Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny)
Muslims see the Prophet Mohammad (also known as Muhammad) as the last prophet who received God's word and wrote it down to form the Koran (Qu'ran). He received the Koran's first verses, when he meditated in the Cave of Hira near Mecca, now in Saudi Arabia. The anniversary of this date is known as Laylat al-Qadr.
While many commentators believe the date of this night is the 27th day of Ramadan, there are differing opinions. The day will most likely fall in the last 10 days of Ramadan, and is likely to be on an odd-numbered day, depending on the interpretation of the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings.
What do people do?
As on the other days of Ramadan, many Muslims do not eat, drink or indulge in sexual relations during the hours of daylight on Laylat al-Qadr. They do make an extra effort to pray for forgiveness and read the Koran during the last 10 days of Ramadan. This is viewed as period when prayers are answered and blessings are abundant.
Some Muslims spend most of the time during the last 10 days and nights of Ramadan in a mosque. During the hours of daylight, they pray, read the Koran and may rest or sleep. During the hours of darkness, they also eat and drink. As many members of the community spend much of the time in the last days of Ramadan together in a mosque, it is a time of community worship, prayer, anticipation and celebration of Islam.
People who live near a mosque or a Muslim household may hear the Koran being read aloud or recited during this period. This is an attempt to read the entire Koran in the month of Ramadan. Good deeds are also performed during this time, as it is a night of forgiveness. Some Muslims believe that Laylat al-Qadr is the date when God reveals their fates for the entire year.
Laylat al-Qadr is not a public holiday in some countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States. However, many Islamic organizations and businesses may alter their opening hours and there may be some congestion around mosques, particularly in the evening and at night.
The Prophet Mohammad spent long periods, particularly during Ramadan, meditating about the world around him and looking for help to guide his people away from the moral evils and idolatry. On some occasions, he traveled to the Cave of Hira, a small cave in the hills near Mecca, now in Saudi Arabia. It is believed that at some point, probably in 610 CE, he received the Koran's first verses from God.
Laylat al-Qadr marks the anniversary of this date. However, it is unclear as to exactly when the revelations occurred. Hence many Muslims regard all of the last ten days of Ramadan as particularly holy and make an effort to visit a mosque and to read the Koran in this period.