A thousand months – that is longer than most people live. Laylah al-Qadr means "the Night of Decree". It is the night wherein Allah sent down the Qur'ân to the lowest heavens. Our good deeds on this special night are magnified in value, so that it is as if we have been offing those deeds for 1000 months.
When we compare our life spans to those of the people who witnessed the earliest Prophets, we see that our life spans are very brief. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The lifespan of the people of my community is from 60-70 years. Only a few people live longer than that." [Sahîh Ibn Hibbân (2980)]
The life spans of the people at the times of the earliest Prophets were much longer, even centuries. Noah (peace be upon him), for instance, remained among his people for 950 years. Nevertheless, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "We are the last community, but we will be the foremost on the Day of Resurrection." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (827) and Sahîh Muslim (1414)]
How can we – whose life spans are so fleeting – manage to be foremost among the nations on the Day of Resurrection? We have such little time to worship Allah and perform good deeds. The answer to this question is that we do so by availing ourselves of the opportunities that Allah has given to us.
One of the greatest of these opportunities is to be found in the last ten nights of Ramadan, especially on one of the odd nights: the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, or 29th night. It is almost certain that one of these nights is Laylah al-Qadr, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Seek Laylah al-Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan, in the odd nights." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2016) and Sahîh Muslim (1167)]
[We should keep in mind that the night precedes the day, so the 21st night of Ramadan is the night that precedes the 21st day or Ramadan, and not the night that follows it.]
Allah says: "Laylah al-Qadr is better than 1000 months." [Sûrah al-Qadr: 3]
The night begins from the time of sunset until the time of dawn. This time period usually does not exceed 12 hours by much. Yet, what is the time-value of these few numbered hours? It is greater than 83 years!
We should do as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did, and strive with equal diligence on all ten of the last then nights of Ramadan, seeking this precious night. `A'ishah tells us: "During the last ten nights of Ramadan, he would apply himself with diligence, stay up in worship throughout night, and wake up his family." [Musnad Ahmad (1050)]
Consider – if we follow the Prophet's example and as a consequence Allah blesses us to engage in worship on Laylah al-Qadr for ten years, we will have the credit as if we engaged in that worship for 830 full years. If we find Laylah al-Qadr for twenty Ramadans, we will be blessed with the credit of that worship for 1660 years.
By availing ourselves of this beautiful opportunity that Allah has given especially to us, we can truly be foremost in our deeds on the Day of Resurrection, even though our lives are so brief.
We should, therefore, beseech Allah from the start of Ramadan to bless us to worship Him on Laylah al-Qadr. With Allah's help, it will be easy for us.
We should also keep in mind that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith, seeking Allah's reward, will be forgiven all his past sins. Whoever observes Laylah al-Qadr in prayer, with faith, seeking Allah's reward, will be forgiven all his past sins." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1910)]
Life is short. None of us know how many years lie ahead before we die. We might not live to see another Ramadan. Therefore, if Allah blesses us to live to see the last ten nights of Ramadan, we should treat it as if it is our last, and do everything we can to make the most of it. We will have the strength to do so as long as we remind ourselves of the great blessing Allah has bestowed upon us by our being alive in these nights.