The Muslims of the world are about to reach the end of the month of Ramadan. Those who are able to would have fasted and made special efforts to pray and read the Quran.
As the month draws to a close, Muslims feel a sense of sadness. This month they’ve made special efforts not only to fast and pray but to refrain from anything which, in effect, would’ve “broken” their fast. We are supposed to take care not to lie, cheat, fight etc. If we do any of these then the fast is in effect starvation; it’s not a fast anymore.
As the month draws to a close, Muslims make even greater efforts to pray during the last ten days. One of the nights in these last ten days is the Laylat al-Qadr (لیلة القدر, Night of Power). This is the night the Quran was first revealed to the Holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). The Quran in Surah 97 (Al-Qadr), āyāt 1–5 tells us
1 We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:
2 And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is?
3 The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
4 Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:
5 Peace!… This until the rise of dawn.
No one knows the exact night on which Laylat al-Qadr falls (though it’s believed to fall on one of the following 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th night). Hence Muslims make an effort to pray on all ten nights as much as they can. You may wonder why we haven’t been told the exact night on which it falls. To me, keeping this a secret is a sign of Allah’s benevolence. If we knew the exact night then
1. We may have neglected to pray thinking we can make it up in that one night
2. If, for some reason, we were unable to pray on that night we would have been devastated
3. As we don’t know which night it falls on, we pray every night and thereby making Allah happy with us on every such night
4. If we knew which night was Laylat al-Qadr and we still indulged in some sin or the other, then we would have had sinned twice; one the sin we committed and the other of disrespecting the special night.
Laylat al-Qadr is the night of forgiveness. The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.”
Hadith, Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2:34
To all Muslims who’ve fasted and prayed during this blessed month, may Allah accept your prayers and reward you. To all non-Muslims who’ve joined us in fasting and in iftar (meal in the evening), who have made allowances for the fact that we can’t eat or drink and who’ve engaged with us giving us an opportunity to explain the significance of this month, a heart felt thank you.