The holy month of Ramadan is celebrated around the world with millions of Muslims sharing many common Ramadan traditions- colored glass lanterns fill the streets, sunset meals begin with sweet dates, and worshipers devote some time in communal nightly prayers. Egypt, like other Middle Eastern countries, has its own set of special traditions that make Ramadan truly unique.
One of the oldest most deep-rooted Ramadan customs in Egypt is the Mesaharaty (Ramadan’s Suhoor-caller). This custom is also practiced by other Levant countries, such as Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. The Mesaharaty walks around beating his drum in Egypt’s residential areas to wake people up to eat ‘Suhoor’, the meal eaten before the beginning of the fast. In Egypt, the tradition is said to have started way back in year 238 AH by Antaba bin Ishaq, the country’s then ruler. During Ramadan, he would walk from a place called Fustat to Amr ibn Al Aas Mosque waking people up for suhoor.
The Mesaharaty begins to bang his drum a bit after midnight and in some areas, he keeps the authentic Mesaharaty tradition alive by chanting traditional Mesaharaty songs and calling out residents’ names until they wake up from their deep sleep and respond to him.
Nowadays, the tradition of the Mesaharaty is a lot less prevalent than it once was, especially in more affluent neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the older generation of Egyptians, till this day, most likely recall waking up to the Mesaharaty’s festive, poetic songs and the rhythmic beats of the drum for the pre-dawn meal.
“Wake up, Wake up, those of you who are asleep.
Wake up and pray to God.
Wake up to make your intention to fast tomorrow and, if alive, this Holy month.
Dawn is almost here.
Have a Blessed Ramadan ”
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