Thursday, February 28, 2008

Laylatul-Qadr: Peace Until Dawn

In this article, Al-Amin Ciroma highlights the significance of Laylatul-Qadr and how to explore its spiritual advantages.
In each of the daily prayers we offer, we solemnly declare to Allah Ta'ala by saying , Iyyaka na'budu (You alone do we worship). While the intelligent and committed believer realises that his very lifestyle spells worship, he knows, remembering the words of our Prophet (pbuh) that Du'aa (supplication) is worship, [Tirmidhi, Abu Daud].
Allah, the Most Merciful, has encouraged the believers to take advantage of certain times during the year to make Du'aa' (supplication). Such an occasion presents itself annually during Ramadan, especially on the Lailatul Qadr (the Night of Power.) In this night, the single most important event in human history unfolded after the Glorious Qur'an was preserved in the protected tablet, Angel Jibreel (AS) descended with the blessed Book to reveal it, upon Allah's command, to His Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh). Accentuating its significance, Allah says in the holy Qur'an, "And how would you know (the value of the) Night of Qadr?"
The month of Ramadhan has been singled out for special worship (Ibadat) and exclusive favours. It is a month unlike other months. The holy Prophet (pbuh) said that it was the month of Allah (SWT). One reason for this, as defined by the Qur'an, is because the Qur'an was revealed in this month. Says Allah in Sura al­Baqarah: "The month of Ramadhan, that in which the Qur'an was sent down; a guidance for mankind, and clear signs of guidance and distinction". In fact, Imam Ja'afar As-Sadik (as) said, the other holy books (Zabur, Taurah, Injil) were also revealed in this month.
Among the nights of Ramadhan is one special night, which is better than a thousand months, good deeds performed on that single night are equal to those performed over a thousand months. It is the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr), when the Qur'an was revealed. Some commentators believe it was the night when the Qur'an was brought down from Baytul Ma'mur (Heavenly abode), for Angel Jibreel (as) to reveal in parts to the Prophet (pbuh). Others say it was the night when the Prophet (pbhu) received the entire Qur'an, but was asked to transmit it as and when the occasion demanded.
Laylatul Qadr is a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for humans. It is a tribute to the commencement of the message revealed to mankind by their Creator, a message which shows them the way to achieve happiness in both the worlds. Just as the arrival of a child is celebrated, on its birth and then every year, as a bringer of joy and fulfilment for the family, Laylatul Qadr is celebrated as a bringer of light and guidance for mankind. Unlike the birthday, which is celebrated with a feast for the senses, Laylatul Qadr includes a feast for the spirit, a feast of worship and prayers.
Qadr also means honour and dignity. The holy Prophet (S.A.W) received the divine revelation, when he was in prayer in the cave of Hira (outsket of Mecca). Since this night enjoys the honour of having the first revelation brought to the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam), it has been named Lailatul Qadr.
As one of the holiest and most blessed nights, which is likely to occur on one of the odd nights on the last ten days of Ramadhan and most likely to be the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th. The reward of worship on this night is better than the worship of a thousand months of worship, equivalent to a person's lifetime. So, on this night one should pray nafil namaz, recite the Quran, do Tasbih, Zikr, Duas, etc as much as possible.
This night had already opened its gates of treasures when the angel for the first time had come with the Divine Message in the cave of Hira, but its auspiciousness has continued to be with us permanently. Every year in the month of Ramadhan, this night is given to the Ummah. Muslims engage in prayers, recitation of Quran and praying to Allah Ta’ala, as the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with him and his purest progeny) said: "The person who offered prayers to Allah in the night of Dignity with faith and with hope of reward from Allah, all his past sins have been forgiven." (Bukhaari)
As the rainy season is suitable for farming, similarly for the attainment of nearness to Allah Ta'ala, specific times, specific days and specific nights are most suitable. For example, like the time of Tahajjud (midnight) prayers, Friday prayers, month of Ramadhan, the Day of Arfah, and so on, so also the Night of Power is the most suitable night for attaining nearness to Allah (SWT).
In the Hadith, we have been asked to seek it in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadhan. Hazrat A'isha (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) has said, 'Seek the night of Dignity in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadhan'.(Bukhaari).
Going by these facts, there are many ibadats and zikr (Allah's remebrance) selected for lailatul qadr. Some of which are:
•Seeking Forgiveness: Hazrat Aisha (RA) asked the Prophet (S.A.W) that if she happened to get the night sublime, what prayer should she say? The Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam replied that she should say the following prayer : "Allahumma innaka afuwwun kareemun tuhib-bul af-wa fa-afo anni." Meaning - (O Allah, You are the One who grants pardon for sins, loves forgiving, so forgive me.)
•Reciting Istighfar (forgiveness). The following should be recited as much as possible: Astaghfirullah hallazi la-ila-ha illa huwal Hayyul Qayyumo wa atu-bu ilaihe, (I seek forgiveness from Allah, the Almighty, there is no God but He. He is self-Existent, the Eternal and I return to Him). •Reciting Suratul-Qadr
Preparation For the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr): The other decent efforts for this night are that before its arrival, the prudent wayfarer should arrange for its preliminaries and necessities, e.g. for worshipping in this night, a suitable place, dress, and perfume should be arranged in advance for engaging in private humming communications with Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), as well as for communications with his masters, i.e. sinless Imams [a] he should arrange suitable themes and contents; for paying alms during this night should allocate some money, even for the invitation of guests and for payment of alms, he should plan in advance to select the most suitable guests and the genuinely poor people, who really deserve financial support.

Let us imagine that if an emperor dispatches a special courier before someone, with compassion and mercy, invites him for a special feast, gives him glad-tidings that if he appears in the royal feast with decency and decorum, rewards and magnificent gifts would be bestowed upon him, and the more respectfully he would behave in the assembly, the emperor too would increase his rewards and gifts in proportion with his behaviour. Undoubtedly, after receiving such a message, this person would become excited and pleased, and in order to prepare himself would not leave any stone unturned, and during this period would mobilize all his resources and efforts to procure whatever is required for being present in such an assembly, so that finally, when that moment arrives, being fully decorated in a respectable and decent manner, he could present himself over there.
The invitation of an emperor is responded in the above manner. But how about the invitation of Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), who is the King of all kings - the King of the earth and the heavens and has invited us for His feasts? In order to invite us, He has dispatched His favourite angels, pious prophets and sinless Imams (a) as His couriers. He has assigned His angels to announce his invitation kindly and compassionately to us; has given us the glad-tidings of giving us permanent abode in Paradise in return for sincere worshipping during one single night (the Night of Power); has promised such bounties, which have not been seen by any eye, have not been heard by any ear, and have not been imagined through any human being's mind, as well as has given us the glad-tiding of illumination, ecstasy, majesty, splendour, nearness, union, and countenance, for whose least comprehension and understanding, faculties of reason and thoughts find themselves astonished and helpless.
Selection of the Most Suitable Deeds : Other desirable efforts of this night are that with the nearing of these nights, one should increase his eagerness for receiving the promised bounties and blessings; should select worships and deeds which are more in harmony with his mood from the point of view of sincerity, openness of heart and internal purification; in this matter should seek help from Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), and the impeccable ones. And if he cannot diagnose himself what suits his mood properly, he should seek guidance from Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), through consultation (istikhara).
How to bid farewell to the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr): As was described for the other important and esteemed nights, the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr) should also be farewelled exactly in the similar manner, i.e. one should submit his deeds and worships to those exalted ones, with a heart broken, with grief and shedding tears, should request them to make those deeds as righteous, and should intercede with Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), for their acceptance, and thus making them fruitful.

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