Preparing for Lailatul Qadr (Night of Power)

Updated 07 October 2013

Preparing for Lailatul Qadr (Night of Power)

WE ARE about to enter the last 10 days of the holy month. Devout Muslims worldwide are prepared to embark on vigorous prayers and worship in all the remaining 10 days, beginning July 29, one of which is the Lailatul Qadr, or the Night of Decree or the Power Night.
Allah the Almighty says: "Verily, We have sent it (Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree). And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr is? The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angels including Angel Gabriel by Allah's permission with all Decrees. (All that night), there is peace (and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn.” (Qur’an, 97)
The Qur’anic citation above clearly informs us of the importance of worshipping Allah on the night of Qadr. It is a night that every living Muslim wishes to stand before his Creator, supplicates Him, and seeks for better days ahead. Since Allah decrees whatever is ahead of his servants on that night, it is therefore apparent that whoever is fortunate to be alive on that night and be in prayers crying to Allah in submissiveness with sincere heart, and being repentant as well as remorseful of his sins, Allah would surely listen to him and decrees better life for him.
Because of the special nature and importance of this night, Allah has intentionally concealed the exact day from Muslims. This is because Allah in His inestimable wisdom wants people to strive in achieving something better in life. He has concealed the exact day of the Qadr night so that we may double our efforts in the whole month of Ramadan or at least in the last 10 days. The true believer will search for the night of Qadr at late night and in the early hours until he or she attains it, regardless of the hardship.
This "concealing methodology" adopted by Allah the Almighty in awarding the deserving Muslims on the Qadr night is indeed the best way of giving something worthwhile to the deserving person and denying the hypocritical and lackadaisical ones.
In an effort to know the exact day of the Qadr night, which Allah in His immeasurable wisdom has concealed, some scholars have conjectured the day. While some scholars say the Qadr night falls on the first day of Ramadan, others say it is on the seventh day, and some postulate that it falls on the 19th day. All these opinions are not based on any sound proof. The most popular consensus among scholars who support their claims with sound Hadiths i.e. sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) argue that the Qadr night falls on the last 10 days of Ramadan, specifically on the odd-numbered nights.
In a report by Al-Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said; "Seek it (the Qadr Night) on the odd nights of the last 10 days of Ramadan." In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Seek the night in the last 10 days, and if any of you is weak, or cannot observe it, he should not miss the remaining seven days. (Muslim) In fact, there are other authentic Hadiths on the Qadr night, and one basic point in all of them is that the ‘night’ is found in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Though many Muslims have strong feeling that the night falls on the 27th day but since that is not for sure, Muslims should just have to attach extra attention to all the last 10 days without being selective so that they would be very convinced that the day is not missed out. It is recommended to seek the night and spend it diligently in devotion including night Sunnah prayers (Tahajjud), recitation of the Holy Qur’an and supplication. In a Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "He who spends the night praying on the Qadr night as a sign of faith in Allah and seeking rewards from Allah, all his previous sins will be forgiven." (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
Having known all the above bounties regarding the Qadr night, the question is "how prepared are we as Muslims in striving to find this night?"
Unfortunately, some Muslims do not live up to expectation during the last 10 days of Ramadan. They consider them as just ordinary nights without making any efforts to maximize their acts of worship during this divine period. Some Muslims are found during the last ashra spending time in unproductive activities and excessive socialization.
Some of the womenfolk are made to spend too much of their precious time in the kitchen cooking varieties of food instead of making them reserve energy and fully participate in prayer and worship. Also because Eid Al-Fitr (i.e. the festival to mark the end of fasting) is near, some Muslims engage in shopping while Muslim businessmen and traders and women like tailors, seamstresses, hairdressers, to mention a few, spend nights working to earn extra money and consider such times as their ‘bumper business season.’
Just like how businessmen, students and other professionals maximize their preparation and become more focused, vigilant and committed before and during their seasons, Muslims are expected to endeavor and put in more effort in the act of worship and prayer in all the days of the Ramadan month and more particularly in the last 10 days during which the Qadr night falls.
If we put in much efforts and pay serious attention on worldly achievements and pursuits which we may not live long to enjoy them, is it not more mandatory and befitting on ourselves as mortals who can leave this world anytime soon or later to focus on deeds that Allah has commanded us to do and which will be of everlasting benefit and pleasure for us in the next world where we would die no more?

• Alhaji Ibrahim Yahaya is a senior English lecturer at British Academic Center in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.