Ramadan Memories

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Every year that Ramadan swings round the corner, and as I am standing in the Tarawih prayers, my thoughts invariably wander to the yesteryears of college.

What is it about standing in prayer that reminds me of college? Well Raleigh, NC (where I went to college) was a town with a small but vibrant Muslim population. During Ramadan, our Masjid (Islamic Association of Raleigh) had arrangements after Isha for Tarawih. Tarawih prayers were eight rakats, with a break after four during which someone or the other gave a short discourse on any topic of religious or societal importance.

I particularly remember my first two years in Raleigh, when Tarawih was lead by a visiting imam from Virginia called Muhammad Faqih. Brother Faqih was a young chap, under 30, who was blessed with one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard recite the Holy Quran. We didnt finish the Quran during Ramadan as is the trend in a lot of places. But instead we had long Rakats of slow and thoughtful recitation, long rukoos and sujoods. As we stood beind Brother Faqih, despite not understanding the Arabic, we were moved to tears on the parts we should be crying (on stories of previous nations that disobeyed Allah and were destroyed, mention of Heaven and Hell, and other such places).

 Tarawih Prayer at the Haram in Makkah

So why is that experience remembered every year? It is maybe because here in Pakistanthe focus of Tarawih has shifted from a regular prayer of prolonged Qiyaam, Rukoo and Sujood to a bid to finish the Quran before the new moon is sighted. Today, we see people having 03 day, 05 day, 10 day, etc Tarawihs that are an insult to the very purpose of the prayer. The imam in order to recite the entrie Quran in 03 days is at Turbo mode and often it is impossible to decipher the words being recited (assuming any of the followers behind the imam or the imam himself know Arabic!). Suddenly the purpose has shifted to finishing the Quran and after 03 days the people head off to enjoy themselves, or to their businesses. However, the purpose is not the finishing of the Quran, it is the consistent act of praying 29 (or 30) days, reflecting on the text, and prostrating ourselves before our Creator in a bid to seek His Pleasure.

I sometimes regret that I never fully utilized the opportunity that Allah (SWT) gave me then, instead justifying missing prayers due to pressure from my assignments and classes, lack of transport to the Masjid, etc. Even after I began seeing life in a new light, I still missed the wonderful opportunity of those years.

In the past few years, Pakistan has seen a revival of Islamic thought and several organizations are now trying to get people to understand the Quran that is recited by having arrangments for explanation of the portions recited every 04 rakats to be translated and explained. However, this demands a considerable time commitment as this takes around 03 hours each night and most of us unfortunately are not willing to make this commitment.

I think as a first step, the major religious leaders should get together and ban any such Tarawih prayer where the recitation of the imam is so fast that the words blend into each other and often meanings are changed in the process. In addition, they should form the consensus that 03 day, 05 day, etc Tarawih are against the spirit of the prayer and discourage them on public platforms.

It is a long shot to ask but it is sorely needed as more and more of these Turbo sessions seem to be cropping up all over the city.

Now if you will excuse me I need to go back to re-living my memories…….

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14 thoughts on “Ramadan Memories”

  1. Salaam Aly. Great post!

    We also need more Brother Faqihs in K-town. Let’s pray that Allah (swt) helps us attain the tawfiq, ilm and ikhlaas to be the Imams where there are none. Ameen.

    Have a blessed Ramadan!

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    1. I searched google and found he’s at Al-Maghrib now. Maybe I can ask Brother Yasir Qadhi to get me in touch with him….. wonder if he’s on Twitter. I know Brother Yasir is. 🙂

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  2. Ahhh finally a new post from the discomaulvi himself.

    Muhammad Faqih seems like a really interesting guy. The kind of guy that makes Islam seem so much more!

    I’m ashamed to admit: I don’t go to the Taraweehs 😦

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    1. He was a wonderful mentor and when he moved back to Virginia the youth were very sad.

      Luckily I’ve discovered a link to find him while writing this post. Working on establishing that link now Insha’Allah.

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  3. Assalamualaikum,

    Aly b very nice post.. The thing is that we are not united.. like might say it tubo taraveeh and i do agreewith that but there are many others might come with super weired reasons that it’s right like… after this turbo taraveeh they will continue taraveeh in other masjid’s…

    Or Taraveeh is not turbo taraveeh and is does not end till sehri or some thing 🙂

    Conclusion; Govt. might find it hard to baned them i guess

    by the way is this the brother you referring?

    @Waisybabu never too late brother.. May Allah give me hidayat and every one

    Jazakllah for the post aly b

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  4. First of all, thanks for sharing your memories.

    While I agree with you on the point that we in Pakistan have deviated from the essence of Taraweeh, and are taking it as another ritual. Taraweeh is like another prayer to us performed mechanically, our limbs following the Imam while our minds and hearts still stuck in worldly affairs.

    However, I don’t see what is wrong with finishing the Qura’an in 3, 5 or 10 days, if the Imam and followers can do justice with it?

    You said “However, this demands a considerable time commitment as this takes around 03 hours each night and most of us unfortunately are not willing to make this commitment.

    I assume from this that while you are for slow and steady recitation of Qura’an during the Taraweeh, you can not spare enough time for that. right? If yes, then please enlighten us as to how much time we dedicate for the Taraweehs every night?

    Also, do you have any argument against not finishing the Qura’an in one month?

    By the way, the Imam at Masjid where I pray my Taraweeh recites one and quarter Parah every night. The pace is very steady and anybody who understands Arabic shouldn’t have any problem following.

    Please take this in positive manner and enlighten me if I am incorrect.

    Jazak’Allah

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    1. Dear Brother Abu Hamza,

      Jazak’Allah Khairin for your comments.

      However, I don’t see what is wrong with finishing the Qura’an in 3, 5 or 10 days, if the Imam and followers can do justice with it?

      Neither do I really but do you know of ANY place where justice is done?

      I assume from this that while you are for slow and steady recitation of Qura’an during the Taraweeh, you can not spare enough time for that. right? If yes, then please enlighten us as to how much time we dedicate for the Taraweehs every night?

      It is not a matter of my personal time commitment but for the masses as a general. Even in the current setup of 1-1.5 hour we find many wondering when the 20 will be over. In addition, Islam dictates that the Imam lengthen the prayer only as much as the followers can bear. Thus, 03 hours would not be suitable for the populace.

      Also, do you have any argument against not finishing the Qura’an in one month?

      There is no argument against it nor do I say it shouldn’t be done.

      By the way, the Imam at Masjid where I pray my Taraweeh recites one and quarter Parah every night. The pace is very steady and anybody who understands Arabic shouldn’t have any problem following.

      A similar situation exists at the Masjid where I pray but again we are talking about a few versus the many.

      My point in writing this article was not to say that the finishing of Quran is wrong but that in the pursuit of it we have ended up neglecting the purity of the prayer.

      May Allah accept our deeds and make this month a means of forgiveness for us.

      -Aly

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