By Asma Al-Mohattwari
Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims, in which they fast every day from dawn to sunset. Yemeni Muslims will refrain daytime consumption any food or water in this month.
But also Ramadan is not a month of simply fasting and breaking fast; it is also the month in which Muslims try to move closer to the Almighty Allah, seeking His forgiveness and mercy by offering daily five prayers in the mosque, making additional nighttime prayers such as the ‘Taraweeh’ and ‘Tahajjud,’ and reading the holy Quran.
Ramadan is a month that celebrates the Quran and worship, and It helps Muslims in refining their ethics and values while encouraging honesty and sincerity in worshiping Allah. The purpose of fasting is to obey Allah and his orders, and to stay away from what He has forbidden in all areas of life.
Mohammed Zaid has said that Ramadan is different from the other 11 months in that it has a spiritual significance. One of the things that makes it different is the Al-Taraweeh prayer, which every Muslim performs.
“Yemenis—both men and women—are keen to conduct this prayer in mosques, where many worshipers can feel the great spirituality of heavy numbers of worshipers.”
Most Yemeni mosques are full of worshipers conducting the Taraweeh prayer, which is often carried out with religious guidelines and tips by the imams of mosques.
Ala’a Ahmed commented that despite the fact that a lot of youths, elders, and even children are keen on this prayer, some people do not pray Taraweeh each night, generally as a result of business in their employment. These people often work in stores or markets.
Ala’a called on everyone to revive the tradition of the Taraweeh prayer, to show greater concern for time management during Ramadan, and to take advantage of this time for religious worship.
Another prayer in Ramadan is the Tahajjud. Abdulkarim Ghaleb says that the most beautiful aspect of the Tahajjud is that people make this prayer in the mosque with each other, which brings people closer together to a far greater extent than in other months.
“Fasting is a beautification of the good ethics of Muslims in words and deeds and a reminder to stay away from insults, cursing, lying, backbiting, gossiping and others forms of bad morality,” he said.
Far away from the men, women also pray Taraweeh and Tahajjud in the mosque. Dhikra Al-Mtwakel said that she goes to the mosque twice a day to pray.
“It is a different feeling when praying in the mosque with other women, and I really I wish we could do it all year,” she added.
During Ramadan, people spend significant time reading and rereading the holy Quran. Muslims can be found reading the holy book even during working hours in businesses, shops and markets.
Awadh Khalid, Jambiyyah seller in the Bab Al-Yemen market, says that he reads the Quran throughout the year, but he spends more time during Ramadan because good deeds are doubled during this holy month.
“I read through the entire holy book at least seven times during Ramadan, and I take advantage of any free moment to read it,” he said.
Amal Sami, a housewife, says that despite the heavy workload during Ramadan, she tries to set aside time each day for prayers and reading of the holy Quran.
One of the purest Yemeni habits and ingrained traditions embodying the values of love, social coherence and communication among Yemenis is the Iftar, a meal for which large numbers of people venture out of their homes carrying dishes of dates, sambosa and varied other foods. These dishes are brought to the yard of the mosque to share with passers-by, the needy, and the poor.
Group Iftar is in itself a means of worshiping Allah by helping the needy. Ahmed Zaid said that Islam calls for intimacy, love, and closer relations between Muslims, and Ifter reflects all of these good traits.
Some of Yemeni’s wealthy try to do good deeds during the holy month, often by preparing a large banquet in the mosque for any need persons in the vicinity.
Such a banquet was recently held at the Azal mosque, where a benefactor provided the mosque with a large table of containing falafel, milk, dates, bread, sambosa and other foods.
“Ramadan is an opportunity for self-cleansing and getting rid of sins, which facility the human psychological comfort and save him from feelings of remorse,” said Ahmed.