Tonight is possibly Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Power)

September 5, 2010

During the month of Ramadan (August 11 – September 10), I am going to be posting daily reviews of books that deal with Islam, as well as other discussion posts related to the topics that come out of these books. I will be writing about both fiction and non-fiction books, and from a variety of sources and perspectives.

Tonight is one of the possible dates of what is called Laylat al-Qadr, aka the Night of Power. There are alternative names for this night as well, including:

  • the Night of Value
  • the Night of Decree
  • the Night of Measures

This night is considered to be the most holy night of the year, since it is supposed to be the first night that God revealed Qur’anic verses to the Prophet Muhammad.  The exact date is unknown, but Muslims believe that it is one of the odd-numbered nights (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th) in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Tonight is the 5th day of the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Almost all mosques are currently holding 24-hour prayer vigils, since we are in the last 10 days. Very few Muslims are able to attend this long vigil, given work and other responsibilities. However, since the Night of Power is supposed to be “better than one thousand nights”, considered the most important in terms of prayer, fasting, Qur’an recitation, charity, and remembrance of God, even Muslims who are unable to make the vigil inside a mosque for such a long period try to mark the date at home alone or with their families.

I have yet to really celebrate the Night of Power myself in any specific way, but I think that it’s a very interesting concept. I’d really like to see how this is observed in Muslim-majority countries; anybody have any experience or knowledge of this to share?

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