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The night when angels and the Spirit come down ... Really?

Published by Steven Masood - July 18th 2014

In Islam, ‘Laylat Al Qadr’ – the night of power, is traditionally celebrated during the last nights of the month of Ramadan, particularly on the odd nights (ie. the 23rd, 25th and 27th). Muslims worldwide spend the last ten nights of Ramadan in solid devotion, retreating to the mosque to read the Qur'an (i'tikaf) and reciting special supplications (du'a). Many Muslims pray continuously during the night to God for mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. This practice is also sometimes called Ihya’ – (revival, and to spend the night in prayer).

It is believed that it was on such a night when the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad and revealed to him God’s word, beginning with the exhortation: "Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists)," - Sura 96:1ff.

The Qur’an contains a chapter with five verses titled ‘Laylat al-Qadr.’ A verse of this chapter says, “The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees” (Sura 97:4). Thus, Muslims believe this is a special night when God gives heed to their requests.

Verse 5 of this chapter states, “It's all Peace!... until the rise of dawn (Morning Sun)!” In the light of such, Muhammad is mentioned in several traditions saying, “Whoever prays during the Night of Power with faith and hoping for its reward will have all his previous sins forgiven” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 125).

A common belief is that angels shower down the peace and blessings of God on all who remain awake during this night, praying to God for the forgiveness of their wrongdoings and for grace and mercy for the next year. There is also the belief that during this night, God leaves his throne and comes to the heaven nearest to earth to listen to the pleadings of Muslims. God either listens directly or via the angel Gabriel to the requests of Muslims concerning their fate. In spite of all such practices, a Muslim is never sure of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation in this life.

While Muslims believe that the words of the Qur’an were revealed, from the Bible we learn that it was the Living Word revealed: Jesus Christ. What a parallel we have here. God, who is hidden (al-Batin), revealed (az-Zahir) himself in Jesus as his Living Word, offering to those who accept him grace (fadl) and mercy (rahma) [John 1:1, 14, 17-18; Titus 3:4-7]. It is not a matter of fatalism. According to the Bible, whoever believes is given the assurance of salvation. One does not have to wait until the Day of the Judgment to know his or her plight.

During this time of spiritual and physical warfare in the Middle East, please pray for Muslims to learn that God already sent the answer to their prayers 600 years before Muhammad: Jesus Christ. Please pray for them to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, the only way to God. Only through Jesus can they truly have peace, forgiveness, and assurance of salvation. Forty percent of non-Christians in the world are Muslims. Let’s not stop praying for them and sharing with them the Good News!

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