Musa’s first Taraweeh

Musa was having a very good day so far. He was staying the night at his grandparents’ house again, and they had finished eating the Iftar meal a little while ago. His parents said Musa was too young to fast every day, but he liked to do other stuff in Ramadan so he could learn how to become an even better Muslim.

His mom had told him that Ramadan is not just about fasting from food. It also meant fasting a bit from things you normally do, like watching TV or playing video games, and using that time wisely. So far this Ramadan, Musa had learned two new surahs, watered the plants regularly, made an Eid card every day so Mama didn’t have to rush at the end of the month, and helped his grandma set the dinner table.

Musa was thinking of what else he could do in Ramadan that was really special when he saw his granddad coming out of the bathroom, his face and arms all wet. ‘Is it ‘Isha time already, grandpa?’, asked Musa.

‘Yes, almost time. And in Ramadan we pray ‘Isha and Taraweeh. Remember, I told you about the special prayers that they have every night at the masjid?’, answered granddad.

Musa had forgotten about the Taraweeh prayers. He always went to sleep early, so he wasn’t awake to see his dad leave for the masjid. But today he had taken a nap so he was wide awake. Suddenly, he had an idea. Maybe the taraweeh could be his special deed of the day!

‘Can I go with you, grandpa? Please?? I took a nap today, and I promise to pray with you the entire time!’, begged Musa.

His granddad thought for a bit, and replied, ‘Hmmm, I don’t see why not. Come on now, let’s get you washed up and ready to go. I’ll tell your grandma to get ready as well, seeing as you’d like to go to the masjid.’

Musa was delighted! He washed up, combed his hair and got his sandals on. The masjid was just down the street, and they got there in a couple of minutes.

Once there, Musa was amazed to see the large crowd of people. There were some men wearing flowy white thobes, and others in regular clothes. There were women dressed in pretty abayas, and some in long colored skirts. He had never seen the place look this busy!

‘Hold on to my hand, and we can go at the back to the special room where the younger kids pray’, said his grandma guiding him through the masjid. They reached a smaller room, which was filled with kids and their mommies. ‘Now Musa, they’ll start the prayer in a bit, and you can do ‘Isha with everyone. But after that, if you’d like to read or color, there are books and crayons back there that you can use. But you have to be quiet, okay?’, explained his grandma.

‘I want to pray with you Grandma. I don’t need to play – I’m not a little baby!’, said Musa seriously.

‘Well, alright. But if you get tired, and need a break, that’s where you need to go.’, said his grandma, pointing to the little table at the back of the room. Musa nodded.

Just then, the call for prayer was given and everyone started lining up to pray. Musa attentively prayed the fard prayers. Next, he prayed the two units of taraweeh. Wow, Musa didn’t realize the prayers were going to be so long! In the fourth rak’aah, he started feeling a little tired and began yawning. He felt a little thirsty too. But he couldn’t stop now, he’d told his grandpa he would pray the entire time, and that meant he must follow through!

At the end of the fourth unit, the Imam started to give a little talk, much to Musa’s relief. He stretched out his legs and leaned against his grandmother. Musa’s grandma kissed his head. ‘How’re you doing, sweety? Want to get a drink of water with me?’, she asked

Musa’s face lit up and he nodded. They both walked up to the water fountain, and drank long and deep until their thirst was quenched.

‘Why don’t you take a break from praying, buddy? It can get a little tiring the first time’, said his grandmother gently.

Musa looked at her, ‘But I said I would do it, grandma. And I really want to get the special reward for praying Taraweeh. I am tired, but this was my Ramadan deed of the day. I can’t give up now!’

‘Do you want to know something really special, Musa? There’s a hadith* which says that if a person prays Salatul Ishaa and Fajr both in congregation it is as if they were praying all night! So how about you rest now if you’re tired, and I can wake you up tomorrow morning and we can come to the masjid for Fajr? That way you get the reward for praying all night.’, said his grandmother excitedly.

‘Wow!! Really? I didn’t know that! That sounds like a really good deal, don’t you think grandma?’, remarked Musa.

‘It sure does’, she answered.

The speaker was finishing up, and everyone was getting ready to pray again. Musa smiled at his grandma, and gave her a big hug. ‘Thanks for making me feel better, grandma. I’m going to try to rest, and save my energy for Fajr now. I’m really glad you live so close to the masjid’, he said rubbing his eyes.

‘So am I’, she replied smiling, and turned to line up with everyone to pray, as Musa made his way to the back of the room and laid down.

He was asleep in a few minutes, and didn’t wake up even as his granddad carried him all the way home. But the next morning, at Fajr time, he was up as soon as his grandmother woke him. He was one of the first people in line at the masjid, and his smile was even brighter than the moon, as he finished up his prayer. Musa had attended his first taraweeh last night, and prayed both ‘Isha and Fajr in congregation now just like the hadith said, which made him the happiest boy in the world.

“Whoever prays ‘Isha’ in congregation, it is as if he spent half the night in prayer, and whoever prays ‘Isha’ and Fajr in congregation, it is as if he spent the (whole) night in prayer.” al-Tirmidhi (221)