America's Largest Tarawih
By Nancy Elbassiouny, IOL Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thousands of Muslims from across the US and Canada welcomed the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started Monday, September 1, by joining the largest congregation for Tarawih prayer in the history of North America.
"It is an amazing site to see thousands of Muslim men, women and children standing shoulder to shoulder with their fellow Muslims of their gender and simultaneously bowing down in prayer to God in worship," a Greek Orthodox woman who only identified herself as Helen told IslamOnline.net.
"I’ve never seen anything quite like this."
Helen joined many non-Muslims who watched with admiration as thousands of Muslims prayed in unison.
The Tarawih, a special nightly prayers performed during Ramadan, marked the conclusion of the annual Islamic Society of North American (ISNA) convention.
It began shortly after 9:30 pm Sunday, August 31, in the large prayer hall of the convention center.
For Barbara Pouros, a Cincinatti resident wearing a brown, orange and beige hijab even though she had not yet formally converted to Islam, the Tarawih was the highlight of the ISNA convention.
Asked what drew her to Islam, she recalled that after meeting a Muslim one month after 9/11 and being invited to his mosque, she wanted to know more about prayer.
"So I did a lot of research on the Internet to figure out what was being said in the prayer.
"I like the simple quiet, rustling of fabrics and bowing my head to the ground and this makes Islam so rich and full."
A couple of hours before the Tarawih, many Muslims attended ISNA entertainment program, which features several poets, Nasheed singers and a comedian.
The house was packed with an enthusiastic audience.
The looks on the children’s faces sitting next to their parents reflected the joy and happiness of the evening.
"This is the happiest day of my life," Ahmed Khan, a ten-year-old fourth grader from Houston, told IOL.
"I want to be a Nasheed singer like Native Deen. They are my favorite group."
Native Deen, a famous Nasheed group, participated in several youth activities during the ISNA convention.
Aisha Mohamed, a 12-year-old originally from Somalia, had a similar dream.
"When I grow up, I wanna be a comedian and make people laugh."
Copyright 2008 Islam Online
The Almighty Allah says,
"When a servant thinks of Me, I am near.
When he invokes Me, I am with him.
If he reflects on Me in secret, I reply in secret,
And if he acknowledges Me in an assembly,
I acknowledge him in a far superior assembly."
- Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reptd by Abu Huraira