The Taraweeh (Night Prayer)
The taraweeh is a special prayer performed in congregation. It is quite long, lasting about an hour to an hour and a half. It is performed every night of Ramadan, and in it most of the Imams, or prayer leaders, seek to complete the recitation of the entire Quran. In it Muslims pray to their Lord, standing, bowing and prostrating to Him, and gain the opportunity to listen to the Quran in its entirety, listening to its verses in a melodious voice as if they were being revealed then and there. Mosques with more proficient recitors tend to fill quickly, so worshippers arrive earlier than the stated time to reserve their place. Some mosques have over a thousand worshippers who come from all over the city to attend. Indeed it is an experience one awaits an entire year to experience. The taraweeh prayer is a means of forgiveness, as the Prophet said:”Whoever stands the night in prayer in Ramadan believing in God and seeking His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
Worshippers listen to the Quran being recited in prayer and ponder over its meanings, and the voice of the Imam has much to do with the effect it has on people. In various mosques, it is not rare to see people crying while listening to its verses, verses which speak of the blessings of God, His Mercy and Love, His Paradise which He has reserved for the patient believers, as well as verses which speak about the sufferings of Hell. The Quran is a revelation which speaks to each individual, and thus each individual feels that God is directly addressing him when he hears it. Thus the feelings which arise while listening to its recitation is truly incomparable and indescribable.
At the end of the taraweeh prayer, the Imam and the congregation raise their hand in supplication to God for themselves and for the Muslims, asking God to forgive their sins, give them strength to practice their faith and remain firm, enter them into Paradise, to cure the sick, to forgive those who have already passed away, and all other good things of this world and the next. They also ask God to save them from the punishment of the day of Judgment, to ease their account on that day, and also to ease the sufferings of their brethren throughout the world. It is not uncommon to find the majority of the congregation in tears begging their Lord. Indeed the taraweeh prayer is one of the highlights of Ramadan and plays a great role in giving inspiration to and the rectitude of the Muslims.
After the taraweeh, Muslims return to their homes and eat dinner, and then retire to bed in preparation for their early rise for the predawn meal.
As one can see, Ramadan is a month in which various kinds of worship are performed to God. Ramadan is like a training period in which Muslims change their lifestyles to one which is in accords to God’s commandments. From the time a person awakens in the morning, throughout the day and into the night, a Muslim is performing various types of worship, some obligatory while others voluntary, all in order to gain the pleasure of his Lord. This month is indeed a key factor in the lives of Muslims, a period of rejuvenation in which the believer is inspired for another year in his life, one filled with the pleasure of God and void of His anger.
There are other special features in Ramadan.
The Last Ten Nights
- “Indeed we have revealed it (the Quran) in the Honored Night.
- And what will explain to you what the Honored Night is
- The Honored Night is better than a thousand months.
- In it, the angels descend as well as the Spirit (Gabriel) by the permission of their Lord, with all types of decrees.
- ‘Peace’ it is until the rising of dawn.” (Quran:97:1-5)
It was Ramadan in which the Quran was revealed from the heavens to the Earth.
More specifically, it was one of the last ten nights of this blessed month. The Prophet said:
“Seek the Honored Night in the last ten.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
On that night, worship and good deeds are better than performing them for a
thousand months, as mentioned in the verses above. Thus the Prophet would increase his worship by staying awake the whole night in worship.
“When he entered the [last] ten [nights] of Ramadan, the Prophet would ‘rollup his sleeves’ and give life to the whole night, and waken his family.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
Muslims in Ramadan seek this Honored Night in order that they may be given an
increase in reward. Muslims spend the whole night in worship, from praying the
taraweeh prayer to reading the Quran, supplicating to God, and praying extra voluntary prayers. During these nights, there is even an extra congregational prayer held in the mosques which lasts for about an hour and a half to two hours up until the time of the predawn meal. Nights are alive with worship, and people for these ten nights expend all efforts in doing so, seeking that they may have spent the Honored Night in the worship of God. The Prophet said: “Whoever stood in prayer in the Honored Night, believing in God and hoping for His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
who are saved from the Fire: “God chooses who will be saved from the Fire (in Ramadan), and that is every night.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
For this reason in Ramadan, people fast, pray, and seek the Honored Night in orderthat they may be forgiven for their shortcomings and enter Paradise.