Religion of Saturday, 19 July 2014
Source: Hussein BabalWaiz
Wow!!!...One Night Greater than a 1000 Months???…Only in Ramadan!!!
"We[Allah] have indeed revealed this[Message; the Qur'an] in the Night of Power; And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months; Therein come down the angels and the Spirit[Gabriel] by the permission of their Lord, on every errand; Peace!...This until the rise of dawn!"
--- Qur'an chapter 97[the Power], verses:1-5
The month of Ramadan is replete with some indelible and incredible outstanding historical antecedents that make it more exceptional and extra-ordinary from the rest of the eleven months in the Islamic calendar. One of them was the battle of badar[a defensive war] fought by our beloved Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] and his companions, against his enemies on the 16th day of Ramadan over 1400 centuries ago. And the first revelation or wahy of the Qur'an, where angel Gabriel approached the Prophet[PBUH] in the cave of hirah and commanded him by a four single letter word; "Iqra'a!", meaning; "read!".
However, the most significant one was the "Night of Power", dubbed in Arabic "Lailatul-Qadr", which is slated within the last 10 days of Ramadan. And we know the first 10 days represent; Mercy, the second 10 days serve as; Forgiveness, and the last 10 days denote; Emancipation from Hellfire, which a day within these last ten days, if one coincides with it, supplicating and invoking the name of Allah, that person is guaranteed forgiveness and total emancipation from the Hellfire! This finds expression in the adage that; He who laugh last, laugh best!
In one hadith recorded in many books of tafsir or Qur'anic exegesis, the Prophet[PBUH] is reported to have said that; The ages of my [people] ummah is in between sixties and seventies and it is only few of them who exceed that. Prophet Adam[father of mankind] lived for 950 years, while Prophet Noah did just da'wah alone for 80 years and also lived for 950 years. But Prophet Salih lived(comparatively) far lesser years of 120.
So when an angel of death, Azarael approached him, Prophet Salih asked, "Aje'ta qabidan ya nabiya Lah, am je'ta zaeran?" that ; "Have you come to snatch my soul away or you come for a visit?" [as he used to visit them] Azarael said, "Bal je'tu qabidan ya nibiya Lah!", "No, I rather came to take your soul, O prophet of Allah!" He then told Azarael that, he is a baby as compared to his predecessors mentioned above. Azarael however told him that, there will be an ummah[in generations to come] that will[mostly]live between sixties to seventies. He asked him whose ummah will live for those few years? Azarael answered; "ummata Muhammad!"[PBUH], the "the ummah of Muhammad!"[PBUH]. Upon that answer Prophet Salih said;"lau kuntu wahidan min ummati Muhammadin, labanaitu baitee 'alaa babil qabri!" that, "If I were to be among the ummah of Muhammad, I would have built my house on the door of the grave!". This indicates how too short our live is as compared to the longevity of ancient generations of Muslims, who had worship Allah for numerous years.
However, by virtue of the nobility and honorability of the Prophet[PBUH], in the sight of Allah, Allah decided to choose one night and equate it to a thousand years, in order that, we the ummah of the Prophet[PBUH] can close that yawning gaps[through His worship] between us and the medieval generations of Muslims that lived for those great number of years. He therefore chose "Lailatul-Qadr", the "Night of Power" and declared above, "Khairun min alfi shahar!", "Better than a thousand months!", which has been mathematically deduced as approximately 83 years and four months. Hence if anyone per chance is able to coincide with this night while in the masjid, praying after an Imam or reciting the Qur'an, Allah would reward him the equivalent of someone who worship for 83 years and four months, thereby closing that huge gap between us and the earlier ummah. And remember as mentioned above, Prophet Noah made da'wah and Ibadah for 80 years. This is the beauty of Islam! brothers and sister and this is the beauty of being part and parcel of the ummah of the noble and honorable Prophet Muhammad[PBUH]! Who can beat this??
When does "Lailatul-Qadr" occur in Ramadan?
