SUNSET MONDAY, AUGUST 13: The most significant event in history—according to Muslims, that is—happened 1,402 years ago tonight, on Laylat al-Qadr. Muslim tradition calls this night the Night of Destiny, Night of Power, Night of Value and the Night of Decree, all of which mean two things: One, that Laylat al-Qadr marks the anniversary of Muhammad’s reception of the Quran; and two, that Allah determines human destinies on this sacred eve.
Most Muslims have been fasting and reciting the Quran since Ramadan began, but these—the final 10 days of the month—are reserved for extra prayer, devotion and forgiveness. (Wikipedia has details.) Muhammad never mentioned the historical date of Laylat al-Qadr, even though the anniversary is astrologically determined each year; therefore, many Muslims endeavor to grow closer to Allah during the entire final 10 days of Ramadan. On the accepted annual date, Laylat al-Qadr is regarded as “better than a thousand months.”
Muslim tradition states that the Quran wasn’t revealed directly to Muhammad from Allah; rather, the angel Gabriel received its revelation from Allah before Gabriel, in turn, revealed it—one verse at a time—to Muhammad. The revelation occurred in 610 CE at Hira Cave, in Mecca. By reading the Quran and praying on the Night of Destiny, Muslims believe they are drawing especially close to God and God’s angels. (Confused on how to observe Laylat al Qadr? Check out a step-by-step guide from MuslimMatters.org.) Those with the means and time spend the final 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque, in I’tikaf (retreat). These Muslims pray, study the Quran and are provided food during their mosque retreat.
Laylat al-Qadr in North America begins at sunset tomorrow, on August 14.