Muslims in Kerala, India, Welcome the Night of Power
by Muhammad Shafeeque
'We have indeed revealed this (Qur'an) in the Night of Power, and what will explain to you the Night of Power? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the spirits by permission of Allah, attending to every errand. Peace! Such it is until the rise of dawn' [Qur'an, Sura 97:1-5, Al Qadr]
The Night of Power [Laylat ul-Qadr] is the Muslim commemoration of the delivery of revelation to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Depending on lunar sightings, the date falls differently in countries around the world. For example, in the U.S. it was observed on Saturday, July 2, 2016. Among Muslims in the southwest Indian state of Kerala, the last ten days of Ramadan, including Laylat ul-Qadr, are celebrated enthusiastically in supplications and rituals. In particular, the 27th night of Ramadan [July 2 in the U.S., July 3 in India] witnessed the biggest mass Islamic observance in India, at the Ma'din Academy, Malappuram district of Kerala under the auspicious leadership of Sayyid Sheikh Ibraheem Khaleel Al-Bukhari and Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed. Media covered the high number of participating believers.
On the night of the 27th of Ramadan, a program was inaugurated by the secretary of Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama (Samastha, the All Kerala Community of Muslim Scholars), Sheikh Abdul Kadar Musliyar Ponmala. The program included distinguished events such as Quranic recitation and poems in praise of the Prophet, Quranic and Islamic history lectures, and special prayers. There was a spiritual mood as the night was illuminated by masses of Muslims completing different forms of prayers such as Taraweeh and Tasbih, creating a sensation of unity among the believers. The closing ceremony included invocations and pledges of repudiation, opposition, and hatred toward the so-called 'Islamic State'. The ceremony was led by the veteran scholar Sayyid Sheikh Ibraheem Khaleel Al-Bukhari Ullal. He emphasized the duty of obedience to the authorities and the importance of secularism.
Laylat ul-Qadr is esteemed by Muslims as the moment when Qur'an was generously delivered by the angel Jibril, peace be upon him. It is also known in English as the night of decree, the night of value, the night of destiny and the night of measures. It is the night by which Allah decided the destiny, sustenance, birth and death of creatures. Allah offers special mercy to the inhabitants of the earth by granting forgiveness and paradise. A spiritual retreat is one of the attractive practices Muslims carry out on this night. This night is considered as one of the outstanding features of Ramadan. Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet said, 'Whoever prays during the night of power, with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven [Bukhari and Muslim]'. Thus it is mandatory for the believers to recognize this night for the sake of God.
Allah made the Prophet forget the date of the Night of Power. But according to Islamic scripture it is set in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. The Prophet's wife Aisha stated that the Prophet said, 'Look for Laylat ul-Qadr in the last 10 days of Ramadan'. Many eminent scholars narrate that the Night of Power fell on the 27th night of Ramadan. Imam Shafi'i, may Allah be pleased with him, proposed that the Night of Power be commemorated on the 21st of Ramadan. Similarly, other scholars place the Night of Power elsewhere among the last nights of Ramadan.
The revelation of the Holy Qur'an came in two phases. First the angel Jibril received it as a preserved tablet in the lowest region of Heaven during the Night of Power. Then came the verse-by-verse revelation to Prophet Muhammad beginning in 610 CE at the Hira cave on Jebel al-Nur, the mountain of light in Makkah. The ulema have established Quranic recitation as a golden expression of Islam in marking the Night of Power. There is no special form of worship narrated by the scholars, but the believers seek to maximize the force of rituals done continuously on other nights. Tasbih namaz, the prayer of special remembrance of God, is popular during these nights.
Aisha once asked the Prophet, 'O Messenger! If I know which is the Night of Power, what should I say during it?' The Prophet replied, 'O Allah! You pardon and you love to pardon so pardon me'.
Muslims believe the angels descend to Earth during the Night of Power and will convey salutations of Salaam [peace] to the people. The most profound way to welcome those angels is to perform ibadat [expressions of submission to God] during the holy nights of Ramadan.