Lailatul-Qad'r/kadr & Night Prayers

Q. On which night lies the Lailathul Qadar? What are its signs? What should we read and how to pray in Lailatul Qadar?

Ans. In Lailat-ul-Qad’r or the Night of decree, the decisions are conveyed for the year to the concerned angels about the life and death, countinuance and soon occurring in the lives of people. The Prophet (Pbuh) said; “Explore the (occurrence of) night of decree in the odd nights of the last Ashra (1/3rd) of Ramadan.” (Bukhari)
The Almighty made the Prophet forget the exact date of the night of decree, he told. “The identification of the night of decree has been withdrawn and it is perhaps better for you.” (Bukhari)
The popular belief is that the night falls on 27th of Ramadan but in the books of Hadith, there are different versions favouring different nights.
“Narrated Abu Saeed Khudri that the Prophet (Pbuh) said; I was shown the night of decree but later I forgot it. (I only remember that) on the morning after the night. I prostrated on water and mud. Now that I have forgotten, you should seek it among the odd nights of the last 1/3rd of Ramadan.

The narrator further says that (the Prophet meant that ) it rained on the night of Qad’r (that year). As the roof of the Mosque was made of date-branches, the water seeped through (resulting in mud on the floor). My eyes observed that there was mark of mud and water on the forehead of the Prophet (Pbuh) on the morning following the 21st night.” (Bukhari)
“Reported Abdullah Bin Anees that he requested the Prophet (Pbuh) to inform him of that night so that he could stay inside the Mosque on that night, as he lived in the forest (and could not come on alternate nights). The Prophet told him to stay awake for the 23rd night.
Later, enquiries were made of his son about his father’s routine. He confirmed that his father entered the Mosque after the As’r prayer on 22nd of Ramadan and did not come out for anything until the Faj’r Salat of the next morning. After the Faj’r he found his horse at the doorstep of the Mosque and went to his house in Jungle.” (Abu Dawood)
“Reported Zir bin Hubaish that when he asked (the companion) Ubai Bin Ka’ab he replied that the night is 27th. Then he swore and did not say Insha Allah and said; indeed, it is the night of 27th. I asked him what made him so sure and Ka’ab replied; On the basis of that sign which the Prophet (Pbuh) had told us. The morning following the night, there are no sun-rays at sun-rise.” (Muslim)
Similarly, there are other narrations favouring other nights. It seems that the night is not always fixed. Lailat-ul-Qad’r, it may be derived from the above, falls on different nights on different years. There also is another probability. The night may be different for different people. Allah may shower His blessings upon whomsoever of his bondsmen He is pleased with, on any night of His choosing. This probability is also strengthened from another fact. The occurrence of moon is on different dates in different regions of earth. When there is an even date in one country, it is an odd date in another, according to the variance of moon in the countries.
It may be that an odd night in Makkah is an even date in India. How can the Night odd Decree be the same for all countries when there are different lunar dates in different countries? What I have suggested above, may be the answer but it does not lead one to anywhere. The safest course is to abide by the Prophet’s advise instead of trying to identify the Night. To spare mere five nights out of a whole year for the prayers, is nothing compared to the promised reward.
Most of the time in Shab-e-Qad’r should preferably be devoted to reciting and trying to understand the meaning of the Qur’an as the glory of the Night is associated with the revelation of Qur’an. Qur’an is Afzal-uz-Zikr (The best of remembrance). There also are some prayers specially recommended by the Prophet (Pbuh) for The night. One of them is following;
“Narrated Aisha that she asked the Prophet: If I find the Night of Decree, what should i pray in it? He replied, say: Allahumma innaka Tuhibbul Afwa Fa’fu A’nne; O Allah thou art Forgiving and loves the Forgiver, so forgive me.” ( Ahmad, Ibne Majah, Tirmidhi)