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Ramadan Traditions Around the World

Ramadan Traditions Around the World

In last week’s newsletter, we discovered some of the delectable culinary gems that adorn Iftar tables around the world throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan. From exquisite Moroccan Harira to sweet, honey-dipped Emirati Luqaimat, the delightful treats we explored not only bring joy and comfort to observers breaking their fast, but they also stand as emblems of cultural identity.

Join us today as we embark on a journey across the globe to uncover some fascinating traditions that illuminate this blessed month for communities around the world who celebrate in their own, special ways.

Moroccan Nafars
There is a very specific atmosphere to the streets of Morocco right before Suhoor, and any Moroccan can attest to the particular ring of quiet which takes over the streets, where nothing but the humming of the Muezzin from the nearest mosque can be heard. The Nafar, or horn player, decked in traditional robes and slippers, passes through neighborhoods, blowing on his horn to announce sunrise. This tradition is said to find its root in the time of the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, who asked his companion Bilal Ibn Rabbah to roam the streets and wake people up for their Suhoor meal. These origins thus explain why variations of the Moroccan Nafar can be found all over the Muslim world.

Drummers of Turkey
In the wake of the mighty Ottoman Empire, thousands of drummers stormed every neighborhood around Turkey to announce impending dawn, and to wake people up on time to partake in a final meal before fasting. Centuries later, in a time where electronics and alarms have long since been in use, this special custom still lives on, and drummers still grace the numerous neighborhoods of Istanbul and other Turkish cities, clothed in traditional Ottoman clothing and carrying boisterous beating drums in hand. This custom not only still serves the practical purpose it was originally intended to fulfill, but it also fills the heart of believers with joy and ease, as they get ready to fast to the humming of drums and beautiful poetry.

Emirati Haq Al-Laila
Doorbells around the United Arab Emirates ring in unison throughout the evening of the 15th of Shaaban, the month preceding Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. Children adorned in traditional Emirati clothing, colorful bags in hand, traditionally knock on their neighbors’ doors to demand chocolate and candy, hoping to fill their little bags and bellies to the brim in exchange for a song. The roots of this sweet tradition are uncertain, but it is believed to originate from Fatima-Zahra, the youngest daughter of the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, who used to distribute sweets to the children in her neighborhood, in preparation for the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Egyptian Fanoos Ramadan
Fanoos Ramadan is a traditional lantern which has graced the streets of Egypt in various forms since the Middle Ages. This illustrious custom allegedly started out as a way for inhabitants of the country to celebrate the arrival of their Caliph for the Holy Month of Ramadan. Today, lanterns bathe the streets of Egypt in myriads of colors, announcing the arrival of the blessed month ahead and soothing the hearts of millions of observers in Egypt as they get immersed in the magical atmosphere of Ramadan.

Pakistani Chaand Raat
Chaand Raat commemorates the eve of Eid-al-Fitr, the Islamic celebration marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan. On this joyous occasion, families and friends gather around the streets of Pakistan to watch the night sky as the bright, new moon makes its entrance, announcing the end of Ramadan and the opening of the new Islamic month of Shawwal. As the new moon graces the night sky, people exchange heartfelt well wishes and embark on preparations for Eid, as the air hums with joy and anticipation.

On that note, the Raphia Team would like to once again wish you a blessed month ahead. Ramadan Kareem!

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