For a believing Muslim, the most blessed of all nights falls on a particular night that no one can actually pin-point to with any certainty. Yet the faithful who have prayed through many dark watches, seeking communion with God, say that the heart always knows when communion has been reached.
This mysterious, powerful and holy Night of Nights is variously known as Shab-e-Qadr or Lailat ul-Qadr. These musical names are understood respectively to mean the Night of Honour and Dignity, the Night of Destiny or the Night of Power. This important occasion can fall on any of the odd nights in the last ten days of the month of Ramzan, that is, on 21st, 23rd, 25th or 27th of the month of Ramzan. This year, these dates correspond with October 15, 17, 19 and 21.
While the entire period of Ramzan is a time of fasting (sawm) and praying (ibadat), this night is special for it is believed to be the night when Allah first revealed the first verses of the Qur’an to Muhammad. The Prophet was then 40 years old and he received these verses from Allah through the angel Gabriel.
Unlike other anniversaries, this is a solemn occasion — a time to reflect and pray and to celebrate the arrival of the Message from Allah. But this is done not through a feast for the senses but through abstinence and worship. Some go into retreat (i’tikaf), spending all their time in a mosque for the last ten days of Ramzan; others take as much time out as possible on these special nights for prayer and the study of the Qur’an.
On this night one should ask and ask, to one’s heart’s content, but above all one should ask for forgiveness of all past sins. The Prophet’s wife is said to have inquired of him: “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Lailat ul-Qadr, what should I say during it?” The Prophet instructed her to say, “O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.”