ALHAMDULILLAH, the Sunday Circle has been holding an annual Qiyam-ul Layl every Ramadhan since 2009. This is definitely the highlight of the year for the circle calendar- it provides a wonderful opportunity for sisters to gather together, remember Allah and pray Taraweeh and Tahajjud together in a friendly environment. Allah blessed us with this opportunity again this year 🙂 the theme was ‘Making Friends with the Qur’an’.
The Qiyam programme began on Friday 12th July at 7.30pm. We all gathered at the house of the Ramzan family: to Aunty, Nadia and Aisha 🙂 many many thanks and jazakumAllahu khair for your amazing generosity, hospitality and kindness! Each year they open up their house for the circle sisters – they are modern day examples of the sahabah, Arqam ibn abi al-Arqam (ra), who gave his house (Dar al-Arqam) as a meeting place for the Prophet (saw) and the companions in the early days of the Message. May Allah reward the Ramzans!
Altogether 27 sisters were there for the evening – it was lovely to see so many sisters coming despite it being the first weekend of Ramadhan. We always try to hold the Iftar and Qiyam in the first weekend to help everyone get into the spirit of Ramadhan, catch some rewards and to taste the experience of Qiyam as early as possible – the hope being that we will carry that spirit with us for the rest of the month, inshaAllah.
Upon arrival, everyone was asked to explore the Qur’an and pick and reflect on their favourite Ayah (verse). After praying ‘Asr together outside in the peaceful garden, the sisters shared their ayaat with the rest of the group, and we had an introduction and talk on ‘Qiyaam, Qur’an and Ramadan’ (you can find the summary of the talk on this blog), then we all got into groups for the Qur’an quiz! There were some interesting choice of team names…’The Iftar Gang’, ‘Ninjabis’, ‘Khamsa’ and ‘Ramblers-Marshmallows’…!?! … 🙂
After some fun and friendly competition, we prepared for Iftar. The time before Iftar is special, it is a time when our du’as are especially answered. And so we all used that opportunity to sit quietly in reflection, making dhikr and du’a to Allah.
Breaking fast together (with special Palestinian dates brought by one of the sisters!) is always lovely – Allah tells us: “The fasting person has two occasions for joy: one when he breaks his fast, and the other when he meets his Lord (due to the reward for his fast).” (Bukhari, Hadith Qudsi). And after such a long day, breaking the fast really is something joyful!
After praying Maghrib, it was time for the main dinner…each sister donated at least £2 as Sadaqah as they took their plates. This donation will go towards our newest fundraising campaign – to raise £4000 for Human Care Syria Emergency Appeal, inshaAllah! There is no better month to do this in than in Ramadhan, since the Prophet (saw) called this ‘The month of Charity’ (Ibn Khuzaymah). And also we know:
“The Messenger of Allah (saw) was the most generous of the people; and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan…During this period, the generosity of the Messenger of Allah (saw) was faster than the wind.” (Ibn Abbas in Bukhari)
And MASHA’ALLAH, the sisters’ generosity at the Iftar raised £115!!! 😀 This is a fantastic start! May Allah reward them! If you also want to share in the rewards and find out more about this fundraising campaign, you can visit our justgiving page here: http://www.justgiving.com/TootingCircle-Syria
* The Iftar*
Everyone contributed to the Iftar – there was so much barakah, and mashaAllah everything was delicious! There was Fruit, Tuna Bake, Tandoori wings, Somali ‘Brees’ (rice and raisins!), Chana (chick pea) curry and salad, Biryani, Pizza, Mango Lassi and more…Extra special effort was made to make sure NOTHING was wasted, alhamdulillah. Meal time was therefore a chance for everyone to gain even more rewards 🙂 because the Prophet (saw) told us:
‘Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.’ [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah]
Iftar was also a chance to build on the unity and bond of ukhoowa (sisterliness) between everyone – for Unity between believers is a fard in Islam, it is something that is very special:
“Eat together and be not separate, for the blessing is in the company”. (Ibn Majah)
Dessert was something to look forward to – ice lollies, mini brownie cakes and these exciting cupcakes, hand-made by one of our sisters – complete with edible flowers!
* The Qiyam ul Layl *
After the meal we said salam and goodbye to our lovely sisters who couldn’t stay overnight. We then prayed Isha and began the Qiyam ul-Layl in jama’ah (collective prayer). Because the nights are short this year, we stayed up all the way until Fajr – even the youngest sisters managed to do this, well done to them 🙂 .
It was a challenge, definitely not easy – especially at the mid-way point when you start to get sleepy. But mashaAllah all the sisters were soldiers and prayed every rakat. Knowing that the Tahajjud prayers are beloved to Allah, and wipes away our sins, was a big motivation. Also, knowing that praying in Jama’ah increases the rewards for prayer by 27x was a big incentive too! We pray that Allah rewards all the sisters for their fantastic efforts, in this life and the next! Ameen!
The surahs chosen for the prayers were those that related to the greatness of the Qur’an, or those that had been discussed during the programme – between each rakat everyone reflected on the meaning and context of the surahs recited in Salah: Surahs Qamr, Qiyaamah, Hashr, Mulk and parts of Al Baqarah. We also had a talk at the halfway point on ‘Connecting with the Qur’an’ (with a helpful tea and coffee boost).
As dawn started to approach, we completed our salah and sat down for suhoor – another opportunity to bond with the sisters 🙂 . At Fajr salah we began our fast for the next day…after which, finally, everyone was able to get some sleep.
The programme ended the next morning after Salat Ad-Duha (nafl prayers for the morning) and personal Qur’an recitation in the garden (where the birds were singing mashaAllah). During the programme we had also benefited from 2 short reminders given by the sisters, one was on ‘Practical Steps in getting close to the Qur’an’ and the other was on the Tafsir of Surat Al-Fatihah. These reminders provided us with concrete messages to take away from the Qiyam – may Allah reward those sisters and everyone who contributed to the programme!
InshaAllah everyone left feeling spiritually uplifted, motivated to continue with more ibadah in Ramadhan, and with a stronger bond of unity between us. We look forward to the next Qiyam inshaAllah and hope you will be able to join us 🙂 .