One of the aspects of Islam that intrigues me greatly is the time during Ramadan known as the “Night of Power” – Laylat al-Qadr.
For my non-Muslim readers, Islamic tradition holds that the Night of Power is the night that the first revelation of the Qur’an was sent down to Muhammad. Muslims are instructed to “seek” the Night of Power during the last ten days of the thirty days of Ramadan, particularly on the odd numbered nights (the 21st night, the 23rd night, etc.).
It is reported that Muhammad said:
“Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on the Night of Qadr, fully believing (in Allah’s promise of reward) and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins” (hadith from Sahih Bukhari).
The Qur’an, Sura (chapter) 97, says of the Night of Power:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
We have indeed revealed this message in the Night of Power.
And what will explain 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! Until the rising of the morn!
“Muslims worldwide spend the last ten nights of Ramadan in solid devotion, retreating to the mosque to read Qur’an, reciting special supplications, and reflecting on the meaning of Allah’s message to us. It is believed to be a time of intense spirituality, when the believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven are open, and God’s blessings and mercy are abundant” (http://islam.about.com/od/ramadan/a/leyla_qadr.htm).
I read a list of recommendations for Muslims to try to find the Night of Power during the last 10 days of Ramadan (http://islamgreatreligion.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/16-things-you-can-do-on-the-night-of-power/). Here are a few from the list:
1. Take A Vacation From Work – to focus on prayer and worship; to stay awake at night for prayer.
2. Stay In The Mosque As Much As Possible – stay there to pray, recite and study the Qur’an; sleep there for one night or many nights; leave only for emergencies.
3. Pray For Forgiveness – “O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.”
4. Recite The Qur’an & Reflect On It’s Meaning – attend a class; put your knowledge into practice on a personal level.
5. Get Your Sins Wiped Out – make your prayers longer, deeper, more meaningful.
6. Make A Personal Prayer List – for what you really want from Allah, no matter how big or small (of course it must be halal as well). “Allah loves to hear from us.”
7. Evaluate Yourself – “Let this evaluation lead you to feel happiness for the good you have done and remorse for the bad you have done.”
As I close this post, may I ask questions of my Muslim readers:
*** Do you believe you have ever found/experienced the Night of Power?
*** How would you know if you did?
*** If you found the Night of Power, do you believe all your sins were forgiven?
*** If your sins were all forgiven, how would you know?
*** If your sins were all forgiven, could that forgiveness be lost or forfeited by later sins?
Thanks for reading and as always, I love you, my Muslim friends!
This helped me understand the idea of forgiveness. Many times i wondered if I have been forgiven and how would I know if I have or not…”Tawba begins when Allah gives the guidance to his slave to repent. So actually when I’m repenting to Allah, this is a sign that Allah has put nur in my heart to realize that I’ve been disobedient to Him. That’s why Ali Ibn Abi Talib used to say ‘Whoever was given tawba, then indeed they were ensured of forgiveness’ because who’s the giver of a tawba is Allah. ‘Allah turns to them, so that they can make repentance to Him’ (Qur’an). Thus, when I’m repenting to Allah, this is a sign that Allah has given me tawfeek.”
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I am so sorry to be slow in responding to your thoughtful reply.
I listened to the link you provided. Thanks so much. Many, many good points that I believe in as a Christian. For example:
I truly agree with the speaker in this web interview that we cannot repent without God working in us to give us the desire to repent. And yes, the very understanding that something we are doing is wrong also comes from God. Indeed, this is part of His boundless goodness expressed to us!
But. . .I would add that the Injeel says we need something more than an understanding of which of our actions are wrong. And. . .we even need something more than our own repentance for forgiveness – no matter how sincere it is. We need something that we cannot provide. What is it? A sacrifice.
The Injeel says that while God is totally loving (“God is love” – 1 John 4:8), He is also totally just and righteous. The Injeel says that all of us have sinned (“everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” – Romans 3:23) and that sin is so serious to God that it must be punished (“the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23).
Yes, there has always been a penalty for sin and it is death. When you sin, you have to pay for it. Or. . .someone can pay it for you. Someone can be your substitute. Someone can be sacrificed in your place.
