Saturday, August 11, 2012

Awaiting Ramadan’s Laylat al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
“Whoever stands (in prayer) in Laylat al-Qadr while nourishing his faith with self-evaluation, expecting reward from Allah, will have all of his previous sins forgiven.”
[Abu Huraira, Sahih Bukhari]
Today, Ramadan 23, 1433, the Holy Month is into its last few days. Muslims pray that the time they devoted to fasting, prayer, renewal and reflection, as well as the lessons learned will carry them through the year.
The last 10 days of the month anticipate Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny or Night of Power) that is described in the Qur’an, Surat al-Qadr (Chapter 97):
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
We have indeed revealed this message in the Night of Power.
And what will explain what the Night of Power is?
The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
Therein come down the angels and the spirit, by Allah's permission, on every errand.
Peace! Until the rising of the morn!
Tradition holds Laylat al-Qadr is the night the first revelation of the Qur'an was sent down to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Muslims seek Laylat al-Qadr during the last 10 days of Ramadan, particularly on the odd nights -- the 23rd, 25th and 27th.
The Prophet said, "Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on the Night of Qadr, fully believing (in Allah's promise of reward) and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins." [Bukhari and Muslim]
Muslims worldwide spend these last nights in devotion, retreating to the mosque to read the Qur'an (Itikaf), reciting special supplications (du’a), and reflecting on the meaning of God's message to them. It is believed to be a time of intense spirituality, when angels surround the believers, the gates of heaven are open, and God's blessings and mercy are abundant.
Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet, narrates that He said:
“Look for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last 10 nights of the month of Ramadan.” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 32, Number 237]
Aisha adds: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: 'O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?' He said: 'Say: O Allah, You are Forgiving and Generous and You love to Forgive, so forgive me.'
It is believed the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Mohammad occurred in two phases, the first phase being its revelation in full on Laylat al-Qadr to the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel) in the lowest heaven, and the second being its verse-by-verse revelation to the Prophet by the Angel. The revelation started in 610 CE at the Hijra cave on Mount Nur in Mecca. The first Sura to be revealed was Surat al-Alaq or Surat Iqra. This night is also believed to be the night when God decides everyone’s destiny.
Those who can afford to devote their time stay in the mosque for the final 10 days of Ramadan. This worship is called Itikaf (retreat). They observe a fast during the day and occupy themselves with the remembrance of God, performing voluntary prayers and studying the Qur’an, day and night, apart from the obligatory prayers, which they perform with the congregation. Food and other necessities of life are provided for them during their stay in the mosque.
The faithful will now be awaiting Laylat al-Qadr today Ramadan 23 (Saturday 11 August), on Ramadan 25 (Monday 13 August) or the most likely on Ramadan 27 (Wednesday15 August) -- the last odd nights of the Holy Month.
The Qur'an describes Laylat al-Qadr as a night that is more valuable than a thousand months. 
According to Sahih Bukhari (Volume 3, Book 32, Number 233), as narrated by Abu Salama:
I asked Abu Sa'id, and he was a friend of mine, (about Laylat al-Qadr) and he said, "We practiced Itikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the middle third of the month of Ramadan with the Prophet. In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan, the Prophet came and addressed us and said, ‘I was informed of (the date of the Night of Qadr) but I was caused to forget it; so search for it in the odd nights of the last 10 nights of the month of Ramadan. (In the dream) I saw myself prostrating in mud and water (as a sign). So, whoever was in ltikaf with me should return to it with me (for another 10-day period),’ and we returned. At that time there was no sign of clouds in the sky but suddenly a cloud came and it rained till rainwater started leaking through the roof of the mosque, which was made of date-palm leaf stalks. Then the prayer was established and I saw Allah's Apostle prostrating in mud and water and I saw the traces of mud on his forehead."
May all your prayers be heard and answered. Happy Eid.