Ramadan is great for a number of reasons including the re-appreciation of food and water and spending the time to reflect on where life is going and what you could be doing better from a spiritual perspective.
One of the other great things about Ramadan is the night prayer which is a comparatively lengthy affair typically including recitation of the whole of the Noble Qur’an (600 or so pages) by two or three imams in about 27 days. This prayer is attended by a fair few people, over 100 people in the mosque I attend, and attended with impressive regularity given that it lasts about an hour and a half to two hours every night and starts quite late at night. About an hour and three quarters of this is entirely optional regardless of whether it is performed in congregation or in solitude.
What saddens me though is that, after Ramadan, these people disappear and with them the entire communal aspect of the mosque also disappears, mosques were initially built to be community centres after all. The usual night prayer, every other month bar Ramadan, is broken up into two parts with the congregational part (which can also be performed in solitude) taking about 15 minutes. The attendance to this congregational part outside Ramadan is often less than 20 people at the mosque I attend.
What also saddens me is the inordinate amount of money spent to ensure the mosque can accommodate the crowd for big events such as the night prayer in Ramadan, Eid prayer or even the Friday prayer, yet a cloak room would probably suffice the rest of the time.
I struggle to comprehend how people will force themselves to stand for the best of part of two hours, make that time in their day to attend the mosque during Ramadan but can’t seem to make it to the mosque for 15 minutes the rest of the year.
So for any of my brothers in Islam reading this I urge you, if you don’t already, to attend the congregational prayer. Just seeing you there may put a smile on someone’s face.