Inside me are all sorts of reasons why I do not need to go to taraweh: I am working at several fronts with serious deadlines, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted and need rest, the time between iftar and taraweh is too narrow, and after all it is not a fard and the final invisible argument that comes in with a grain of salt is, I am a woman I can just pray at home. However I am honest with myself and know that the couple of days I stayed home I only prayed on Facebook and nowhere did it resemble the Salah we perform at the masjid.
The first 18 days were gegenhalten….I noticed that when the men left after 8 rakah without completing the 20 which is what the Imam was leading this Ramadan, they loitered in the lobby or outside the mosque reluctant to go home.
I was perplexed, if they did not want to go home to sleep why did they not stay in the salah? The answer came to me when after a long and arduous day at work and home I found myself falling asleep at Asr. I forced myself to stay up for ASR and prayed to Allah to give me strength to go to taraweh. Suddenly after Salah I felt like reciting the Quran, which I did from Asr till magrib. I got up at Iftar from the musallah deeply energized as if someone had filled me with a new day after a restful sleep.
I realized then why the men in the masjid who left the musallah after 8 rakah did so out of habit but could not go home and sleep because they were charged with energy from the words of Allah.
Standing in taraweh, I listen to the Quran, no longer holding a mushaf like past years. I am no longer frantically looking for the point where the Imam last left off. Peace and acceptance settles into my heart. Acceptance that I am unable to understand all the Arabic and peace that whatever tafseer I have studied will inshallah come to me as I recognize the relevant ayahs.
As I focus on the sound of the Imams voice transmitting the words of Allah, I stare at the green musallah and something happens…………… the edges fade, the people around me disappear and I find my musallah transformed into a flying carpet.
Now it is just me with the words of Allah, He is talking to me and and I am flying…………..at times he shows me Jannah with the lush beauty of the verdant garden and at times my body shivers with fear and I cling to the edges of the carpet as I catch a glimpse of the Fire. I see the boiling water being poured into the throats of the sinner………before the horrific scene can mesmerize me; it dissolves into the gentle mist of Love and Mercy of the Merciful.
As each rakah progresses my adventure on the flying carpet takes me to Muslim lands and I see bloodshed of the Muslims. Just as I am on the verge of despondency loud and clear comes the promise of Allah: Let not the oppressor feel that We are unaware of their Dhulm, but they will be tackled on the Day when eyes will stare in horror” I want to speak to the children of the dead parents and reassure them of the word of Allah to give them hope, but the carpet has whisked me to another scene.
The amazing feeling of being on the flying carpet in Taraweh is that you are a passenger without the ability to control where you are going. You are flying through time, space, emotions and feelings. His (Subhanawataala) voice is resounding not only in your ears but also in your heart.
You feel the anguish of the Prophet pbuh as his family rejects him and immediately you feel the loving hand of Allah on his (pbuh) cheek reassuring him…………”Convey not convince” taking the load of responsibility of outcome off of him.
You travel to the apartments where the Prophet (PBUH) lived and you see the crassness and ignorance of the Bedouins of those times some of who have remained unchanged despite changing from their rustic djellabiya into royal robes.
The magazines that report gossip and divide families irretrievably flash by with a warning of severe consequences. The found babies of adultery and fornication in garbage heaps in Pakistan are fondly picked up by angels and taken to our Lord to witness the kabair sins of their parents.
After every shudder comes a glimpse of beauty of the flowing streams, of coolness of the eyes and the cool mist of His Mercy.
At one point I look down and I see that around the Kaaba people are circumambulating. I get agitated and I want to get down from the carpet to be there with them.
Again the peace enters my heart as the recitation of Allah’s word continues and I close my eyes. I am there walking with them around the kaaba, no, I am standing with them in Salah three lines away from the walls of the Kaaba. I look up at it in wonder……..so close to the house of Allah, at Maghreb, in Ramadan and on the Night of Laylatul Qadr!
How did I get here I think and catch a glimpse of the two white clad women who brought me here to stand in Salah. I am seeing a hologram of my Itikaaf in the haram. At that time it did not register but now I know with certainty as much certainty as a mortal can have that on that night of Layl at ul Qadr when I was alone and got separated from my companions, and was pursued by the Muttawattas (religious police), the two women in white who rescued me were “angels descending on us” as is promised by our Lord in Surah Al Qadr.
As I tarry feeling alone, one of the white clad women looks back and says, “follow us and we will take care of you” there are tears of gratitude in my eyes then and now…………
I listen to the Imams recitation of the words of Allah and it morphs into the voice of Sheikh Jouhani in the haram entering my heart and every cell in my body. Tears flow from my eyes cleansing my inside as the words of my Lord resound and echo from the walls of the Haram and within me. It is laylatul Qadr and I am praying in front of the Kaaba with two angels dressed in white as Pakistani women.
I am transformed………..
It is Taraweh in our little town in the west and yet I have travelled to places far away on my flying carpet borne on the words of my Lord……