Why Muslims from all over the UAE will converge on this Sharjah mosque tonight

Visionary businessman-cum-world-renowned Quran reciter will lead the special Laylat Al Qadr prayers


Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 9:13 PM

Last updated: Wed 27 Apr 2022, 10:55 AM

It’s half past midnight. On a regular night, Sharjah’s Mughaidir suburb would be deserted at this time. But these aren’t regular nights. Today, the place is a sea of humanity with rows upon rows of Muslim worshippers, standing in rapt attention as they pray and seek blessings on a night, which, the Quran says is better than 1,000 months.

The last 10 nights of Ramadan are considered the most sacred for Muslims as this is when the Night of Power or Laylat Al Qadr falls on an odd-numbered date.

As mosques in the UAE host special night vigil prayers called Qiyam Al Layal to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Mohammad, there is one mosque in Sharjah that attracts worshippers not just from the Emirate but the entire country.

The faithful come here in such huge numbers that the crowds spill out into the streets and the adjoining neighbourhoods, prompting authorities to close roads, divert traffic and arrange special buses.

The mosque is called Sheikh Saud Al Qasimi Mosque and the man leading the prayers here is world-renowned Quran reciter and visionary businessman, Abu Mohammad’ Salah bin Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad Bukhatir, also known as Sheikh Salah Bukhatir.

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A graduate in industrial management from USA, Salah Bukhatir holds a highly respectable position in the Emirati business community.

In addition to being the CEO of the famous Bukhatir Group which has a diversified portfolio, he is also the chairman and board member of several companies and academic institutions around the UAE.

Blending worldly knowledge with spiritual learning, Salah Bukhatir started memorising the Quran during his university days and completed it soon after graduation.

The Emirati’s soulful recitation of the Holy book earned him instant recognition, which then took him to Saudi Arabia where he led prayers in several eminent mosques. For more than a quarter of a century, Salah Bukhatir has been the imam of the Sheikh Saud Al Qasimi Mosque in Al Sahaba where his heart-soothing voice draws people from as far as Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai and, in some instances, even Abu Dhabi.

“There is something angelic about his voice. The way he brings style, melody, and rhythm to his recitation leaves everyone mesmerised,” says Egyptian expat Hammad Ahmad, who drove down from Ras Al Khaimah with his wife and two children to attend the voluntary prayers on the 23rd night of Laylat Al Qadr. “We will be coming back every alternate day. Can’t afford to miss it.”

Many say Salah Bukhatir’s voice resembles that of Sheikh Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz al-Sudais better known as Al-Sudais, one of the nine imams of the Grand Mosque Masjid al Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Furniture shop owner Sheikh Rashid from India said he’s been offering taraweeh and Qiyam Al Layal prayers behind Salah Bukhatir for over two decades.

“With the exception of 2020 when mosques were closed due to Covid-19, I have been visiting Sheikh Saud Al Qasimi Mosque every Ramadan since 2001,” said the 55-year-old Sharjah resident. “Listening to Salah Bukhatir is an experience that has to be felt, not described,” he said.

Another regular, Ishaq from Pakistan, said the imam’s amazing du’a (prayer of supplication) has endeared him to a legion of fans.

Popularly known as Bukhatir Mosque, Sheikh Saud Mosque opened in 1996. It has a capacity of roughly 2,300 people but the number of worshippers who gather here during Laylat Al Qadr routinely exceeds 15,000 during the 21st, 23rd and 25th night of Ramadan.

Those figures easily cross 45,000 on the 27th night of Ramadan (April 27), commonly believed as ‘the night’ although its exact date is not mentioned in Quran.

“The 27th night of Ramadan is a sight to behold here,” said Abdul Wadood from Sudan who lives in the vicinity.

“The entire neighbhourhood will transform into a giant prayer area with people praying on roads, intersections, sidewalks, practically anywhere they could find a spot,” he said. “If you are coming by car, you will have to park your car two kilometres away. Else, be here by 8pm,” he warned.

Internal roads in Al Shahba are likely to be closed for traffic tomorrow night with diversions linking motorists to a network of roads in Hilwan area. The prayers are expected to last until 1.30 am.


What is Laylat Al Qadr?

Laylat al-Qadr, (Night of Power) commemorates the night on which God first revealed the Quran to the Prophet Mohammad through the angel Gabriel. It is believed to have taken place on one of the final 10 nights of Ramadan, though the exact night is not mentioned in the Quran.

What do Muslims do on Laylat Al Qadr?

Some of the acts of worship include:

Qiyam (Night prayer): Muslims often stay up throughout the night to conduct these prayers.

Dua (Supplication): This is seeking forgiveness from God and is often performed before or after prayer.

Quran: Reciting and memorising the Quran.


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