One of the many reasons that make Ramadan very special for Muslims is because the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the beloved Prophet Muhammad during this month. Referring to Surah al-Qadr (97:1-5), scholars believe that the Qur'an was revealed on a night called "Laylatul Qadr" (Inna anzalnahu fi laylatil qadr). Laylatul Qadr is a moment that Muslims all over the world are waiting and longing for, as that night is believed to be "better than a thousand months" (khayrun min alfi syahr).
In Indonesia, the commemoration of the Night of the Qur’an Revelation has become a tradition called "Nuzulul Qur’an" which is usually celebrated on the 17th of Ramadan. Although they are quite similar, Laylatul Qadr and Nuzulul Qur’an are celebrated as two different moments. While all Islamic countries are familiar with Laylatul Qadr, Nuzulul Qur’an might only be celebrated by Indonesian Muslims.
Nuzulul Qur’an has been celebrated nationwide since the post-independence era. It was a modernist Islamic figure, Haji Agus Salim, who first proposed the celebration and was approved by the first president of Indonesia, Ir. Sukarno. It also happens that Indonesia's independence was proclaimed on the 17th of August, 1945 to coincide with the 17th of Ramadan. Likewise, the Battle of Badr, which was led by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), also occurred on the 17th of Ramadan. Hence, those important events that took place on the same date make it even more sacred and meaningful.
Despite the excitement for Nuzulul Qur’an, Indonesian Muslims are still waiting for the arrival of Laylatul Qadr, the holy night under which Allah sent down the Qur’an, as well as an abundance of blessings and forgiveness. Some hadith narrations state that Laylatul Qadr occurred on odd nights in the third ten days of Ramadan, namely the nights of 21, 23, 25, and 27. Therefore, it is not surprising that during this period Muslims around the world flock to mosques and prayer rooms to do i'tikaf, recite the Qur'an, and perform dhikr.
Some scholars refer to Laylatul Qadr as the “Night of Decree” because on that night everyone's destiny is determined by God, based on their deeds. Others call Laylatul Qadr the "Night of Greatness" or the “Night of Power” because it reflects the majesty of the Qur'an that was revealed by God Almighty that night. Whether or not it is accepted, the Qur'an has undeniably brought major changes to the history of mankind.
Of course, there are many variations in welcoming and celebrating Laylatul Qadr around the world. But in Indonesia, especially in Java, Laylatul Qadr is welcomed with a feast commonly known as “kenduri” where people would bring food to the mosque and share it to those who are praying or doing i'tikaf. Meanwhile, in Arab countries, there is a tradition to announce that on a certain date Laylatul Qadr will come and Muslims are called to perform i'tikaf.
Through the i'tikaf, everyone hopes to reap the rewards of Laylatul Qadr. If successful, that person is considered to have reached the peak of the highest achievement in worship that will change their life. In other words, Laylatul Qadr is a means of the spiritual transformation of a Muslim to reach the highest spiritual level. Therefore, the expression that is often used to call this holy month is "better than a thousand months" or 80 years, a period that is quite maximum for a human lifespan.
If in other religious traditions the term "enlightenment" is well-known, those who perform i'tikaf are longing for the same thing during Laylatul Qadr. However, attaining enlightenment is not easy. One has to rid oneself of attachment to the world through an ascetic life, meditation practice, yoga, etc. But once they attain enlightenment, their life will change drastically. They will be a happier, calmer, and wiser person.
The same thing goes for those who get Laylatul Qadr. One second of accomplishment on that night will affect someone’s entire life, which is represented by the phrase "a thousand months". It is often said that the atmosphere at the moment of Laylatul Qadr is very calm and peaceful. this is in harmony with the calmness and peacefulness that will be obtained by those who successfully get Laylatul Qadr.