Went to taraweeh prayers tonight by myself.

Felt weird!

I was SO tempted to just stay home because it was raining, but I had to go out anyway to pick up my son from work and it just meant dropping him home and taking off for the masjid.

I made my little rain dua. It goes like this: “Oh Allah, don’t let your servant get wet. Stop the rain when I have to walk through it.”

But just in case, I grabbed my umbrella from the back seat of my car.

The dua worked though. Everytime I had to walk in it, the rain was so light I really didn’t need the umbrella.

Usually I go with hubby and son and it’s turned into its own sort of ritual that usually ends with us in the drive-thru of McD’s getting a flurry and an ice cream cone and perhaps a strawberry sundae.

The evening begins when we leave here on time, get to the mosque even before the adhan (call to prayer) for Isha has gone off.

And something about just walking into this big huge, basically a gym kind of a building, puts the smile on my face! It’s just so peaceful and relaxing, seeing the old women on their chairs getting a heard start on their extra prayers, and the young girls in their fancy hijabs with the dangly pins clustered in groups talking, and the middling ladies (of whom I count myself) already praying their two rakats for the masjid, and little kids, toddlers and five year olds, running around because the mosque is such a wide open space, it’s always been a great place for a kid to run!

I look around to see if any of my friends are here.

And I smile and nod, when ladies I know catch my eye.

Then I get busy praying my two rakats for the masjid, and just as I’m finishing them, the adhan starts beautifully.

We pray the fardh with Sheikh Saeed, an old man originally from Egypt, leading the prayer. His tajweed recitation is impeccable.

Then there’s the sunnah, and then we get ready for the taraweeh.

The taraweeh are basically extra prayers that are particularly done during Isha prayer in Ramadan in sets of either eight or twenty rakats.

Being the minimalist that I am, I do the eight.

The taraweeh are led by a Hafiz, a person who has memorized the entire Quran, and meticulously the Quran is recited during the entire taraweeh of Ramadan.

Every night the Hafiz picks up where he left off.

But at this masjid there are two Hafiz’s doing the honours. Sheikh Saeed and a Libyan gentleman who has a different style that is just as beautiful.

My age is catching up to me.

Used to be the only thing that would hurt were my feet from standing so long, listening to the verses of the Quran being recited during taraweeh.

Now it’s my back, and it gets quite painful, so when it comes to the taraweeh I do the easy thing and I sit down with the old ladies on the chairs.

Sheikh Saeed always starts the first two sets of two rakats and then the Libyan gent kicks in.

Only problem is that Sheikh Saeed takes his time. I’m sitting with my eyes closed listening to his beautiful voice going slowly, methodically, through the verses so that I can actually pick out various Arabic words and get the gist of what is being said, but often because it’s been such a long day and it’s getting to the end of Ramadan and the sleep deprivation is starting to catch up to me, there’s been many a time that I am in danger of nodding off.

Not tonight though.

He started with Surah Rahman, which literally means “Chapter The Merciful”.

It’s one of the most beautiful chapters of the Quran. Whenever I hear it, the words reach into my chest cavity, grab hold of my heartstrings and pull at them, not all that gently.

It’s chapter 55 and the beginning goes like this:

God Most Gracious ! (Rahman)

It is He who has taught the Quran.

He has created man.

He has taught him speech and intelligence.

The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed;

And the herbs and the trees both alike bow in adoration.

And the firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the balance of justice,

In order that you may not transgress due balance.

So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance.

It is He who has spread out the earth for His creatures

Therein is fruit and date-palms, producing spathes,

Also corn, with its leaves and stalk for fodder, and sweet-smelling plants.

Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?

Oh it goes on, talking about the ships that plow the waves and the fish and pearls we get from the sea, and always, always, there is the refrain, “Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?”

It’s really quite famous. Almost any Muslim could recognize that refrain immediately! Between Surah Rahman and the verse of the Light, those are my favourite parts of the Quran.

And tonight Sheikh Saeed read it and Surah Rahman was even too much for him. You could hear his voice cracking and getting gravelly with emotion, and listening to him and knowing how hard he was trying not to cry, just made the tears come into my own eyes.

Halfway through the second rakat, while he was continuing his methodical recitation, it was too much for him and he had to pause, gather himself, and stoically continue.

It was a beautiful moment.

Fed my soul.

I felt it rising, rising, up to heaven.

And I was so glad I had come.

When I went out into the dimly lit parking lot, careful to make sure the cars that were leaving saw me in the light rain, I felt happy and at peace, and then I went to Mickie D’s drive thru to get my ice cream cone!