Qadr from other nights.
The things that distinguish Laylah al-Qadr from other nights are
part of the Unseen.
Allah says: " Surely We revealed it on a
blessed night. Surely We ever wish to warn (against evil) – On this night,
every wise matter is made distinct." [Sûrah al-Dukhân (3-4)]
Allah says: "Laylah al-Qadr is better than a thousand
months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of
their Lord, with every decree. (This night is) peace, until the rising of
the dawn." [Sûrah al-Qadr (3-5)]
These are the ways in
which Laylah al-Qadr is special. They are not things that we can
see with our eyes. No one after the Prophet (peace be upon him) can see
Observing a Retreat in the Mosque
Observing a retreat in the mosque is of the
best things we can do during the last ten nights of Ramadan. `Â'ishah
tells us: "The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to observe a retreat in
the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan up until he died. His
wives continued to observe this practice after his death." [Sahîh
al-Bukhârî (1922) and Sahîh Musli (1172)]
practice of i`tikâf is a strongly recommended act. It is defined
as remaining in retreat in the mosque for the express purpose of worship.
The purpose of doing so is to devote one's heart exclusively to Allah. The
person engaging in i`tikâf keeps this intention close to mind and
seeks Allah's blessings. He should not forget the reason why he is
observing this retreat.
A person observing i`tikâf does
not leave the mosque except for what is absolutely necessary (like going
to the bathroom). While in the mosque, he should busy himself with the
remembrance of Allah. He should make sure to offer the remembrances of the
morning and evening and the prescribed remembrances for the five daily
prayers. He should perform all of the Sunnah prayers and all other
recommended prayers, like the Duhâ prayer. He should read as much of the
Qur'ân as he can.
He should spend less time eating and sleep as
little as possible. He should avoid unnecessary talk. However, he should
engage in advising his fellow Muslims and in enjoining them to truth and
It is encouraged
for us to be extra generous during the last ten nights of Ramadan, without
being extravagant or ostentatious in our giving. Ibn `Abbâs relates that:
"Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people
in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of
Ramadan. Gabriel used to meet with him every year throughout the month of
Ramadan, so the Prophet could recite the Qur'ân to him. Whenever Gabriel
met with him, he became more generous than a beneficial breeze."
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1902) and Sahîh Muslim (2308)]
Al-Nawawî states [al-Majmû` (6/398)]:
Generosity and open-handedness are strongly encouraged in
Ramadan, especially during the last ten nights. By doing so, we emulate
the example of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) as well as of our
Pious Predecessors. Also, this month is noble, and good works carried
out in this month are more blessed than they are at any other time.
Also, during this month, people are preoccupied with fasting and
worship, and this distracts them from their livelihood, so they might
need some assistance during this time.