Last night was the night I have been looking forward to for the entire month. It was my youth group’s annual Qiyam Ul-Layl. Every Ramadan my group of Muslim sisters spends one entire night performing acts of prayer, worship, and remembrance of God. Every year it is a truly enlightening experience. We all break our fast together in the evening, pray our fard prayers along with all 20 rakats of Taraweeh, Salat Ul-Tasbeeh, Salat Ul-Tahajjud, and Salat Ul-Ishraq, as well as listen to lectures and have discussions all about our faith and God. For the entire night, we forget the meaningless conversations of this world and focus on strengthening our own individual connections to God, with the help of each other and our mentors.
Performing a Qiyam is something that can’t be put into words. “We pray all night.” It’s so much more than that though. We willingly sacrifice our sleep and our social media time to dedicate ourselves to worship for around 10 hours. By the end of the night, there is a sense of accomplishment that can only be understood by someone who also takes part in a Qiyam.
In addition to all of the prayers and discussions, during our down time, my friends and I spent some time reading the 30th juz of the Qur’an. Those are the surahs we all had memorized at one point, but have since forgotten a good portion of it, so we spent the time re-familiarizing ourselves with the Arabic and reading the English. It was really cool to read the meaning of these surahs we’ve been reciting in our prayers for years. Since I’ll be reading those again in a couple days, I’ll wait until then to talk about my favorite surahs.
Believe it or not, my legs felt a little stiff today from all of the standing and bowing we did yesterday. I’ve never felt that before from praying, and it is an incredible feeling. It may sound weird, but I actually feel pretty proud that I stood and bowed so much for God that my legs actually felt it the next day. It must have been the Salat Ul-Tasbeeh. That is one intense prayer. It’s always my favorite, and I am forever grateful to my mentors of this youth group for teaching it to me. If you haven’t every prayed Salat Ul-Tasbeeh before, I suggest trying it. It is a prayer that takes around half an hour to do, but the sense of accomplishment afterwards is crazy.
So, since I was doing that all night last night, I guess I owe you two ayahs of the day today. The first is from Surah 68, Surah Al-Qalam (“The Pen”). Ayahs 1-6 say “By the pen and by the (Record) which men write – You (Oh Prophet!) are not, by the grace of your Lord, mad, insane, or possessed. No (in reality), and surely, for you is a reward unfailing: And verily, you (are placed) on an exalted standard of character. Soon will you see, and they will see, which of you is affected with madness.” According to my Qur’an, the people of Mecca would refuse the Prophet’s (S) message and say he is insane. Here is yet another example in the Qur’an of God giving his messenger words of encouragement. In the stories I have learned about the first time the Prophet heard Qur’an from Angle Jibrael (Gabriel), he was terrified. After going through that ordeal, and then embracing his duty as the messenger of God, and then being ridiculed by his own people for trying to fulfill that duty, he probably could have used some words of encouragement. God is understanding. He knew that he gave Muhammad (S) a difficult task, so He encouraged him. Time and time again when I learn about the Prophet’s (S) life, I see a very human person in him. When I hear about how he was the most perfect person, how he endured so much physical pain and stood in prayer longer than I could even imagine, it sometimes seems like the Prophet (S) wasn’t even human, so I love reading bits in the Qur’an like this one where it acknowledges that he is a human being who faced difficulty and sometimes needed God to pick him back up. It also shows how God knows exactly what is going on. He didn’t just reveal the Qur’an and then leave the Prophet (S) to figure out how to deal with his people himself. God was there every step of the way, coaching him and reassuring him.
My second ayah is actually one that one of the speakers talked about at the Qiyam last night. It is the first six ayahs of Surah Al-Muzzammil (Surah 73, “The One Folded in Garments”): “Oh you (Prophet) folded up in garments! Stand up (in prayer) by night, except a little (less) – Half of (the night), or less than that by a little, or a little more; and recite the Qur’an in slow, stately (and rhythmic) tones. Verily, soon We shall send down upon you a weighty message. Truly, the rising by night is most powerful for governing (the soul) and most suitable for (understanding) the World (of Prayer and Praise).” How perfect that I read that today. From what the speaker last night said, the prayer that is being talked about in this ayah is Tahajjud, which is the prayer we focused on last night in our discussions. That last sentence about the night being the best time for “governing the soul” is so true. When it is the middle of the night, our true feelings come out. It is when all barriers are broken down and we see exactly who we are, what we are going through, and what we truly want. I felt that last night, and hope to be able to do more nighttime prayers so that I can feel that and be able to really make a true du’a and govern my soul.
*IFTAR PICTURE OF THE DAY*
Cake, Strawberries, and Peach-Pineapple Juice
Barbeque Chicken and Biryani from an Indian Restaurant
(We had a party at our house today that I completely slept through because of last night. Oops…)