Laylat al-Qadr: Muslims pray, recite Quran on night worth 1,000 months

“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! … This until the rise of dawn!”

Sura 97 (Al-Qadr), ayat 1-5

Rows of Muslims kneeling and praying inside a brightly lit mosque

Thousands of Muslims pray at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab Grand Mosque, in Qatar, on Laylat al-Qadr 2012. Muslims pray through the sacred night in the belief that deeds are worth more tonight than in 1,000 ordinary months. Photo by Omar Chatriwala, courtesy of Flickr

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3: For many Muslims around the world, this is Laylat al-Qadr, the sacred night in the Islamic calendar described by Muslims as worth more than 1,000 months in its spiritual influence. The observance sometimes is called the Night of Power, Night of Destiny or Night of Measures. On this anniversary of the revelation of the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, many Muslims spend the entire night in steadfast worship.

Note: Muhammad never specified the date of Laylat al-Qadr, although he did indicate that it fell during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Observance dates vary by up to a week, based on Muslim traditions and regions around the world.

AN EVENT UNPARALLELED IN HISTORY

Mosque lit with ornamental lights at night

Faisal Mosque, the largest mosque in Pakistan, decorated with ornamental lights, on Laylat al-Qadr 2012. Photo by Muzaffar Bukhari, courtesy of Flickr

The year was 610 CE, in the Hira Cave in Mecca, when an event occurred that Muslims regard as unparalleled in history: Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran, from the Archangel Gabriel. (Wikipedia has details.) Of note is that the first word uttered by Gabriel was Ikra, meaning “read,” considered remarkable by Muslims because Muhammad was illiterate. Muslims today take heed of Gabriel’s means of transferring the Quran to the Prophet—imprinting the words into his heart, rather than writing them down. The faithful literate continue attempts to “read” the Quran by thoroughly learning and gaining a deep understanding of its words. Throughout Ramadan and particularly on Laylat al-Qadr (and the last 10 days of Ramadan), Muslims pray, ask forgiveness and read or recite as much of the Quran as possible. (Get an insider’s view of Ramadan in Africa at AllAfrica.)

SPECIAL DEVOTION
IN FINAL DAYS OF RAMADAN

By refraining from food and water throughout the days of Ramadan, Muslims fulfill a major Pillar of Islam; by praying and reading the Quran, they gain a deeper faith in God and sincerity in worship. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, it’s reported that Muhammad commanded followers to strive the entire 10 nights to “look for” Laylat al-Qadr by engaging in extra worship. It’s believed that what distinguishes Laylat al-Qadr from other nights is Unseen by humans, so it is good practice to keep vigil all 10 nights.

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