The Night that Changed History
Arshad Gamiet. Jurgens Centre, Englefield Green, Surrey UK.
“A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem. Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem.
Al hamdu lillahi nahmaduhu wanasta’eenahu, wanastagh-firuhu, wanatoobu ilayhi, wana’oothu Billaahi min shuroori an-fusinaa, wamin sayyi aati a’maalinaa. May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajida lahu waliyan murshida. Wa ash-hadu an Laa ilaaha ill-Alláh, wahdahoo laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhoo warasooluh”
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
During these last ten nights of Ramadhán, we feel a special kind of excitement, a special sense of anticipation, because of one very important night. I refer of course to “Lailatul Qadr,” the Night of Power.
“Bismilláhir Rahmánir Rahím! Innaa an zal naa hu fee lailatil Qadr, Wamaa ad-raaka maa lailatul Qadr. Lailatul Qadri khairun minal fee shahr. Tanaz zalul malaa-ikatu -war-roohu fee haa bi-ithnee rabbi him min qul li-amr. Salaamun heeya hattaa mat-la-ill fajr.”
Sura 97 of The Holy Qur’án reads:
“We have indeed revealed this [Message] in the Night of Power. And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Alláh’s permission on every errand. Peace… this until the rise of Morning!”
What is so special about Lailatul Qadr? Why does The Holy Qur’án describe it as “better than a thousand months?” If there were no Lailatul Qadr, what would it matter? What difference does it make?
The first Laylatul Qadr: This was the night that changed history. It was the night that the Angel Gabriel, Jibreel alayhis salaam brought the first revelation. The first verses of The Holy Qur’án were brought to us by Prophet Muhammad, sws, in a cave on Jabal Nur, the Mountain of Light. Just imagine, if there were no Lailatul Qadr, there would have been no Qur’an today. If Alláh had sent no new revelation after Jesus, Nabi Isa, the world would have been in an unimaginable mess! There would have been no authentic record of the pure and unadulterated Word of Alláh, for all generations to be able to seek and find correct guidance. We would have followed Torahs and Bibles, which were constantly under revision and review, depending on what was expedient at the time. The Holy Books we would have used today would have drifted further and further away from the original teachings of those great prophets Moses and Jesus.
Let us consider the world scenario on the day before Jibreel alayhis salaam appeared in the Cave on Jabal Nur, to pronounce those majestic words,
“Bismilláhir Rahmánir Rahím! Iqra’ bismirab bikal lathee khalaq. Khalaqal insaana min ‘alaq! Iqra’ wa rabbukal akramul lathee ‘al lama bil qalam. ‘Al lamal insaana maalam ya’-lam!”
“Read, in the Name of your Lord and Cherisher, who created! Created man out of a mere clot of congealed blood. Read, and your Lord is most Bountiful. He who taught the use of the Pen. Taught man that which he knew not!”
Think about the state of the world just before these words were pronounced! Pompous, arrogant and unjust rulers governed Rome and Persia. In the 6th Century, they were superpowers at the time of Muhammad. They believed that might was right. They looked down upon the Arabs as a wild and uncivilised people, unworthy of conquest. The followers of two great religions, the Jews and the Christians, had lost the original teachings of Nabi Musa and Nabi ‘Isa alayhis salaam. They had edited those teachings with their own writings. Their Torah and Bible could no lay claim as the pure, unadulterated Word of Alláh.
Outside the Christian and Jewish worlds, the Arabs were practising Idolatry, and they had desecrated the Holy Ka’ba with 360 idols, almost one for each day of the year. Women were treated unjustly, and newborn daughters were often buried alive. Nowhere appeared any sign of hope and it seemed that mankind was doomed to a dismal fate. Then literally and metaphorically, out of the darkness of the Cave, and out of the darkness of human despair, there appeared the first words of The Holy Qur’án, the first rays of light for suffering humanity.
That same light that filled the Cave during Laylatul Qadr, that filled the heart of our dear Prophet Muhammad [sws], has shone brightly down the ages, to fill our lives also. Year after year, for over 1,400 years, almost a Millennium and a half, the light of Laylatul Qadr has brought hope and renewed faith, to a world that would otherwise be stumbling in spiritual darkness and despair.
