On Sunday night, June 10th, nearly two thousand Muslims, young and old, of every race and ethnic background packed the Islamic Center of Milwaukee.
This scene was repeated in all of the Mosques in Wisconsin, the US and around the world. It was the 27th night of Ramadan, what is referred to as Lailatul Qadr, or the Night of Power. The Quran relates that, “Lailatul Qadr is better than 1000 months.” One thousand months would equal 83 years, a long life by any standards. The significance of this night is because of the divine Revelation, the Quran. The message within one night of Revelation was indeed greater than 1000 months in the life of a human being that lived with no purpose.
The Quran was revealed in a place that had for the most part forgotten their commitment to God and their responsibility towards humanity. The revelation of the Quran marked a new era that made scripture accessible to everyone, encouraged intellectual thought, scientific discovery, and an understanding of the purpose for one’s existence.
Muslims around the world commemorated the night in prayer and supplication. In many Mosques, this is the night that the recitation of the Quran is completed, after having started with the first verse of the Quran on the first night of Ramadan. All of the reciters, individuals that have memorized the Quran by heart, participate in the final reading. This is an incredibly spiritual night filled with praise and gratefulness to God for this gift to humanity.
As I thought about how many young reciters we have in the Mosque and in Milwaukee, and the millions of reciters around the world that have memorized the Quran by heart, I had a realization. If all of the paper Qurans in the world were collected and burned, within a matter of a few days, every Mosque around the world could produce an identical copy. Copies from Africa, Europe, Asia, North America and anywhere imaginable could be brought together and they would be identical. For Muslims, preservation of the message comes in the form of the millions of walking Qurans.
For nearly a month we listened to the Revelation, the words of a Compassionate and Forgiving Creator that does not beget nor was He begotten. We heard the stories of the prophets and why they were sent to their people. We were challenged to care for the orphans, the oppressed and to free slaves. We were taught to be just in all financial dealings and stay true to our contracts and to treat women kindly. We were told over and over to not forget the purpose of our existence and to not waste our lives on petty issues but to work for justice and peace and to constantly be cognizant of the fact that God is aware of everything we do. We were reminded to turn to God whether in happiness or sorrow, “for truly it is in the remembrance of God, that hearts find peace.”
For those that recommit to those divine values, they will find that one night is better than 1000 months of aimless existence.