By Rachid Acim
By Rachid Acim
Beni Mellal – One of the things the Muslim believers worldwide should be proud of is Ramadan, the ninth holy month of the Islamic calendar. They not only observe the fasting, but they also fulfill one basic pillar upon which Islam has been grounded.
Everything changes with the advent of this blessed month. People who once were violent and aggressive, stop being so. Those who used to smoke or to revel in some worldly pleasures abdicate all bad habits and evacuate their hearts from dirt and impurity.
People hardly quarrel with each other in this month. A sense of mercy and mutual compassion start to organize people’s daily relationships vis-à-vis one another. Besides the variety of foods which adorn the tables, good qualities like love, care, self-abnegation, forgiveness turn to adorn people’s minds and their day-to-day conduct.
Astonishingly, Muslim mosques become full. Roads get overcrowded with believers and their small mosaic carpets, sharing the same goal: Feeling God’s presence in their hearts. Nobody can resist coming to seek proximity and pardon from Allah, the Almighty. Wives desert their husbands and children desert playing so long as a spiritual aroma has already fallen on every soft and stoned heart.
Genuine beauty springs from the mosque. Everything seems organized marvelously. The rows of the believers left one to madly wander in celestial realms of incessant beauty and spirituality.
Yet, not all Ramadan’s nights are the same. If all the nights are holy, then Laylat al-Qadr, the night of power, the night of destiny, and even the night of mystery appears to be the holiest of all. This is the night that commemorate when the Truthful Koranic Message was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (peace and prayer be upon him!).
The believers have to seek Laylat al Qadr during the last ten days of Ramadan, more specifically on the odd nights like the 23rd, 25th, and the 27th. Imam Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of the Prophet (PBUH) that he said:
“Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on Laylat al-Qadr, fully believing (in Allah’s promise of reward) and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins.”
Not strange then when we see the Muslim believers retreating to mosques, reiterating heartfelt prayers, spending the ten nights in utter solid devotion, reading the Holy Book, praying on the Prophet of Islam, reciting special formulas of supplication and, most importantly, meditating the beauty of the divine.
On Laylat al-Qadr, the gates of Heaven open and the gates of inferno close. Demons and ghosts get manacled and the angels move more freely than ever soaring above the believers’ souls and chronicling their superb deeds of worship in utter honesty with no addition or subtraction.
Everyone gets ready for Laylat al-Qadr from the first day of Ramadan. The common phrase we, very often could hear, “where are you reviving Laylat al-Qadr?” a question that keeps circulating amidst the believers throughout the month, as a great reminder of its lasting positive effects on the souls, its mystery as well as cryptic marvelous secrets.
Apart from the obligatory five prayers the believers perform, voluntary prayers in congregation are conducted on this night from dinner till dawn by a well-trained religious leader, keen on shaking the hearts. The sweet voice and the high meaningfulness of the Koranic verse melt together in complete harmony.
Before the night comes, young children try out their first fasting experience. The tradition varies from one Moroccan city to another. But the rational is nearly the same: to teach children how to fast, be patient to thirst and hunger and meanwhile taste some of the pleasant flavors of faith.
Boiled eggs accompanied with sweet cakes, fresh milk and dates are kindly handed to children when they finish their fasting. While girls beautify their hands with Henna, a dye meant to cool and color their skin, boys are provided with beautiful traditional garments to wear at night for the sake of Laylat al-Qadr.
Mothers prepare delicious foods like Tagines and couscous to be offered to the believers at the mosque. Fathers, on the other hand, distribute some coins, while children hand out round pieces of bread to the destitute and a spirit of solidarity combine all. Immediately after breakfast, people swarm massively to the nearest mosque to pray and to revive the sacred night in which the rewards are believed to be multiplied.
During our childhood, we loved to mingle with the elderly at the mosque, especially in Laylat al-Qadr. We weren’t serious in praying. We would consequently start it up in Ramadan, but we stop it afterward. The thing we adored much was Laylat al-Qadr. We never ceased to sit up watching the remote sky with the hope of seeing the archangels.
That was one wish we had. At that time, we never thought of airplanes, spacecrafts or even balloons. Yet, we could repeatedly remember Heavens’ angels, those invisible creatures. How were they like? Winged-beings? Whether they could descend to the earth one day to communicate to us some good news about the Lord, and whether they could show up to us?
One thing we cleverly noticed then was that almost in every sacred night, the rain falls generously from the sky. Obviously, the soft rain, we believed, was a token of mercy, alluding to God’s satisfaction on our deeds during Ramadan. Its drops fell on the earth watering the sterile ground, painting nature in green. They descended like archangels from the sky; thereby flooding our souls, quickening our hearts taking us to the Unseen.
We still cherish the same wish, maybe archangels could show up one night, one sacred night.
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