Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Seven years ago when I was 14 years old, I was relaxing on my couch on a regular day in Ramadan when a friend of mine called me and asked if I wanted to go with her to offer Taraweeh prayers in our community Masjid. At that time, I never really focused on the exact details of the purpose of Ramadan. I’d just have sehri, fast and then iftaari. That’s all Ramadan was for me at that time. Taraweeh was something I simply heard that Muslims do which was optional and my thinking at that time was that if something is optional it’s not important to do it. In addition, I used to wear T-shirts and jeans then. How could I wear that in a Masjid, while my friend wore a hijab and shalwar kameez?
However, she’s a very close friend of mine so my thought-process for this decision lasted for only a few seconds. However, I had to rummage through my mother’s and my cupboard to find a decent shalwar kameez. After Iftaari, we both walked to the Masjid and offered 8 Nafl of Taraweeh prayers. She was unable to go to Taraweeh in the days after as she had to take care of her little sister, however I walked every day to the Masjid alone and offered 20 Nafl of Taraweeh prayers!
Why was that? That was because I had felt something very profound that day which made me feel whole.
When you pray at home, you’re hearing your own voice speaking the relevant Arabic verses and if you don’t live in a country where Arabic is your first language then you usually speak those words in your own accent which doesn’t possess that melody and spirit than Arabic in its own accent. When you listen to the Imam reciting those verses, even if you don’t understand what the Imam is saying, you are carried away by the melody and spirit of the recitation. Those verses are touching something deep into your soul that provides one with a sense of peace, carrying you on a journey to and from Allah. Do you want to know what Islam sounds like? It sounds like the beautiful recitation of the Holy Quran in a large congregation.
Furthermore, when you pray at home you are surrounded by thousands of distractions, “Did I get a message on my phone?” “What time is it?” “Has my programme started?” When it’s already a challenge to achieve complete Khushu in prayer, being at home when people and things distract you makes it even harder. However, when you go to the mosque and pray, you’re consciously making the intention to worship Allah and Allah only, not your thousands of distractions (which you’ve left behind hence they are insignificant). With every step towards the Masjid, you take around a hundred steps closer to Allah and a hundred steps away from the material world. So the huge increase in Khushu is extremely beautiful to the heart because when you have delved into the depths of devotion to Allah Subhana Ta’allah with nothing to stop you, in response, Allah gives you contentment and much more.
Also, the difference between praying at the Masjid as compared to home is that you are surrounded by a company of like-minded Muslims. It’s not that Muslims that don’t go to the Masjid are any lesser, but there you feel that you are not alone and there is always someone who you can trust to help you. In my case, at that time, no one in my family offered prayers regularly and seriously enough that I was comfortable in asking them about any doubts in the practices of prayer because they’d tell me to pray however the way I wanted to because Allah knows my intentions. Hence, I’d be in a lot of doubt so at the Masjid I knew that I had nothing to fear when asking them anything related to prayer or anything about my Deen.
Furthermore, 14 years was the age where I was discovering how much Islam meant to me, how much it should and how much I wanted it to mean to me. Yet apart from my friend that I mentioned earlier, I was in the company of friends who made fun of me for simply praying, not using abusive language and would call me ‘Shareef’ (Innocent or gentle person) or ‘Maulvan’ (wrong word for Extremist Muslim) like it was something I should be ashamed of. Hence, when I was at the Masjid, at the House of Allah encompassed by His Presence, I’d pray all my problems and pain away, relying on Him. Also, you’re at a home, aren’t you? At home, you are safe. You are allowed to express yourself without facing any judgement. You can trust those in your home because the Ummah is your family. They are going through the same struggles as you. When I go to the Masjid, I ponder over the fact that there are brothers and sisters who could be made fun of for trying to be better people, of wearing Hijab or Nijab, or of being called Maulvan, etc. That feeling of having common struggles and goals together whether they mentioned it or not was very uplifting and comforting for a Muslimah like me who’s trying to find her way while going through every challenge.
So now I realize that the instructions Allah has made optional for us in the Holy Quran are for us so that we can improve our faith and spirituality, so optional does mean important. Now seven years have passed, I wear Shalwar Kameez and I still wait anxiously for Ramadan to complete reading the Quran and to go to the Masjid once more to meet Allah and my fellow Muslim Ummah. Whether you’ve experienced what I have or not, the Masjid isn’t just Allah’s home, it’s yours as well. So this Ramadan, if it is convenient for you and you are missing that special feeling of comfort, faith and love, come back to the home that is beckoning for you. Come back home.
(However, due to the current COVID-19 lockdown, it is preferred that you should offer Taraweeh prayers this Ramadan in the safety of your homes for your sake and the sake of others)
Assalam Alaikum! I’m Andale Seaworne, a regular 21 year old Muslim Pakistani girl navigating through life, sharing knowledge and opinion related to different topics in life from basic moral values with relevance to Islamic teachings to travelling, books, food, personal experiences, observations, interpretations and anything that comes to my mind. Someone who appreciates constructive criticism and ideas in an attempt to better myself as a blogger and as a human being living in Allah’s beautiful earth.