Monday, December 10, 2018 | ePaper

Lailat-ul-Qadr

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Syed Ashraf Ali :
It was on the auspicious Lailat-ul-Qadr, the Night of Power or the Night of Honour or Majesty that the Holy Quran, the most blessed and perfect of all revelations, was vouchsafed to the benighted world. By revelation, of course, is meant first revelation because the Holy Quran was revealed in portions during a total period of twenty three years. It was this blessed Night of Majesty which first witnessed the shining of the Divine Light which was destined to illumine the whole universe.
Lailat-ul-Qadr occupies a unique position in the Islamic calendar. The word 'Lailat' in Arabic means 'Night' and 'Qadr' stands for 'Power' or 'Honour' or 'Majesty'. The real merit of this glorious Night has been clearly expounded in the Holy Quran. Allah has emphatically and in unambiguous terms declared in Sura Qadr :
"We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is ? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months." (97: 1-2)
The glorious Night of Grandeur or Greatness, better than a thousand months, is indeed a Night of great wonders and divine blessings wherein, as the Holy Quran declares, "come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand." (97: 4)
Nobody knows exactly in which particular night in the holy month of Ramadhan did the great "Revelation come down to the benighted world, transformed the conflict of wrong-doing into Peace and Harmony through the agency of the angelic host, representing the spiritual powers of the Mercy of Allah." Although it has been clearly laid down in Sura Baqara : "Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgement, between right and wrong", (2 : 185), we have been left just a little to chances and nobody knows definitely which particular Night is the auspicious 'Night of Power' or the 'Night of Honour'. The precise date of Lailatul-Qadr is said to have been known on by to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and a few of the Companions. Literalists sometimes refer to some particular Night in the calendar, but there is no agreement or consensus as to which it is. The Divine Night has been variously fixed as the 21st, 23rd, 25th 27th or the 29th night of Ramadhan, or more probably one of the last three nights mentioned above. Even some other nights in the month of Ramadhan are claimed to be Lailat-ul-Qadr. But it is generally supposed to be a Night occurring on any night in the last third portion of Ramadhan.
Hazrat Ayesha (Ra) reported God's Messenger (pbuh) as saying, “Seek Lailat-ul-Qadr on an odd number night among the last ten in Ramadhan." (Bukhari Sharif)
Ibn Umar (Ra) said that some of the Prophet's companions had a dream that Lailat-ul-Qadr was among the last seven nights, so the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) said, "1 see that your dreams agree regarding the last seven nights, so if anyone asks it he should do so during the last seven nights" (Bukhari and Muslim Sharif).
Ibn Abbas (Ra) reported the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as saying, "Seek Lailat-ul-Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadhan, on the twenty-first, twenty-third and twenty-fifth." (Bukhari sharif).
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said: God's Messenger (pbuh) spent the first ten nights of Ramadhan in devotion, and spent the middle ten nights in a round Turkish tent, after which he raised his head and said: "I spent the first ten nights in devotion seeking this Night, then I spent the middle ten nights in devotion, and after that I had a heavenly visitant and was told that it is in the last ten, so he who has engaged in devotion along with me should do so during the last ten nights, for I was shown this Night, then was caused to forget it, but I have been myself prostrating in water and clay on the morning following, so seek it among the last ten and seek it in every night with an odd number." He said: Rain fell that night, the mosque which was a thatched building dripped, and my eyes saw Allah's Messenger (pbuh) with traces of water and clay, on his forehead on the morning after the twenty-first night." Bukhari and Muslim agree on the subject matter, the wording being Muslim's up to "and was told it is in the last ten", the remainder being Bukhari's. In the version of Abdullah bin Unais (Ra), he said it was the twenty-third night. Muslim transmitted it.
According to Ibn Hanbal, a Hadith narrated by Jbn Umar (Ra) claimed that the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever seeks the Night, let him seek it on the 27th."
It is not perhaps necessary to fix the Night literally by the calendar. The Night on which Divine Message descends from Allah is undoubtedly a blessed Night for mankind, like a much-awaitted day of rain for a parched land. It is for this that the I’tikaf, the adhering to the mosques or retiring for contemplation during Ramadhan as a form of devotion or meditation, is fixed for the last ten days of the month of Ramadhan. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) himself used to spend the last ten days of Ramadhan  complete retirement in the mosque. He even had his bed placed m the mosque behind a pillar during I'tikaf.
Hazrat Ayesha (Ra) said that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time. (Muslim transmitted it).
She said that when the last ten nights began Allah's Apostle (pbuh) prepared himself for religious exercises, stayed awake at night and wakened his family. (Bukhan and Muslim).
