Tarawih pronounced ::baby tongue roll:: /tae/RAH/weh/
‘Refers to extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, they are not compulsory. However, many Muslims pray these prayers in the evening during Ramadan. Some scholars maintain that Tarawih is neither fard or a Sunnah (obligational), but is the preponed Tahajjud (night prayer) prayer shifted to post-Isha’ for the ease of believers. But majority of Sunni scholars regard the Tarawih prayers as Sunnat al-Mu’akkadah, a salaat (prayer) that was performed by the Islamic prophet Muhammad very consistently.’
(Thanks for having my back, Wiki)
One evening, I was spending time with my principal at her home in Mojo – she’s like my Indonesian mother – and naturally she’s always making sure that I’m getting the full ‘Indonesian experience’, following everything up with ‘Miss Elle, mau ikut?‘ (wanna come?). When I seemingly found myself to be failing at one of my Ramadan goals, to be invited to Tarawih, I nearly jumped out of my batik with excitement when she invited me to come along. She lent me a mekeno / rukuh (the covering that all women wear to attend these prayer sessions) and a sajadah (prayer rug) to borrow. Once I slipped on the rukuh, that covered my hair and the rest of my body, leaving my face and hands exposed, I felt protected, my identity concealed — blending in, I felt fearless entering the mosque in a neighborhood that wasn’t my own.
Being in the mosque reminded me of being in a yoga class to an extent – the amount of concentration and channeling an alternative mindset – the relaxing atmosphere, where you could leave or take a rest at your own discretion, no pressure. Even though I didn’t understand the prayers being read over the mic, I interpreted them in my own way. It was very calming if anything. I sat next to my principal as she went through the motions several times, just observing. Those brief moments of cultural observation brought some of the most unique feelings that I haven’t channeled in awhile. Something that I can’t quite explain or put my finger to, but it was powerful and in those moments sitting there and hanging out with the kids, I felt something deeper for Indonesia, a beauty of understanding maybe or accepting something… I don’t know what… but it was the perfect time to feel that way amongst all of the Ramadan repetitiveness and having been here for over a year-semi-slump. Photo-time: scroll over for captions.