Aisha (Ra) reported that: With the start of the last 10 days of Ramadan, the Prophet (saw) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray the whole night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. (Bukhari)
By next week , we would, insha Allah be witnesses to the commencement of the blessed last 10 days of the Month of Ramadan in which the Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power) is hidden. Allah (swt) describes the night in the Noble Qur'an as being greater in blessedness and spiritual virtue than a thousand months; this means that it is more valuable than 83 years and four months. Al-Qadr 97:3.
Allah's Messenger used to exert himself in devotion during the last 10 nights to a greater extent than at any other time." (Muslim).
According to some hadith, Laylat al Qadr is a special blessing granted solely to the Ummah of the Seal of the Prophets (saw). A Hadith reported by Anas (ra), said the Prophet (saw) said: "Laylatul Qadr was granted to this Ummah (of mine) and not to any other Ummah before this." The reason for this is said to be because the Prophet (saw) used to ponder over the longevity of the peoples of the past. That when he compared their longer lives with the much shorter lives of his Ummah, he became greatly saddened. That he is saddened because if his Ummah wished to compete with the people before them, it would be impossible for them, because of their shorter lives, to either emulate or surpass their ancestors in carrying out righteous deeds and reaping the benefits and rewards of their creator. Therefore, Allah (swt) in His Infinite Mercy granted them this night of great blessings. This means that, if any person of this Ummah is fortunate during his life-time to spend 10 such nights in the worship of Allah, he would gain the reward of Ibadah (worship) for the equivalent of over 833 years.
It was also reported that at one time, the Prophet (saw) mentioned prophets Ayub, Zakariyya, Ezkeel and Yusha'u (as) the four most pious people from among the Banu Israel, each of whom spent 80 years in sincere service to Allah; worshiping Him and not transgressing in the least. When the Sahaba heard this, they started wondering how they would emulate them and attain their achievements. It was when they were in this state that Angel Jibril (as) appeared and recited 'Surah Qadr', wherein the blessings of this particular night were revealed.
From the foregoing, it is clear that Muslims really need to strive harder in the these last 10 days and nights of Ramadan which are the most blessed. They should exert ourselves in worship even more on each of these nights, particularly the last 10 odd numbered nights: 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29, so that they might succeed in witnessing the Laylat al Qadr - Night of Power - and gain the reward of over 83 years of worship.
Scholars have proffered many activities that Muslims can do toward attaining the rewards of the blessed night. These include, sitting in I'tikaf, which is staying in the Mosque with the intention of coming closer to Allah (swt)by constant remembrance, glorification and worship of Allah. Aisha (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw): "Used to perform i'tikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty and Majestic, took him." (Bukhari and Muslim)
I'tikaf is for both males and females, though the women require their husband's permission. Abdullah bin Abbas (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said: "Whosoever for Allah's sake did even one days i'tikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches."(Tabarani)
Also recommended by the scholars is increased recitation of the Holy Qur'an, which was also revealed in the Night of Power. The reward for reciting each letter of the Qur'an during Ramadan is 700 hasanah or more. We should try and aim to complete the Qur'an at least once if not more by the end of the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Along with recitation we should also read and learn the meanings of the Qur'an. We should contemplate and ponder over the verses and implement what we read and learn into our daily lives.
It is especially recommended that Surah Ya-Sin be recited everyday particularly after Fajr time. Surah Mulk is recommended before going to sleep and Surah Kahf every Jumma. Other Surahs are Zilzalah, Al Kafirun and Al Ikhlas
Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas and Anas Ibn Malik (RA) reported that the Prophet (saw) said, 'Whoever recited Surah Zilzilah (99) would get the reward of reciting half the Qur'an. Whoever recited Surah al Kaafirun (109) would get a reward as if reading a quarter of the Qur'an. Whoever recited Surah al Ikhlas (112) would get a reward as if reading one third of the Qur'an'. (At-Tirmidhi.
Of course the reward for increasing the Nawafil (voluntary) prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadan cannot be overemphasised.
Allah says: ... .And My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (voluntary deeds) until I love him." Bukhari.
Similarly, Rabi'ah Ibn Malik al-Aslami reported that the Prophet (saw) said: "Ask (anything)." Rabi'ah said: "I ask of you to be your companion in paradise." The Prophet (saw) said: "Or anything else?" Rabi'ah said: "That is it." The Prophet (saw) said to him: "Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., Nawafil prayers)."(Muslim)
The reward for praying fard prayers outside of Ramadan is the greatest a Muslim can gain but in Ramadan Nawafil prayer carries the reward of a fard prayer!
The list of rewarding acts during these last 10 days of Ramadan is long. We should therefore utilise this fantastic period and the opportunity it offers us to strengthen our iman (faith) attain closeness to Allah and the rewards he has in store solely for us the Ummah of the Seal of the Prophets (saw). Ramadan Kareem.