Why was Laylat al-Qadr kept secret?
Hadrat Sayyiduna Imam Fakhr al-Din Raazi (Alayhir Rahmah) has stated in his famous exegesis ‘Tafsir al-Kabir’, There are several reasons why Allah has concealed the exact date of Laylat al-Qadr:
1. Allah has concealed many things such as His pleasure in obedience so that people would perform every form of worship, His wrath in sins so that people would avoid every single sin, His Awliya amongst His servants so that people would respect every single person, the fulfilment of supplications in making supplications so that people would make supplications abundantly, the Ism al-Azam amongst His names so that people would respect every name and the Salat al-Wusta amongst the Salah so that people would offer all the Salah.
Likewise, the acceptance of repentance has been kept secret so that people always repent of their sins and the time of death has also been kept secret so that people always fear it. Similarly, Laylat al-Qadr has been kept secret so that people respect all the nights of Ramadan.
2. It is as if Allah says to His servants, ‘I know your daring about sins; if I had declared a particular night as Laylat al-Qadr, and if you had committed sins knowingly even at this sacred night due to your lust, it would be more severe than committing sins unknowingly.’
According to a narration, once the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) entered the Masjid where he saw a man sleep (inside). He said, ‘O Ali! Wake him up so that he can perform Wudu.’ Having awoken the man, Sayyiduna Ali (Radi Allahu Anhu) said, ‘Ya RasoolAllah (SallAllahu Alayka wa Sallam) usually, you prefer to perform righteous deeds, why did you not wake him up yourself?’ He (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) replied, ‘I did not do so because his refusing you is not a Kufr; I did it to reduce his crime.’
It is an example of the mercy of the Beloved Rasool (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam). Considering this (hadith), imagine the mercy of Allah. It is as if Allah says, ‘If you had worshipped in Laylat al-Qadr after being aware of it, you would gain more reward than a thousand months worship but if you had sinned in it you would have been punished for a thousand months, and protection from punishment is better than earning reward.’
3. It is as if Allah says, ‘I kept this night secret so that people would struggle hard to acquire it and earn reward for their struggles.’
4. Since people are unaware as to which night Laylat al-Qadr is, they will try to worship Allah every night of Ramadan in search of Laylat al-Qadr. Referring to these people Allah admonished the angels, ‘You used to say that these humans will fight and shed blood, but (look) these are their efforts and struggles in a night that could be Laylat al-Qadr (they are not even certain of it) so what would have they done if I had told them the exact night…? (In other words, they would worship even more abundantly).’
This is the secret to the answer Allah gave to the angels when He said to them:
إني جاعل في الأرض خليفة
“I am about to place My Caliph in the earth”.
The angels said:
قالوا أتجعل فيها من يفسد فيها ويسفك الدماء ونحن نسبح بحمدك ونقدس لك
They said, “Will You place (as a caliph) one who will spread turmoil in it and shed blood? Whereas we glorify You with praise and proclaim Your Sanctity”.
Then He (Almighty) said:
قال إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون
He said, “I know what you do not.”
Thus, the secret behind this statement has been revealed. [Tafsir al-Kabir, Vol. 11, Page 229]