How to Excel in Taraweeh Prayer
By Musa Bukhari
Ramadan makes us want to excel in our worship. As we fast, we also want to perform the night prayers at the masjid. As we enter the month of Ramadan, it’s important that we try and make the most out of these blessed nights. One aspect that makes Ramadan so unique are the taraweeh prayers. Praying taraweeh in Ramadan is one of the sunnahs of the Prophet (PBUH). It was something he encouraged and recommended. There is a misconception that these prayers were introduced by ‘Umar (RA), but rather 'Umar (RA) revived something that the Prophet (PBUH) loved and approved of. There was nothing that stopped him from performing these regularly except he feared that it might be made obligatory upon his ummah.
These prayers are a special part of Ramadan. It is here that Muslims pray in congregation, as the imam recites a portion of the Qur'an daily until its completion during the end of Ramadan. It can however, sometimes become strenuous when standing in prayer for over an hour every night after fasting for over 18 hours a day. It is therefore imperative that we prepare for this with some tips that will help make the experience more enjoyable as much as it is spiritually rewarding.
1. Make your intention clear
Like with most things in life, it is always important to clarify your intention and when you find yourself struggling, to renew your intentions. Use this experience as an opportunity, a means to come closer to Allah and ponder over the Qur'an.
'Umar (RA) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), say: “Actions are (judged) by motives (intention), so each man will have what he intended…” (Bukhari)
2. Take a small nap
During the day, it is encouraged to take a nap post dhuhr, but as most people work, this is not always feasible. Try to sleep for a short period of time just after asr, before iftar. We are often awake during the nights of Ramadan, as we try to seek Laylat al Qadr, so sleeping for a short period will give you the boost you need to excel in your 'ibadah.
3. Make a du’a list
During the prayers, you have the perfect opportunity to make du'a during sujood. This will give you the increased determination to make the prayers, if you know you can use the time to ask Allah for what you really want. It is a sacred and special place between you and Allah. Treasure it.
Abu Huraira (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The servant is nearest to his Lord during prostration, so increase your supplications therein.” [Muslim]
4. Eat healthy and stay hydrated
It is very important to eat healthy during your iftar. Consuming foods that have been fried will leave you feeling fatigued during your prayer. Make sure you bring a bottle of water with you to the masjid so you can keep cool, as the large congregation can get very hot.
5. Read the translation of the Qur'an
Before you attend the taraweeh prayers, try to read the translation of the Qur'an of the ayat (verses) the imam will recite, beforehand. This will intensify your experience and increase your concentration as you engage with the words being recited.
6. Attend with a friend/family member
Take someone with you to the masjid, be it a friend or family member and realise the rewards you can obtain. This will help, as you will have someone with you giving you a sense of security and safety in numbers. This will also help ease the traffic congestion post-prayers, and the less cars on the road means it is better for the environment. Not only will you get the reward of taking someone to the House of Allah, but you will also be completing a sunnah of performing the prayers.
Try your best to keep up with these tips to attain maximum benefits and rewards out of the taraweeh prayers. Keep positive and know that preparing beforehand will impact your concentration in the prayer more effectively.
7. Pay attention to the recitation
One of the several reasons why we often cannot gain the deep heart connection in taraweeh is due to lack of focus and understanding of the Qur’an.
Pro tip: even if you cannot understand the words, *follow* the recitation. Make the effort to listen to the words of your Creator. It will have some impact on you, inshaAllah.
May Allah bless us all in this last 10 nights and allow us to leave Ramadan transformed in the most profound way, in all aspects of our lives, Ameen.