Ramadan Around the Globe Series:
Last year, I wrote about my move to the “Persian” Gulf, and reported on how work in Ramadan was so much “cooler” (=slower) than in USA. The cat's (mostly) out of the bag since then, and the mystery of where I moved is more like an open secret, yes indeed I am currently on work assignment in Doha, Qatar.
There's a lot to say about how awesome Ramadan is in Muslim lands, and I speak out of my experience in Qatar, so perhaps I should be more specific to it, but I suspect the reasons for this land probably transcend Qatar to most Muslim lands. The shorter work hours, the respect given to Ramadan, our guest, the reduced fitna on the street (read between the lines), and last, but definitely not the least, the amazing selection of qiraat and styles for tarawih prayers.
Near where I live, we have about 5 choices for tarawih prayers within walking distance (though no one really walks here with temperatures of 100-115F night-day): starting from what I refer to the “lazy masjid”, where tarawih prayers last only about 30 minutes (reading is not at hyper-speed, rather just short rakah), to a notch above, all the way to the masjid near the “Fruit & Vegetable Market”, where a famous Somali imām (so I have been told) leads prayers lasting over 3 hours! Despite totally having intentions to try it at least once, unfortunately I haven't made it there. I have heard from “normal”, average Muslims who have gone there, even though they don't understand Arabic, that time just breezes by behind this imām, whose voice makes the 3 hours feel like 30 minutes. Inshā'Allāh next year!
Away from the Airport, towards the oil & gas complex at Mesaaid, we have the suburb of Wakra, a place that is full of masājid at every corner. Towards the opposite side of the Airport, there is masjid Abu Bakr, where the imām reads in Warsh and has a soft, melodious voice.
Then there is my “regular” masjid, masjid Sa'ad near the “Aramex Roundabout”, where the imām's beautiful recitation packs probably more than a 1000 strong congregation. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the imām was Bakistani (as he refers to Bakistan in his du‘ā’). The surprise due to his command of Arabic language (and accent) and a voice that just didn't sound Bakistani at all, whatever that means!
Last year, I was more regular at masjid Omar (Shaykh Qaradawi's mosque), near Landmark mall, where tons of folks prayed behind Shaykh al-Areefi every night. Shaykh al-Areefi was not in Qatar for the entire Ramadan this time, but did grace us for the last few nights, and I was fortunate to catch prayers behind him on the 27th night at masjid Omar, where his du‘ā’ was the highlight of Ramadan for me. The Shaykh was crying for a good portion of it, along with many praying behind him. As soon as he is done, people crowd around him, and it is almost impossible to even shake his hands. But this 27th night, my car was parked right near his, and I talked to him, gave him salaam from my friend and shaykh in Houston, Sh. Waleed, who I believe was his class-mate in imām university in Riyadh. He was happy to hear that and sent the salaam back, which has been duly delivered : ). Somehow I understand Sh. Areefi's Arabic more than anyone else's and was able to carry out a few minutes of “almost-Arabic” conversation!
Like most masājid, in the last 10 nights of Ramadan, the Imams stop praying witr after the Isha-associated tarawih, leaving it for Qiyaam. Qiyaam begins usually at 11:30PM in many masājid, and at around 1:00AM in some. The qiyaam prayers (8 rakah) is followed by the witr with amazing du‘ā’ qunoot usually.
So, let the du‘ā’' & recitation speak for themselves.