CHICAGO–For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, roughly 200 people gathered at Mosque Maryam to observe the Laila-tul Qadr, an Arabic term meaning “Night of Power.”
Muslims gathered on the grounds of the National Center, which includes the Nation of Islam’s flagship mosque, headquarters and school, to mark the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan with a breaking of the day’s fast and congregational prayer.
“This is a very beautiful gathering. It’s already a blessing because this is the first time in two years that we have been able to come together,” said Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, the National Assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in the mosque’s prayer room, known in Arabic as musalla. The April 27 event was webcast for greater access and those unable to attend in person. Some Muslim ministers from different parts of the country were also pulled in virtually to participate.
“I want to thank all the Believers who are joining us on this special observance of the Night of Majesty, the Night of Power; it’s also called the Night of Decree, the Night of Glory,” Ishmael Muhammad said, explaining why Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture.
The Night of Power is believed by Muslim scholars to be the night during the holy month of Ramadan that the first verses of the Qur’an, the Islamic book of scripture, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah, may the peace and blessings of Allah (God) be upon him, around 610 A.D. The revelation came while the Prophet was in seclusion on a mountain at the Cave of Hira near Mecca, Arabia.
This exact night is hidden, Min. Ishmael Muhammad continued. But it is believed to have happened in the last 10 days of Ramadan with scholars believing it fell on one of the odd numbered nights, he said.
The entirety of the Holy Qur’an would be revealed, some in the city of Mecca and some in the city of Medinah in Arabia, over a 23 year period. What began as a revelation to Prophet Muhammad is now a book of guidance for roughly 1.8 billion Muslims across the earth.
Additionally, although revealed 1,400 years ago, the Honorable Minister Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam constantly explains the relevance of the Holy Qur’an in modern times. “The distinction of this book Qur’an is that from the opening to the closing it is all truth; but truth revealed by God to illuminate everything that you will face in life and everything that nations and world are facing today.
God already sent it down in a book that only needs to be read, to be studied and applied to get the benefit from it,” said Min. Farrakhan in a lecture, “The Beauty of the Holy Qur’an,” delivered at Mosque Maryam in Chicago on August 25, 2002.
The prayers for the night were lead in Arabic by Student National Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad and then recited in English by Min. Ishmael Muhammad. The two also expounded on some of the verses recited.
One of the verses recited was from Surah 97 entitled, Al-Qadr: “The Majesty.” Muslim scholars believe that the “Night of Power” refers to the night when the Holy Qur’an was first revealed. The question is raised in verse 2, “And what will make thee comprehend what the Night of Majesty is?”
And continues through verses three to five to describe the “Night of Majesty” as better than a thousand months. “The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord—for every affair—Peace! It is till the rising of the morning.”
“For every generation, this Qur’an has a new revelation for each generation that was not seen during the time of Prophet Muhammad,” said Imam Sultan Muhammad. “As with the first chapter we read, Surah (96) Al Alaq: The Clot, there was no microscope or high technology to see the embryo and how the clot forms in the way Allah describes in this revelation. It wasn’t confirmed until much later.”
Min. Ishmael Muhammad expressed gratitude for the method through which the Holy Qur’an has become and is becoming known among Black people in America. “If it were not for the coming of Master Fard Muhammad, 92 years ago, if we are on the straight path, it is because of Him coming and raising up the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and giving to us today the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said Ishmael Muhammad.
During the month, Muslims abstain from food, water and marital relations from sunrise to sundown, and increase their prayers with the goal of becoming closer to God.
“This evening is a great time for all of us to fellowship with one another on this magnificent night. It’s really good to be amongst the Believers and also our guests so we can be in prayer and have a closer relationship with Allah God,” said Latoya X. “And just really to be grateful because we have experienced some trying times these last two years and to be here and know that Allah has given us an opportunity to life and to fulfill His mission and purpose is such a beautiful occasion that we are in today,” she said.
Also, during the month of Ramadan, the whole of the Holy Qur’an is read from beginning to end, observers are more diligent to provide charity to those in need and refrain from arguments.
For some in attendance, it was a reunion of sorts. Bilal Muhammad, 58, pushed back tears as he reflected how much he appreciated being present. “I am so happy to be here. This is more than I thought it would be. I’m extremely happy, growing up in the Nation years ago and continuously trying to be a good Muslim in these days has been a little bit difficult,” he said.
“But with the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, with the strength of the Minister and the strength of the Nation as it is now, I am doing better,” said Bilal Muhammad, who recalled running around the gym at Muhammad University of Islam, next door to the mosque, doing exercises as a student in the early 1970s.
He expressed his love for work the Nation of Islam has and continues to do. “And any Muslim from those days, if they have any doubts, it is past time to come home. It is past time. You will get that sense of urgency, that sense of love from a community that loves you here,” said Bilal Muhammad.
“I’m just excited like a child at a carnival, because I haven’t been out here in two years or more, you know because of covid. It’s set up so beautifully. I love the settings, the chairs, the placing,” said Zakiyyah S. Muhammad, 76, a longtime community activist and organizer. She was seated in the Muhammad University of Islam gym transformed into a dining area where Muslims enjoyed a post-sundown meal together.
“I remember when I first came here. It was 1973, as a young 23-year-old processing Muslim. My Ramadan has been successful and I’ve made some decisions that I want to stand firmly on as I go further in life,” she said.
For others, the night marked a new beginning. “This is my first Ramadan, my first Night of Power and it was beautiful from beginning to end,” said Linda 10X, who helped prepare the food and decor for the “iftar” meal, which means the breaking of the fast.
“Just to see the love and what the sisters, the M.G.T., put into the set up and how they really put the passion behind it to really make it feel like home, it was great. Everyone embraced me because it was my first time. I thank Allah for my journey.”
A couple of attendees traveled from Madison, Wisc., to attend the service. “The Night of Power represents Allah’s greatest mercy to humanity. This is our opportunity as Believers to receive Allah’s Blessings, His Grace, to have our sins removed and to walk into a new day sinless,” said Khalid El-Hakim, founder of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum.
“I’m here to have my soul renewed and more importantly to be amongst the Believers here at Mosque Maryam, to see all the beautiful faces and to reconnect with my brothers. It’s always a blessing to be amongst the Believers and followers of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.”