(3) Discovering Islam: Experiencing the Night of Power and feeling sad to leave Ramadan

Experiencing the Night of Power and feeling sad to leave Ramadan

 

As Ramadan this year (1435H or 2014CE) comes to a close – just a few days left – Muslims who have immensely benefitted from it, especially in spiritually, are feeling sad to leave the blessed month. Many even feel sadder when they wonder if they would live till the next Ramadan to reap more of its blessings.

In my last two “Ramadan” articles that appeared under “Discovering Islam” namely, (1) “Significance and uniqueness of the Islamic calendar” and (2) “Ramadan, the month when the Qur’an was revealed”, a non-Muslim friend, who read both the articles asked how the Qur’an was revealed. Indeed that piece of information was not mentioned in the articles, and I shall elaborate on it in this third and final “Ramadan” article.

But first, since we have only a few more days before Ramadan ends, let me summarise briefly why Ramadan is a highly blessed month for Muslims.

Ramadan is like an annual whole-month refresher course when Muslims are given an opportunity to become more disciplined, righteous and charitable so that they can apply their spirituality and experiences gained in the next 11 months.  In Islam, both faith and action go together, the “action” is doing what God commands Muslims to do – in short, it is Islamic worship that includes righteousness, the solat (prayers) and the Ramadan fast.

Ramadan is when Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) received the first Revelation from God through Angel Gabriel.  The first five verses the Prophet received as the very first Revelation from God, presented in Chapter 96 of the Qur’an, encourage Muslims to be learning and knowledgeable people by commanding them to read and write, thus:

“Read, in the name of your Lord and Cherisher who created –                                                  Created man from a clinging substance.                                                                                 Read, and your Lord is the most Bountiful –                                                                              Who taught the use of the pen –                                                                                                      Who taught man that which he knew not.” (Qur’an, 96:1-5)

In Ramadan, Muslims do extra acts of worship to seek the mercy of God, His forgiveness for any mistakes and lapses in life and salvation to enter Paradise.

In the last ten days of Ramadan, Muslims intensify their acts of worship because therein lies the hidden Night of Power or Laylatul Qadr. God says that the Night of Power is better than a thousand months. (Qur’an, 97:3)

Although the whole of Ramadan is full of blessings, these last ten Ramadan days is very special.  Our Prophet himself used to exert greatly in worship during the nights of the last ten Ramadan days to seek and receive the blessings of Laylatul-Qadr. He said: “Whoever stands in prayer in Laylatul Qadr out of Iman (faith) and seeking reward then his previous sins are forgiven.” (Hadith: Bukhari and Muslim)  (The Hadith contains the words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] as reported by his Companions, while the Qur’an is entirely the words of God recorded verbatim.)

So, Muslims take full advantage and benefit from the benevolence of Layatul Qadr by performing special prayers and itikaf (seclusion in the mosque), reading the Qur’an to seek and experience Laylatul-Qadr, a night full of spiritual benefits as it was the night when the Qur’an was revealed.

The Qur’an is a living miracle by itself.  Indeed when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was preaching, some of the people asked him what miracle he had performed, and the Prophet said it was in making the Qur’an available for them.

The Qur’an was not written by the Prophet or anybody else.  God says: “And this Qur’an is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah.” (Qur’an, 10:37) The words in the Qur’an are the exact words from God, produced in print for reading and, being from God, made easy for memorisation.

That the Qur’an contains the exact Words of God’s Revelations to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) can be illustrated, in the simplest form, thus: the boss of a huge company wants a message to be given to his workers. He can do this in two ways: one, by meeting his workers individually or in an assembly, and two, by putting his message in a circular or e-mail and sending it to everyone.

The former method, however, is not practical if the number of workers is huge, but the second method is preferred because the circular (hard copy) can be read slowly for full understanding without fear of missing out on facts and also it can be kept for future reference or study. E-mails (soft copy) can also be printed and kept.

God, in His Wisdom, chose a method somewhat like the second example cited for the obvious advantage in it.

This method of delivering the Message through the Prophet (or Chosen Man or Messenger) can be further illustrated as follows: the boss of the company dictates his messages from time to time into a tape-recorder. His secretary later transcribes the messages from the tape-recorder into a type-written format, or types on a stencil (mastercopy), and then produces as many copies as desired by photocopy means for distribution to the workers as circulars or emailing to them as announcements.

A similar line of processes took place with the Qur’anic Revelations. God revealed His Message to the Prophet (as did the company’s boss who spoke into the tape-recorder). The Prophet, by divine means, retained each and every Revelation (Message) in his memory (just like the tape-recorder is able to do so by electronic means) until he found a scribe to take down in writing (like the tape-recorder did when the secretary played it for typing) whenever the Messages needed to be delivered to the people. Just like any typewriter or computer or word processor could be used to type out the messages from the tape-recorder without affecting the messages recorded in it in any way, the Prophet, too, asked any scribe to take down his dictation with the divine revealed Message fully intact.  (The divine Messages could have been affected with errors, distortion or misunderstanding had the Prophet spoken and after some years or decades later his teachings composed and written by people from the memories of people and heresy.  Even today misunderstandings and inaccuracies occur with newspaper reports although reporters take down messages in shorthand or with a recorder and then editing it and, in the process, unwittingly introducing errors in the form of the editor’s own assumption.

In the case of the Prophet, he requested the scribe to read back what he (the scribe) had taken down to make sure that he (the scribe) had recorded the Revelations accurately as dictated by the Prophet. He then asked his Companions to memorise the revealed passages, while he kept the original with his then wife, Habsah.

Thus, just like the message in the circular or e-mail is authored by the company’s boss, the Qur’an is authored by God.  The Prophet (like the tape-recorder) or the scribe (like the secretary) had nothing to do with the actual construction of the sentences of the Messages. The scribe or the secretary were merely helping inspiration (like the electronic impulses of the tape-recorder) to materialise into prints on paper.  This is how the Qur’an came into being from God.

The Qur’an is preserved with accuracy and reliability by two methods – by impromptu recording of the Revelation into print right in front of the Prophet and memorisation of it by his Companions.  Memorisation of the various chapters of the 114-chapter Qur’an or the whole of it by people called hafiz is observed in a continuous traditional chain by Muslims from the time of the Prophet right to this day.

The Qur’an is the Final Message for mankind, hence it is always near and dear to Muslims. God states that the Qur’an is “A guidance and a mercy to the righteous ones” (Qur’an, 31: 3) and in another chapter, God says to the Prophet: “Verily, We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book for mankind in truth.  So, whosoever accepts the guidance, it is only for his own self; and whosoever goes astray, he goes astray only for his own loss.” (Qur’an, 39:41)

Eid Mubarrak, and Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all readers.

By: Shaik Kadir

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