Friday Sermon: Lailatul Qadr (The Night Of Power) And The Last Ten Nights Of Ramadan By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful


All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation, may Allah extol the mention of our noble Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels, bless him and give him peace and security―and his family, his Companions and all those who follow him correctly and sincerely until the establishment of the Hour.


Dear brothers and sisters! During these last ten nights of Ramadan, 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.


Surah 97 of The noble 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 Allah’s permission on every errand. Peace… this until the rise of Morning!”


What is so special about Lailatul Qadr? Why does The noble 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 Lailatul Qadr: This was the night that changed history. It was the night that the Angel Gabriel, Jibril alaihis salam brought the first revelation. The first verses of The noble Qur’an were brought to us by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), 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 Allah had sent no new revelation after Prophet Isa (Jesus), the world would have been in an unimaginable mess! There would have been no authentic record of the pure and unadulterated Word of Allah, for all generations to be able to seek and find correct guidance. We would have followed At-Taurah (Torahs) and Bibles, which were constantly under revision and review, depending on what was expedient at the time. The noble Books we would have used today would have drifted further and further away from the original teachings of those great Prophets Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus).


Let us consider the world scenario on the day before Jibril alaihis salam appeared in the Cave on Jabal Nur, to pronounce those majestic words:


“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 leaders governed Rome and Persia. In the 6th Century, they were superpowers at the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). 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 Prophet Musa (Moses) and Prophet Isa (Jesus) alaihis salam. They had edited those teachings with their own writings. Their Torah and Bible could no lay claim as the pure, unadulterated Word of Allah.


Outside the Christian and Jewish worlds, the Arabs were practising Idolatry, and they had desecrated the noble Ka’abah 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 noble Qur’an, the first rays of light for suffering humanity.


That same light that filled the Cave during Lailatul Qadr, that filled the heart of our dear Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), has shone brightly down the ages, to fill our lives also. Year after year, for over 1,445 years, almost a Millennium and a half, the light of Lailatul Qadr has brought hope and renewed faith, to a world that would otherwise be stumbling in spiritual darkness and despair.


Respected 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 Lailatul Qadr and recharge our faith (Iman) batteries. If Muslims hadn’t been so lax about their faith (Iman) 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 Allah Almighty, and offering thanks to Him, for his countless blessings that we enjoy each moment of our lives. Let us ask Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, to lift the burden of insecurity, inflation, hunger, poverty, injustice and oppression from so many 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 noble Qur’an. 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.


Dear brothers and sisters! The Night of Power energised history. The brilliant and irresistible light of Allah’s revelation illuminated a dark period in human history. Since the advent of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), 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 Surah Al-Ra’d, Qur’an, 13:11, we read:


“Truly, never will Allah change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves…”


Allah 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 beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) 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 Allah was pleased with him, his followers grew with the passing of time.


Within a few years, the effect of that first Lailatul 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 servants of Allah! That mystical and mysterious force that descends by the command of Allah Most High, during Lailatul 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 Ramadan that some of Islam’s noblest and greatest victories were achieved, for example, the Battle of Badr, the Conquest of Makkah, the Conquest of Spain (Andalusia), 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 Qur’an. This is the gift of Lailatul Qadr, the Night of Power. If you and I study the Qur’an 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 Allah. 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 Allah. We will serve Allah alone, with all our energy, our wealth and our talent. Remember, Allah wants us to be full-time Muslims, not merely Friday Muslims or Eid Muslims or Ramadan Muslims. Allah does not accept anything divided, especially our divided loyalty. So, my dear Brothers and Sisters, let’s make a commitment today, to serve Allah whole-heartedly, and to let our first love be our love for Allah. 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 Allah to change our condition. You and I must win this Jihad al nafs, this battle against our lower Self. Only then do we deserve Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness.


Respected brothers and sisters! As mentioned earlier, by the Grace of Allah, we are near the end of Ramadan and we are entering the last ten days. We are told that the Night of Power, Lailatul Qadr, falls on the 21st, 23rd, 25th 27th or 29th night. Most likely it is the 27th night, but no-one knows for certain, and Allah knows best. This is the night in which Allah, the glorified and exalted, the Lord of the Majesty and Honour, sent down His Archangel Gabriel, Jibril alaihis-salam, to our earthly realm of time and space.


The time was during the last ten nights of Ramadan in the year 610 and the place was in a cave on Jabal Nur, the Mountain of Light, near Makkah. Here Jibril took Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him, the son of Abdullah, in a tight embrace, and commanded him to “Read!”


Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) protested that he could not read, he was unschooled in reading and writing, but Jibril persisted, commanding him to “Read!” Jibril’s embrace tightened until it seemed it would squeeze the life out of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Then, slowly and with great effort, the first majestic words of the noble Qur’an rolled from Prophet Muhammad’s lips:


“Read” in the Name of your Lord who created: He created man from a clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One, who taught by [means of] the pen, who taught man that which he did not know.”


Over the next 23 years, through pain, suffering and ultimate victory of truth over falsehood, the Words of Allah emerged from the timeless, space-less realm of eternity, and entered into our earthly domain. These sacred words illuminated the spiritual darkness of Arabia in the 7th Century, and its irresistible light has shone down the ages into our own era.


