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Reliving Ramadan traditions

Musaharati (Sahoor caller)

By Hina Zahir Imam / 5 Aug 2013

Muslims from around the world observe Ramadan in their unique ways. Every community welcomes the holy month with their distinctive traditions and practices. With the holy month coming to an end, we take a look at some interesting Ramadan customs in different parts of the world:

Musaharati (Sahoor caller)

During the dawn hours in Ramadan, the Musaharati is a common sight in many parts of the Arab world, especially in Lebanon. A Musaharati is a drummer, also referred to as a dawn awakener, who beats his drum just before dawn to wake Muslims for sahoor. Thanks to the Musaharati, people are able to sleep peacefully knowing that they will not miss their sahoor meals.

The history of the Musaharati in the Hijaz dates back many centuries. It seems that his function was part of the social life in the Islamic eras, particularly during the Mameluk and Ottoman times.

He has a remarkable voice that fills the air at dawn, calling people to get up, have sahoor, prepare for the fajr prayer, and start a fresh day of Ramadan.

Fawanees (Ramadan lanterns)

The Fawanees is mainly an Egyptian tradition, which is now being practiced in other Muslim countries as well. The custom has origins in legends and ancient folklores. Many tales of the origins of the lanterns have been narrated. One story articulates that, Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah, wanted to illuminate the streets of Cairo during the magnificent Ramadan nights. So, he ordered all mosque Imams to hang lanterns at the minarets of every mosque at iftar as an indication for Muslims to break their fasts and to brighten up the streets. Since that day, the fawanees have become an eternal custom.

Ramadan cannon

The cannon is a beloved Ramadan tradition carried out yearly in Makkah. It is located on a mountain during the month of Ramadan. A canon ball is shot alerting Muslims at dawn to observe fast and during dusk to break their fast. Its origins go back to the 15th century. One story traces the origin to the Hijri year 859 (around 1455), when a Mamluk sultan of Egypt wanted to test a new cannon that he had just received. He fired a ball that exactly coincided with Maghreb time during Ramadan. People then thought this was the sultan’s way of telling them it was time to break their fast.

Egg fights

In Afghanistan, the arrival of Eid is rejoiced in a rather distinctive way. Muslim men and boys gather in parks on the last day of Ramadan and indulge in egg fights, where each participant tries to crack other member’s hard-boiled eggs, as part of the game. In recent times, egg-fights have become less popular than they once were.


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