Laylat al-Qadr is an Islamic observance that marks the anniversary of the night Mohammad received the first verses of the Qu’ran. It goes by many names in English and these names include The Night of Measures, Night of Power, Night of Decree and Night of Destiny. It is also known as Shab-e-Qadr. In many Islamic countries, this day is observed on one of the odd nights of the last nights of Ramadan – which is the 21st, 23rd, 25th or 27th. In the United States, it is held during one of the last ten days of Ramadan.
History of Laylat al-Qadr
The Prophet Mohammad spent many years contemplating the world around him and looking for divine help so he could lead his people away from immorality and idolatry. After much meditation, he traveled into the hills near Mecca and lived in the Cave of Hira. During this time he prayed to God and meditated. Muslims believe that around 610 CE, God whispered the first verses of the Quran to him. It is on the anniversary of this date that Laylat al-Qadr is observed. However, it is unknown the exact day in which the Prophet received the message from God, all that is known is that is observed during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Laylat al-Qadr Customs & Traditions
As is customary through Ramadan, many Muslims will fast and will abstain from sexual relations during daylight hours on this day. Muslims will also make an extra effort to read the Koran and to ask for forgiveness during this time. For many Muslims, the last 10 days of Ramadan is seen as a period of time when blessings abound and prayers are answered. It is also customary for many Muslims to spend a considerable amount of time in the Mosque on this day.
It is also a time when the community comes together for communal worship, prayers and celebrations of God and the Prophet Mohammad. It is also a time for people to do acts of good will or charity – particularly, towards the poor and unfortunate.
In many Muslim countries, Laylat al-Qadr is a holiday and schools, government buildings and businesses are closed. In Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, Laylat al-Qadr is not a public holiday. However, Islamic organizations or businesses may alter their business hours on this day and mosques may face particular congestion in these countries.