Saturday, June 28, 2014

Egypt: The Holy month of Ramadan … traditions & culture

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days widely used in the Islamic world. Ramadan falls 10 days earlier every solar year. According to Islamic history, it is the month when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

During the 29-30 days of Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex from sunrise to sunset. It is one of five pillars upon which Islam is based. It usually witnesses a notable increase in religious observance among Muslims worldwide.

Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt is always special in its very traditional way. You wait for the Lunar confirmation that next day is first day of Ramadan, then you hear the Taraweeh Prayer calls in all mosques. 

A few hours later, the first Sohour (last meal you can eat till the sunset of the next day) begins, with a special guy (we call him “Messaharati”) banging on a drum in the streets calling for Sohour to each and every person in his neighborhood, especially kids.  Small confession: I used to make him call me by my nickname. Just imagine it, it’s 3.00 AM in the morning and a man is drumming your name, one of the coolest things ever!

Ramadan in Cairo means the very special Egyptian Ramadan lantern called “Fanous” in all forms: big glassy ones hanged over big buildings, restaurants, entertainment ventures; numerous plastic ones of all shapes with children, and thousands of paper lantern hanged over threads all over streets, plus houses and mosques decorated with many small colorful lamps. You’ll see them in the video.

Taraweeh prayer is an occasion where extended families can meet, if they live close to each other, to pray in the same mosque; neighbors socialize, children play, and friends can be made. 

Inviting people over for Iftar is a very popular custom in Egypt. True, it ends up as a competition between women of the family for who cooks better, but still it is usually a good chance to meet cousins you hardly see, nephews and nieces you know nothing about, and  old family members.

Zakat is very much respected and practiced during Ramadan, and there’s a well-known custom called “Ma’edat Al-Rahman” There’s no English translation for the words, but they are close to “The Merciful’s Table” where someone gets a tent with tables and chairs and starts distributing food and drinks for those who can’t afford their Iftar; this is mostly done in what are called “Ramadan-Tents.”

And since feeding someone Iftar is much appreciated in Islam, you find people, minutes before Maghreb prayer (the beginning of Iftar) – walking the streets and handing out grapes and water to people walking and those driving home… such a very nice scene.
Source Eman Hashim / Photo courtesy to Wikipedia

R a m a d a n   in   E g y p t
Copyrights for the Ministry of Tourism
We apologize their is no English subtitle

Very interesting article, you should read: By Ask Aladdin

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