The Night of Wishes, Lailat’ul-Ragha’ib
“Ragha’ib” is an Arabic word derived from the root “ra-gha-ba”, which literally means to wish for something, to desire, to tend towards something and to make efforts to obtain something. And the word “raghib” is a noun derived from “raghaba” and means something that is desired, wished for and demanded. The feminine gender of this word is “raghiba” and the plural form of raghiba is “raghaib”. This is the history of the word of “raghaib”.
The word “raghaib” is not mentioned in the Quran. However, various words derived from the word “raghaba” are mentioned in eight places in the Quran and they are used with the same meaning as “raghaba” (al-Baqara, 2/130; an-Nisa, 4/127; at-Tawbah, 9/59, 120; Maryam, 19/46; al-Anbiya, 21/90, al-Qalam, 68/32; al-Inshirah, 94/8).
In Islamic terminology, Raghaib is one of the holy nights in Islam. According to Hijri calendar, Raghaib is the first Friday night, which is accepted to be holy by Muslims, of the seventh month Rajab. It is believed that Allah, the Supreme, endows upon people His mercy, offers and aids on that night.
It is agreed upon that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) fasted the first Thursday of the month of Rajab and performed twelve rakats of prayer on Friday night, exclusively for this holy night. However, there is not any evidence to these narrations. The habit of performing twelve rakats of prayer on the night of Raghaib in Muslim communities was seen at the beginning of twelfth century for the first time. The night of Raghaib which is deemed holy by Muslims is spent by worshipping.
Performing the prayer of twelve rakats has been disputed by Islamic jurisprudents. The majority of the scholars have agreed upon that this prayer does not actually exist.
The night of Raghaib began to be celebrated with spectacular ceremonies in dervish lodges in the eighteenth century. Sufi poets wrote poems, which were called “raghaibiyya”, for this night. Some of these poems were composed and sung in these ceremonies. Like on other holy nights, minarets were adorned with candles on the night of Raghaib, too. People formed the habit of worshipping, supplicating and celebrating the night with simits and candies on the nights of raghaib. Such traditions still persevere in our day.
Supplicating, repenting and spending this holy night with various kinds of worshipping are ways of spending this night, generally approved by scholars.
The Night of Raghaib corresponds to a period of time when the expected Prophet was in his mother’s womb. Maybe, it is a milestone of the first important stage of that period. The night of Raghaib, which is believed to be the night in which he was enwombed by people – contrarily to the truth – is accepted by some scholars to be the night when his mother Amina realized that she was pregnant with our Prophet.
And Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states that the Night of Raghaib is the title of the beginning of the Prophet’s advancement life and that the night of Ascension (Miraj) is the title of the zenith of his advancement life. He also says that – while stressing the divinity of Raghaib – the Prophet (pbuh) was born into the world of the seen on this night. (Nursi, Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybi, p.206-207).
Summarized from Şamil İslam Ansiklopedisi…