Shab-E-Qadr, The Night of Power – Its Importance and Ramdan

Shab-E-Qadr, The Night of Power – Its Importance and Ramdan

The Muslim Community will be engaged in overnight prayers and indulge in charity today on the occasion of the eveningthat is popularly known as ‘Shab-e-Qadra’ in Persian and ‘Lailat-ul-Qadra’ in Arabic. Literally translated, it means ‘The Night of Power’.

 

Shab-E-Qadr, The Night of Power – Its Importance and Ramdan

The Muslim Community will be engaged in overnight prayers and indulge in charity today on the occasion of the eveningthat is popularly known as ‘Shab-e-Qadra’ in Persian and ‘Lailat-ul-Qadra’ in Arabic. Literally translated, it means ‘The Night of Power’.

To some, it is also ‘The Night of Destiny’.  Muslims believe, as revealed in the Holy Quran, that this night is better than a thousand months in equivalence for the merits earned by doing righteous deeds.In other words, it may be interpreted as praying throughout this night is rewarded equally with praying for a thousand months (just over 83 years i.e. a lifetime).

Many Muslims, therefore, spend the entire night in prayers. Surah 97 of Holy Quran gives a reference to this Night.

The surah reads as follows:

“We sent it (The Holy Quran) down on the Night of Power.

And what can give you knowledge of what the Night of Power is?

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months;

 The Angels and the Spirit descend during it,

By Permissionof their Lord in every matter.

Peace it is Until the Rising of the Dawn.”

The same night is obviously referred to in another Surah (Chapter 44, Verse 3) which reads:

“We have revealed it (The Holy Quran) on a blessed nightor Lailatu ‘l-mubarakah.”

However, as to the exact date of occurrence of the night there is no unanimity among Muslims. The traditional Muslim view is that the “Laylat al-Qadr “ mentioned in the Quran Chapter 97- which belongs to one of the early Makkan (belonging to or OF the City of Makkah) revelations, refers to one of the last odd nights of Ramadan, on which the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, received his call. Despite the strength of this tradition, there is nothing in the text of the Quran to support this view and nothing against it.

While Kulayni, theImami/Twelver Shia scholar, preferred either the 21st or 23rd andthe Musta’liTayyibi community i.e. the Bohras, another Shia sect, celebrate it on the 23rd night of Ramdan, the rest of the Muslims celebrate it on the 27th night.Despite these differences on the exact date, the importance and sacrosanctattached to the Night remains intact.

Like the Night of Power, the month Ramdan or Ramzaan is also mentioned in the Holy Quran along with the compulsory duties for Muslims attached with it.  In the Holy Quran, details of Ramadan are found in Verses 183 through 187 of Chapter 2-Surah Baqarah [2:183 – 2:187].

Thus Verse 2:183 says:

 “O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation.”

Verse 2:184 states, “Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of non-fasting. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.

 Verse 2:185 says:

“Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein.Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation.”

Similarly-

Verse 2: 186 guides like this, “When My Servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided.

And finally in Verse 2:187 the Holy Quran gives directions as follows:

“Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets. GOD knew that you used to betray your souls, and He has redeemed you, and has pardoned you. Henceforth, you may have intercourse with them, seeking what GOD has permitted for you. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset.”

The Quranicsanctions clearly mention that obligation of fasting by people was in vogue through divine injunctions in the past as is evident from the fact that fasting is common almost in all religions and traditions where the substance is the same and only form varies.

The above verses also provide about timings and duration of the fast, relaxation of earlier commands, ease provided and the prayers and their acceptance.

In fact, each of the injunctions may be elaborated in detail but this will need another write up on different aspects, their back ground and the changes/relaxation in earlier injunctions. For the readers, however, a very brief account of Ramdan is being given below.

Ramdan is one of the twelve months of the Islamic calendar. It is theNinth in the sequence counting from Muharram, which is the first month. The word has its origin in Arabic root ‘Ramz’ which means extremely hot.  In view of the fact that in the pre-Islamic days the Arabs used to follow a Lunar Calendar, but by way of intercalation they used to bring their months at par with the Solar one.

As a result Ramzan used to come always more or less during the extremely hot season. Strict fasting in such a condition used to be a real spiritual test for the believers. Thus on the spiritual level the fasts used to ‘burn’ the sins of the believers.This could be another way of explaining the meaning of ‘Ramz’.

Subsequent revelations prohibited intercalations with the result that the month Ramdan comes in all seasons. This too may be the effect Allah, The Almighty, does not want inconvenience for the believers. It is important to mention that fasting is not only to keep oneself hungry and thirsty during the prescribed timings but total abstinence from all desires and wrongs whether small or big.

The observance of this month is one of the Five Pillars of practice in the Muslim religion, and its excellence is much extolled by Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.), who said that during Ramdan “the Gates of Paradise are open, and the gates of hell are shut and the devils are chained by the leg, and only those who observe it will be permitted to enter at the Gate of Heaven called Raiyan.Those who keep the fast will be pardoned all their past venial sins.”

Also recommended in Ramdan is Seclusion in the Masjid during the last Ten days, called “I’tikaf”. One is not permitted to leave the Masjid for anything other than the essentials. The time of I’tikafis to be spent only in Prayers and recitation of the Holy Quran.

With Ramdan are also associated the following important historical events:

  • All the sacred scriptures namely Scroll of Abraham, Torah of Moses, Palms of David, Bible of Jesus and finally the Quran were revealed in Ramdan.
  • The Muslims defeated the pagans of Makkah at the battle of Badr in Ramdan.
  • Fatah Makkah (the conquest of Makkah) – a great event, also took place in Ramdan.
  • Ali Ibn Abu Talibwas martyred in this month
  • Laylat-ul-Qadra was gifted by Allah in this month.

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