ABU DHABI // Together, Muslims gathered in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for fajr prayers on the first day of Ramadan, reciting scriptures of the Quran, kneeling and then rising having officially begun their fast.
The mosque, which is prepared for the more than 750,000 Muslims that will come to worship over the course of Ramadan, is at its calmest at 4.30am, with only a handful of devout Muslims coming to pray on the first morning prayer of Ramadan.
Mohammed Fahmy, 32, and a colleague are among those that attend the intimate prayer in one of the rooms of the great mosque.
“It’s a happy time for all Muslims to have Ramadan come,” the Egyptian said after praying, moments into his first fast of 2016. “This is the month to reflect, pray and reinforce yourself.”
Mr Fahmy said the last year was a difficult one for him but he anticipates having time to pray, be with family and enjoy the month.
“Everyone knows, of course, that the holy month is for prayer but many people forget that it’s also a time to spend with your loved ones and look at the past and future,” he said.
Working hours during Ramadan are shortened to ease the burden of fasting for those doing so in conditions that could expose people to temperatures exceeding 40C.
Mr Fahmy said the extra time off work should firstly be used to pray and, secondly, to be with loved ones in celebration.
“I look forward to the prayers, and, God willing, we will find peace in them,” he said.
Muslims pray at night during Ramadan until the early hours of the morning. These prayers, known as Taraweeh, will bring together about 30,000 worshippers to the grand mosque each night to observe a marathon of nightly prayers starting after the final prayer of Isha.
Along with Asr, Fajr prayer holds a special place in the five daily prayers for Muslims because it is a testament of dedication and a sign of piety.
Prayers intensify during the last 10 days of Ramadan as it is believed that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed in this time.
Suood Al Nuaimi, who was also attending the prayer with his 13-year-old son, said that Ramadan is a great time to instil religious beliefs and values.
“My son was curious to go, so we woke up and attended the prayer. Maybe it’s hard at first but, somehow, as the month goes on, it gets easier,” he said.
His son, Ahmed, said that he will try his best to fast this year.
According to Al Buhkaree Hadiths of the Prophet Mohammed: “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened.”
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which has a capacity of 40,000, will hold daily prayers.
Non-Muslims looking to visit will find Ramadan visiting hours limited to 9am to 2pm and there will be no visiting on Fridays.
Source: uae news