When questions like this arise in the Qur’an, their purpose is to glorify what is being described. In this case, the question glorifies the night on which this event occurred. For each of us there is a possibility of laylat al-qadr. Our awakening to our fullest potential occurs on our night of qadr. It occurs when we see the Power behind the power in creation, or the power of the Powerful One, Who is Allah, and we experience the power of inner knowledge. The night of qadr occurs according to each person’s capacity.
“The Night of the Decree” is that night of revelation when the heart opens, when the tablet within man’s heart is unveiled, when the direct recognition that there is only Allah, and that everything which comes into creation comes through that single power, is experienced. This tablet does not contain encyclopedic information: it contains direct knowledge.
It is related that Imam Ghazzali was once travelling on a long journey with all his books. A robber suddenly confronted him and the Imam told him to take anything he liked, but to please leave him the mule loaded down with his books. To his great chagrin, however, the robber said, “But that is precisely what I want,” whereupon he stole them all. Nine or ten years later, Imam Ghazzali met the same man again in the street. The robber asked him, “Do you remember me?” The Imam said he did not. The man then said, “I was the one who rescued you by taking away all your books. I was the cause of your gaining knowledge. When all that information you were carrying was taken from you, you obtained knowledge!”
From ‘Beams of Illumination from the Divine Revelation’
By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri