Rethinking Lailatul Qadr

What is Lailatul Qadr? In Islam, the Night of Lailatul Qadr is believed to be one of the holiest nights. More than that, Lailatul Qadr is also considered to be a great time and moment that only occurs in the sacred month of Ramadhan.

Why is Lailatul Qadr the holiest and great night; most blessed night; the night in which the reward of worship is multiplied; the night when our prayers will rise; the night that is better than a thousand months of prayer? Why?

The Qur’an explains one of the reasons why Lailatul Qadr was the greatest night: it was the night when the Qur’an was revealed. “Indeed, I sent down the Al-Qur’an on the night of Lailatul Qadr.”

Then the Koran itself is like asking: “And what is that Lailatul Qadr?”

We certainly want to find the answer. But instead of giving a clear answer, in the next verse, the Qur’an only reveals a sign: “It is a night that is better than a thousand months.”

That is, the Qur’an seems to let us find the answer ourselves and only provides a guarantee: What is clear is that the night is much better than a thousand months.

For the answer “what” is Lailatul Qadr, human being, interpreter, must try to find out for himself the answer.

There are many interpretations of what and why Lailatul Qodr is the ultimate sacred moment in Islam. I tried to offer my interpretation.

Lailatul Qadr itself can be interpreted in various ways. There are at least three famous interpretations according to the classical Muslim scholars: the night of provisions/destiny (the night of fate), the night of glory or honor, or the night of congestion (the sky is congested because angels and spirits descend to earth).

I select to interpret Lailatul Qadr as the night of glory or the night of honor. For me, Lailatul Qadr becomes a great night because it is a moment of exposure, enlightenment, a night of light. It is a sacred eureka and events of sacred “aha.”

Don’t wrinkle your forehead yet; the explanation is like this:

Lailatul Qadr, according to the Qur’an, is the night when the Qur’an was revealed. The night when omniscience was transferred to humans through the Prophet Muhammad. As a marker, after a long period of darkness, the night when omniscience was revealed was the moment of light, exposure, and enlightenment. The night that men find the torch, the light in the dark; compass for direction of life.

Thus, Lailatul Qadr is a special moment because that was the peak night for humans to attain enlightenment by gaining excellent knowledge: the revelation of the noble Qur’an. It was revealed to the most honorable man, by the most honorable angel for the most honorable religion. Keep in mind that Qur’an, Muslims believe, is the greatest miracle of all kinds.


In Islamic epistemology, revelation is the accumulation of human efforts of maximizing the full potential of knowledge. A revelation is an event in which, after cultivating creativity, intention, rational and intuitive wisdom, humans reach the pinnacle of knowledge: exposure, insight, a sacred revelation. Of course, this ultimate moment materialized through the blessing of God. But it is not a gift, but rather an achievement. All prophets achieved this stage through arduous efforts and sacrifices.

Prophet Muhammad, and other prophets, became noble because they gave enlightenment, guidance, a way of life for humanity.

In different scales and degrees, every human being can reach this moment of “revelation,” “exposure,” “enlightenment” too. In other words, each of us has the potential to become minor “prophets” who can provide benefits, kindness, guidance, enlightenment for others. Of course, with a different degree. Thus, every human being can obtain a Moment of Glory (Lailatul Qadr) in this regard.

That is why we are encouraged to “seek,” “find,” and “get” the Moment of Glory. No wonder, the preachers always urge of hunting, looking for Lailatul Qadr. But what is that mean?

In the realm of Islamic tradition, we know ilham or inspiration. On different scales and degrees, it is the moment when humans encounter “aha,” “eureka,” “exposure,” and seemingly sudden answers to a question or problem. It is a moment of enlightenment.

But inspiration will not arise and be reached if a man does not maximize the full potential of his senses, rationale, and intuition, mind, and heart. Inspiration is a hidden potential in humans that will only present or appear after humans have tried to maximize their entire effort (reading, researching, experimenting, thinking, contemplating, praying)

Once reached, that “knowledge” can become a light for humans who were previously covered in the darkness.

That is why, for example, Newton’s “theory of gravity” eureka moment is such a valuable light for humanity. That moment is a better than tens or even thousands of months before the knowledge was exposed and discovered by him.

That is why every invention, which is beneficial to humanity, from the invention of zero, algebra, the compass, penicillin to the internet, is a glorious moment that is more valuable than “thousands of months” of human ignorance.

Thus, I hope it is starting to reveal now why Lailatul Qadr is so noble and great. It is the moment in which the excellent knowledge of humanity is revealed. And this moment of revelation, enlightenment, is more valuable than a thousand months.


Interestingly, the moment of enlightenment, “eureka,” when the light exposes the darkness, can only be reached by “Iqra”: research, persistently seeking answers, reading, and contemplation.

Not surprisingly, the first verse that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad was “iqra”. It is as if the verse wants to signal the path of discovery, exposure, knowledge! Iqra is one way of reaching “Lailatul Qadr.”

Thus, the way to get “Lailatul Qadr” in my opinion, is not only through dhikr and pray, but also through reading, contemplation, meditation, in-depth research, and experimentation. Like dhikr, learning and researching activities are acts of worship. The long tradition of Islamic civilization has never separated dhikr and fikr, heart and mind, spirituality and rationality.

Only with a series of physical, mental and spiritual efforts, the work of the mind and heart may one day we find a moment of enlightenment. And when that moment of disclosure is reached, it will be the most precious time, far more valuable than a thousand other nights. It can even be a precious night for humanity.

If so, for me, looking for Lailatul Qadr in the month of Ramadan should be interpreted as an intensive effort, training and temptation so that we can reach great and glorious moments at any time (even outside of Ramadhan).

If the moment of discovery, invention, disclosure, “insight” is not obtained, the effort to reach it is still precious. According to a famous tradition, “intensive contemplation (tafakkur) for a moment, is better than one year of worship,” 

When you reach the moment of enlightenment, its glory is more like a thousand months of worship. But if you fail to get it, meditate, fikr and dhikr, are still valuable and noble.

Every multiplied glory and honor is always a mystery in Islam. For example, we never knows whether we get Lailatul Qadr; whether someone is accepted for his/her repentance; and whether he/she is accepted for his pilgrimage (mabrur). Why? Because what really matters is a serious effort to reach it. It is not about the outcome because it is God’s business.

Happy reaching for the “Lailatul Qadr” moment in a new way! 

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