At a chaotic period of history when the murky clouds of infidelity had covered the firmament of the earth; at a time of turmoil, tumult, and oppression when instead of Allah, the Supreme Being, idols and power used to be worshiped; when innocent girls had to face the unsightly fact of being entombed alive; when the crevice between the exploiter and exploited was incessantly increasing; when lascivious modes of behavior, moral degeneration, and decline in human values were the order of the day; when prejudice, discrimination, and exploitation whipped the poor and the oppressed; when humanity was imprisoned by the ghoul of ignorance and arrogance; at that time, the Prophet appeared on the face of the earth.
The Prophet Arrives
That Prophet descended from the dynasty of Ibrahim the idol breaker, Moses the Pharaoh-fighter, and Jesus the Benevolent (Peace and Blessings be upon all of them). That Prophet set foot on the arena of existence and changed the course of history.
As Dr. John William Draper so aptly states in his book The History of the Intellectual Development of Europe: “In the year 569 CE, was born at Makkah in Arabia, that man who of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race — Muhammad.”
The Night of Power (Laylat Al-Qadr)
Allah states in the Glorious Qur’an,
(Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an as a guide to humankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong).) (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
(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.) (Al-Qadr 97:1–3)
The Night of Power marks the commencement of the final Divine Revelation (the Qur’an) and made public the prophetic mission of the final Messenger of Allah (Prophet Muhammad). This event is of the greatest historic, religious, and spiritual significance for it ushered in the beginning of the end, the beginning of the end of revelation, the beginning of the ultimate guidance till the end of time, the beginning of the final onslaught against polytheism, injustice, subjugation, and oppression and the end of jahiliyyah (all forms of backwardness, ignorance, and retrogression).
The Night of Power indeed manifested the authority of Allah through His revelation and changed the fate of nations and the course of history and directed human destiny to its pinnacle. That revelation is still with us as the Qur’an remains unadulterated. Qur’an contains an ideology, a basis for values and standards, and a comprehensive code of moral and social behavior, all of which combined, aims at promoting peace within the human soul, the society, the world at large, and with the Creator.
When we consider the fact that night has been chosen rather than day, there seems to be a purpose for that choice. Night indicates quietness, privacy, peacefulness, and tranquility. The virtuous and pious are more inclined to spend their solitude in communion with the Divine. Thus, the night is an appropriate time, suitable for the nourishment of the soul and ideal for spiritual elevation and for reception of divine instruction.
The Night Journey and Ascension
At the most difficult and trying time of the Prophet’s life, after the death of his protective uncle Abu Talib and his most beloved wife, supporter, and confidant Khadijah, Allah took His beloved servant on a journey by night:
(Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our signs, for He is the One Who hears and sees (all things).) (Al-Israa’ 17:1)
This journey reached far beyond the parameters of human travel, beyond the perception that a human mind could ever imagine. Even Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), who accompanied the Prophet on the journey, reached a point beyond which he could not traverse. Prophet Muhammad ascended to the highest manifestation of the Divine Presence till the summation at sidrat-ul-muntaha (the final point).
Only Prophet Muhammad, the most beloved of Allah, the greatest of His creation, could go to this uppermost limit, the limit of being before the Absolute.
Allah saluted Muhammad, “Peace unto you, O my beloved Prophet, and Allah’s mercy and blessings are forever upon you.” The Prophet humbly responded, “Your Peace be on us (the Prophets) and on the sincere and righteous ones.”
Among the gifts that the holy Prophet descended with from that highest sphere is salah, the gift of Prayer (anywhere in the world), which is a means of expiation for the self and purification for the soul and a mode for moral rejuvenation and spiritual elevation. Thus, to the believers, salah resembles a mi`raj (ascension to heaven).
Encouraging the believers to imitate the Prophet in Prayer and motivating them to elevate themselves to the utmost of their ability, the great Islamic poet Shams Tabrizi said,
To follow Prophet Muhammad is, that he went on the Mi`raj, you go behind him.
Salah and Qur’an: Symbols of Al-Mi`raj and Laylat Al-Qadr
Both the salah and the Qur’an are integral to the Muslim faith and practice and are our daily access to the grandeur of Al-Mi`raj and the majesty of the Night of Power.
It is thus with the source of power (Qur’an) and the spiritual journeying (through prayer) that we ascend through decreasing stages of darkness to ever-increasing light. We recognize the Supremacy of Allah, appreciate the mission of His beloved Muhammad and commit ourselves to the pursuance of spiritual welfare and thus qualify to be true members of the global community of faith, the Ummah.