We must never forget what the world was like at the time. The superpowers, Rome and Persia were at war. Arabia had sunken back to idol worship. There were some Jews and Christians, but their scriptures were no longer the same revelations brought by Prophets Musa (Moses) and Prophet Isa (Jesus). Through human error and human tampering, adding their own gospels, the Divine Word had been compromised. The pure monotheism taught by those great Prophets, Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus), was all but lost. It was time to put matters right. Allah’s answer was to send a ‘perspicacious Book,’ a Furqan, a Criterion, to measure right from wrong, to distinguish truth from falsehood.


The noble Qur’an has reconstructed the pure original message of Divine Unity, the message of Tauhid, which was taught by all the Prophets. Those who describe Islam as a new religion are mistaken. Islam means peaceful self-surrender to the One Who created everything. This is the oldest, not the newest revealed Religion. The religion of One Allah, Tauhid, Divine Unity or Primordial Monotheism, is the same religion of all the Prophets from Adam through Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus). Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) himself declared that he did not come to teach a new message, only to confirm and complete the message of those earlier Prophets.


The noble Qur’an also confirms this in the last verse that was revealed at Arafah, during the Prophet Muhammad’s last Hajj (Farewell Hajj):


“This day have I perfected your religion for you, and completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Qur’an, 5:3]


Dear brothers and sisters! 1445 years ago Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) faced an uphill task against the powerful vested interests of his time. You must remember that the Ka’abah had 360 idols around it, almost one idol for each day of the year! Pilgrims came there to worship those idols and this made the guardians of the Ka’abah, the Quraish tribe, very wealthy. Prophet Muhammad’s message of One Allah was not welcomed. It threatened their financial interests. It angered the chiefs of Quraish, just like Prophet Musa (Moses)’, Prophet Musa’s message angered the Fir’aun (Pharaoh), Ramses II.


Today also, the message of Islam is a threat to the Fir’auns (Pharaohs) and Emperors of the modern age. This message says that nothing really ‘belongs’ to us human beings. Everything belongs to Allah/ We are only the trustees, the Ambassadors of Allah. We have to care for everything in our environment as a sacred trust (Amanah). We cannot just abuse and exploit the earth as if there is no tomorrow. This is the message of Islam. This is the message of Lailatul Qadr, the Night of Power, the Night of Glory. We who are the heirs, the inheritors of the Prophets, must carry this message forward: Worship no one but One Allah, serve our fellow human beings and care for our common living environment with love and devotion until the end of our days.


Dear brothers and sisters! How can you and I get the most benefit from Ramadan, and Lailatul Qadr, the Night of Glory? Here are some suggestions:


Firstly, let us not just forget fasting until next year. Let us do all the good things of Ramadan throughout the year, to keep us spiritually healthy and focussed.


It is a recommended Sunnah to fast for 6 days of Shawwal and some people also fast on every Monday and Thursday throughout the year. This is a wonderful habit, because it keeps us connected to the spirit of Ramadan. It keeps us connected to Allah’s blessings and it keeps us self disciplined. It keeps us away from excessive eating and drinking. It moderates our behaviour. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:


“The worst thing a man can fill is his stomach. We should fill one third with food, one third with water, and one third we should leave empty. This is very wise. We only recently discovered that it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it’s full. So that’s why we overeat. During those crucial 20 minutes we continue to see, smell and taste all those goodies on the table, and our brain thinks we’re still hungry but the stomach has already said: Stop! Enough! But we can’t hear our stomachs. Let us take Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) advice and moderate our eating. It will help us to moderate everything else.


A very important suggestion for non-Arabic speakers. I think that most of us here do not speak Arabic as a first language. Let’s really work hard to understand every prayer and every supplication, in Arabic and English. This is so important. Arabic is the language of the Qur’an and it’s the lingua franca, the common language of the Muslim world. We must say our prayers in Arabic, because, when we travel to any part of this planet, we can join any Muslim group in India or Brazil or Pakistan or Outer Mongolia. When we hear the Azan it’s the same words we hear everywhere on earth. Isn’t Islam wonderful? Isn’t it wonderful to be part of this global family? Imagine! we can lead the prayers or follow the prayers anywhere on the planet, with no problems. But remember that only 18% of the world Muslim population is Arabic. The vast majority, 82% of us are non-Arabs who must make a special effort to understand our prayers properly in our mother tongue. If you took a random sample, you will find that many of us non-Arab Muslims do not even understand the meaning of our prayers. We learn the words in Arabic, just like parrots, but we seldom care to learn the meanings. This is wrong. Do you think that Allah will be impressed if you can recite His noble Book with such beautiful and melodious tones, but your mind is disconnected, because you haven’t bothered to learn the meaning of what you say?


Dear brothers and sisters! Lets resolve today to start learning the meanings of our prayers, and our supplications, Salah and Du’a, so that we can put meaning and feeling into our communication with Allah. While our lips are saying the words in Arabic, our hearts and minds must recite the translation in English. This will help us to engage with our Creator (Allah) with meaning and feeling, in other words, with sincerity. In the final analysis, Allah is not impressed with our outward actions, but with the intention in our hearts. Allah deserves nothing less from us, but to be sincere to Him.


Lastly, I pray that during this historic time, in this noble Month, on this Great Night of Power, when His angels are sent by His Command, that Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah admit us to the companionship of those whom He loves as His friends.


And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.


Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of: Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah Mosque; and Late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene Mosque, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected]; or +2348038289761.


This Friday sermon (Jumu’ah Khutbah) was prepared for delivery today Friday, 19 Ramadan, 1445 AH (March 29, 2024).

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