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Tarawih Prayers - Q&As with Joseph Islam
« on: June 28, 2014, 11:15:07 AM »
TARAWIH PRAYERS


SHOULD YOU READ TARAWIH PRAYERS?

I personally have no problems joining the Tarawih prayers for the sake of God, in His remembrance alone and most importantly, as another opportunity to listen to the Quran with a view to continue to extract its pearls of wisdom and instructions. It is a good practice.


ISN’T THE TARAWIH PRAYERS UNQURANIC?

I only see a particular practice of a people as 'Unquranic' if

  • It contravenes explicit Quranic narratives or the overarching guidance of the Quran.
  • It is practiced as an authoritative part of religion (i.e. prescribed by God for His Servants) when there is no proof of this from the Quran

Ultimately, in my humble view, it comes down to intentions. If you are joining Tarawih prayers because you understand it to be prescribed by God on His servants in the same manner as say, fasting, or regular prayers, then this thought is 'unquranic'. If however, you are joining such prayers as good practice in the remembrance of God, or as an opportunity to refresh your knowledge of the content of the Quran, then I see no problems with this from a Quran's perspective.


WHAT ABOUT THOSE MUSLIMS THAT THINK OF TARAWIH AS ‘PRESCRIBED’. ARE THEY NOT INVENTING OR SINNING?

One is not responsible for the thoughts or theological understanding of others. It may well be the case that their intention is good and that their theological position is based on the best manifestation of knowledge that has reached them at that moment in time. We are not to judge them.

Even in the Quran, a Christian community invented 'monasticism' as a part of religion to please God, but which God did not prescribe. However, the Lord Almighty did not dismiss them, but promised to reward them from the good of their actions, even though it was an invention. (57:27).

The Quran has no intention to strip one of a culture and their traditions or to make humans into a monolithic community. It recognises variances amongst us as we have been created a diverse people (49:13. 30:22). The Quran only seeks to guide by providing a tool for discernment so that existing practices do not conflict with the basic tenets of its teachings. Hence, the primary purpose of the Quran was to remove such customs and beliefs of the Arabs which were incongruent with its teachings and not necessarily forbid those that were not. [1] Please see verse 2:158 as an example.


SOME MUSLIMS MAY FIND STANDING IN TARAWIH CONGREGATION BORING AS THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THE IMAM IS SAYING. WHAT SHOULD THEY DO?

This is part of a wider problem within the Muslim community whose native language is not 'Arabic'. Arguably, more often than not, children are taught the Quran in rote fashion and not the 'Arabic language' as a necessary component to understand the message of the Quran in parallel.

Muslim communities can only benefit if they address this problem at source and devise a method where Arabic is taught as a second language alongside any other native tongue they are taught. Much of this responsibility inevitably resides with the parents in the first instance and wider community.

If you are a parent of young children, it is an easy fix. Teach them Arabic and when the Quran is heard, they will inevitably extract its meaning in the future.

However, for those that have reached adulthood and find it difficult to learn a new language or do not have the wider resources to enable this, there are ways to make the most out of a congregation dedicated to listening to the Quran such as 'Tarawih':

  • Read the surah or content that the Imam is expected to cover in a language you understand before you join the Tarawih prayers.
  • Take the Quran with you to Tarawih prayers, or make use of other aids which do not disturb others to make the most out of the Quran's listening.

In the end, many people use this opportunity to think of God alone and to thank Him with congregational solidarity. It is foremost an opportunity to replenish one’s spiritual capacity. Ultimately it comes down to the individual as to how they make the most out of Ramadan and any practices which are performed during this month.


HOW MANY PRAYERS SHOULD WE READ IN TARAWIH?

As many as one can manage with concentration, focus and ease. There is arguably no point in robotic performance with no spiritual connection. One should always respect the understanding of the congregation of the particular mosque in question. One's purpose is to worship God for His sake alone and not necessarily be concerned with the theological position of others, unless the nature of the worship contravenes the Quran's explicit guidance.


I hope this helps, God willing.
Joseph


REFERENCES:

[1] Culture and Traditions Should Be Understood and Not Simply Dismissed
https://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.islam/posts/147131372090665
[2] Quran-centric - a powerful position indeed!
https://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.islam/posts/330796700390797
[3] My Humble Advice
https://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.islam/posts/213495468787588
[4] Following Traditions:
https://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.islam/posts/309845362485931
[5] Is Hearsay Unquranic?
https://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.islam/posts/363674833769650
[6] Reassessing Your Traditions in Light of the Quran - A Case in Point (To God We Belong)
https://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.islam/posts/165697170232249