Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility and spirituality and is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God and to offer more prayer than usual. Ramadan was the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
The daily meals become limited to two, the first of which is the "iftar" when fasting is broken just after sunset. The timing of the second meal, "sohour", is variable according to personal preference, but usually delayed as much as possible until just before dawn.
Muslims are interested in "sohour time" (time of eating before fasting). Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said: " Eat before fasting as it has a great benefit for us”. The prophet confirmed that by saying: “Verily, Bilal call with his Adhan while the night darkness is still available, therefore, eat and drink until you hear the Adhan of Ibn Umi Maktoum)".
El Mesaharaty is one of the traditional characters that are related to the month of Ramadan. The Mesaharaty used to pass by houses before dawn in order to wake people up to remind them to eat (Sohour) before dawn.
But when did the first El Mesaharaty go around to the door of Muslims to wake them up for eating before fasting?
The idea appeared in 238 ah by the governor “Otabs ibn Ishaq”, who was himself roams form the city of military till the mosque of Amr ibn el-Aas in Fostat, and the governor was calling by a very beautiful voice (O’ Servants of Allah, Eat Before Dawn As It is Very Benefit for You).
It was developed in the Abbasid era, specifically in Baghdad, at the time of caliph “Al-Nasser” as he has assigned a person called “Abu-Noqata” with the task of waking people for sohour, eating before dawn, and awaken the caliph personally - he was singing (O’ Sleeping Arise for Sohour )
The case remained as it is until the reign of the Fatimid state - specifically the time of "Al-hakim Bea'amr Allah Fatimid" as he ordered the soldiers of the state to awaken people till he was guided to the idea of appointing a man to act as El Mesaharaty , and El Mesaharaty at that time used to sing by a beautiful voice, (O’ People of God Arise for Sohour)
El Mesaharaty In Different Countries:
El Mesaharaty is called (Zamzami) - he was carrying around with him a lamb so that those who do not hear the voice can see the light and start sohour.
In the Levant:
El Mesaharaty used to carry sticks, and whistles that make pretty sounds to make people know that it is the time for sohour by a very beautiful tones.
There is a kind of roughness in sohour where the man from the village and called out loudly (arise to eat).
A person is walking around with a child and in his hand book lists with the names of the families planned to wake them up for a and take money from them in the morning of the feast.
Despite the presence of different kinds of reminders and alarms, the Mesaharaty has not disappeared. “El Mesaharaty” is still a part of the Ramadan scene. He does not receive a fixed salary but receives tips at the end of the month. He embodies a living tradition, and brings us a glimpse of the past. His reassuring presence, signaled by loud drumbeats, reminds us that Ramadan is about compassion and sharing.
By Fatma Dawod
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El Mesaharaty is one of Ramadan Scenes that we enjoy in this holy month.
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