The Masjid was jam packed with people and everyone was murmuring in anticipation. The 29th fast of Ramzan had ended and the Imam had temporarily halted the Taraweeh prayers as everyone waited in anticipation. There were rumours that the moon was sighted.
The atmosphere in the Masjid was of a relaxed anticipation. People sat leaning against the walls, talking in groups. Some were engrossed in reading the Quran while others sat silently, facing the Qiblah. I was also sitting with my friends, having zoned myself out of the conversation, trying not to let sadness engulf me as the Ramzan had all but ended. I turned around to observe what everyone was doing. The respected Imam and our mentor, Moulana Afzal Nadwi, was standing at the entrance of the Masjid. His hands folded and eyes fixated on the sky outside, lost in some deep thought. I felt that I was not alone in mourning the end of Ramzan and the great spiritual opportunities it brought.
As I was deep in thought,
I missed the two men who had just entered the Masjid and had directly turned to our Imam. After a brief consultation in which I saw him nodding, the Imam shook hands with both of them started towards the Mehraab – the central space of the Masjid from where the Imam leads the prayers-. As I was his student for several years, I was able to read the slight smile on his face. It meant only one thing: the sighting of the moon was confirmed.
As he entered the hall, people began to realise that an announcement was going to be made. Heads turned and people who were talking left their sentences suspended. I could feel the excitement pulsing throughout the huge hall. “I have just received word from the Qazi sahab…” The Imam announced, in his typical strong and clear voice. “The sighting of the moon has been confirmed.” He added as people broke into smiles all around. The sadness of Ramzan ending which was threatening to engulf me a while ago was now replaced with a happiness I could not explain. The nature of Eid is such that when you hear about it, you automatically feel happy.
The imam sat down, pinned the microphone to his lapel, and in a majestic voice, started reciting the Takbeer, while we all sat there, spell-bound by the magic of the occasion. In one voice, we all repeated the Takbeer behind him, feeling the energy of those powerful words as they reverberated and echoed under the huge ceiling.
When the Takbeer ended, everyone stood up to congratulate each other over a Ramzan well spent. Community members who were part of the annual Eytikaaf were the ones who looked the happiest. They had spent 10 days at the Masjid, steadfast in prayers and worship. Students, businessmen, employees and others; all united in the Masjid and disconnected from the world to purify their souls. They were happily packing their belongings and waiting to go back to their homes to their families.
I longed to stay there, in that atmosphere of pure happiness and brotherhood, to soak myself once again in a night of prayers and worship…but I had to go. If it was Eid tomorrow, there was work to be done.
-to be continued.
(This is an extract from ‘The Memory Lane – Diaries of AZ Damudi’)
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