Ramadan’s Night Of Power

****First off, i want to make it clear that from time to time i will feature videos, songs, and even writings of others; this is the first post to do so. Today, August 21st 2009, begins the islamic holy month of Ramadan. The following writing is by Mumia Abu-Jamal and gives a short explanation of the meaning of Ramadan’s Night Of Power, and goes further to relate his own experiences as a death row inmate.****

Mumia Abu-Jamal carrying a young child

Mumia Abu-Jamal carrying a young child

Night of Power
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
(taken from his book
Death Blossoms: Reflections From A Prisoner Of Conscience, 1996)

In Islam, during the holy month of Ramadan, it is said that one night is holiest of all: al Qadr, the Night of Power. According to Islamic belief, it was on this night that the Qur’an was delivered to the Prophet Mohammed, and it is thus the holiest of all nights. On this night, prayers are granted “for everything that matters.”

The Night of Power is so deeply ingrained in the Muslim heart that a short chapter in the Qur’an is devoted to it. It begins, as do all chapters therein, with the exclamation, “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” and goes on thus:

Verily we have sent this
In the Night of Power.

And what will convey to you
What the Night of Power is?

The Night of Power is better
Than a thousand months:

The Angels and the Spirit descend in it,
By permission of their Lord,
For everything that matters.

It is Peace:
This until the rise of daybreak.

I will never forget the Night of Power that shook me, not during the holy month of Ramadan, but in the hot, humid summer of 1995, when I sat on death row’s Phase II with a date to die.

The sun had set behind the hills of West Virginia amid ominous thunderheads, and now the forces of nature struck like a divine assault team.

Lightning stabbed the earth as if in the throes of celestial passion, and so powerful were the bolts that the lights in the block – indeed, the whole jail – flickered out.

On Phase II, lights are kept burning twenty-four hours a day – bright during the day, dim at night – though in fact “dim” at two in the morning is hardly less than bright at noon. Tonight – for now at least – it was completely dark.

I sat on the cool metal table and looked out into the night. Cell lights, hall lights, yard lights, black lights, perimeter lights, and lights on poles had died, and not even stars broke the black carpet. So dark!

Then: a splash of illumination that bathed the hills in blue light, a rolling boom-BOOM of thunder, and a rapid procession of blinks as lights went out all over the prison complex.

It happened again and again and again, and yet again – one sinuous bolt of lightning after the next forking the black sky, then white-washing it to midday brilliance for the brief space of an eye-blink.

I sat there in the first real darkness since my arrival to Phase II, transfixed by the display of such raw, primeval power. The strikes seemed so close, I felt the hair on my arms rise.

The storm moved westward, over the prison and across the hills, and in its magnificent wake, darkness reigned as man’s lights bowed their mechanical heads to the power it had unleashed.

There I sat in the darkness, with less than a month to live, yet I felt better than any other night I spent on Phase II. I felt better even than I did a few weeks later, the night my stay was granted. Why?

Then it dawned on me, like bright writing etched in my brain:

“Here is true power, my son.
See how easily it overwhelms man’s ‘power’?”

Watching the veins of nature pulse through the night sea of air, making – if only for milliseconds – daylight over the hills, I felt renewed. How puny man seemed before this divine dance!

I saw, then, that though human powers sought to strangle and poison me and those around me, they were powerless. I saw that there is a Power that makes man’s power pale. It is the power of Love; the power of God; the power of Life. I felt it surging through every pore.

Nature’s power prevailed over the man-made, and I felt, that night, that I would prevail. I would overcome the State’s efforts to silence and kill me.


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