How youthful Muslims are utilising Taraweeh

How youthful Muslims are utilising Taraweeh

As young boys barely out of their teenage years lead Muslim faithful in Taraweeh prayers, others spend time loitering aimlessly outside mosques. Meanwhile, girls excuse themselves from prayers to chat with boyfriends.

What a great lose it would be for any Muslim to have been privileged by Allah (SWT) to be alive and of good health during the holy month of Ramadhan and at the end of it; come out empty handed or not benefited whatsoever.

This is has been a constant remainder from our Imams and other religious leaders since the month began in their many darsas. And now that Ramadhan is hitting the homestretch, these statement seems to be falling on deaf ears as some Muslims squander this opportunity and have taken their time wasting antics a notch higher.

In these pages of Marhaba Life and Style of our past issue no:155 titled ‘Killing Time’ during the month of Ramadhan, we had a lengthy debate on how Muslims squander precious and priceless moments engaging in activities meant to push days and nights of this holy month.  

Once again, Marhaba Life and Style revisits this topic to report on how time meant for the daily Taraweeh (night) prayers during Ramadhan is being misused by Muslims mainly the youth not keen on performing the said prayer; but to pursue their own agenda in total disregard of the sanctity of the month.

In some Muslim neighbourhoods of Nairobi, Mombasa and elsewhere, reports have it that for several years now, Muslim youth have been taking advantage of time meant for Taraweeh prayer to loiter aimlessly in estate streets; pursue boy/girl relationships; an opportunity to discover cigarette smoking and chewing Khat (miraa); catching up on social media sites as they get engrossed on screens of their mobile phones just to mention but a few.  

For example in Kibra-Nairobi, Marhaba Life and Style was shocked to learn that some young Muslim girls attending Taraweeh come to prayers complete with heavy make up only to excuse themselves midway during prayers and be found happily chatting boys within mosques compounds.

Other girls, if not boyfriends, then it is an opportunity to gossip or show off latest fashions.

Meanwhile, boys loiter aimlessly-kupiga malap-as they call it, and go back home at the end of the prayer to hoodwink parents that they were at the mosque.   

Owing to this turn of events, imams and respective mosque committees of some mosques in Nairobi several years ago outlawed Taraweeh prayer for women and girls for fear that it was promoting Fitna (corruption).

Thus, when Marhaba Life and Style inquired from imams as to whether they were aware of such activities among the youthful Muslims during Taraweeh, many seem to being aware as others said they are not in a position to stop it as they are busy in prayers.

According to Sheikh Ahmad Annajash the imam of Huruma mosque in Nairobi, is aware and not surprised by such behavior.

“They take advantage of Ramadhan because in other months, parents would not allow them out at night.”

The Imam of Mwingi mosque In Mwingi, a Sheikh Salim, during his Khutbah (Friday sermon) several days to Ramadhan urged parents to be cautious especially during Taraweeh prayers.

“In Mombasa, it is common to see young people gathered outside mosques during Taraweeh doing nothing,” he said.

It is interesting to note that any given time during Taraweeh, there are more people idling outside mosques compared to those in safs (prayer lines) behind imams.

This topic has also caught the attention of Sheikh Othman Maalim.

In his YouTube darsa (religious lecture), titled Fadhila za Ramadhani, Sheikh Othman is dismayed that youth prioritise loitering at the expense of Taraweeh.  “Youth have become lazy and neglected Taraweeh,” he says.

“Wengine wanajipitia inje ya miskiti na ilhali wengine wana swali kana yeye sio muislamu.” Swala hii haiswaliwi isipokua Ramadhani” That loitering youth pass outside mosques during Taraweeh as if they are not Muslims. This prayer is only performed during Ramadhan.

Sheikh Othman also has issues with faithful who abandon the imam leading Taraweeh  prayer midway.

“Wait until Taraweeh is over and leave with Imam-if you do so, it will be as if you have prayed the whole night,” he says.

This is in accordance to a hadith by Abu Hurayrah who relates that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever stands (in the voluntary night prayer of) Ramadhan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven. And whoever spends the night of Laylatul Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (An-Nasa’i)

Sheikh Othman urges the youth to make Ramadhan a turning point in their lives. “Ramadhani iku badilishe. Wengi wetu tuliacha maahsia Ramadhani ilipo anza basi, ikiisha tusi ya regelee.”

Saying that we should utilise the moment, Sheikh Othman cautions the youth that they have no guarantee they shall make it to another Ramadhan.

When asked what can be done to curb this trend, Sheikh Annajash is of the opinion of parents tagging along their children to mosques. “Dads should pray with sons, mothers with daughters with instructions to pray and stick together until the end.”

As for women attending Taraweeh, Sheikh Annajash is of the opinion that for fear of Fitna (corruption), then it is advisable that they pray at home. “Furthermore, a woman is better off praying at  home than mosque.”

According to Sheikh Salim, leaving your adolescent child at home or going with them for Taraweeh is not a water-tight idea. “Either way, if they are determined to converse with the opposite sex, then they will. Leaving them at home alone is equally dangerous.”

But not all is lost. As Marhaba Life and Style established not all youth seem to prefer ‘Taraweeh outings’. For example, currently in many mosques in and around Nairobi, young boys barely out of their teenage years are at the forefront leading Taraweeh prayer through their exemplary memorization and recitation of the holy Qur’an.

Lastly, it is worthwhile to remember that the blessed Laylatul Qadr can be found in any of the last 10 nights of Ramadhan, which are the most blessed nights of the year.

As such, we should all increase our worship and devotion during this period. Time for idling and loitering outside mosques should be postponed to after Ramadhan.

Aisha reported: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Prophet (SAW) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray the whole night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Bukhari].

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