It is often a point of debate among Muslim scholars as to when exactly the "Night of Power" occurs. Some scholars say that this night is hidden. Some say it occurs on either the 1st, 7th, or 19th night of Ramadan. However, there is strong evidence that the night occurs during the last 10 days of Ramadan, specifically on odd numbered nights. In a report by Bukhari, Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] said, “Seek it on the odd nights of the last 10 days of Ramadan.” And in another hadith by Ubayy bin Ka’ab, a sahabi or a companion of the Prophet also said, “By Allah! I know which night it is. It is the night the Messenger commanded us to observe, the night of the 27th.” And he backed his claim with an interesting mathematical analysis that Allah inspired him to make. He argued that the phrase; "Lailatul Qadr" is made up of nine Arabic alphabets and Allah stated it in the above quoted chapter or surah 3 times. Hence when you multiply 9 by 3, it gives you 27, so that is how he convincingly support his argument, that it is specifically on the night of 27th.
Another sahabi, Ibn Abbass, who is called, hibrul muffasireen, or the most skilled, savvy and sagacious scholar of Qur'anic exegesis[by virtue of the prayer of the noble Prophet], also opined that, when you read the verses in chapter of "Qadr" or "Power" above, from the beginning, you can count 30 verses, and by counting the words one by one, "Salaamun Hiya!…", that is, "Peace!...This" is coincidentally the 27th words, out of the 30 ending with "Hatta matlae'l fajr", that is, "until the rise of dawn!", the last three words making 30 words, hence in his assertion, that is the night of 27th. What a great mathematical coincidence!
Whenever I cast by mind back into memory lane during infancy, I would remember how we see our parents and grandparents devote themselves with all zeal and enthusiasm on this night, as they carry us with them to the household of the head of the entire extended family, and all the members of the family, including students of grandpa[Sheikh Ahmed BabalWaiz], of the blessed memory, would gather in this small masjid, in a suburb of Kumasi, Ghana. And we will then move to Alabar, located at the main town to his cousin's masjid, in order to while away this blessed night. We would recite the whole Qur'an that night[at both mosques], and conclude with intense prayer and praise[zikir] to the noble Prophet Muhammad[PBUH] and crown it all with delicious meal…lol! O my God, how I missed this event back home!
On "Lailatul-Qadr", as Allah declares in the above verse, He would send down groups of angels[in millions]to perform special duties. Some come down to worship Allah with us in the mosque, others come to carry the requests of believing Muslims to Allah. Special angels also descend to earth to make proclamations about the coming year. That is why it is also referred to as; the "Night of the Decree or Destiny” by many scholars, where Allah would kind of make amends or keep His decisions intact on the number of years and the amount of wealth, as well as destiny of each and every man or woman on earth. Hence, it is significant that everyone should engage him or herself in various acts of worship on that night, in order to get himself or herself 'enveloped' by or filtered through the mercy and magnanimity of Allah.
And in another narration, it was stated that, the reason why Allah made it hidden to the Prophet [PBUH] was that, when angel Gabriel came to reveal to him the specific day of "Lailatul Qadr", as the Prophet [PBUH] was listening to him, and suddenly he turned his attention towards two sahabah, who were arguing with each other and as a result, Gabriel left him, and thereby 'lost' the chance to get to know the specific day of "Lailatul-Qadr". In an hadith narrated by Ubby Bun Ka'ab, and complied in the authenticated book of Bukhari, the Prophet advised that: “Seek it on the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of Ramadan”.
This presupposes that, Allah then decided to make it a mystery to test the sincerity and devotion of the ummah. Obviously, pious Muslims would seek God’s blessings all night until he or she attains this moment of blessing, regardless of the difficulties and fatigues associated with them, since one is supposed to trim down his or her sleeping hours during those nights.
Muslims are often encouraged to stay awake during the entire night, and pray for blessings and forgiveness. This is one moment of the year when Muslims have a bit more confidence that Allah will hear and act on their behalf. According to one hadith of Prophet Mohammad[PBUH], he said: “Whoever prays during the "Night of Power" with faith and hoping for its reward will have all his previous sins forgiven.”
It is interesting to note that, Muslims regard these last ten days with all seriousness they deserve, because many of them take full-grip of the opportunity and would devote themselves inside the masjid in a special spiritual retreat dubbed; "I'etiqaf", where one would not go out from the beginning of the last ten days until the early morning of the Eidul-Fitir festival, which climaxes the end of Ramadan. One can only do I'etiqaf in a mosque[not at home], where there are basic places of convenience, such as toilets and bathrooms and can even get access to food for suhur[pre-fast early dawn meal] or iftar[breaking one's fast in the evening].
