Advertisement Close

Metro Detroiters Keep Faith During Ramadan

posted on: Oct 1, 2008


It’s close to midnight inside a Bloomfield Hills mosque as the final chapters of the Quran are recited, their words echoing across the prayer hall and into a nearby gymnasium.

“I seek refuge with the Lord … from the mischief of the whisperer of evil,” Sheikh Ahmad Mabrook of Egypt said Friday night at the Unity Center.

Over the past 30 days, speakers have recited the entire Quran during special night prayers for the month of Ramadan, when Muslims believe the holy book was revealed to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Ramadan ends today for many Muslims with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, but believers hope to continue following the book that guides their lives.

To them, it’s the word of God.

“You feel closer to God when you read it,” Dr. Muhammad Kashlan, 43, of Bloomfield Hills said after a Quran recitation and prayers early Saturday morning. “Your soul is purified.”

The Quran is important year-round for Muslims, but takes on a special significance during Ramadan. There are nightly Quranic recitations in local mosques by speakers who have memorized the book and lead the congregation in two-hour prayers; some are invited from Arab countries just for the month because of their reciting skills.

And Muslims often read the Quran more on their own during Ramadan — in mosques, at home, anywhere they can.

“Everyone is obsessed about the Quran” during Ramadan, said Jameel Syed, 33, of Auburn Hills. “You could be in the car listening to it on a CD, reading it on your lunch break, or while surfing the Net. …You get in the zone.”

Hossam Musa, 28, son of the imam at the Bloomfield Hills center, memorized the Quran by the age of 13. Known as a hafiz, he led worshippers in prayer often during Ramadan.

“It’s like a soul cleanser,” Musa said of the Quran. “It makes you better.”

Imad Alazem, 50, of Franklin rises before dawn during Ramadan to read the Quran.

“It’s a quiet time when you feel you’re alone with God,” Alazem said. “Everyone else is sleeping and you feel as if God is talking to you.”

Dr. Mouhib Ayas, 46, of Troy listens to the Quran in his car while driving to work.

“It inspires you,” Ayas said. “Every time you listen to a verse, you hear a new meaning, even if you’ve heard it before.”

That sense of feeling connected to God is what motivated hundreds of people to gather Friday night at the Unity Center for what is known as the Night of Power. Muslims believe that prayers said on that night are worth more than those said over more than 80 years.

“Give us your mercy, give us your forgiveness,” Dr. Saeed Shukairy said during a prayer session after 2 a.m. “Ya Allah (oh God), you’re more forgiving than we are sinful. … Please forgive us, ya Allah. If we can’t be forgiven during Ramadan, then we are worthless. Please do not make us among those who are worthless.”

As he speaks, some are hunched over, their heads in their hands; others weep a little. For all, it’s a time of intense emotions as they think about their mistakes.

After Shukairy talks, it’s time for individual prayers and the reading of the Quran on their own.

“Ask Allah for anything that you need, ask Allah with sincerity,” Imam Muhammad Musa says about 4 a.m. By now, some of the kids have dozed off, tucked into sleeping bags. Many of the faithful are still awake.

Some, such as Syed, lived inside the mosque for the last 10 days of Ramadan, focusing on the Quran and their faith.

The challenge is to keep that faith after the holy month. Syed hopes to keep his promises afterward, but it’s hard “to sustain 100%.”

“Ramadan is like a guest that comes for a short period of time,” Syed said. “And when it leaves, part of your heart is broken. It’s sad to see Ramadan end.”

Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press

Photo caption:
After staying up all night for special prayers at Unity Center, a mosque in Bloomfield Hills, Issam Atoussi, 33, and others eat a Ramadan breakfast known as suhoor at 5 a.m. Saturday. At sunrise, they started fasting again until sundown.