Alhamdulillah today is the 27th day of Ramadan, last night most mosques held a special Laylatul Qadr Qiyam. I have always made it a point to attend each year but I did not last night, I spent it at home praying by myself. May Allah accept all of our Ibadah and our Qiyam. So far, Ramadan for me has been as usual alright, fasting, praying and going to the mosque, nothing much out of the ordinary. May Allah make us witness the rest of the month and bestow us all with His endless Rahma in this month and beyond.
The beginning of Ramadan was quite eventful at my local mosque. I prayed the first Tarawih at the mosque, before the Eisha prayer, the Imam announced a rather unfortunate event that calls to mind that even though in Ramadan the Shaytan is supposed to be tied up, the evil within us is ever active except for those who truly fear Allah, who are able to control their nafs. Right in the mosque’s wudu area someone got stabbed! Can you imagine, in the mosque, making wudu to pray at the eve of the month of Ramadan, our holiest month of the year, in which we all are seeking the mercy, forgiveness and blessings from Allah.
I was taken aback by the announcement and I started to debate within myself, do I really want to pray Tarawih in this mosque where someone got stabbed. Ambulance and police came according to the Imam but we were able to go ahead with the Prayer without much disruption, at least at the ladies’ side. Not too sure about the men’s since the incident happened at their side. Hopefully the stabbed person was saved and the criminal got what they deserved. Though, I was a bit shaken by the announcement of this incident, I was able to put thoughts of not going to the mosque aside and kept going to pray whenever I feel like. It is not compulsory for women to go out to the mosque to pray but you feel the spirit of Ramadan more when you go to the mosque than not.
It happened that the unfortunate incident at the mosque is not the end of the fitnah to ensue during this Ramadan. I was at a quiet and sleepy village outside of London at the invitation of a friend when the London riots came on the news. Subhannallah! What is going on, why and how were the questions rushing through my mind, of course all answered by the news. Before the riots spread out beyond London, my friend and I had a debate about who started the riots and why and it became a race issue. My friend never shy away from calling a spade a spade and I never shy away from responding appropriately as I see it. Of course, as the riots spread out and reported by the news, we got to know exactly who were involved, why and the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with race as every race and ethnicity seems to have a representative in one form or the other. Perhaps, what triggered the riots in the first place might have some racial elements but the mayhem that ensued thereafter cut across race from what was reported on various news of the incident.
Apart from the news of the riots that seems to interrupt my peaceful Ramadan retreat at my friend’s, I had a nice time going to the mosque with her, eating and breaking fast together. The Village have a lovely mosque, not too many Muslims there, the women’s area had about 20 women with children at its fullest and my friend said towards the end of Ramadan hardly would you see any woman, she is always left to pray alone with one or two other women who seem to persist till the end with her. The mosque at the Village prays 20 Rakaat of Tarawih instead of 8 like the other mosques I have been to in London. Even though it’s 20 Rakaat it doesn’t seem very long as the Imam do not recite the Surah too long. They must have a division that makes it easy for them to do short recitations and still able to cover the whole of the Quran by the end of Ramadan. I also observed that they seem to pray a bit differently at the mosque. At the last Rakah of Witr after rising from Rukuh, the Imam makes a Takbir and everybody went quiet for about 2 minutes and then another Takbir after which everyone goes to Sujud as normal.
On my first Tarawih at the mosque, when I heard the Takbir after rising from Rukuh, it means going to Sujud to me and I went on to Sujud but my friend pulled me back as I was standing next to her. I went back standing looking confused, what is going on? At the end of the Salaah, I asked her what was going on and she explained to me that at that point, everyone make Dua quietly by themselves. But at the other mosques I go to, at this point the imam make the Dua Qunnut loudly and the people respond with Amin. She said, at their mosque the Imam does not make the Dua Qunnut loudly; the people say their Dua individually quietly by themselves. I asked her which way of praying is this, and she said, Hanafi. I really do not know the exact differences in the way of praying of the different schools of thought. I remember a long time a go, twice I had prayed Eid at some mosque in London because it is nearer to where I lived than my usual mosque but I got confused by the way they pray as described above, no one explained to me what they do and I stopped going there as I want the full reward of my Eid prayer. I guess that mosque also follow the Hanafi school, hence their different way of praying the Eid Salaah
At the village mosque, I met a Libyan sister. She moved there from London not too long ago and she feels lonely because she knows no one there. She introduced herself and asked if I live there, obviously looking to make friends. Unfortunately, I don’t and I told her, I could see the disappointment on her face by that. I gave her my number to call me if she wants and my friend will keep in touch with her when she returns from her holiday. I asked my friend if she knows everyone at the mosque and she does. She said, every household in the village contributed to the building of the mosque and the Imams are known to the people as they pay them. They have a permanent Imam and two temporary ones for Ramadan. I like the feeling of a place where everyone knows everyone else and everyone has a stake in the community, which makes you have a sense of belonging and responsibility. The fact that every household contributed to the mosque makes you feel that it’s your mosque and you don’t feel like an outsider when you go there. Insha Allah, I would like to live in a place like this sometimes in the near future. The so called community here in London is too artificial for me, some belong some don’t.
I came back to the normal in London and I was scared to go to the mosque to pray Tarawih because of the riots, though already ended by the time I came back. I heard some woman got mugged at knife point not too far from where I live, the more reason to stay at home. My friend advised me not to go to the mosque as it’s not compulsory for women especially if there is likely danger in going. I have only been to the mosque twice since, each time hoping and praying I get home safely without any unfortunate incident. I guess, going to the village is the highlight of my Ramadan, May Allah bless and reward the darling sister who invited me. Three more days to go, who knows what more is in store but Allah (swt).