Friday, August 26, 2011

The Last 10 Days of Ramadan and Lailat Al-Qadr (27 Ramadan): Times of Special Prayers and Recitation

Aerial pictures of the Grand Mosque and surrounding areas taken by Arab News photographer Ahmed Hashad on Saturday night. (AN photos)

Last year I did a number of posts related to the final 10 days of Ramadan, and Lailat Al-Qadr (the Night of Power). These days are particularly important during Ramadan, because it is during this time that the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Mohamed, though uncertain which exact day was the first revelation of the Qur'an 21, 23, 25, 27, 29.

These final 10 days are marked by increased spirituality, prayers, and a nightly recitation of each of 10 segments of the Qur'an such that the whole of the Qur'an has been completely recited over the 10 days. Some Muslims will have read or recited the Qur'an over the 30 days of Ramadan or, in a more intense manner, over 7 days, as part of their spiritual renewal during this holy month.

While voluntary Taraweeh are additional Ramadan night prayers throughout the month, on 21 Ramadan special voluntary night prayers, Salat Tahajjud تهجد‎, begin, usually at about midnight, after obligatory Isha prayers. Recitation of the Qur'an forms a part of these later night prayers.

Night prayers, salat-ul-layl, are collectively called Qiyamullail prayers--Qiyam’,to stand (in prayer); ‘Layl’, night. Prayer during these last 10 days of Ramadan is thought to have greater spiritual force, and greater chance of recompense than prayers at other times of the Islamic year.

The 3 articles following describe both the beauty of performing these prayers, and the logistical challenges in Saudi Arabia of accommodating all those, whether Saudi or Umrah pilgrims from other countries, who wish to perform these prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the city where the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohamed.

All of the photos accompanied the first article, which also describes how they were taken, on 21 Ramadan this year.

Worshippers throng mosques for 'qiyamullail'
Published: Aug 21, 2011 22:27 Updated: Aug 21, 2011 22:39

MAKKAH/RIYADH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah is filled to the brim with worshippers these days as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have come from all over the world to perform Umrah and attend taraweeh and qiyamullail prayers, seeking the blessings of Lailat Al-Qadr (night of power).

The Civil Defense department in Makkah gave Arab News a rare opportunity to take aerial photos of the Grand Mosque on the 21st night of Ramadan on Saturday sitting in their helicopter and at the initiative of Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Harbi, commander of aviation in the Kingdom.

The S92 model helicopter was piloted by Capt. Abdul Aziz Al-Dhufyan and 1st Lt. Ziyad Al-Otaibi.

The helicopter had come from Jeddah and was flying at a height of 4,000 feet at a speed of 80 knots.

The trip covered the central region of Makkah and the Arab News photographer was able to take shots of the whole of Makkah from various angles. The camera focused on the newly established Makkah Clock on the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Tower.

The helicopter flew over the Misfala, Kuday, Ajyad, Hafair, Hajoun and Aziziya areas that were crowded with vehicles carrying pilgrims and worshippers. The pilots gave instructions to Civil Defense ground staff based on information they had on traffic in various parts of the city.

The trip on the helicopter, which is mainly engaged in search, rescue and fire extinguishing operations and airlifting patients, took about an hour and half. The plane can carry up to 22 people.

As the holy month of Ramadan entered its final phase of 10 days Saturday, mosques in all parts of the Kingdom began holding qiyamullail prayers.

"The special prayers are conducted during the last 10 days of Ramadan from 1 a.m.," Mohammed Obaidullah, imam at Sheebani mosque in Nasseriyah district in Riyadh, told Arab News.

The last ten days of Ramadan are more significant, since the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on Lailat Al-Qadr. The imam said that good deeds of the worshippers would be richly rewarded.

To enable worshippers to find a comfortable atmosphere inside the worshipping places, private establishments that had been contracted to maintain mosques throughout the Kingdom have geared up their staff to be on duty throughout the night to ensure smooth supply of power and water.

Extensive arrangements have been made in all mosques to accommodate the additional number of worshippers during this period. Sequel to a directive issued by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, mosques will be kept open for worshippers throughout the night during the last 10 days of the holy month.

The imam said the mosques were kept open for public at nights for them to recite the Holy Qur’an and perform voluntary prayers.

According to the circular, imams of all mosques in the Kingdom were instructed to keep the places of worship tidy and to ensure adequate and uninterrupted supplies of power and water during the holy month to meet the requirements of the increased number of Muslims who go for Taraweeh prayers, which follow the regular Isha prayers.

