Al-Qadr is one of the most important nights of Ramadan. It is also the anniversary of the night in which the Qur’an was first communicated in its entirety to Muhammad.
The exact timing of Al-Qadr is a point of disagreement amongst Muslims. Sunnis and Shi’as disagree, but Sunnis disagree within their own sect as well. Sunnis generally hold the day to be the 27th night of Ramadan, and Shi’as hold that it is the 23rd.
Wikipedia has this to say about the Sunni tradition of celebrating Al Qadr:
Muslims often pray extra prayers on this day, particularly the night prayer. They wake, pray, and hope God (Arabic:Allah) will give them anything they may desire for on this holy night. Mostly, they perform talawat (reading the Qur’an). Shi’a Muslims, in particular, on this night perform many religious acts, which they believe have been highly recommended by Muhammad and the twelve imams.
Those who can afford to devote their time in the remembrance of God stay in the mosque for the final ten days of Ramadan. This worship is called i’tikaf (retreat). They observe fast during the day and occupy themselves with the remembrance of God, performing voluntary prayers and studying the Qur’an, day and night, apart from the obligatory prayers which they perform with the congregation. Food and other necessities of life are provided for them during their stay in the mosque, thus they may not leave the precincts of the mosque except for a genuine religious purpose. Devoting time to remember God, Muslims hope to receive divine favors and blessings connected with the blessed night.
In Iraq it is especially difficult for Sunnis to celebrate Al-Qadr, due to deathsquads, most often Shi’a, patrolling at night, despite the imposition of a curfew. As we reported previously, in Adhamiya Sunnis have the added protection of volunteers from the neighborhood, who keep watch to provide security.
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