Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Last Few Days of Ramadan 2014

While the final days of Ramadan approach there are still some important events in store. Among them are the celebration tonight (the 27th night of Ramadan) of Laylat Al Qadr and Leilat Sabawachrine.

Laylat Al Qadr is considered the holiest night of the year for Muslims, and is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan. It is known as the "Night of Power," and commemorates the night that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with the exhortation, "Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists)," in Surat Al-Alaq.

The Prophet Muhammad did not mention exactly when the "Night of Power" would be, although most scholars believe it falls on one of the odd-numbered nights of the final ten days of Ramadan, such as the 19th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, or 27th days of Ramadan. It is most widely believed to fall on the 27th day of Ramadan.

Many Muslims observe this occasion with study, devotional readings, and prayer. Some Muslims participate in a spiritual retreat called itikaf, where they spend all ten days in the mosque reading the Quran and praying.

Photo: Suzanna Clarke

Leilat Sabawachrine - literally the "night of the 27th day of Ramadan" - is a night especially for children - a time when they dress in their finest clothes. For girls this also means having their hands and feet covered in beautiful henna designs and wearing makeup and jewellery. Once dressed, they take to the streets where many of them were happy to receive gifts of sweets or money.

Thank the D'kak!

And late at night try and find the D'kak and offer him a little money for the work he has been doing making sure that people don't miss Suhoor, the final meal before the Fajr (dawn) prayer and the beginning of another day fasting. The whole purpose of Suhoor is to provide people fasting with enough nourishment and energy to keep them going for the next sixteen hours. During those hours an overwhelming majority of Moroccans will abstain from food, drink, cigarettes and sex.

Yassine Boudouàià - one of the D'kaks in the Fez Medina . Photo Sandy McCutcheon

To make certain you don't miss this meal is the job of the Bou Damdoum in Amazigh or D’kak in Moroccan Arabic, (the drummer), who uses his drums or N’ffar (a long horn that makes buzzing sound) to guarantee that everyone in the neighbourhood wakes up in time to cook and then enjoy their Suhoor meal.

This is a very old tradition and has been observed in a number of countries. An early report of the work done by a D'kak in Algiers is in the remarkable work by the cleric Antonio de Sosa. In his Topography of Algiers (1612) - Edited with an introduction by María Antonia Garcés. Translated by Diana de Armas Wilson - Sosa has a brief description of the D'kak during Ramadan... "When midnight approaches, some Muslims, out of devotion, walk the streets sounding certain drums, whose sound awakens sleepers so that they can return to their food..." This is the same custom that still exists in the Fez Medina.

Finally - at iftar, last night, people were not the only ones looking forward to breaking the fast!

Print Friendly and PDF

No comments: