Ramadan at its peak – By: MU NDAGI

By the special grace of Allah, we are now in the most virtuous part of Ramadan; the last ten days of the month. This is when the believers are at the peak of all that is called ibadah in Islam. In this last period of Ramadan, there is one night which is worth more than a thousand months. This virtuous night is called “Laylat ul-Qadr”; meaning ‘The Night of Power’. It was on this night that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by the angel Jibril. Prophetic traditions encourage Muslims to spend much of this night in worship; seek mercy and forgiveness of their sins from Allah (SWT).

In His wisdom, however, Allah (SWT) has hidden the knowledge of the exact night of Laylat ul-Qadr from us (just as He hides other forms of knowledge mentioned in Quran 31:34 from us). Aisha (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Look for Laylat ul-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan”. Imam Malik (RA) reports in his Muwatta that Ziyad reported from Malik that he heard a man of knowledge say: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) saw the lifespan of the people (who left) before him and it seemed that the life cycle of his ummah (community) had comparatively become too short for them (to have enough time) to perform as many good deeds as those who had preceded them.So Allah gave him Laylat ul-Qadr, which is worth more than a thousand months”.

According to scholars, Laylat ul-Qadr falls on the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th, which are the odd days of the last ten days of Ramadan. Specifically, Muslims are advised to seek Laylat ul-Qadr the night before the odd days listed above. For example, today Saturday April 23, 2022 which is the 22nd day of Ramadan is also a night to seek Laylat ul-Qadr; being the night before the 23rd day of Ramadan. Many scholars believe that Laylat ul-Qadr occurs on the 27th day of Ramadan. A school of thought that shares this view goes further by explaining that the Arabic letters that make up the Arabic phrase “Laylat ul-Qadr” are nine in number and the phrase appears three times in the Holy Quran. This gives a total of 27 when nine is multiplied by 3; strengthening the 27th of Ramadan as Laylat ul-Qadr.

Muslims are generally urged by the Prophet (SAW) to intensify their acts of devotion during the last ten days of Ramadan. There are no restrictions imposed on a Muslim as to the particular form of worship to be practiced on the night of Laylat ul-Qadr. It is nonetheless gratifying if a Muslim diversifies his devotions to include Tilawah (recitation of the Holy Quran); observing the prayers of Nafilah (surrogatory); seeking forgiveness, asking favors, glorifying Allah through Tasbih (saying of ‘Suhana-llah’); or Takbir (saying of ‘Allahu Akbar’), or Tahlil (saying of ‘La ilaha ila-llah’), or Tahmid (saying of ‘Alhamdu lillah’, or similar expressions of glorification and gratitude to Allah (SWT). Aisha (RA) once asked the Prophet (SAW) what to recite on the night of Laylat ul-Qadr. The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Say: O Allah! You are Forgiveness; You love Forgiveness ; Forgive me”, the Arabic version of which reads as: “Allahumma Anta Afwun, Tuhibb ul-Afwa, Fa’fu anni”. Considering the value of Laylat ul-Qadr, we have no reason as believers in need of Allah’s mercy to ignore the spiritual opportunities it offers.

Another righteous act of devotion in this Ramadan season is I’tikaf. It refers to isolation in a mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan. A Muslim who observes I’tikaf is called Mu’takif in Arabic. I’tikaf aims to insulate a Mu’takif’s heart from anything but Allah (SWT). In order to get closer to Allah (SWT), all worldly activities are abandoned during I’tikaf. All thoughts and devotions of a Mu’takif are focused on Allah (SWT). And like the Prophet (SAW) mentioned in the thirty-eighth hadith of Annawawi’s collection of forty traditions, a Mu’takif would continue to draw closer to Allah (SWT) through voluntary acts of worship to such an extent that ” He (SWT) becomes the hearing with which his servant hears, the sight with which he sees, the hand with which he takes (things) and the foot with which he walks”.

The principles of I’tikaf require that it be observed exclusively in a mosque where congregational Friday prayer (Jumu’ah) is conducted. This is to avoid a situation where the Mu’takif would have to leave his seclusion mosque for another in order to observe the Jumu’ah congregational prayer. However, a Mu’takif may wish to observe I’tikaf in any mosque if he intends to spend a few days in seclusion, which would not extend to Friday. It is better for a believer to spend ten days in I’tikaf. The minimum number of days for a Mu’takif to remain in solitary confinement is one day and one night.

The time to enter I’tikaf is usually before sunset on the day the Mu’takif desires to begin seclusion. While in seclusion, the Mu’takif is prohibited from visiting the sick, attending funeral prayers, having marital relations, and buying and selling. Engaging in any of these acts vitiates I’tikaf. A Mu’takif is not required to engage in extensive study or writing. A worshiper of I’tikaf is encouraged to engage a lot in voluntary prayers, recitation of the Holy Quran and glorification of the most beautiful names of Allah.

A Mu’takif should avoid entering his family home or mingling with his family members. His interaction with the outside world should be kept to a strict minimum, except for reasons of answering the call of nature or taking care of a very important matter. He must, however, return to his I’tikaf place immediately after attending to such demands. A Mu’takif is required, on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal (i.e. the day of Eid ul-Fitr), to go directly from the mosque in which he observed the I’ tikaf at the Eid prayer ground and not to return to his family until he has offered Eid prayers with other devotees. May Allah guide us to seek, find and enjoy Laylat ul-Qadr, amin. Ramadan Kareem!

Comments are closed.