Thousands of worshippers began converging on mosques last night for tahajjud, or late-night prayers, as Ramadan entered its final 10-day stretch. Tahajjud is more common towards the end of the month. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed on Laylat al Qadr - the Night of Power - which is commonly believed to be one of the odd-numbered nights in the last third of Ramadan.
Some believe Laylat al Qadr lies on the eve of the 27th of Ramadan, when mosque attendance usually increases, with worshippers praying well into the early hours of the morning. Clerics and officials are urging Muslims to take advantage of the last 10 days of Ramadan when rewards are heightened. Laylat al Qadr alone is considered equivalent to more than 1,000 months. "The last 10 days of Ramadan are among the greatest days in virtue and reward, and its nights are the best of the entire year," the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments said in a statement that will be read in all of the country's mosques on Friday.
"In it is Laylat al Qadr, in which the Quran was revealed, a guide to people. "We have to take advantage of these 10 days, and work harder in obeying God and worship and doing good," the statement said. It cites examples of the Prophet Mohammed's intensified efforts in Ramadan, including sometimes spending the entire night in tahajjud prayers. The last 10 days are more favoured than other nights because in each night there are people saved from hell, according to a hadith by the Prophet Mohammed.
Mohammed Moustafa, a former imam and a social behaviour consultant, said there was a reason why Laylat al Qadr was defined as being one of the odd nights, but was not picked conclusively to occur on a specific day. "This was out of mercy from Allah to make it as specific as possible, however, we should not take it for granted because sometimes Ramadan starting day differs from one country to the other, so how can you guarantee that Laylat al Qadr applies to your odd nights, while these nights are considered even-numbered in other countries," he said.
Moreover, Laylat al Qadr could change from year to year, so people should not take it for granted that it is on the 27th and go for the late-night prayers only on that day. "Some scholars even say that each person has his own Laylat al Qadr," he said. "The signs of Laylat al Qadr only appear after it's over, as if God is telling us to seek it in the entire 10 days and not rely on some nights." Some of the signs include a clear sun without scattered rays and mild weather.
Going for tahajjud, however, has other benefits for the psyche. "The greatest accomplishment for a Muslim who prays qeyam [night prayers] is that he set aside time for God, and that time that he gave will give him emotional peace and a healthy psyche." Hala Yzabak, 26, a Palestinian environmental and sustainability co-ordinator, said she feels the Ramadan spirit when she goes to the Grand Mosque to pray tahajjud.
"Going for tahajjud gives me a chance to get closer to God because I shut off everything and concentrate on being alone with God at that moment." She added: "Dua'a is mostly accepted during the last quarter of the night and even more on Laylat al Qadr, so this gives me a chance to make as much dua'a as possible, and there are a lot things that we need in life." It also affects her psychologically. "You feel like it makes you happy and positive energy around you."
"I love going there because the atmosphere is nice, when you enter and exit you don't feel squashed, the mosque looks and smells good, and I like the crowd." @Email:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org