Ramadan is a celebration honored by Muslim believers around the world, and is a long period of fasting, prayer, and time spent in intentional reflection on Allah, His goodness, and caring for others.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Laylat al-Qadr, a night said to be holier than a thousand months. In many ways, this night is seen as the culmination of the purpose of Ramadan and is spent in serious spiritual devotion.
The celebration is made in commemoration of the night that the Prophet Muhammad received the first 10 verses of the Quran from the angel Gabriel.
As the story goes, the prophet had been spending his time in habitual meditation and seclusion when Gabriel came down from Heaven to speak to the prophet. After relaying these first few verses, the angel slowly revealed the rest of the Quran over the next 23 years. Because the angel Gabriel came down from Heaven on this day, many Muslims believe that even now on the night of Laylat al-Qadr, angels come down to the Earth to bring blessings, provide spiritual guidance, and impart heavenly wisdom.
Laylat al-Qadr is not known to have happened on a specific day, but is instead believed to have originally occurred on one of the last 10 days of the first Ramadan, around the year 610. Most Muslims celebrate the holiday on the 27th day of Ramadan, but some Shi’i Muslims believe it happened on the 23rd night and celebrate it then. The exact calendar date changes each year as the overarching Ramadan timeline is based off of the lunar calendar.
Throughout the season of Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting and purposeful prayer, but as Laylat al-Qadr is seen as the holiest night of the year, these customs are practiced much more intensely on this night. Common practices include spending the whole night in prayer with the belief that Allah sets in motion the decrees for the year during this holiday; thus, many Muslims believe that if they spend time in fervent prayer during Laylat al-Qadr, Allah may have favor on them and give them the desires of their hearts. Muslims may even spend the night in a mosque rather than at home to help them focus on their prayers and time of devotion.
Besides praying for blessings, Muslims might also focus their requests on receiving forgiveness from Allah. Many will pore over the first 10 verses of the Quran, committing them to memory to honor the angel Gabriel for providing them on the original Laylat al-Qadr.
It is widely believed that during this night, good deeds bring an increased number of blessings in that small acts of kindness and generosity will bring great luck and favor from Allah later on. Therefore, Muslims around the world engage in kind acts and practice giving back on this night with the hope that Allah will forgive them of their sins and pour out blessings upon them.
Besides spending time in prayer and reflection, Muslims will also participate in festivals, eat special foods, and enjoy cultural music. Families and friends will often gather together on this night to spend the holiday together.
One of the biggest differences between the Muslim and Christian faiths is that while the two faiths agree that humanity is sinful and struggles away from God, the Christian faith believes that the only way to be saved from this sin is through faith in Jesus, while Muslims believe that salvation can be secured through themselves. Both religions focus on God’s important role in granting forgiveness, but the Muslim faith believes that instead of being granted forgiveness through Christ’s death and resurrection, they are able to receive forgiveness when their good acts outweigh their evil ones and when their lives reflects this goodness. They believe that Allah guides them in this, but that ultimately their salvation is secured through their own acts.
As the Christian faith is based off of our need for a Savior, this fundamental difference can become difficult for Muslims to understand when the gospel is shared. It’s important to focus on this need when talking to Muslim believers, and to discuss how our own actions can never amount to enough goodness that we would be able to receive salvation on our own.
“‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’” -Acts 4:12
“He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’” -Acts 16:30-31
“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” -1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
As Muslims tend to practice memorizing verses from the Quran during Ramadan and especially on Laylat al-Qadr, consider memorizing Biblical scripture to share with your Muslim friends. You could focus on Scriptures that discuss our need for a Savior, and that how apart from Jesus, we are unable to secure our salvation. Remember to talk about your own walk with God, and share your thankfulness for the Lord’s grace and mercy, and the goodness He has poured out upon you!