Guest Post: Laylatul Qadr and the Olympics
This post was written by Nazmina Dhanji at the time of the London Olympics, 2012.
As I’ve sat these last few nights leading up to the 23rd night of Ramadhan, pondering on ‘Wa maa adraaka maa Laylatul Qadr’ – ‘and what in the world will possibly make you fathom what Laylatul Qadr is?’ – this rhettorical question leaves us all baffled, and yet it challenges us to ponder and to ask ourselves what it really signifies, what did our Prophet say about its significance, and what does it signify in our lives today.
These are just some of my own personal musings that have been going on in my head as I have been watching the Olympics, that I thought I’d pen down. As I watched Jessica Ennis go through all the trials of her heptathlon in her bid for Gold, and Mo Farah push himself to outrun his competitors in the 10000m, and Usain Bolt fly with such ease and jog the rest of the way, while the world watched on in this global arena, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between an olympic athlete striving to prove himself and us.
Jess Ennis and all such athletes describe their winning moment as the best night of their lives, the best moment ever felt, that their whole career and training and struggles have culminated into this one momentous day when they’ve put their heart and soul and focused all their energy thus far on this one point. They may have outdone their personal best at other points during the year, during their training, but this is one night when they have to prove it in front of millions of spectators. This is no longer the comfort of their own gym, but a global arena staged especially for them. They are guests in London, and the world’s eyes are on them. They must shine and impress these all-powerful, watchful judges. One step over the line in a long jump, and the red flag goes up…one foot outside the box on the trampoline and they’re penalised. Today, they cannot afford to slack, to make mistakes, to be careless. Their attitude is everything.
There are athletes who focus too much on their competitors, looking sideways as they run, but losing focus at the same time. There are others who are not fully confident of themselves to begin with, dwelling too much on their losses in Beijing and past failures, not trusting in the judges’ ability to overlook past faults, there are others still who simply cant push themselves past a certain threshold, and yet others who find any excuse to back out at the last minute. There are those who allow the pressure and length of the competition to get to them, or those who don’t pace themselves and run out of juice too soon, or those who do not admit their own shortcomings and weaknesses, but are hell-bent on blaming their competitors or the judges themselves for having misjudged! Then there are those who muster all their strength and courage together, who trust in the judge’s capable skills, and who do their absolute best. Their eyes are only one goal (gold), spurred on by their fans, and by the promise of a reward at the end. They know it is in their hands to make this the best night of their life, a night that will determine their future careers as top athletes or as advertisers for the best sporting brands.
This is exactly how we must be (in my humble opinion)…focused and striving with all our might on a night like this. This is actually the best night of our lives thus far…for there is absolutely no certainty that we will be alive to see next year’s Laylatul Qadr (‘ibadah marathon). All our years since buloogh culminate into this one night. Between last year (Beijing) and this year, a lot has happened, and we need to prove to the Judge that we are in our best form now. We prove to Him that we are serious competitors, focused, strong, willing to learn from past mistakes, and trusting in Him (our Coach, Manager, Judge, and biggest fan along with all the angels that pour into our arena to watch us perform on this night). However, we are not here to outdo each other, nor to look sideways at who’s doing what. Instead, we pull each other along, and pray for each other to succeed more than ourselves. And our goal is simply to prove to our Judge that we appreciate His favour, His grace, His kindness upon us, and to revel in the Glory of the Night, to worship Him alone, to focus all our energy on attaining that forgiveness and the ‘gold’, confident that He will bestow it on whoever reaches out for it, from His unlimited stock. Our performance tonight determines our year and our future ahead too.
Are we of those who simply can’t be bothered? Are we easily dejected and lacking in confidence, half-heartedly throwing our javelin? Will we out to outdo our first attempt (19th night) and 2nd attempt (21st night)? Are we of the callibre of the Asafa Powells of the athletic world who despite pulling a hamstring etc…still do their absolute best to finish? Or do we take any excuse to sit on the sidelines, happy to be substituted? Are we good sportsmen who wish the same for our teammates and fellow competitors, or do we try and trip them up on their way (God forbid)? Are we runners and athletes who have plenty of energy and plenty of drive but are running in the opposite direction? Do we know our goal? Are we completely focused on it? How doe we focus on it?
Personally it helps me a lot to remember certain facts about this night, that the point of this night is to gather myself together and FOCUS:
-The nights of the month of Ramadhan are the best of all the nights in the year (focal point) ‘Layaalihi afdal al-Layali’.
-Laylatul Qadr is the best night in the whole month (even more focused in)
-and the best night in our whole lives (khayrun min alfi shahr)…. So it is the crux of the crux of the crux. The mother of all nights. The greatest of nights in Allah’s eyes. Best of all nights in one’s life.
-And He chose this night to send down therein the greatest thing in existence – The Qur’an.
– Qur’an from qa-ra-‘a: to combine, to gather, to join. It combines all knowledge from the first to the last. Combination and sum total of all divine books. Furqan – distinguisher between truth and falsehood.The holiest book, that combines all knowledge past and present, all the divines books, that gathers within it all knowledge, all light, all guidance. Al-noor al-muhammadi – first of creation – al-qalam, or noon, or ‘aql. All of these are one and the same thing, which is the Word of Allah, the noor of Allah.
– And he sent it down to the noble heart of His chosen Prophet – the last of all prophets, the seal of all prophets, the sum of all prophets.
-Through great hoards of angels and the Rooh (focal point of angels)
So the secret of this night is in the JAM’ (gathering together) or FOCUSING. Everything is to do with that – to do with tawheed, using all our resources, all our talents, all our qualities, all our ‘ilm, all our energy and experiences and knowledge thus far to home in on our ultimate goal. We can connect with this night if we focus within ourselves, gather ourselves together; not if our attention is diverted and scattered to various things: business, desires, food, people, friends, grudges. It is to escape from diversity and multiplicity to one focal point and tawhid, in all our faculties; to decide what we want from here onwards, and to show the Judge, the ONE!