The next morning, my running buddy and I hit the streets at 6am. [Listen: I’m not exactly a morning person, but it’s the only time I can run outside. I pride myself in turning off all the street lights and welcoming the morning sun to our city.] Over our little 2-mile jaunt, we usually see about 6 people—4 of them being guards of buildings washing tenants’ cars on the street and 2 of them being this sweeeeet little, old couple out walking their white fuzzy dog [unheard of—most people here are scared of dogs or think they’re dirty]. But this morning we were stared down, called out to and imitated.
“WHY ARE ALL THESE MEN AWAKE???!!” I wondered aloud.
“I don’t know,” she replied, wondering to herself. “These shebab [youth males] are supposed to be sleeping right now, not taunting and staring at us… Jerks.”
We run past the cafe where close to 30 guys are sitting outside drinking coffee and smoking hookas and cigarettes, just staring us, calling out pick-up lines and insults, while one got up to run alongside us. [Sometimes I just want to throw down on one of these dudes. Definitely the one who can’t even keep up with us for a block’s length before he succumbs to his coughing attack. Come on! You’re 21!! RUN!] As we turn the corner, I stop running and with the weight of my realization, I grab her arm and stop her: “Last night must have been the Night of Power.”
My running buddy, having grown up here agreed with my assumption. Ya see, during Rama, you’re supposed to become more religious and seek God. But there’s one night that is supposed to be filled with the opportunity for supernatural encounters with God. It’s said that God either listens directly to you on this night or through his angel, Gabriel. This night is the celebration of the Q, their holy book, coming to them through Gabriel and the Prophet M. Many say this night should be filled with the recitation and studying of their holy book; others believe God’s presence will come in dreams and visions, but most all agree that it is best to stay awake the entire night, presenting your requests to God and asking for forgiveness. According to a translation of a teaching of the Prophet M, he declared that “whoever prays during the Night of Power with faith and hoping for its reward will have all his previous sins forgiven.” So you can see why many people stay up the whole night, praying for God to hear them, and why that cafe was bustling with people at 6:10 am.
The Night of Power is proclaimed to be the holiest day of the year. It’s the day where God opens up his heavens and his ears, granting blessings, foresight and forgiveness. Angels are sent down to grant requests and blessings, and some are said to just come down to worship among the other followers. On a bus one time, I met a guy who told me that he only prayed on this night because it was the only night that mattered. And since it was so holy, it made up for all the other days out of the year where he didn’t perform his prayers or other religious duties. [I think he got this from a verse in their book that says that the Night of Power is “better than a thousand months.” Interesting, huh?]
On this night and in the next 5 weeks to come, the time in between the holy days and celebrations, ‘Eids, as they’re called, people are more open to dreams and visions from God. I believe that God is faithful and will meet with and reveal Himself to those who are genuinely and earnestly seeking Him. Please pray for our friends to do so, and that there will be someone in their lives who can help guide them in the Way they should go, once they have had a true encounter with our Living God.