Laylat al-Qadr consists of prayers and traditions carried out throughout the night. It is commonly known as “The Night of Destiny” and commemorates the first night that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is uncertain when this night exactly is, but Shia believe it to fall on either the 19th, 21st, or 23rd of Ramadan whilst Sunni believe it is 27th of Ramadan.
It is believed that during Laylat al-Qadr the annual destiny for each person is determined by God. This is mentioned in the Quran as well:
3 Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind]. 4 On that night is made distinct every precise matter – 5 [Every] matter [proceeding] from Us. Indeed, We were to send [a messenger] 6 As mercy from your Lord. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
Excerpt from the Quran 44:3-6
Some Muslims retreat for “Itikaf” where you stay in the Mosque for the last 10 days of Ramdan and spend the days praying and fasting and away from the materialism. To be able to perform Itikaf you must be able to fast, not have any physical or mental illnesses, and believe in the message of Islam.
Throughout Ramadan you are supposed to abstain from food, water, and sex but only during the day time. During the Itikaf, you are allowed to eat and drink when the sun has set, but the rules on sex and any form of physical pleasure still stand. You are not allowed to leave the mosque, talk ill of another person, harbour hate in your heart, carry out any business deals, or utilise money. Of course, if there is something that requires you to do any of these things you are allowed to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible and return to your Itikaf.
The reason for doing Itikaf or participating in the traditions of Laylat al-Qadr are many and mostly personal. It can either come from wanting to be closer to God, or sacrificing your time to God for help in some matter, or in thankfulness for the previous year.