JEDDAH: Holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah have come alive with customary Ramadan rituals after two years.
Arab News reported that Iftar suppers have returned much to the delight of worshippers.
For some Saudi families, providing iftar meals at the same spot in the precincts of the mosques has been passed down through the generations. The distribution of iftar meals was allowed last year. This year community iftar sufras have been allowed at the two mosques.
Those families, who received their permits, said that they start preparing for iftar two weeks before Ramadan, which is part of the enjoyment.
Before COVID-19, worshipers were welcomed at the two holy mosques for iftar by philanthropists who provide iftar sufras or meals at specific locations. The distribution of iftar meals was allowed last year in Ramadan. On January 13 this year, Al-Sudais announced the return of community iftar sufras at the two mosques.
Two thousand permits have been issued to those interested in this form of charity. For some Saudi families, providing iftar meals at the same spot in the precincts of the mosques, have been passed down through the generations.
Shatha Jaylan, 30, from Madinah, told Arab News that she and her family have provided iftar for years near the Al-Rawda door. “We have been serving iftar meals in (the) Madinah haram for nine years in the ladies’ section. It is a collaboration between my father and my aunty as they both appreciate the spirituality of (the) haram during the holy month of Ramadan.”
Those families, who received their permits, said that they start preparing for iftar two weeks before Ramadan, which is part of the enjoyment. “We provide yogurt, shouraik bread, duggah (Madini mixture of condiments), different types of dates such as rutab and sukkary, Zamzam water bottles, Saudi coffee, and tea.”
“I (personally) used to serve iftar for visitors for three years in a row every Ramadan season; we used to prepare everything in the morning so we could bring (it all to the) haram by Asr prayer to avoid the peak hour,” Jaylan said. “It is really important to get everything set up so visitors can enjoy their meals.”
Jaylan said that like other people providing meals, she also hires workers to help with the preparation and serving, usually unemployed people seeking work. However, this year Jaylan said her family would not organize any meals so that others could be given a chance to do so.
“Once we heard the announcement of the return of iftar meals we were extremely happy, however, we did not renew our membership this year as there were new rules and regulations that were a bit different,” she said. “Providing iftar, gaining hasanat, going to (the) haram every day might sound nice and fun, but it is a huge responsibility.”
“My aunt, cousins, and I used to stay in (the) haram from (the) afternoon till (the) evening every day for one month. It is not easy as once the visitors leave, we (had) to collect the plastic mats, leftovers, and disposable utensils. It is a big effort, but one honest dua from visitors wipes all the tiredness away,” she added.
Meanwhile, the general presidency is set to launch several programs to provide services for worshipers during Ramadan. Over 12,000 workers will be serving in Makkah’s grand mosque, with the third expansion used at full capacity.
Crowd control measures have been instituted, with prayer areas designated for people with disabilities and the elderly