Abu Hurayrah reports Rasulullah S.W. said, “Whoever stands in prayer and ‘ibaadah on the night of Power with sincere faith and with sincere hope of gaining reward, his previous sins are gorgiven”
Reported in Al Targheeb from Bukhari and Muslim
In the above Hadith ‘standing’ refers to ‘salaah as well as any other form of ‘ibaadah, as for example thikr, tilaawah etc. the phrase ‘. with sincere hope of gaining reward’, means that one should be sincerely occupied with ‘ibaadah solely for the pleasure of Allah and to receive reward from Him. This should not be done for others to see, or to deceive them. According to Khat’taavi it means that one should have complete faith in the promise that any deed shall ve rewarded and thus one must stand befor Allah with earnestness and enthusiasm. Neither should one think of this ‘ibaadah as a burden, nor should there be any doubt about the reward which will be granted. After all it is a known fact that when one aims at a high goal and desire to have a great reward, while at the same time habing complete certainty of receiving it, the burden of striving hard along an arduous path to attain that goal becomes easy. Similarly the burden of standing for long hours becomes easy. This is the reason why those who had become spiritually elevated in Allah’s sight find it easy to remain in ‘ibaadah almost at all times.
It will be noted that the Hadith speaks about previous sins being forgiven. The ‘ulamaa have said that this forgiveness are mentioned in the Hadith above and other Ahaadith, refers only to minor sins. Major sins can only be forgiven, according to the Qur’aan after sincere repentance, with the vow and promise never to return to such sins again. This is the reason why the ‘ulamaa are unanimous that major sins are not forgiven except by sincere repentance. Hence whenever forgiveness of sincs mentioned in the Ahaadith the ‘ulama specify it to be minor sins. My late father (May Allah bless him and grant him light in his resting place) used to say that the word ‘minor’ has been omitted here for two reasons.
Firstly, he says, a true Muslim is one on whom major sins should not rest, because whenever a major sin has been committed, he will never rest or find peace until he has sincerely repented to Allah (begging) for forgiveness and promising not to do the same in future.
Secondly, my late father used to say, when such great and blessed days and nights come along, when true muslim stands before Allah in prayer and adoration, hoping to gain reward, it is a fact that the true muslim in his conscience should feel greatly grieved for previous sins. This grief over sins and the resolution not to return to such acts are the most important requirements of towbah. This means that on such days and nights the repentance for major sins is automatic, (leaving only minor sins to be forgiven). It is best however that when a night like Laylatul Qadr comes along, one who has committed major sins should first of all verbally repent with a heart full of sincere longing for forgiveness so that Allah in His infinite mercy may forgive all forms of sins. And when you do, remember me too in your duaa’s. (The publishers request the same.)