Ramadan is just around the corner! Although that often rings bells of fasting during the day and yummy iftaars in the evenings, Ramadan also comes with a beautiful new addition to a Muslim’s daily routine – Taraweeh. It is a breathtaking scene when one sees men, women and children hurrying to the mosques after iftaar, spirits high and ‘assalamualikums’ filling the air.
Nevertheless, often this gift of Taraweeh prayer begins to take a toll on us. After a long day of fasting it often becomes challenging to drive over to the mosque and stand in a crowd of people through long hours of prayer. Here are a few practical steps that highlight some ways in which you can get the most out of your Taraweeh this year, insha’Allah:
- Remind yourself it’s a once in a year opportunity
For most of us, work, school or just about anything else becomes an excuse to wriggle us out of attending Taraweeh. The next time an excuse creeps into your mind, think to yourself – “It’s just once a year”. You may not get an opportunity to pray Taraweeh next year, so don’t give yourself excuses!Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 32, Number 226)
Why pass up such an opportunity?
- Go to the masjid stress-free
Make sure all your work is taken care of before you head out for Taraweeh. Plan your day so that homework is finished, emails are typed out, the dishes are cleaned and the kids are tucked away in bed for you to be able to stand through Taraweeh without your mind being occupied. If you cannot finish off certain tasks before Taraweeh then set a time after it when you will be working on these tasks.
- Go to the masjid with a group of friends or family
In this way, everyone makes it to Taraweeh without anybody slipping off under the bed covers and dozing off. If you are able to offer a ride to your friends in the neighborhood then there is insh’Allah, ajr (reward), for becoming a means for them to get to the masjid. Also, going along with a group adds to the enthusiasm! Finally, if you get to the masjid early with a group, you could cozy up in a corner and have a mini halaqa.
- Get to the masjid early
This is important. You leave five minutes before the prayer begins, you get to the masjid breathless, you’re thirsty now and there’s no place to stand, you finally find a spot where you are squished between crowds of people, this spot is hot – disaster during Taraweeh. Do not take a nap after iftaar, leave for the masjid right away. This will ensure that you get to the masjid without any puffing or panting and you can get a comfortable spot. Leave a portion of your daily Quran recitation to recite during this time.
- Have a light iftaar
Yes, we have all been hungry all day and seeing the delicious iftaar meal on the table makes you never want to stop. However, stocking up on all of it will do you more harm than good. It’s also against the sunnah! So go easy on your stomach and eat light. A full belly makes for a very uncomfortable Taraweeh. You may have a few more bites when you return from taraweeh if you feel you haven’t eaten enough.
- Know what’s being recited
This is by far the most crucial tip for Taraweeh prayers. Often we begin to feel tired and restless during Taraweeh because we have no clue about what is being recited! This also takes away from the khushu’ in one’s prayer. There are long-term and short-term solutions for this.The short-term solution: Get to know ahead of time what the imam will recite during Taraweeh the next day. Ask the imam or just predict! That night, pick up a copy of an English translation of the Quran and read the word-to-word translation and perhaps some of the commentary on those ayahs. You’ll feel far more alert during Taraweeh when you’re able to pick up on some of the meanings of what is being recited.The long-term solution: Plan ahead of Ramadan. Enroll yourself in online or local Arabic courses and learn some basic Quranic Arabic. Also, try joining Tafseer courses to be able to understand the beauty in the meanings of the Quran. This works far better than reading a mere translation of the Arabic text – but you need to plan ahead!
- Don’t neglect the fardh prayers
The Taraweeh prayers are a nafl prayer. Make sure in all the hype about Taraweeh, you don’t neglect your fardh (obligatory) prayers!
- Avoid the ‘dip’
Often halfway through Ramadan, we begin to feel a ‘dip’ where the enthusiasm for Taraweeh from the first few days begins to wear away. Avoid it. You may try new things to keep up the enthusiasm such as going for Taraweeh along with a friend, forming a halaqa with a few friends at the masjid after prayer etc. But most importantly, remind yourself why you’re going for Taraweeh each day and renew your intentions.
- Water is your friend
Carry a water bottle with you to freshen up in the breaks during the Taraweeh. To pump up the goodness and rewards, bring a few extras for others praying in the masjid.
- Leave the scowling at home
Sometimes people in the masjid may get on your last nerve. It’s hot and crowded, kids cry and people push. But keep your smile on. Ramadan is all about clinging to patience.
It’s the month of asking for forgiveness and seeking His Bounty. Learn different du’as that you can recite during the long prostrations in Taraweeh. If there’s any time when you should really increase those du’as, then it’s definitely during Taraweeh!
See Also: iMuslim. (2009). Tips for Ramadan Taraweeh (Tarawih) Prayers.
About the Author:
Holding a diploma in Quranic Exegesis from Al Huda International and majoring in the field of International Relations at the American University of Sharjah, Sundas Naeem has written several articles for local magazines and blogs. She was assistant editor of the annual magazine at Al Huda International and is currently on the editorial board of a semi-yearly student-run journal of the International Studies department at university. She has been able to work on good initiatives to help society. Some of these included filming a documentary on poverty in the country and organizing an online writing competition to produce beneficial literature for the Muslim youth. Her interests include reading, watching documentaries and spending time with the family.