Here we are: the last 10 nights of Ramadhan has finally reached us. All the fasting and anticipation of the first 20 days is really to prepare us for the coming of these last nights in Ramadhan.
As a way of life, Islam prepares its believers for what is to come. Consider the following: the commanding verse for fasting [al-Baqarah 2:183] was revealed in Sya’aban – a month before Ramadhan, the first revelation of the Quran [al- ‘Alaq 95:1-5] was revealed on the 27th day of Ramadhan, and Laylatul Qadr [al-Qadr 97:1-5] occurs on the last 10 nights of Ramadhan, instead of the first. The pedagogy of its timing is to prepare us to purify ourselves before we deserve to embrace the purity of the Qur’an or the rewards of Laylatul Qadr.
Indeed, all these come from the Mercy and Love of Allah s.w.t. for His obedient servants, in order for us to reap the maximum benefits that He has prepared for us. As I have mentioned in my earlier classes, the main purpose of Ramadhan is really to celebrate the Qur’an. When Allah s.w.t. mentioned Ramadhan in the Quran, you will find that He emphasizes on the Quran instead. He says: “The month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was revealed: as Guidance for mankind and as clear proofs of such Guidance and Criterion (between right and wrong)” [al-Baqarah 2:185]
However, we fast in Ramadhan to purify our hearts and soul, in order to embrace this beautiful miracle, and as long as we read and engage with the Quran, we are able to enliven the greatest miracle of our Beloved Prophet s.a.w. Try to compare if, like in any other months when we do not fast, it becomes a bit more difficult to read, let alone to memorize the Quran.
Another current and relevant example is the rigorous debates some Muslims engage in social media to determine the exact date of Laylatul Qadr. This is made worst by some “scholars” making declaration as to its alleged exact date. Personally, I think this is rather foolish and divisive to the Ummah. I am satisfied to accept that we will never be able to predict that day because, the best and most beloved man amongst us, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., himself did not know the exact date. On authenticated authority, all we have is the guidance that our Beloved s.a.w. gave us: “Look for Laylatul Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadhan” [Muslim] and "Search for Laylatul Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadhan.” [Bukhari]
But this is exactly where I find the true beauty, the hidden treasure and the generous reward of Laylatul Qadr: its elusiveness. The wisdom is that the true believer will have to strive, to search, to find – all attributes of a lover for the Divine – until he or she finds that Night Of Power – which is better than one thousand months!
However, the sophistication of Laylatul Qadr is that it is not completely hidden: all ahadeeth confirming Laylatul Qadr are realized only after the night has passed, usually by the time of Fajr prayers. For example, the drizzling of rain during the night or the day after, and the sun rising in the morning without rays [Muslim].
The right spirit is therefore, for us to increase our worship and stand in night vigil every of these last 10 nights. After all, "With the start of the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt and used to pray all the nights, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers." [Bukhari] There are three important examples paved by our role-model s.a.w.: reduce our (food and worldly) consumption, pray all 10 nights, and get our family to join us in the search.
Let us reflect sincerely: if we are calculative in waking up only on the odd nights and fortunately found Laylatul Qadr, where is the proper adab with our Creator? While we are stingy in our sacrifice, how can we expect our Lord to be Generous to us? Should not we, as a process of searching for Laylatul Qadr, aim for intimacy and closeness in our relationship with our Maker?
After all, such consistency we have acquired through daily restraint, daily relationship with the Quran and the rigor of our night vigils must be maintained beyond the month of Ramadhan: that is the only way that the spirit of Ramadhan will never leave us.
These are the reasons why we celebrate the coming and leaving of this blessed month of Ramadhan – there is no sadness involved: for if we are sad of its leaving, we have yet to embrace the true value of Ramadhan. Ramadhan comes into our lives to give a jolt to our consciousness of the need to improve our state of being, and it leaves us after imparting valuable life-habits that we should continue to pursue beyond Ramadhan.
With these thoughts in mind, I often ask myself these questions: which of the last ten nights is NOT Laylatul Qadr? Is (real) fasting only limited to the month of Ramadhan? Personally, I know the answers to these questions, but you will need to find the answer for yourself.
To conclude, the first 20 nights of Ramadhan is really to prepare us to embrace the last 10 nights of Ramadhan properly. The month of Ramadhan has returned us to a state of Fitrah, in order for us to continue living in Fitrah in all the other months, until we get refreshed in the next Ramadhan, insyaAllah.
I pray to Allah s.w.t. that you benefit from Ramadhan this year, and may you all meet with Laylatul Qadr. Remember, the reward is not only the Laylatul Qadr itself, but the true reward is in the sincere daily search – which instills in us the value of true humility, sincere submission and complete dependence in our King, Owner and Maker. I pray that Allah s.w.t. makes it easy for you, and for me.
Amin ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.