Sunday, September 16, 2007

Taraweeh prayers

I'd been ill since the start of the week so i wasn't able to make it to taraweeh prayers until Friday night. Not exactly the start to Ramadan that i was hoping for, but there are still 26 days to gain reward from.

Over the years i've found that the best Imams to pray taraweeh behind are the trained Imams who are ethnically Arab. Since they've grown up speaking the language of the Qur'an, their recitation has all the correct inflections, and the emphases are made in all the right places. A great example is the Egyptian Imam who is leading at East London Mosque this year. It really is a joy to pray behind him and if anyone is able to make it there I really recommend that you head out there one evening.

The worst recitors are the desi Imams in most Hanafi mosques here who don't understand Arabic. Their sole aim seems to be to finish their recitation and get the hell out of the mosque as quick as possible. The recitation combines between bad tajweed and being incomprehensible and unfortunately tonight i found myself behind one such Imam. After two rak'aat i was thinking, what the hell am i doing here? It wasn't a pleasure to listen the recitation because it was going at 100mph, and because it was so fast, i couldn't understand what he was reading - and I'm talking about parts of the Qur'an i've memorised. I'm not going to be praying taraweeh at that mosque again. But i am looking forward to visiting the Moroccan Mosque in Ladbroke Grove to pray behind the Imam who follows the recitation of Warsh. I'll extract a portion of his recitation from a couple of years ago and stick it up here later.

Update: Here is the promised audio clip [~3 Mb]


Mansur said...

Your experience with the 100mph imam is what everyone is going through in Lahore too, and that's why I don't go because people have this perception that the imam should be reciting very fast so they can finish the entire Quran in this month. More emphasis is placed on the speed and not on the content of what's being recited. And I end up thinking other things in my head while the imam is rambling on! :-)


JK said...

As-Salamu Alaykum Kashif,

I do have some good news on this front, in that England is increasingly becoming the center of Islam in the West-- so much so that millions of Muslims in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden and elsewhere are moving to England. I and my own brothers and sisters back in Chicago travel to these Continental European nations sometimes, and we're trying to encourage further this movement to England-- Islam thrives in England even as it languishes and declines on the Continent.

Fortunately, most of these new Muslims in England are of North African or other Arab extraction, and as I found recently when visiting Manchester, they want to become more involved as Imams and other participants in the mosques of England, both in the major and minor cities alike. One of the newer mosques in Manchester (and also in Leeds and Birmingham from what I've heard) apparently has North African Arabs from France, the Netherlands and Germany uttering the prayers-- whether for taraweeh or outside of Ramadan-- and you're right, it's led to a massive improvement.

The more that England can draw in the Muslim Ummah currently wallowing in countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden, the more the mutual benefits will be. The Muslim transplants from the Continent will benefit from being in a place like England where our faith flourishes, while Muslims already in England will benefit greatly from the presence and leadership of these predominantly Arab Muslims in the mosques.

Anonymous said...

as-salaamu alaykum,

I think it's incorrect to say that the best Imaams are "ethnically Arab", and probably better to say "those who have an excellent command of Arabic". As there are clearly "ethnically Arab" Imams who are terrible, who neither know tajweed nor have nice voices. In Riyadh, Saudi one of the best Imaams, if not the best in Riyadh, is Imaam Adil al-Kalbani, who is originally and ethnically African (his grand-parents are Omani of African origin) but an Arab (linguistically).


Anonymous said...

As-salaamu alaykum,

Can you put more of Imam Ahmad Dahdouh's recitation (Imaam at Acklam Road, Ladbroke Grove) up if you have it please bruv? It is rare to have his material for audio, but I know that there are a few tapes when he was the Imam at Brixton Mosque in the 1990s.