Dear brothers and sisters, we all take great care that our homes have adequate gas and electric power. It is also important that we do not neglect our spiritual power. Let us plug our heart and soul in to Laylatul Qadr and recharge our ímán batteries. If Muslims hadn’t been so lax about their faith over the last few centuries, we would not today have to witness so much humiliation and tragedy in the Muslim world.
Let us spend our Night of Power, remembering Alláh, swt, and offering thanks to Him, for his countless blessings that we enjoy each moment of our lives. Let us ask Alláh, Glorified and Exalted is He, to lift the burden of injustice and oppression from so many Muslim communities around the world. Let us ask him for his Divine power to help us become the dynamic, disciplined and balanced community, the Ummatan wasatan, the Witness to the nations, as described in The Holy Qur’án. Let us spend this historic night asking our Lord and Master, to help us become the model Muslims that our children and all future generations would be inspired to follow.
“Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen. Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.
Ammaa ba’ad: Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema. Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.”
Sub’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
The Night of Power energised history. The brilliant and irresistible light of Alláh’s revelation illuminated a dark period in human history. Since the advent of Muhammad, sws, Islam lit up the world. Despite many setbacks, many crises, in communities large and small, Islam still lights up the darkness of human weakness, ignorance and evil.
What can we learn from the history of Islam, that will help us build a better future?
We learn that no miracle will come out of the sky, just because of wishful thinking or good intentions without action. In Sura Al-Ra’d, 13:v11, we read:
“Truly, never will Alláh change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves…”
Alláh will not change our condition, until we make the serious efforts to turn away from what displeases Allah. We must strive, sincerely, to seek His pleasure. At times, we might feel that this is too difficult. It seems much easier just to follow the herd. Living a virtuous life, and being a faithful Muslim just seems too big a task…
Remember that our Prophet Muhammad [sws] started his prophetic mission, as a minority of one. Family and friends later joined him. But he had to work hard, with sincerity, patience and perseverance, for his community to grow. Because he was determined, and Alláh was pleased with him, his followers grew with the passing of time.
Within a few years, the effect of that first Laylatul Qadr was that it transformed the weak and divided Arab tribes into a nation of Supermen. Passionate about their new faith, they became an unstoppable force that spread Islam to all points of the compass. Even the Roman and Persian empires could not resist the Muslim advance.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, that mystical and mysterious force that descends by the command of Alláh Most High, during Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Power, has proven itself in history. Its clear evidence is there for all of us to see. Remember that it was during Ramadhán that some of Islam’s noblest and greatest victories were achieved, for example, the Battle of Badr, the Conquest of Makka, the Conquest of Spain, and the Defeat of the Mongols at Ain Jalut.
You and I also have access to that magical force that transforms human hearts and illuminates human societies. You and I also have access to Allah’s Sacred Word, the Noble Quran. This is the gift of Lailatul Qadr, the Night of Power. If you and I study the Quran and live the Prophetic Sunnah to the best of our ability, Allah will raise our status. Allah will make us the inspiring leaders that people respect and love.
But first we have to make a sincere and total commitment to serve Alláh. We must tame our selfish ego, our lower nafs. From this great Night onwards, let us make a lifetime commitment. Let us make a covenant with Alláh. We will serve Allah alone, with all our energy, our wealth and our talent. Remember, Alláh wants us to be full-time Muslims, not merely Friday Muslims or Eid or Ramadhán Muslims. Alláh does not accept anything divided, especially our divided loyalty. So, my dear Brothers and Sisters, let’s make a commitment today, to serve Alláh whole-heartedly, and to let our first love be our love for Alláh. And for His sake alone, let us strive every moment of every day to purify and improve ourselves, in body, heart and soul.
Allah wants to see the evidence of serious intentions and actions on our part. We will have to purify our hearts from greed, vanity, cowardice, envy and malice, and we have filled that space with a love of truth, beauty and justice mercy and generosity. Only then can we expect Alláh to change our condition. You and I must win this Jihád al nafs, this battle against our lower Self. Only then do we deserve Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness.
I pray that during this historic time, in this Holy Month, on this Great Night of Power, when His angels are sent by His Command, that Alláh Most Gracious will accept our good intentions and good deeds. May He also help us to purify our hearts, strengthen our faith, and enable us to meet every challenge, overcome every difficulty in our lives. May Alláh allow us to serve Him in our work, in our leisure, in our study, in our business and professions and in our family life and social relations. And when the time comes for us finally to return to Him, may Alláh admit us to the companionship of those whom He loves as His friends.
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!