Improvised partitions were built in mosques that do not have separate prayer halls for women.

Sermons at the Friday prayers focused on the significance of Lailat Al-Qadr. Welcoming the day of Lailat Al-Qadr, an imam at a mosque in Malaz district in Riyadh appealed to the people to strictly adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during this period. "This is a golden opportunity for Muslims to get bounty of rewards, since worshippers in the Kingdom will have adequate time because of the Ramadan holidays," the imam stressed.

A maintenance contractor who looks after more than 1,500 mosques in the capital told Arab News that his company had instructed his labor force to work in the mosques till late during this period. "These workers are expected to keep the worshipping places spick and span, ensure smooth supply of water and power, and illuminate the places."

Around 10 laborers work in large mosques, while small mosques are manned by two workers. Some 5,000 mosques are maintained by the department of mosques at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance headquartered in Riyadh.


Civil Defense SMS seeks to avoid overcrowding in Grand Mosque
Published: Aug 24, 2011 23:57 Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:28

JEDDAH: The Civil Defense Department is sending warning messages to people in the Kingdom through SMS, telling them to perform their compulsory prayers in their local mosques instead of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which is overflowing with worshippers.

"We would like to inform you that the Grand Mosque and its surrounding courtyards are filled with worshippers. For your safety we advise you to go to your nearest mosque to compulsory prayers," the department said in a message.

During the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan, the Grand Mosque receives hundreds of thousands of faithful from the Kingdom and around the world who come to perform Umrah and attend taraweeh and qiyamullail prayers, seeking the blessings of Lailat Al-Qadr (the night of power).


Mataf entry restricted to Umrah pilgrims on peak Ramadan nights
Published: Aug 25, 2011 00:25 Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:28

MAKKAH: People not wearing ihram will not be allowed to enter the mataf (area of circumambulation) of the Grand Mosque on the night of Ramadan 27, widely believed to be Lailat Al-Qadr (night of power), Al-Madinah newspaper reported Wednesday quoting a senior security official.

Commander of the Grand Mosque police Col. Yahya Al-Zahrani said ordinary worshippers who come to the Haram for prayer or attend the conclusion of the recitation of the Holy Qur'an on the 29th night would be directed to the roof, the basement and the plazas outside the mosque.

"This arrangement is made to avoid congestion on the nights of the 27 and 29 and to make it easier for pilgrims to perform their Umrah," he said.

Al-Zahrani said the police force responsible for the security of the Grand Mosque has been reinforced to include 1,600 policemen, 29 officers and 2,800 cadets.

He said the Grand Mosque is being monitored around the clock by 750 surveillance cameras planted in different location inside and outside the mosque.

Al-Zahrani noted that theft cases were fewer this year in the Grand Mosque area and attributed this to the cameras, the fingerprinting system at the airports and cooperation between police in Saudi Arabia and those countries sending pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the Tawafa Department at the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs has warned unlicensed pilgrim guides not to work in the Grand Mosque.

Director of the department Yousuf bin Muhammad Al-Suwailam said officials were closely monitoring pilgrim guides working in the holy mosque and said those without proper permits would be punished.

There are about 600 guides in the Grand Mosque accompanying pilgrims during the circumambulation around the Ka’aba (tawaf) and the saie, the ritual walk between the mounts of Safa and Marwah.

Al-Suwailam asked pilgrims to spend their time at the Grand Mosque in prayer and advised them against crowding near the Black Stone.

He said the voluntary prayer after performing the tawaf can be done anywhere in the Grand Mosque, not necessarily near Maqam Ibrahim.

Al-Suwailam asked pilgrims and visitors to submit their complaints and observations to the department’s office near Bilal Gate (No. 6).


Related Posts:
Lailat al Qadr, The Night of Power: Quranic Revelation, Prayer, Forgiveness, and The Final 10 Days of Ramadan
Lailat Al Qadr: Praying Taraweeh at "Ground Zero Mosque" / Cordoba House / Park51 NYC
The Quran: Part I--The Revelation of the Recitation (Ramadan 610-632); A Book of Revelations
The Quran: Part II--For New Readers and Readers Anew
Ramadan 2010---As the Month Comes to a Close

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

1 comment:

Jay Kactuz said...

Must be a sight! Nice pictures. There is something about light and darkness that enhances any visual.


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