Ramadan has entered its third Ashra or stage as Muslims are marking the last ten days of Islam’s holiest month.
The third Ashra of Ramadan is considered to be the most important as it hosts the Laylatul Qadr or the ‘Night of Decree’, on either of the odd-numbered nights during the last ten days of Ramadan (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th night).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported as having said, “Seek it (Laylatul Qadr) in the last ten days, on the odd nights”. In another Hadith, the Prophet describes signs to spot the revered night:
“On the morning following Laylatul Qadr the sun rises not having any rays, as if it were a brass dish until it rises up.”
The majority of Islamic scholars consider 27th (8 May this year) as the night of Laylatul Qadr.
Laylatul Qadr, in Islamic belief, is the night when the Almighty revealed the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad. Muslims consider Laylatul Qadr to be the most sacred night, and observe it by holding nightlong prayers and supplication.
The Quran describes the significance of Laylatul Qadar in these words:
“We revealed it (the Qur’an) on the night of power. Would that you knew what the night of power is like. Better is the night of power than a thousand months. On that night the angels and the spirit descend by their Lord’s permission, with all his decrees. That night is peace, till the break of dawn”.
Several Hadith or sayings of the Prophet also highlight Laylatul Qadar’s special place in Islam.
“Whoever prays on Laylatul Qadr out of faith and sincerity, shall have all their past sins forgiven,” the Prophet is quoted as saying.
Muslims, therefore, spend Laylatul Qadr reciting the Quran, and offering as many Nafl (supererogatory) prayers- after the Taraweeh prayers.
They also devote themselves to the remembrance of Allah or Zikr during Laylatul Qadr, and offer Du’a or supplication as it is believed decrees for the year are decided on this special night.
They also recommend spending maximum time in prayers and supplication during all of these nights, and seeking the Almighty’s blessings and mercy, which are considered to be available in abundance during Laylatul Qadr.
Many Muslims also perform i’tikaf by spending the last ashra of Ramadan in seclusion to solely worship and seek closeness to the Almighty.
The Prophet is also reported to have taught this Du’a or supplication for Laylatul Qadr : “Oh Allah, you are forgiving and you love to forgive, so forgive me.”