Despite the march of modern technology, old Ramadan traditions continue to die hard for Muslims in the Kingdom’s largest province.
The job of Musaharati is the name given to the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake worshippers for their suhoor meal. In the Eastern Province, where the custom remains a deep-rooted part of the holy month, the drummer is known as Abu Tabila.
The fasting month is not complete in Al-Ahsa governorate without him roaming the streets before dawn prayers. Adults and children often come out of their homes or peer from windows to watch Abu Tabila pass by beating his small drum while reciting prayers.
The Musaharati profession is one of the oldest Ramadan traditions in Al-Ahsa, and every town has its own Abu Tabila. He goes about his business until the end of Ramadan and people offer him money, gifts, sweets, and best wishes for Eid.
Although modern phone apps can alert worshippers, Al-Ahsa communities continue to adhere to time-honored ways.
Omar Al-Faridi, director of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in Al-Ahsa, said that Abu Tabila was known for his traditional folk clothes and boisterous voice.
Former director of the Al-Ahsa Archaeological and Heritage Museum, Walid Al-Hussein, described the beat of Abu Tabila’s drum as “unique and splendid,” and a sound that evoked the true spirit of Ramadan.