Taken from his Explanation of Sahih Muslim
The scholars have said that the laylat al-qadar has been called by this name because on this night the decrees, portions, and terms to happen in that days are written for the angels. Allah, for example says, about this night,
In the (Night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom. [Surah al-Dukhan, 44:4]
Another verse reads,
Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand. [Surah al-Qadr, 97:4]
It means: What is going to happen next year is shown to the angels and the Almighty commands them to do what they have to do. All this is according to the knowledge of the Almighty Allah and what He decrees to happen.
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Another view is that it has been given this name because of the mightiness of its status and its excellent position. All the people of knowledge agree on that the Night of Decree exists and shall continue to occur till the last day. This is based on the sound famous hadiths on this issue. Al-Qaḍi says that the authorities differed over the precise identity of the night. A party has said that it continues to shift its place year to year. That is, if in this year it is on a certain day of the month of Ramadan in another year it can be on different date. This is how the difference between the hadiths concerning its identity which are apparently contradicting are reconciled. Thus, it is said that every hadith tells one of the placement of the night during a year. Therefore, there is no contradiction among them.
Al-Qaḍi says that the view of Imam Malik, al-Thawri, Aḥmad, Isḥaq, Abu Thawr and others on this issue is the same as above. These scholars say that it continues to move between the nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. Another view is that it moves among the entire month of Ramadan.
Another view is that it is stable and definite and does not move at all. It does not leave its original place but happens on the same night each year. Some even say that it may occur any day in the entire year as is the view of Ibn Mas‘ud, Abu Ḥanifah and his two disciples, (Muhammad and Abu Yusuf).
Another view is that it may be any night in the entire month of Ramadan. This is the view of Ibn ‘Umar and a party of the companions. It has also been held that the night occurs during the central ten days and the last days. Another view is that it occurs during the last ten days. Some say that it occurs in the odd nights of the last ten days. Some even say that it occurs during even nights of the last ten days as has been said in the hadith of Abu Sa‘id.
Yet another view is that it is the twenty third or the twenty seventh night. The last mentioned is the view of Ibn ‘Abbas.
It has also been held that the Night of Decree should be sought on the seventeenth night of Ramadan or the twenty-first night, or the twenty-third night. The last mentioned view has been ascribed to ‘Ali and Ibn Mas‘ud.
Another view is that it is the twenty-third night of Ramadan. It is the view of a great number of the Companions of the Prophet and others. It has also been held that it is the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan. This view has been ascribed to Bilal, Ibn ‘Abbas, al-Hasan and Qatadah.
It has also been said that it is the twenty-seventh night of the month. This view too has been reported from a group of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and others. It has also been held that it is the seventeenths night. This view has been ascribed to Zayd b. Arqam and Ibn Mas‘ud.
Another view is that it is the nineteenth night. This view too has been reported from Ibn Mas‘ud. The same view has also been ascribed to Ali.
Another view holds that it is the last night of the month of Ramadan.”
Al-Qaḍi says that a group of scholars have held a very rare view. They hold that the existence of the night was taken up. They base themselves on that when the two persons came contending each other it was taken up. This rare view is wrong because the last part of the same hadith disproves it. Towards the end the Prophet said,
“So it was taken up. Perhaps it is better for you to seek it on the (twenty-)seventh and the (twenty-)ninth night.”
This is how the hadith is in the initial part of the Sahih of al-Bukhari reads. This therefore clarifies that what is taken up is the knowledge of when it occurs and not the existence of the night itself. Were the night itself removed the Prophet would not have commanded the believers to seek it.
Know that the Night of Decree exists as has been explained in the beginning of this chapter. It is seen and is confirmed by the children of Adam whom Allah wills. They can observe it each year in the month of Ramadan as has been established by the collective message of these hadiths as well as the reports of the truthful and pious people. The reports about the pious people seeing the night are more than that can be counted. As for the saying of al-Qadi reporting from al-Muhallab b. Abi Ṣufrah who said that the Night of Decree cannot be literally seen that is a clear and manifest wrong. I have just mentioned it in order that no one is misled by it. Allah knows best.