A COMMUNAL SPIRIT: STRIVING FOR ALLAH’S REWARD

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The one image etched in Ramadan’s mind from his childhood days is that of all the villagers of Alsawati, men and children, coming together for Salatul maglirib and bringing food with them for iftar. After salah, they would all sit in clusters of four to five people in the Masjid’s courtyard having iftar together. The women would gather at neighbors’ homes. “Everyone would bring food. It was like a potluck iftar. That is an image I can never forget,” he said.

Similarly, Afifi remembers the “dowaar,” a place of gathering in the center of the village of Sharqiyyah. Throughout the year, men would gather here and chat at night, but during Ramadhaan, they would get together for iftar each evening; the women, meanwhile, would eat together inside.

With the lifestyle in cities a bit different, people do not get a chance to get together as much. However, the emphasis on coming together for iftar as much as possible still remains. Hence, the level of socialisation increases during Ramadhaan.

Instead of the communal iftar so common in small villages, the people in the cities tend to provide iftar for the poor and the traveling at the masjid. For instance, “(Many) Masajid in Cairo have Mawaeid ar-Rahman during Ramadhan,” Afifi said. These are tables on the streets outside the masjid to which people donate daily iftar.

In Jeddah and Madina as well, plastic wraps are spread on the entire masjid floor offering people milk and water. “People drag you because they want you to break fast with them. These people compete with each other, it’s quite an awesome sight,” Abdallah Adhami said.

Likewise, there is plenty of food at some masajid in Somalia or at someone’s house. Some people stay a little after maghrib to see if anyone does not have a proper place to go, Esse said. “People try to get others to have iftar with them for reward (from Allah). Everyone’s trying despite being poor,” he said. “I know some people who have more than 20 people regularly for suhur, iftar, and dinner. This is one of the bounties of Allah to Muslims.”

In Pakistan, one of the traditions is to not only send iftar to the masajid, but also to the neighbors and the needy people nearby, Hasan said. “The more they (share), the more hope there is that they will be rewarded,” he said.

When Adhami was in Jeddah during Ramadhan a few years ago, he remembers one day he had stopped at a red light in downtown Jeddah and the adhan for maghrib was called. He had nothing with him to break his fast, but suddenly he saw a man jump out of his car with two palmfuls of dates. He told Adhami to open his hands, and dropped the dates into them. Similarly, he covered many other cars before getting back into his own when the light turned green. “During Ramadhan, the richness of human character comes out of people,” Adhami said.

In fact, it is customary among many Muslims to defer paying their zakat until Ramadhan, in hopes of earning more reward from Allah. Muslims, in general, spend more in charity during Ramadhan as well.