Take the story of Ibrahim (Abraham) for example. When Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his son, God graciously stopped him and provided a substitute – a ram (The Tawrat, Genesis 22; The Qur’an Sura 37). How incredibly glad that young man must have been to have that ram take his place! How much he must have thanked God for his life being spared! The Quran says (37:107) says of this substitute in place of Ibrahim’s son: “We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e., a ram).”
Now, move forward in time two thousand years to the time of Isa al Masih – Jesus the Messiah. One day John the Baptist saw Jesus walking toward him and said these incredible words about him: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (The Injeel, The Good News According To John, 1:29). What did he mean? John knew the truth of both God’s love for humanity and God’s hatred for humanity’s sin. John knew that sin had to be punished. He knew the hard and incredibly important truth that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 in the Bible).
The Injeel teaches that Jesus was the sacrifice for all our sins against a perfectly holy, righteous God. When Jesus died, he was the substitute – like the son of Ibrahim – that we desperately needed. When Jesus died, we see the unbelievable love of God and the unbelievable wrath of God at the same time. Both were fully expressed.
Finally, the message of the Injeel is that we can know we are forgiven without a shadow of a doubt when we put our faith and whole trust – not in our goodness or even in our needed repentance – but in the goodness of God displayed once and for all in the death of Jesus for us.
For these truths, I love God so much. For these truths, I live for Him.
My passion is to share this staggering, amazing, incredible Good News with anyone in the world who will listen.
“…I began to wonder if the fast has something to do with God’s very unknowability.
Wherever they are, Muslims direct their prayers toward the Kaaba, the black cube at the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which Muslims also circumambulate when they make their major pilgrimage. Inside, the Kaaba is empty. When the fast empties you out during Ramadan, no matter how well you adjust to the deprivation, you never stop feeling the tug of hunger. That tug is a reminder—a reminder, perhaps, of that void inside the Kaaba, and the silent mystery of the divine. On Day Twenty-seven, I happened upon a verse in the Koran about a mirage in the desert: “The thirsty man takes it to be water until he comes to it and finds it to be nothing, and where he thought it to be, there he finds God.”
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
Thanks for the link and the closing quotation from it. Very interesting account of fasting by a convert to Islam.
I agree with him that there is truly a “silent mystery of the divine.” Yes, God is not fully comprehensible by finite humans. He is, as some have said, the “mysterium tremendum” – the tremendous mystery. Others said of God, “Finitum non possit capere infinitum.” I don’t know Latin but I assume this means that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. To sum up this point, I believe that in this world – and probably in the next – it is impossible for humans to have a knowledge of God that is exhaustive and complete.
The Bible says:
Psalm 145:3 – “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! His greatness is beyond discovery!”
Psalm 147:5 – “How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”
Isaiah 55:9 – “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Romans 11:33-34 – “Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking?”
Having said this, I would disagree with the author’s point somewhat about “God’s very unknowability.” While God is a mystery and cannot be fully comprehended by us – while He is so incredibly transcendent – He is also incredibly immanent. He is near. I absolutely, positively believe He wants us to strive to know Him as best we can while we live on this earth. To some extent, I believe we can know Him personally and even intimately.
The Prophet Jeremiah said:
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (Amplified Bible) “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise and skillful person glory and boast in his wisdom and skill; let not the mighty and powerful person glory and boast in his strength and power; let not the person who is rich [in physical gratification and earthly wealth] glory and boast in his [temporal satisfactions and earthly] riches; But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.'”
Jeremiah 24:7 (Amplified Bible) – “And I will give them a heart to know [recognize, understand, and be acquainted with] Me, that I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.”
And let us heed the beautiful invitation of the Prophet Hosea:
Hosea 6:3 (Amplified Bible) – “Yes, let us know [recognize, be acquainted with, and understand] Him; let us be zealous to know the Lord [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him]. His going forth is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth.”
lay la tul qadr ninght lot of power to our muslim life…
To my anonymous Muslim reader, I want you to know that I have been praying for Muslims around the world during Ramadan – and especially during the last week for the night of power. May God reveal Himself to you in new, incredible ways.
The Lord says to us,
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 13)