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Night of Power Encounter

Updated: Apr 8

Islam has three holy nights each year,[1] with the most important being the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr).[2] It is often believed to occur during one of the odd-numbered days of the last ten days of the month of Ramadan.[3] Surah Al-Qadr in the Quran (97:1-5)[4] says this was the night (in 610 A.D.) that the Quran was sent down from Allah, and describes it as better than a thousand months when angels and the spirit descend to carry out Allah’s decrees, meaning intense spiritual activity.[5] 

Muslims are told that blessings and the mercy of Allah come in abundance that night, their supplications are accepted, and their previous sins can be forgiven.[6] This is a time for charity and contemplation. Islam also teaches that the annual destiny of every person is determined on that night. Muslims are told that Muhammad went on a spiritual retreat during the last ten days of Ramadan, fasting and praying throughout the night, and says that if they stay awake praying, reading the Quran, or repenting they will reach a high spiritual state.           

After the month of Ramadan ends, Muslims celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr[7](on April 10th this year), where it is forbidden to fast. Muslims decorate their homes, perform mandatory acts of charity, and are urged to forgive one another. There is a special ritual prayer for this festival that can only be performed in congregation (jamaat) amidst loud cries of “Allahu Akbar” and readings of the first surah of the Quran, Al-Fatihah, saying, “Guide us along the Straight Path, the Path of those You have blessed—not those You are displeased with [Jews], or those who are astray [Christians]” (1:6-7).

Some devout Muslims try to imitate Muhammad during the last ten days of Ramadan by secluding themselves in the mosque in spiritual retreat (itikaf) and devoting themselves to worship (ibadah). Many stay up all night, fasting the entire day or longer, and offer special prayers (Tarawih) while reading long portions of the Quran to show their devotion and draw closer to Allah. Often mosques will offer special lectures and sermons with communal worship and prayers at this time, as well.           

Some Muslims also engage in the mystical[8] practice of remembering (dhikr) the name of Allah by repeating it all night. They often turn to these practices looking to draw closer to Allah for comfort, power, and protection. Such practices seek perfection of worship (ihsan) and regard Muhammad as the ultimate spiritual guide.

There are two main approaches to spirituality: the natural way and the supernatural way. Natural spirituality relies on human means like chanting, meditation, and other methods of altering consciousness, whereas supernatural spirituality relies on faith and obedience to divine revelation found in the Bible. Islam assumes that humans are the way they were intended to be, without a sin nature; therefore, people must develop their own spiritual potential. This can result in manifestations of psychic power, contact with spirit beings, and ecstatic mystical experiences that help convince its followers that the natural way is correct.

The supernatural way found in the Bible, however, destroys the natural view by revealing that man is trapped in sin and is not as God originally intended. It reveals that the only spirit realm we can contact naturally is also sinful, like us, and very dangerous. A relationship with the true God can only be attained by those who have been born again through the blood of Jesus Christ and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; 10:7-9). We must always remember that Christ is greater than all other spirits and that He has given us authority over them (Luke 10:19; 1 John 4:1-6).

We are involved in a spiritual war against the devil and his demonic legions (Luke 10:18-19). This involves what is called “power encounter,” where we demonstrate God’s sovereign power to advance His kingdom in the earth and confront the powers of darkness in the power of the name of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit.[9] Jesus promised, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It is essential that every power encounter also be accompanied by a truth encounter that clearly declares the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The kingdom of God was the central theme of the preaching of Christ and His disciples, and Jesus mentions it over 90 times. Satan, the usurper, is vigorously opposing God; therefore, intense spiritual war has broken out (Ephesians. 6:12). However, the overthrow of Satan’s reign has already begun through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of the future age is already operative in the world (Colossians 1:9-23).

We have power and authority in the name of Jesus over demons even now, but then all the powers of darkness will be completely and finally defeated. Whenever Jesus sent His disciples out to minister, He instructed them to proclaim the kingdom of God and demonstrate its power (Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:1-2; 10:9-11). As the Apostle Paul explained, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). Paul also said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:15-16). The gospel has power within itself to create faith in the lives of those who hear it. At the heart of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and we must never fail to preach this powerful message that we celebrate at Easter.

When we faithfully combine the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the gospel, we can expect God to work mightily in the lives of those to whom we witness. Paul said, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. … My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:2-5).[10] These two important elements are part of a full and effective witness of the gospel of Christ: a demonstration of the power of God and a clear presentation of the gospel. During this time of increased spiritual focus and activity, we must take up the full armor of God, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

During these final days of Ramadan, when Muslims tend to have a heightened sense of spiritual hunger, intercede for their salvation. Pray that God would reveal himself to them through dreams, visions, miraculous signs, and healings, which would cause them to seek out a follower of Christ who can share the Good News of Jesus with them. Let’s wage war in the heavenlies on behalf of Muslim people whom Jesus loves and longs to save.

[1] The second most important holy night is the Night of Record (Laylat al-Baraat), on February 25 this year, in which Muslims seek forgiveness for their deceased ancestors and celebrate the birthday of the Mahdi (see the blog “Why Islamic Views of the End Times Matter Today” posted on November 29, 2023). The third most important holy night is the Night of Ascension (Laylat al-Miraj), on February 8 this year, celebrating the story of Muhammad’s journey to heaven on a winged creature (Buraq) where he spoke to Allah. Some Islamic sects celebrate other holy days as well.

[2] Also called the Night of Destiny, Decree, Determination, Glory, and the Precious Night.

[3] This is a Sunni belief, and they tend to favor Ramadan 27 as the Night of Power. The first of the last 10 days of Ramadan occurs during Easter Sunday, March 31st this year. However, Shiites favor Ramadan 19, 21, or 23. Some even associate it with the birthday of the Madhi (Kashani, Manhaj Al-Sadiqin, 1344, vol. 4, 274).

[4] Ali, the first Imam of the Shiites, is believed to have said that surah 97 would always have a shining light in the heart of his successors until the coming of the Qaim (the Madhi). (Tafsir “al-Burhan,” vol. 4, 487)

[5] Muslims have different thoughts on what actually happened on that night, but many say that the entire Quran was sent down to the angel Gabriel (Jibril) in the lowest heaven, who immediately revealed the first five verses of surah 96 to Mohammad and then gradually revealed the entire Quran to him over the next 23 years.

[6] See Sahih Bukhari, vol. 3, Book 31, Hadith 125

[7] Eid al-Fitr is one of two festivals in Islam and is known as the Lesser Eid. The other festival is Eid Al- Adha, on June 16th this year, commemorating Abraham’s faithfulness when asked to sacrifice his son.

[8] Mystical practices are found within both the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam. The practice of cultivating inner spiritual experiences by visualizing that all thoughts have left themself in order that “true thoughts” can rush in may open them to familiar spirits. When in this condition, they may seem to be demon possessed or in an abnormal psychological state. Mysticism is very syncretistic in Islam and many fall into Folk Islamic practices. Nonetheless, influential people have been influenced by this, such as the Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen who emphasizes interfaith dialog with Christian and Jewish theologians.

[9] See Denzil Miller, Power Encounter: Ministering in the Power and Anointing of the Holy Spirit (rev. ed), AIA Publications, 2009. Material in this blog on ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit is largely derived from this work.

[10] Paul further explained, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit” (Romans 15:18-19). “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

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