Thursday, August 18, 2011

Night of Power: You Snooze, You Lose

I had to bite my tongue recently while listening to a friend discuss her love life, or more accurately, lack thereof.

After lamenting at length about being single at her age, she concluded by putting the blame squarely on God:

"It will happen when God wants it to happen."

Unfortunately, we often shirk responsibility for our own actions--in my friend's case, rejecting many decent proposals in her youth--because of a misunderstanding of the concepts of fate and destiny (qada and qadir in Arabic).

While God's will rules supreme and He has predetermined some aspects of our lives, He has also given us freedom to make our own choices and, as such, choose our own adventures. This free will applies to seven parts of our bodies used to fulfill divine duties and earn rewards: eyes, ears, tongue, two hands, two feet, private parts and stomach, according to scholar Abbas Ayleya.

"We have shown man the path of truth and the path of falsehood; he may choose either the path of guidance and offer thanks, or choose the path of ingratitude." (Quran 76:3)

Ali, husband of Fatima (one of the four perfect women of all times), was resting in the shade of a broken wall when he suddenly rose and moved to another one.

"Are you fleeing what God has destined?" he was asked.

"Yes," he said. "I flee from one destiny to another."

Every year on the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr in Arabic, which occurs in this month of Ramadan), God closes the books on our actions of the previous year while determining the upper and lower bounds of those in the next one, according to some traditions.

In His Generosity and Hospitality, He invites us (by making this one night better than a thousand months) to spend it with Him, seeking forgiveness for the past and asking for the best (such as goodness, righteousness, blessings and opportunities) in the year to come.

"[God is saying] I am inviting you inside the room so you can be part of what is being decided for you," says scholar Muhammad Baig. "How can someone sleep when their life is being decided?"

Ali said: "Fatima never allowed anybody to sleep on that night." She served little food and prepared to stay up. "Indeed, deprived is someone who is deprived from the goodness of this night," she said.

Some of the recommended acts of Laylatul Qadr include:

1) Taking a religious bath (ghusl in Arabic) before Maghrib prayers
2) Performing 100 cycles (rakat) of prayers (making up for missed ones)
3) Reciting chapters of the Quran, such as The Romans, Smoke and Spider
4) Devoting an hour to gaining religious knowledge
5) Making heartfelt supplications

Imam Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, urged women to not only actively pave their own destinies but also those of their nations.

"We want women to attain the high rank of true humanity," he said. "Women must have a say in the fundamental destiny of the[eir] country."

Indeed, activist and poet Allama Iqbal challenges us to take the world of future possibilities to another level (translated from Urdu below):

Khudi ko kar baland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle
Khuda bande se ye pooche bata teri raza kia hai

Exalt yourself so high that before issuing each decree of fate
God Himself will ask you, His Servant, 'Tell me, What is your wish?'
Dear Readers,
I will be taking a three-month 'sabbatical' from my blog to devote time to upcoming obligations. Thank you for your attention and see you when I get back, God willing!
Salina Khan


Sr. Tasneem said...

ASA Salina, JazakAllah Khairan for the beautiful reminder!
I will soooo miss your blog. May Allah SWT bless you and your lovely family.

Machi said...

Asalamlikum Sister,
Al-though I am a very new reader, I do love your posts. This is by far, my favorite one. Thank you for the strong reminders and I cannot wait for you to return, insha'Allah.


Salina Khan said...

WA! Thank you both for your kind words. I will also miss my interactions with the blog's readers, but duty calls...As a side, I'm really excited about a new feature I hope to add to the blog when I come back iA. Stay tuned

Sarosh said...

Salam....Jazaki Allah Khair for reminding us about "Laylatul Qadar". May Allah accept our Du2a3, our ebadah and grant forgiveness and HIS shade on the day of AAkhira to all muslim Ummah.

Will sure miss your blogs but wish you best on whatever obligations that need your time and attention.

EID MUBARAK in advance to you and rest of your readers.

Fee Aman Allah.......

farah said...

asak Salina Great Article as always, we all need the reminders for this blessed night inshallah. remember us in your duas, will call you soon.

your biggest fan. :)

Salina Khan said...

WA, Farah! Thank you :) I pray we are all able to avail these upcoming opportunities, insha Allah, to the best of our abilities and circumstances.
I wish pulling all nighters came as easy now as it did back in the college years....

Anonymous said...

Salina, you combine reflective insight, common sense and our deen in a beautiful manner. Thank you for your blog and do what you need to do, girlfriend! We will catch up when you get back online...

Salina Khan said...

Thank you, Dilara! I appreciate your kind words :)

Amina said...

Thanks for the reminder! Remember us in your duas. Pray for good health for all-thanks!

xavier said...

Salaam alaikum dear Sister,

It's been awhile since I posted, but I remembered to keep my word to you and post when I could. Masha'allah, you wrote a very beautiful post. Yet, instead of reflecting upon my own knowledge or lack thereof I should confess, let me share with you and your readers what my Night of Destiny entailed.

I waited in line to cross back into the United States, lamenting the fact that I was already late to break fast with this small community that I had been directed to by other brothers. Alhamdulillah I was able to make it in time for the speech, though I found myself in a back room praying salaat with another sister not too far behind. I was able to speak briefly with a few people and of course, got mistaken for being able to speak Persian. After a bit of rice pudding, I finally shuffled my way into the small prayer room and sat down to something that was unexpected.

A sister was introduced who was named Maryam. On this night, of all nights, she stood in front of the gathered masses of Muslims and said in her broken Arabic,

"I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. And I bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is His servant and His Messenger. And bear witness that Ali (as) is Allah's Proof."

I sat there smiling and remembering what it was like for me, imagined the nervousness in her breath and yet, the peace in her heart. Sister Maryam found her way and confirmed it on the most auspicious night of all. May her destiny be filled with the love of Allah (swt), a love that will never die.

xavier said...

Later on that night, I heard an English speech in which the speaker gave a little piece of advice that I had not yet considered. In the Qur'an, Allah Almighty (swt) says that on the Day of Judgement, the Earth will complain about what had been done to her. Many of us hear this and understand it to mean the atrocities and bloodshed, from oppression and famine that has taken place for hundreds of years. The Earth will complain of the sins performed on it no matter how small or big.

Yet, the speaker also went on to say, but the Earth will also say of you, "My Lord, I was honored when this creation (man) stood on me, prayed on me and prostrated down on me before You! Oh my Lord, I was honored!"

I don't know why, but it struck me so poignantly that night. I suppose I just never thought about it in that way. I wonder if we ever think about the place where we pray and reflect for a moment with the thought:

"My Lord, thank you for giving me a place to pray!"

Salina Khan said...

Thank you for sharing, Brother, the beautiful conversion story.
I love how we are so interconnected with nature, according to Islamic teachings. Perhaps what you mentioned is why some people change spots when they want to pray extra after their obligatory prayers?