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An Egyptian Muslim man cries while praying during Laylat al-Qadr outside Amr Ibn El-Aas mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Cairo September 27, 2008. Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Decree) is the anniversary of the night Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad by the angel Gabriel. Muslims spend the night in worship and devotion, praying for the souls of the dead. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh (EGYPT)

What to Do in the Last Nights of Ramadan?

Observing a retreat in the mosque is of the best things we can do during the last ten nights of Ramadan.

The last ten nights of Ramadan are very special.

The first of these nights occurs on the eve of the 21st day of Ramadan. In other words, it is the night that commences after the completion of the 20th day of fasting.

Sometimes there are only nine nights, whenever the month of Ramadan lasts for only 29 days. Nevertheless, they are still traditionally referred to as “the last ten nights”.

The last ten nights of Ramadan are very special. These are the nights that the Prophet Muhammad would spend in constant worship. Among these nights is Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) – a night more blessed than a thousand months.

The Prophet used to single these nights out for worship and the performance of good deeds. He would exert himself in worship during these ten nights more than any other nights of the year.

Aisha tells us:

“During the last ten nights of Ramadan, the Prophet would tighten his waist belt and spend the night in worship. He would also wake up his family.” (Al Bukhari)

Aisha also says:

“I had never known Allah’s Messenger to read the entire Quran in a single night, or to spend the whole night in prayer up until the morning, or to spend a whole month in fasting – except in Ramadan.” (An Nasai’ & Ibn Majah)

When we say that the Prophet Muhammad spent the whole night in worship, we should qualify it. This is because he would spend some time eating dinner, partaking of his pre-dawn meal, and other similar activities. However, he would spend most of the night in worship.

Waking Up the Family

During the last ten nights of Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad would wake up his wives to pray for a much longer portion of the night…

Aisha informs us that the Prophet used to wake up his family during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Indeed, he used to wake up his wives for prayer throughout the year, but that was so that they could pray for a small fraction of the night.

We know this, because Umm Salamah, the Prophet’s wife, relates that the Prophet woke her up one night and said:

“Glory be to Allah. What has been sent down of trials during this night? What has been sent down of treasures, so that the denizens of the bedchambers will be awakened? O Lord! To be clothed in this world by naked in the Hereafter.” (Al Bukhari)

During the last ten nights of Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad would wake up his wives to pray for a much longer portion of the night than during the rest of the year.

Exerting Oneself in Worship

Aisha tells us:

“The Prophet would exert himself in worship during the last ten nights more than at any other time of the year.” (Muslim)

The great jurist, Al-Shafi’i, declares: “It is Sunnah for one to exert greater efforts in worship during the last ten nights of Ramadan.”

When Aisha tells us that Prophet Muhammad would “tighten his waist belt”, she is speaking figuratively. The phrase means to set about to devote oneself fully and wholeheartedly to the task at hand.

Seeking Out Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power)

One of the greatest distinctions of these ten special nights is that one of them is Laylat al-Qadr.

This is the greatest night of the year – better than a thousand months. This means that a Muslim can earn more rewards on the Night of Power than he would if – excluding this special night – he were to worship his Lord for eighty-four years straight. This is one of the immense favors that Allah has bestowed upon the Muslim community.

Imam Ibrahim Al-Nakha`i says: “Good works performed on this night are better than those performed consistently for a thousand months.”

Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet said:

“Whoever spends Laylat al-Qadr in prayer, believing in Allah and seeking His reward, will be forgiven all of his past sins.” (Al Bukhari& Muslim)

“Believing in Allah”, in this hadith, means not only to believe in Allah, but to believe in the reward that we are promised for observing prayer on this night.

Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) is on one of the odd nights. Aisha relates that Prophet Muhammad said:

“Seek out Laylat al-Qadr in the odd nights during the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (Al Bukhari & Muslim)

It is most likely one of the last seven odd nights. Ibn Umar relates that Prophet Muhammad said:

“Look for it in the last ten nights. If one of you falls weak or unable to do so, then he should at least try on the seven remaining nights.” (Muslim)

The most likely candidate for Laylat al-Qadr is the 27th night of Ramadan. This is indicated by the statement of Ubayy ibn Ka`b:

“I swear by Allah that I know which night it is. It is the night in which Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered us to observe in prayer. It is the night on the eve of the 27th of Ramadan. Its sign is that the sun will rise in the morning of that day white without exuding any rays.” (Muslim)

A Muslim should seek out this special night by spending the last ten nights of Ramadan engaged in various acts of worship. These include reciting the remembrances of Allah, reading the Quran, and begging Allah’s forgiveness.

It is best for us to strive hard on all ten nights, because the Prophet Muhammad said:

“The way we “look for” Laylat al-Qadr is by engaging in extra worship.”

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