"A thousand months" may also be taken in a mystic or indefinite sense as denoting a very long period of time. It is not necessarily 83 years and 4 months. It may not even refer to ordinary human conception of time. On the contrary, it might very well refer to "timeless Time". In the words of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, "A thousand" must be taken in an indefinite sense as denoting a very long period of time. This does not refer to our ideas of time, but to "timeless Time". It transcends Time; for it is God's power dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, by His Revelation in every kind of affair. One moment of enlightment under God's Light is better than thousands of months or years of animal life, and such a moment converts the night of darkness into a period of spiritual glory." (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran : Text Translation and Commentary, Lahore, 1938, p. 1765)  Lailat-ul-Qadr, popularly known as Shab-e-Qadr in this continent, indeed occupies a very important place in the life of a devoted Muslim. "The descent of the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission" also testifies to the deeper significance and religious sanctity of the auspicious Night, for though a particular Night in the month of Ramadhan may be characterized by great Divine Blessings, it is more especially in connection with the mission of one appointed by Allah for the regeneration of the world that "the Angels and the Spirit" come down from heaven, such being the Divine support of his cause.
Sura Qadr, testifying so eloquently to the divine grandeur and unique greatness of the majestic Lailat-ul-Qadr, ends with the beautiful expression: "Peace ! This until the rise of morn !"
"Peace" indeed is the chief distinction of Lailat-ul-Qadr. This "Peace" comes to the hearts of the devotees in the form of a tranquility of mind which makes them fit to receive Divine Blessings. When the Night of spiritual darkness is dissipated by the Glory of Benign Providence, a wonderful peace and a sense of Security arise in the soul. All jars are stilled in the reign supreme of peace. "And this lasts on", in the words of Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali, " until this life closes, and the glorious Day of the new spiritual world dawns, when everything will be on a different plane, and the chequered nights and days of the world will be even less than a dream." The continuance of the blessed Night till "the rise of Morn" is quite clear and evident when the Night is taken literally; the work of morning signifying, " the approaching end of the reforms, when truth, like the light of the day, has made itself fully manifest." In the words of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, "the mortal night gives place to the glorious day of an immortal world." (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, ibid, p. 1764)
Laiiat-ul-Qadr, the blessed Night in which four about teen hundred  years ago the Great Revelation of the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful Allah "broke through the darkness of the human soul" and the Holy Quran, the perfect Code of human life, reached mankind as Message of "Mercy from the Lord", carries another significance of Divine Excellence. As Mouivi Mohammed Ali states: "The time during which a Prophet appears is usually a time of darkness and as such is often compared to night in the Holy Quran. But as in this darkness comes a blessing from on high in the person of a Divine Messenger, the Night is a blessed and majestic Night. Hence the period of the advent of a Divine Messenger may also be metaphorically called Laiiat-uI-Qadr. Its designation as the Blessed Night in Sura Ad-Dukhan followed as it is by the statement that in it 'every wise affair is made distinct', shows clearly that the other significance of the world is based on the Holy Quran itself, because it is during the time of a Prophet's advent that true wisdom is distinctly established."
Blessed indeed is this Night of Power! "The excellences of the Lailat-ul-Qadr are said to be innumerable, and it is believed that during its solemn hours the whole animal and vegetable creation, bow down in humble adoration to the Almighty. (Dictionary of Islam, 1988 edition, Pp. 282-283). The divine importance of this Night of Grandeur is so great that the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) himself declared, "He who spends the Lailat-ul-Qadr, through prayers, in full faith, shall have all his previous sins and guilt forgiven." As none can afford to miss this glorious and unique opportunity, Muslims all over the world eagerly await this auspicious Night and try their level best to pass this Night through prayers, Quranic recitations and deep meditation with all the possible sincerity and devotion. As this Night provides them with the coveted opportunity to receive Allah's Blessings, Muslims in every nook and comer of the world rise to the occasion to avail this glorious opportunity and pray with a sincere and cherished hope to be blessed with Allah's Forgiveness and Mercy. It is this Mercy of Allah Which breaks through the darkness of the human soul on this blessed night. "All the powers, of the world divine, speed on their mystic Message of Mercy, by Allah's Command, and bless every nook and comer of the heart."
But it is not the worldly pleasures and physical comforts that one should ask for on this holy Night. What a man should pray for on this blessed Night is Forgiveness and Allah's Forgiveness alone. Nothing can be more pleasant, nothing can be more beneficial, nothing can be sweeter than the glorious Mercy of the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful Allah. Hazrat Ayesha Siddiqa (Ra) said: I asked the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) what to say on Latlat-ul-Qadr on the assumption that 1 knew it was the Night."
The holy Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, "One should say: Oh Lord! Thou art forgiving and lovest forgiveness, so forgive me. (Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Tirmizi Sharif)
    -Blessed nights and days

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