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Laylat al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr is an important night for Muslims during Ramzan. Read on to understand its significance.

Ramzan or Ramadan is the most holy month of the year in Islam. During this month, all adult Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, on a daily basis. Every earning Muslim is also expected to contribute two and a half percent of his earnings as 'Zakat'. This is to empower his less fortunate brethren. However, not many people know about the 'Laylat al-Qadr', which is considered to be the most important night of the year for all Muslims.

What is Laylat al-Qadr?

Laylat al-Qadr is sometimes also referred to as 'Shab e-Qadr'. The term literally translates as the 'Night of measures' or the 'Night of decree'. Many people also believe that it translates as 'Night of power' but this translation is somewhat erroneous.

Laylat al-Qadr is celebrated as the night when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet Muhammad. It is also believed that this was the night when the Quran descended to the earth, from heaven. Muslims belonging to the Shia sect place a further emphasis on this night. For them, this night is also the night which will determine the depth of their faith in the following year. They pray throughout the night, seeking salvation and mercy from God. This ritual is called 'Ehyaa', which literally means 'to revive'.

What is the significance of this night?

Laylat al-Qadr has been described in the Quran as follows; 'We have indeed revealed this 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. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand. Peace! This until the rise of morn!'

Although Laylat al-Qadr is only one night, it is deemed to be the most important night of the year in Islam. If one is truly devoted to God, and displays his devotion, honestly, on this night, then he will be rewarded handsomely. This reward is said to be so great that it surpasses the reward he would have achieved if he had shown his devotion to God for a thousand months.

The actual nature or value of this reward is not known. It is said to be known only by God as only he can decide how sincere is the devotion of an individual. The line that says this devotion is better than that for a thousand months is in reference to the average human lifespan of about eighty three years and four months. Thus, Laylat al-Qadr is said to be the most important night in a Muslim individual's entire lifetime.

When is it?

Laylat al-Qadr falls in the last ten day part of Ramzan. This period is called Najah, which means salvation. The exact day of Laylat al-Qadr is not known to anyone. However, it is thought to be one of the odd-numbered days during Najah. Sunni Muslims consider it to be the 21st, 23rd, 25th, or 29th day in Ramzan. Shia Muslims believe this night falls on the 19th, 21st, or 23rd day of the month. In practice, Shia Muslims celebrate this occurrence on the 23rd night of Ramzan while Sunni Muslims choose the 27th night. However, all odd numbered days in the last ten days of Ramzan are considered sacred. Every Muslim is expected to treat each night as Laylat al-Qadr as a precautionary measure.

How is Laylat al-Qadr observed?

The Laylat al-Qadr is meant to be the night on which a Muslim shows the greatest devotion possible, to God. In this regard, a Muslim is expected to pray earnestly, right from the beginning of the day. The night prayers are the most important on this day. Muslims pray to the Lord, asking for his blessings and also in the hope that all their wishes will be granted by God.

If possible, an individual will spend the entire ten day period within the mosque. This is called 'Itikaf' or retreat. He will fast and perform the five daily prayers. In addition to these obligations, he will also devote himself to studying the Quran as well as performing charitable works.

What do you think about Laylat al-Qadr? What other important days have you heard about? Do you know of any other religion that has a day with a similar significance? To share your thoughts and views, click here.

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