Muslims and non-Muslims enjoying Ramadan festivities in Lebanon
Muslims around the world observe Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, in their own way. Each community welcomes the holy month with its distinctive traditions and practices.
Ramadan begins with the rising of the crescent moon and is a time of spiritual discipline, charity, generosity and prayer.
During the day, you will find Muslims around the world fasting from dawn to dusk, refraining from eating and drinking any liquid (including water) and refraining from habits like smoking, gossiping and argue. However, the nights are the real days during Ramadan.
Across the Arab world, festivities kick off after Iftar (breaking the fast) at dusk, as neighborhoods come alive after a quiet, slow day of food hibernation.
Ramadan in Lebanon is different but more beautiful and interesting. Since 40% of the population is Christian, Lebanon is actually one of the few Arab countries where you can enjoy the festive spirit of Ramadan! But still, being able to get a decent meal during the day without prying eyes.
As the holy month comes to its midpoint, we take a look at some interesting Ramadan vibes in Lebanon, a country in Western Asia.
Musaharati (dawn awakening)
At the dawn of Ramadan, the Musaharati is a common sight in many parts of the Arab world, especially in Lebanon. A Musaharati is a drummer, also called a dawn waker, who beats his drum just before dawn to wake up Muslims for Suhoor.
Thanks to the Musaharati, people can sleep peacefully knowing that they will not miss their Suhoor meals.
He has a remarkable voice that fills the air at dawn, calling people to get up, perform Suhoor, prepare for the Fajr prayer (dawn prayer) and start a new day of Ramadan. .
The history of the Musaharati in the Hijaz goes back many centuries. It seems that its function was part of social life in Islamic times, especially in Mamluk and Ottoman times.
Non-Muslims also enjoy Ramadan!!!
In Lebanon, Ramadan, like Christmas, is also considered a national holiday. In this country, the festivities of Ramadan are appreciated by all communities and they are not reserved for Muslims only.
An annual Iftar dinner is held at the Presidential Palace attended by all community leaders and religious figures.
At Iftar dinners, you have Muslims and non-Muslims, those who fast and those who don’t, sitting next to each other. There is compromise on both sides, in the sense that the particularities of those who fast are respected, and at the same time there is tolerance for those who do not fast.
Charities, civic organizations and businesses host iftar dinners for fundraising purposes to which guests from various communities and religious faiths are invited.
Tripoli in Lebanon comes alive at night during Ramadan
Ramadan in Tripoli is truly magnificent. Tripoli takes on a new lease of life during the holy month as people come from all over the country to enjoy its famous sweets, artisanal crafts and jubilant atmosphere.
At sunset, Muslim families will enjoy Iftar with Christian neighbors and stay late in cafes to listen to Hakawati or storytellers or visit a park to watch Sufi dervishes perform their dreamlike whirlwind. “After Iftar, there’s this energy that keeps people going all night,” says Fatima Tadmoury, 29, who relishes the nocturnal spirit the Lebanese city adopts during Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr.
It is 2:15 a.m. and a Musaharati beats a drum to wake up the inhabitants of the old city of Tripoli before sahour. There is a brief sleepy silence, then the streets begin to bustle. The smell of cooking drifts through the medieval lanes as a communal slot lets passers-by know that the households share the meal.
Special Lebanese desserts for Iftar
As an essential part of Ramadan, Suhoor and Iftar meals are at the center of gatherings around the world, giving people another reason to reconnect with friends and family.
In the Arab world, especially in Lebanon, there are special dishes and sweets that are served during the holy month of Ramadan.
The following sweets and desserts are special Ramadan recipes that Lebanese people usually prepare for the Iftar meal during Ramadan.
Kellaj is one of the most popular desserts during Ramadan season. It is a light dough filled with Ashta cream, deep fried and soaked in syrup for a while. A pure delight!
Mafroukeh is made from a dough combining semolina flour, butter and sugar syrup. The dough is covered with a layer of Ashta and roasted nuts. Mafroukeh can be served on a plate or molded into several shapes.
A tasteful dessert commonly prepared during Ramadan, Chaaybiyet is made of crispy layers of dough filled with Ashta. Chaaybiyet is usually shaped like a triangle and decorated with crushed pistachios and candied orange blossoms and definitely covered in sweet syrup! They can be served cold or hot.
Daoukiyeh is one of Beirut’s most famous desserts. It was first created in the 80s by Al-Daouk confectionery, a small pastry shop in Beirut, and was named after the family’s surname.
Daoukiyeh consists of a layer of Ashta and a layer of cashew nuts between two layers of pistachio paste.
The color of the pistachios gives the Daoukiyeh its particular green color. Today, Daoukiyeh is prepared in many patisseries across the country and is served in different forms.
Qatayef is very commonly served during Ramadan. This pancake-like Arabic batter can be made with different fillings such as nuts and a mixture of sugar or sweet Akkawi cheese or even Ashta (a clotted cream made with rose water).
The stuffed Qatayef is then fried and dipped in sugar syrup before being served.