Assalam-o-Alaikum dear Sheikh,
I know that some of the Awliya found Laylatul Qadr by such experiences as seeing the angels descend on that night etc. Someone asked me how I could be sure that the Wali actually saw that and that it wasn’t a hallucination.
wa `alaykum salam,
I remember as if it were yesterday Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani telling me in his house in California in the early nineties “Don’t say hallucination!” (la taqul junun). The words wali and hallucination can never be paired as Allah Most High does not take people of deficiency as His Friends. What the questioner means is non-walis such as ourselves. As for Awliya, their type of knowledge is certitude – yaqin, not conjecture (zann) or imagination (khayal). As Shaykh Hisham also said recently in one of his replies, there is no imagination in Islam, it is all reality.
As for modality it consists in signs, some of which were mentioned in the monograph of Imam al-`Iraqi on Laylatul-Qadr, and they are described there and elsewhere as clement weather, bright nights, stillness, and Mawlana Shaykh Hisham mentioned other signs in several suhbas of his such as a state of spiritual strength or emotion, and Allah knows best.
Hajj Gibril Haddad