Sounds of Ramadan that ring out through the ages

While the practice has declined gradually due to the change in people’s sleeping behaviors, the use of new technologies such as alarm clocks, among other reason, some people are still volunteering to keep this tradition alive around the Arab world.  (Getty images)
Updated 18 May 2018
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Sounds of Ramadan that ring out through the ages

  • One of the oldest and most deeply rooted of Ramadan customs is the Mesaharati, in which a volunteer goes around to wake up Muslims during the holy month to eat the suhoor meal before they start their fasting at the Fajr prayer call at dawn. 
  • While the practice has declined gradually due to the change in people’s sleeping behaviors, the use of new technologies such as alarm clocks, among other reason, some people are still volunteering to keep this tradition alive around the Arab world. 

JEDDAH: The Mesaharati, or public waker, is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted of Ramadan customs. The title is given to a person who voluntarily takes it on himself to wake up Muslims during the holy month to eat the suhoor meal before they start their fasting at the Fajr prayer call at dawn. 

Abdul-Muhsen Doom, the mesaharati in Al-Balad’s Ramadan Festival, said that the practice was mainly created because people used to go to bed after Taraweeh prayers every night. 

The Mesaharati's main role was to wake people up for suhoor using his drums while repeating the still-known phrases of “Sabbahak Allah bil ridha wa alnaeem” (May Allah wake you with satisfaction and bliss) and “Ya nayem wahhid Aldayem” (Sleeping, praise the Permanent Allah). 

The Mesaharati would stand under each house window, calling everyone by name until he heard a response before moving to the next house, Doom said. 

“During which, the sound of suhoor cannon was the known sign for all misahratiyah (the plural of mesaharati) to start their rounds around each one’s neighborhood as every neighborhood used to have its own mesaharati chosen by its own residents,” he said. 

When Doom was a child, Amm Yahya Galangi was the mesaharati of his Al-Mathloom neighborhood.

Malak Baeesa, the omdah, or mayor, in Al-Balad, Old Jeddah city, told Arab News that the Mesaharati is one of the most appreciated Islamic traditions of the month of Ramadan. He said that a mesaharati title is an honor, equivalent to being selected as the omdah, that used to be given by the people of a neighborhood to a well-known person among them.

While it had been a popular and actively practiced profession in most Arab countries, the need for a mesaharati gradually declined 40 years ago due to the change in people’s sleeping behaviors, the use of new technologies such as alarm clocks and the development of cities, where it became harder to hear the mesaharati’s voice. 

Yet some people are still volunteering to keep this tradition alive around the Arab world. 

It is believed that the first mesaharati, or drum holder, was Bilal Bin Rabah, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. He used to walk the streets and roads throughout the night to wake people up.

 

Distinctive calls

In a Hadith by the Prophet Muhammad, he said: “Bilal calls the adhan in the night, so eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktum calls the adhan.” 

However, some say the tradition first appeared in Egypt, where the mesaharati used to roam the streets of Cairo holding a small drum and tapping it with a piece of leather or wood. He was often accompanied by a child holding a lamp to light the way and echo his distinctive calls. 

The mesaharati would call the name of each house owner as he passed by. At the time, the women would wrap a coin in a paper and light it so the mesaharati would be able to find it in the darkness. 

The tradition is practiced in several Muslim countries including Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. Each of these countries has their own mesaharati traditions and songs or prayers that they chant as they walk the neighborhood to wake the people up. 

The mesaharati in Syria, for instance, used to have strong connection with his community. People trusted him to deliver food and money to those whom he knew were in need.

When Ramadan comes to an end and the celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr start, the mesaharati receives gifts of money and food from people to express gratitude for his services during the month. 

“Although the mesaharati is considered a voluntary role, people pay him whatever they can once Ramadan comes to an end, as an Eidyah (Eid gift) during Eid Al-Fitr,” Doom said.

