Ramadan Tradition: How El Mesaharaty wakes people up for suhoor

The fasting month of Ramadan brings to light several traditions of Islamic nations. El Mesaharaty is one of the oldest of Ramadan traditions.

El Mesaharaty is the name given to the person who walks around an area beating his drum or chanting verses to wake people up to have suhoor (meal eaten early morning before beginning the fast).

However, with technology taking over modern-day life, this deep-rooted Ramadan tradition is on the decline. Today, television, mobiles and alarm clocks are fast replacing the job that a Mesaharaty did.

First Mesaharaty

Earlier, El Mesaharaty was especially popular among children. They would rally around him, walking along until he finished his daily task of waking people up.

The concept of Mesaharaty was developed during the Abbasside era at the time of Caliph Al Nasser in Egypt.

The then Ruler of Egypt Otbah Ibn Ishaq was the first person to tour the streets of Cairo during Ramadan. He is said to have used poetic phrases meaning “O! those who of you who are asleep, wake up and pray to Allah…”

Different practices

While, the El Mesaharaty of Oman was the first to beat drums to wake up people, in Kuwait, Abu Tablyah, the first El Mesaharaty, is believed to have chanted prayers that children repeated as he walked around.

In Yemen, the first El Mesaharaty is believed to have used a stick to beat on peoples’ doors.

In Sudan, the El Mesaharaty walked around along with a child calling out names of people.

In Syria, Lebanon and Palestine they whistled, while in Saudi Arabia El Mesaharatys wake people up with a prayer.

Woman El Mesaharaty

Meanwhile, social researcher and heritage expert Fatima Al Mughny says an Emirati woman has volunteered and played the role of El Mesaharaty.

According to Mughny, this woman would beat a drum and roam the streets to wake up her neighbours to have suhoor, without waiting for the reward.

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