It was a little past 2 am and the starry dark night hovered all around. Some were deep asleep, snoring the night away. They turned and tossed on their bed like curled up balls rolling intermittently on a pitch. Lost in sleep, the metaphysical essence of the night was lost on them. But some sat up on their bed awoken by the sound coming from the speakers mounted on the domes of the mosques nearby. They were used to the repeated foreign sentences and words during the day but for the past 7 days, they heard it at night. Those asleep had been in the neighborhood for years and had become used to this. For those ruing their lost sleep, this was their first year in a Zongo community.
The last ten days of the month of Ramadan held a special place in the hearts of Muslims. In its nights, Allah promises to reward a worshipping believer with the similitude of the blessings received by someone who spends a 1000 months doing nothing but worshipping Allah. More specifically, the odd numbered days of the last third of the month were specified as harboring the Laylatul Qadr. Day 27 was given primacy when the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) talked about this night of power. Tonight was that night and sleep was not an option.
In the place where the sound was emanating from, men and women stood in segregated spaces pouring their hearts out to God. Bowing, prostrating on the ground, sitting in between prostrations and repeating the cycle ten times, their only desire was to be counted in when stock was taken by the angels of Allah. This prayer lasted longer than the 5 diurnal ones they said all year round. Running for the best part of two hours and laced with long readings from the Quran, you left the mosque with stronger legs and a steadier torso. But physical strength was not the purpose of all this. Spiritual upliftment was the goal.
The ritualistic motions of prayer was not enough tonight. Allah had to hear the personal dua (supplication) of all and sundry gathered. So when the imam started his all encapsulating generic qunut (special type of dua), hands stretched forward cupped like beggars asking for change. Literally, these were beggars asking Allah for change in their status quo. Chorusing their Ameen whenever the Imam paused after a sentence, the air was thick with the early morning smelly breaths of some of the believers singing the praises of their Lord.
It was the best of nights, it was a blissful time.
|Surely We revealed it on the grand night.|
|And what will make you comprehend what the grand night|
|The grand night is better than a thousand months.|
|The angels and Jibreel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair,|
|Peace! it is till the break of the morning.|