Decoder

Ramadan terms

Mesaharati: The term comes from the word sahoor, which is the pre-dawn meal, the second main meal Muslims have during Ramadan. Suhoor: An Islamic term referring to the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before their fasting starts. Taraweeh: Extra prayers performed by Muslims at night during Ramadan. Hadith: A word that denotes the words and actions of Prophet Muhammad. Eid Al-Fitr: A religious holiday, celebrated by Muslims worldwide. that marks the end of Ramadan.


Saudi Arabia witnesses unprecedented achievements one year after MBS became crown prince

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia witnesses unprecedented achievements one year after MBS became crown prince

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030
  • Vision 2030 seeks to make Saudi Arabia non-oil based economy and the large developments at the Red Sea, Qiddiya and, NEOM, are part of the efforts to lure in investors and promote tourism sector.

JEDDAH: June 21 marked one year of Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince of Saudi Arabia.Since assuming the role, the crown prince, fondly known as MBS, has been working for the socioeconomic transformation of the Kingdom.
He is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy of the Kingdom and reduce its dependence on oil income.
Among the reforms envisaged in the Vision 2030 plan are the reopening of cinemas and allowing both sexes to attend concerts.
Another major development is the lifting of a ban on women driving. From June 24, women in Saudi Arabia will be able to take the wheel. The crown prince’s Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce, up from the current 22 percent.
In a statement issued to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that as the architect of Saudi Vision 2030, the crown prince was inspiring the country’s youth and introducing structural changes to the Saudi economy and society.
Al-Othaimeen said that in one year he had taken many important initiatives at the national and international level and reinforced Saudi Arabia’s leading role in defending and supporting issues related to the wider Muslim world.
In this area, the OIC chief said, the most notable achievement was the creation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.
Vision 2030 seeks to boost the Saudi non-oil based economy, and the large developments at the Red Sea, Qiddiya and NEOM, the futuristic mega city, are part of efforts to attract investors and promote the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
Saudi Minister of Telecommunications and IT Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha said that the Kingdom is geared up to achieve the goals of socioeconomic transformation as envisaged in Vision 2030. He said that during the last year Saudi Arabia had achieved great success in this ambition.
Civil Services Minister Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan said that last year was characterized by many achievements. The Kingdom, he said, witnessed the continuation of the successful implementation of the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which covers all aspects of life.
Saudi Education Minister Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa said: “Our country is looking forward to a bright future in line with an ambitious vision. It is standing at the threshold of great transformation.”
Saudi Arabia has also witnessed several unprecedented developments since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began implementing his reform plans. In a bid to ensure transparency in the financial system to promote international investments, the Kingdom launched a drive to root out corruption from society without discrimination.
Saudi Justice Minister Dr. Waleed bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, who is also president of the Supreme Judicial Council, said that the crown prince is a leader whose impact has surpassed local and regional levels. He has emerged as one of the most influential figures at the global level, he said.
Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Abdulatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ashiekh said: “The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is a comprehensive national development program that seeks to achieve prosperity for the country. The crown prince has worked very hard to achieve many goals in record time.
“The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has received a great deal of support and attention from the crown prince to help fight extremist and deviant ideologies.”
The minister said that these efforts come within the framework of Vision 2030 to eradicate all sources of corruption.
MBS’s history of philanthropic initiatives has earned him many awards. In 2011, he established the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk), which enables young Saudis to learn, develop and progress in the fields of business, literature, culture, science and technology, and sociology.
“The crown prince’s initiatives in relief and humanitarian work have been admired and praised by the UN and its related organizations,” said Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) and an adviser to the royal court.
Al-Rabeeah said that the crown prince had allocated $66.7 million to fight the cholera epidemic in Yemen, in addition to his efforts to help the needy throughout the world without discrimination.
He said that the crown prince had worked hard to build a new phase of progress and prosperity for the country with the help of the youth who are the core of the Kingdom’s future.
In recent years, the crown prince has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. In a country where about 60 percent of the population is under 30, the young crown prince is widely seen as an icon in the push toward socioeconomic reforms.
The crown prince also heads the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which aims to establish a seamless mechanism to achieve Vision 2030 goals.