x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ramadan enters its holiest phase

Worshippers have been reminded that the final third of Ramadan may be the most arduous of the month but it is also the holiest.

ABU DHABI // Worshippers have been reminded that the final third of Ramadan may be the most arduous of the month but it is also the holiest, when faith will be at its strongest. "We've reached the last 10 days of Ramadan, and the Prophet emphasised their importance," Sheikh Jihad Hashim told his mainly English-speaking congregation at Mariam bint Sultan mosque.

"His wife Aisha described [the Prophet] during the last 10 days of Ramadan as rolling up his sleeves and becoming intense. "He would enlighten the night and awaken his family. He would tighten his belt, and make more effort [in worship] during those days than at any other time." The General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments issues a sermon each week and expects mosques to adhere to the topic, but imams can customise it for their congregation. Topics for the first two sermons in Ramadan focused on charity.

The third week or Ramadan is usually described by many fasting Muslims as the most arduous. Devout Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet on Laylatu al Qadr, or the Night of Predestination, when the archangel Gabriel descended to reveal the message from God. Laylat al Qadr falls in the last third of Ramadan. It is one of the holiest nights in the Islamic tradition, as the devout believe the heavens are wide open and God is receptive to all prayers. Many stay up all night in worship.

Though the consensus is that it falls on the 27th day of Ramadan, scholars say no one really knows which night it is. For this reason, many devout Muslims revere the final third of Ramadan, often staying up all night every night to pray. "The Prophet used to enliven the night by getting up and praying and reading the Quran," the government-issued sermon said. "And Gabriel is said to have kept the Prophet company all night, deliberating the Quran with him."

The Quran refers to Laylat al Qadr as "better than a thousand months". @Email:relass@thenational.ae