Unlike back home in African, masajid or mosques overseas are very convenient for I'etiqaf, by virtue of the descent and clean places of convenience, ventilation and above all availability of food for both suhur and iftar, hence one does not have to go outside to ease him or herself, as well as get frequent food supplies.
Better still, many people who have the means, would make a trip to the two holiest places and premises on the surface of the earth-the haram masjids or holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, where over a million people would perform ummrah, do tarawih after iftar, perform tahajjud at night, while in the state of I'atiqaf- thereby 'killing multiple birds with one stone!'
And during I'etiqaf, one is supposed to exclusively devote him or herself with Qura'nic recitation, nawafil or recommended prayers as well as making zikir, or remembrance of Allah and praising his Prophet[PBUH]. And food for both suhur and iftar are served inside the masjid in both Mecca and Medina. And if I were there, I would have divided the days, in order to spend the first 5 days in Mecca and the last 5 five days in Medina, at the Prophet's masjid, where "raudah" is located. As the Prophet[PBUH] said in his hadith; "Ma baina qabree wa minbaree raudatun min riyadil Jannah!". That ; "The space in between by grave and my podium is a garden as part of the gardens of Paradise." Commentators of this hadith say, when a Muslim says, raudah had been [eternally] transplanted from Jannah or Paradise to the masjid of the Prophet in Medina, that person does not need any kaffarah or expiation, because this is a true fact!
And just yesterday, the father of my students, a devoted and pious Muslim medical doctor in New York City, who owns a mosque, called to inform me on his way to JF Kennedy Airport to travel to Mecca for ummrah and I'etiqaf, as he does annually. Oh Allah! How I wished I was with him to make this wonderful spiritual journey in Ramadan, which is the best time to perform ummrah! But I hope Allah will fulfill this wish for me next year, insha Allah!
Signs that might indicate the "Night of Power" among other odds nights
In a hadith which was narrated by Ibn Abbass, the Prophet[PBUH] was reported to have predicted that; One of the signs of the "Night of Power" is; When the early dawn of one of those ten days appears to be neither hot[with sun] nor chilly[with wind]. In yet another hadith narrated by Ubby bin Ka'ab, he says the Prophet[PBUH] said; The sun would appear in early dawn ending the "Night of Power" with a lowest rays [Ka annaha 'tas'tun], as if it is 'tas'tun, which linguistically means, as if the sun rays is covered with a curtain, or a wrapper, overshadowing its glittering and sparkling light rays. One of the commentators and analysts of hadith opinionated an interesting scientific view, which relates to the law of physics, saying that; The reason why the sun would appear with such low rays has to do with the fact that, the millions of angels that descend from the throne of Allah would be airborne [in space] for a long time-on their flight or way back to the heavens, hence in the process, they spread their huge and gargantuan wings, that cover the light rays of the sun from directly reaching the earth.
Angels have different kinds, numbers and sizes of wings, but the Prophet[PBUH] was reported to have revealed in one hadith narrated by Abdallah Bun Mas'ud and compiled by Bukhari that, "When he [the Prophet] and angel Gabriel were on their ascension journey to the throne of Allah[Israe wal m'eraj], by virtue of the wide expanse of the universal firmament, he was able to count 600 hundred wings of Gabriel." Hence, one could easily deduce that, if Gabriel alone should have 600 wings, then how much more the rest of the millions of those angels who descend on earth with Gabriel would have?
Remember to give so much charity and zakat to the various mosques during these days, as reward of charity or sadaqh is multiplied in many folds, hence the Prophet [PBUH] himself used to showcase his unflinching generosity in Ramadan like a fast-pace moving wind and he encourages us in several ahadith to emulate him in this worthy course. Ramadan Mubarak to all readers! May Allah make us all witness and observe "Lailatul-Qadr! Ameeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!
Husseini Yushau BabalWaiz, is the Research & Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives Inc. New York, Author of three books, including "Not good without God" & Tutor in Arabic & Islamic Studies in New York, firstname.lastname@example.org