Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Laila-tul- Qadr' in Ramadan

“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.” (97: 1-6)  

In the light of these verses of the Chapter Al-Qadr (the Destiny/Decree), it shall be good for us to recall once again how these verses were revealed.

One day, the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) was relating the life of a pious man (Wali) by the name of Shamsun (ra) who used to live among the Children of Israel. From what we understand, he was someone who used to pray a lot and struggle hard for the cause of Allah for the duration of a thousand months. When the companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) heard that, they became sad upon thinking that they would never be able to surpass Hazrat Shamsun (ra). As an encouragement, Allah said that if the Community of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) indulge in acts of worship during the Night of Decree (Laila-tul-Qadr), therefore their prayers would earn rewards better than a thousand months of worship. (Ruh’ul Bayan, Vol. 10 pg. 483)

In Hadith, Hazrat Anas bin Malik (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah stated about the month of Ramadan: “This month (of Ramadan) has begun and there is a night in it better than one thousand month. So, any one deprived of its blessings is actually deprived of all goodness. Indeed, He is truly deprived who is kept away from its good. (Ibn Majah, Mishkat)

Therefore, the Night of Decree is a night filled with blessings and is very valuable. It is a great divine favour upon the Ummah of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) when transforming acts of worship made during the Night of Decree into acts of worship (prayers) which is worth more than a thousand months of blessings. For the communities of the past prophets, there were no such designed night reserved for the descent on earth of Hazrat Jibreel (as) and the angels except for the Muslims whereby they send the divine peace on the Muslims absorbed in any act of worship and thus these angels prays for them and ask forgiveness for them. In His wisdom, Allah has hidden that special night in the last 10 holy nights of Ramadan so that the Muslims make efforts to seek it. In this way, their courage increase and they spend their time in worship for Allah so as to reap the blessings concealed in the Night of Decree.

The last ten nights (of Ramadan)

In a Hadith reported by Hazrat Aisha (ra), the Messenger of Allah used to double his efforts in worship/prayer during the last ten nights (of Ramadan) compared to other nights. (Muslim, Mishkat). According to different Hadiths, the Night of Decree is found in the odd nights of Ramadan (21, 23, 25, 27 and 29). In the light of this Hadith, the Night of Decree is the night wherein the first revelations of the Quran came down on the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Even Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has not given a precise date for this special night, but he indicated that it was found among the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.

There have been great scholars of Islam who commented on the Night of Decree, whereby they are of opinion that it was the 27th night of Ramadan. These scholars, like Hazrat Ibn Abbas (ra), Hazrat Ubayy ibn Ka’b (ra), Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa and even Hazrat Sheik Muhyi-ud-Din Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) have commented whereby they explained the greatness of number 7, such greatness which is not commonly found in the odd numbers like 3, 5 or 9. They corroborate their analysis through the following reasons:

1. There are 7 heavens and 7 earths.
2. In a week, there are 7 days and 7 nights.
3. We need to perform 7 circumambulations (tawaf) around the Holy Ka’aba.
4. We run 7 times between Safa and Marwa.
5. There were 7 companions in the Cave (Kahf).
6. Hazrat Yusuf (as) remained in prison for 7 years.
7. The dream which Hazrat Yusuf (as) interpreted for the King mentioned 7 fat cows and 7 thin cows.
8. We perform 17 cycles (Rakat) of Obligatory prayers in 24 hours.
9. For each Salat (prayer), there are 7 obligatory conditions so that our prayer may be considered complete.
10. And of course, in Surah Al-Fatiha, there are 7 verses.

For these reasons, according to them the number 7 is greater in worth than the other odd numbers. The word “Laila-tul-Qadr” (Night of Decree) is made of 9 (Arabic) letters, and it appeared 3 times in the Surah Al-Qadr. Therefore 3 multiply by 9 gives 27.

According to the Holy Quran and cited Hadiths, we can see the worth and greatness of that grand night, and the density of the blessings it contains. Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari).

In another Hadith, Hazrat Aisha (ra) reported that she asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): “O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Lailatul-Qadr was, then what should I say in it?” 

He said: “Say: Allaahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee.” (O Allah, You are forgiving and You love to forgive, so forgive me).” (Mishkat, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi)

On I’tikaaf – Spiritual Retreat 

On the subject of I’tikaaf, Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“…and do not have contact with them (your wives) while you keep to the mosques (for worship); these are the limits of Allah, so do not go near them. Thus does Allah make clear His communications for men that they may guard (against evil).” (2: 188) 

1. I’tikaaf – Spiritual Retreat means staying in the mosque with the intention to pray and remember Allah a lot. When someone makes the intention to observe theI’tikaaf (spiritual retreat), therefore he does so only for Allah the Almighty and not for the eyes of people. Hazrat Aisha (ra) narrated that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to observe the I’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadan till the year he died, and afterwards his wives observed it (the I’tikaaf) after him. (Bukhari and Muslim)

2. Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah used to observe the I’tikaafeach year and the year in which he died, he remained in I’tikaaf for 20 days. (Bukhari).

Zakat in Ramadan

Now let us come on the subject of Zakat. Zakat is an obligatory act of charity, ordained to each financially established Muslim and which is distributed to poor Muslims, or those facing difficulties/problems. Zakat is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and it has been prescribed in the Holy Quran and Hadiths.

The definition and root of Zakat in Arabic means blessing, growth, purity and amelioration. The subject of Zakat also concerns those who pay the Sadaqua which is a form of Zakat in the context where Allah states in Chapter 9, Verse 103: 

“Take from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke (Allah’s blessings) upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”

Zakat is an act of worship which purifies the wealth and soul of a Muslim. Purification of wealth means purification of all his properties he possesses, and the money held in banks which he does not use which is distributed with justice. Purification of the soul comprises also freeing himself from hatred, jealousy, egoism and cupidity. In the Quran the term Zakat has been mentioned in several verses, appearing 30 times, out of which 27 times the word Zakat is mentioned along with Salat (prayer). Among those verses, there is the Verse 11 of Surah At-Tauba: 

“But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know.”

I therefore mention some Hadiths (on this subject): Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: 

“Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakat of his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure.’” 

Then the Prophet recited the holy verses: And let not those who (greedily) withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, with what you do, is (fully) Acquainted.” (to the end of the verse). (3: 181).” (Bukhari).

The month of Ramadan is coming to an end. Time is running and we have only few days before the end of Ramadan and the coming of Eid. Therefore, each Ramadan is an opportunity for the Muslim to make an analysis of his self: Ramadan is going away, has my life changed and am I living my life according to the Islamic teachings?...

 -From the Friday Sermon of 18 July 2014 delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim (atba) of Mauritius.