Ramadan 2024: Why taraweeh prayers are special for UAE worshippers

Muslims take part in the optional evening prayer to celebrate and reflect on their faith

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Ramadan nights hold a special significance for Muslims who join together in mosques with family, friends and fellow worshippers to strengthen their faith through the power of prayer.

Taraweeh is a nightly prayer performed by Muslims in the holy month and follows the obligatory isha prayer.

It is a voluntary act of worship, unlike the five daily prayers, and can be performed in an intimate setting at home or in the communal atmosphere of the mosque.

The taraweeh prayer consists of a minimum of eight rakats - the set of movements carried out by worshippers when prayers are performed - and is similar to normal prayers.

For Hussain Taj, a 40-year-old Egyptian resident in Sharjah, taraweeh prayers serve as “a poignant reminder of the values that underpin Islam – unity, empathy and spiritual renewal”.

“Ramadan is aligned with taraweeh prayer. It is only performed during the holy month and it is a chance for all Muslims to be closer to Allah,” Mr Taj told The National.

A UAE resident for the past 14 years, Mr Taj broke his first fast at his friend's home on Monday and later joined hundreds of worshippers at Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah.

He said he loves to attend taraweeh prayer at the mosque due to its beautiful design and the voice of the imam.

“Ramadan is a spiritual month and taraweeh is one of the highlights of the holy month,” he said.

“There are many rewards for praying taraweeh, including the forgiveness of previous sins. The rewards are significantly bigger as they are multiplied throughout the month of Ramadan.”

Sharing a spiritual journey

Amjad Nasar, 34, also attended the mosque in Sharjah to perform the prayer with his two nephews, aged 11 and eight.

“I want them to know about taraweeh and keep it as a memory for them, and to know more about traditions in Ramadan,” Mr Nasar told The National.

“Taraweeh has an amazing spiritual benefit. The sounds of imam while reading from the holy Quran, people gathering and filling the mosque gives you remarkable moments during Ramadan.”

Mr Nasar moved to Dubai after he got married, but frequently stays with his parents in Sharjah.

“I always join my family during Ramadan and come to Sharjah to break the fasting and perform prayers,” he said.

Reflection and renewal

Majid Hassan, a 42-year-old Iraqi engineer, said the taraweeh prayer is a form of meditation to reduce stress.

“The word taraweeh derives from the Arabic word for resting and relaxing. The repetitive nature of prayer movements and the focus on recitation can have a calming effect, and can reduce stress and anxiety,” said Mr Hassan.

“The taraweeh prayers offer Muslims an opportunity for spiritual reflection, self-discipline and renewal.

“It strengthens brotherhood as the prayer is often performed in congregation, fostering a sense of community and togetherness among Muslims.”

After taraweeh prayers, Muslims gather for suhoor meals and read the Quran.

This year, Muslims in the UAE begin the month by fasting for about 13 hours and 52 minutes and the final fast will be about 15 hours.

President Sheikh Mohamed posted a Ramadan message on social media to mark the start of Ramadan on Monday.

“May this period of reflection and prayer bring us closer together and strengthen our bonds of unity and compassion. I wish you a blessed Ramadan filled with peace, harmony and spiritual growth,” Sheikh Mohamed wrote on X.

Updated: March 15, 2024, 8:26 AM