JOYS OF RAMADHAAN

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In the depths of each night of Ramadhaan, Adam Esse would take his rounds in the streets of his small village called Sinujiif in Somalia, exhorting the sleepers to wake for suhur. Beating a drum-like iron container with a big stick, the young Esse would repeatedly chant, “Suhur Yaa Mu’mineen”

Conjuring up those images years later, his voice became hoarse with emotion, ‘I really miss it. Even if I used to miss one member of a house, they’d ask the next morning: ‘Where were you? What happened?” In turn, be remembers, he would get very shy and apologize.

Such announcers, called “musahharati” in Egypt, are an inherent part of the Ramadhan traditions in many Muslim countries, although confined more to the villages and older parts of the cities.

Iftar too is a very special time and is announced distinctly in the villages. For instance, canon balls are fired in the countryside in Tunisia and Libya. Farzana Razzaque, of Central Islip, N. Y, cannot forget the striking of a gong which announced iftar in the small village of Kapasia, Bangladesh, which she came to associate with Ramadhan there as a child visiting her grand-parents. Even in the large city of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Elmedina Cokic said everyone knew it is Iftar time when the fireworks started over the mountains every evening in Ramadhan.

On the other hand, most people in the newer quarters of the cities rely on radio and television for announcement for suhur and iftar. In some places, like Pakistan, someone from the masjid also announces the times on the loudspeaker.

Be it Tunisia Libya, Pakistan, Bosnia, Algeria, or Egypt, when it comes to Ramadhan traditions, one cannot escape the striking similarities despite their cultural differences. Just as the musahharati are common in different parts of the Muslim world, so is the communal spirit, the general mood of generosity, the festivity the importance of food, particularly sweets, and the increased desire to draw closer to Allah ta’ala.