Besides being the mandatory Islamic month of fasting, Ramadhan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, also carries important dates in the emergence and development of Islam.
One such date is Ramadhan 17, 2AH (After Hijra) when a small, ill-trained and ill-equipped Muslim army defeated the pagan army. The pagans of Mecca had forced Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Muslim followers to migrate to Yathrib which was later renamed Medinah from the Arabic word for Madinatul-Nabbawi (the Prophet’s city).
After two years of the Muslim settlement in Medinah, the pagans of Mecca began receiving news of the growth of Islam that they organized a 1,000-man g force to fight the Islamic state in Medinah. The Muslim army of less than 350 men countered the pagan force at the valley of Badr, inflicting severe casualties on the pagans.
This was the first major Muslim victory against the Meccan pagans who had been persecuting Muhammad and his followers since his prophethood in 610AD. Six years later, on Ramadhan 20, 8AH630AD, Prophet Muhammad triumphantly marched onto Mecca with over 10,000 and cleansed the Kaabah of idols that the pagans worshipped. He preached peace and the pagans converted to Islam, a turning point for the religion.
The fasting Muslims are now in the last 10 days of Ramadhan, during which comes the night of power – Laylatul Qadr – described in the Qur’an as a night greater in importance than a thousand months. It is the night in which Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an.
Allah speaks about this night in chapter 97 of the Qur’an, and goes further to mention in the fourth verse that in it, angels, including the arch-angel Jibril [Gabriel] descend down on earth. It falls in the odd nights of the last 10 days of Ramadhan (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th) and because of its significance, Muslims, not wanting to miss out, devote much of their time to prayer, supplication and reciting the Qur’an.
Islamic traditions relate that when it came to the last ten days of Ramadhan, Prophet Muhammad would move out of his house and spend the nights in It’kaf (retreat in a mosque) in constant prayer and meditation. Although observance of It’kaf is permissible anytime of the year, Muslims mostly observe it in Ramadhan being a period of spiritual training.
While in the observance of It’kaf, a Muslim must abandon outer relations and dedicate his time to worship and seeking for forgiveness and guidance. In verse 187 of chapter two (Surat-ul Baqarah), Allah prohibits intimate relations while in the state of It’kaf.
Source : The Observer