opinionBy Muhammed Lamin Ceesay
It was the Habit of the prophet during the last ten nights of Ramadan to increase worship. He used to spend the whole night in worship and encouraged his family to do the same, according to their ability, and he kept away from his wives. Aisha, the wife of the prophet, said "when the last ten nights of Ramadan started the prophet kept away from his wives and spent the whole night worshipping and encouraging his family to do the same.
Lailat el Qadr, or The Night of Power, is one of the nights in the last ten nights of Ramadan and this night is a blessed night. God made it honoured and better than a thousand months. This is because the Holy Quran began to be revealed on this night and it is said in the Holy Quran "in the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, we have revealed this (message) in the night of power. The night of power is better than a thousand months. Therein comes down angels and the spirits descend by the leave of their Lord upon command until the rising of the dawn.
Whoever, spends this blessed night in worship, his previous sins will be forgiven, for the prophet (peace be upon him) said "whoever fasts the month of Ramadan for the belief in, and sake of God, his previous sins will be forgiven and whoever spends the night of power (Lailat al Qadr) praying for belief and for the sake of God, his previous sins will be forgiven".
A large number of the traditions of the prophet encourage the Muslims to believe that the Night of Power is one of the last seven nights of the month. But some traditions make others think that it is one of the last ten nights of the month. Other traditions again, give us to be that it is one of the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights.
One of the above traditions comes from Ibn Umar, who said "A number of the companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) has visions regarding Lailat al Qadr and, according to these visions, it is during the last seven nights of Ramadan. When their visions were related to the prophet (peace be upon him) he said "I see your visions agree that the Night of Power will be during the last seven nights. Whoever wants to look for it he should look on one of these nights".
Aisha, the wife of the prophet, related that the prophet (peace be upon him) looked for the Night of Power on the odd numbered nights within the last ten days of Ramadan, whereas Abu Sa'id al Khudr (may God be pleased with him) " God's Messenger stayed in the mosque for worship (takafa) during the middle ten nights of Ramadan in order to find out the night of power.
This was before it has been shown to him. At the end of this period he request that his tent should be taken down. His request was carried out, but afterwards he knew from God that the night of power would during the last ten nights of the Ramadan. So he asked for his tent to set up again and it was done.
Then he came out to the people and said "O people, God has revealed to me when the night of power will be, and I have come out to inform you. At the same moment two men came to me complaining about each other and with them came Satan. So I have forgotten the exact night. But look for it during the last ten nights of Ramadan, particularly the ninth, seventh, or fifth before the end".
Abu Nadra said " I told Abu Sa'id that he knows numbers better we do". Abu Sa'id agreed, saying "yes, we are more fitted in reckoning than you are". Then Abu Nadra asked "what does the ninth, seventh or fifth mean?" Abu Sa'id answered "it will be the night following by the 21st, the 23rd and 25th".
Therefore Muslim scholars have different opinions regarding the exact date of the night of power. Some look for it on the night of the 23rd and some on the night of the 27th. This latter is the choice of the majority, but the reason is not known for sure.
This uncertainty is a good thing because if people knew exactly which was the night of power they would stop their worship before and after that night, therefore it has been hidden so as to give as opportunity for the people to have more blessing of worship and to follow the ways of the prophet (peace be upon him).
It has been related that some of the prophet's companion confirmed it as being the night of the 27th, as Mu'awia said. And also it has been related that a man named Zirr Ibn Hwbaish said " I have told Ubiyy Ibn Ka'b " your brother Ibn Mas'ud says whoever spends the nights of the whole year for worship will certainly not miss the night of power".
Ubiyya replied "May the mercy of God come to Ibn Mas'ud. He said this because his approval of teaching people to increase their activity of worship, even though Ibn Mas'ud certainly knew the night of power was in the month of Ramadan and its was one of the last ten nights of Ramadan and that it was the night of the 27th.
Then Ubiyya swore by God confirming that it was the night of the 27th. "When I asked on what ground do you state that, Abu Mondhir?", he replied " By the indication of which God's Messenger informed us, thatthe sun rises on that day without rays".
This what Muslim scholars think about the Night of Power. And it is to be hoped that God will guide all and grant us the blessing of this month and this night.
ZAKAT AL- FITIR
At the end of the fasting there is payable a kind of zakat connected with that month and this we call zakat al-fitr. It has to be paid before the Id prayer and is an obligatory payment upon every Muslim, male and female, young and old, freeman or slave, if there is any, and it is the master who is responsible for payment in respect of his servant or his slave.
It is obvious that poor people are exempted from such payment and the head of the family will be responsible for payment on behalf of his wife, children and servant and all those who are under his care. This is because of what is related by Ibn Abbas " At the end of Ramadan bring forth the sadaqa relating to your fast.
God's Messenger prescribed the sadaqa as a Sa' of dry dates or barely or a Sa' of wheat payable by every freeman or slave, male or female, young or old " and also what is related by Ibn Umar who said "God's Messenger prescribed as a Zakat payable by slave and freeman, young or old on breaking the fast of Ramadan as a Sa' of dried dates or a Sa' of barely and gave command that this should be paid before the people went out to pray".
As the need of people now-a-days is more for money, with to buy for themselves and their children what they want, it is permitted that this Zakat be paid in cash, particularly in a country like England. The amount to paid for each person is nearly 30p (thirty pence) but it may be that, in the future, this amount will be increased because of the continued rise in the cost of things.
The aim of prescribing this Zakat at this particular time is to help needy people to get what they and their families need on Id day, so that they can share with the other members of the society their happiness and pleasure, and as a sign of co-operation and unity among all of them.
What I really want to say to my Brothers about their duty during Ramadan according to the guidance of our prophet (peace be upon him)is that I hope they will benefit from it and it will be beneficial in connection with their religious activities.