Jerusalem24 – Haya Rimawi – “I don’t understand the spirituality people talk about, All I know that when I walk in the old markets in Ramadan, I feel myself on the clouds … the people, the adornments, the sound of the call to prayer, the streets and the stones, everything is different in Ramadan .. everyone is walking happily”. Says Abu Al-Baraa 77 years old, describing to us the neighborhoods of Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan.
There is no doubt that the month of Ramadan carries different customs and traditions for each city, but the people of Jerusalem try to adhere to the customs of their city as much as possible, in order to preserve the Arab identity of Jerusalem in the face of Judaization.
“Decorations are an essential thing in Ramadan, especially the Damascus Gate and the old market, lightnings giving a feeling of joy for everyone and all generations. The markets during the month of Ramadan are empty at noon , yet it gets busy between the afternoon and the sunset, and of course at the Damascus Gate with the presence of merchants, especially cakes, ‘qatayef’ (sweets served in Ramadan) and Ramadan drinks, Almost everyone plays religious songs and prayers … the atmosphere is magical! ” Abu Al-Bara says.
Among the distinctive customs that still exist in the city of Jerusalem is the “Ramadan cannon,” which is the sound that Jerusalemites have been used to for hundreds of years until it has become a legacy. The cannon is located in the Islamic cemetery in ‘Salah al-Din Street’ in the city center. The firing of the cannon is a great pressure, whoever use it must obtain a permit from the municipality of Jerusalem and an expert in explosives, security and police two months before Ramadan, noting that they used gunpowder to hit the cannon until the end of the eighties during the first intifada, then they started using sound bombs .
In addition to the Ramadan cannon, the presence of “Msharati” is one of the basic customs during Ramadan, and in recent years a group of young men volunteer each year to carry out the task of the ‘Msharati’, dressed in Masharati dress and the distinctive drum, wandering around the neighborhoods of Jerusalem while chanting the famous phrases (wake up , pray to God, get up and prepare your ‘suhoor’ ( A meal Muslims eat in Ramadan before dawn) , Ramadan is here to visit you).
Al Aqsa Mosque in Ramadan
Every year, the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem coordinates with the various Jerusalem institutions, scouts and youth of Jerusalem, to organize ‘Iftar’ (A meal Muslims eat after sunset) for worshipers in the squares of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to provide daily hot meals, which reach their climax on ‘the Night of Power’ with more than a hundred thousand meals.
However, during the current year, and due to the precautionary measures to limit Covid-19, the Ministry of Endowments announced the suspension of ‘Iftar’ meals in Al-Aqsa Square.
Hospice of “Haseki Sultan”
It is a hospice that has existed in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, located between Al-Wad Street and Khan Al-Zayt. It was founded by “Roksilane”, wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1552, and was described as “Haseki Sultan”, meaning the Sultan’s beloved.
Since its establishment until the present day, the hospice is considered a haven for the needy throughout the year in general, and the number increases during the month of Ramadan, as meals are provided to the needy on a daily basis.