Guests wanting to sign-up as members MUST first introduce themselves in detail at Zainab's Lounge, accessible from Muslim Villa's Guestbook Board (top sticky post titled "Zainab's Lounge"). Approval of members is at the discretion of the MV Team. You have arrived at a place of serious learning through mutual consultation where we have zero tolerance for trouble-makers, narcissists and needless disputants. We simply stand for what is compatible with the Sublime Quran regardless of titles such as "traditionalism" or "modernism."
Muslim Villa
October 16, 2018, 04:08:17 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 
  Home Help Search Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

History of Mesaharati ( مسحراتى ) – the dawn caller in Ramadan


+-
Shoutbox
October 09, 2018, 09:50:31 pm Ruhi_Rose: Salam brother.  Very easy. First click on the board title you wish to post in.  You'll find main board topics below and sub-boards (default label "child boards") above.  If you wish to post in main board click "new topic" button on top left.  If you wish to post in any of the sub-boards, click on that sub board title and then click "new topic" button on above left side.  You'll get the format for typing your post, then click "post" button below.
October 06, 2018, 12:46:27 pm momin: how can i post things here if i have something to post. Smiley
 Smiley
September 14, 2018, 12:33:22 am Ruhi_Rose: Yes br. TS, that's a very important article to read.
September 14, 2018, 12:08:22 am N. Truth Seeker: Thank u.  Allah bless u for remembering, sister.   Also reminding our guests to read: The traditional declaration of fasting on the 10th of Muharram .... the real story behind it. Same article in the blog too.
September 13, 2018, 11:09:22 pm Zeynab: Muharram 1440 A.H.
Please read why our Islamic new year is full of tragic memories.
June 08, 2018, 08:49:28 pm Heba E. Husseyn: Leilatul Qadr 1439 (2018) on June 8. To learn about this great Night, read our posts on Leilatul Qadr @ this thread.
May 16, 2018, 04:03:41 am Ruhi_Rose: Ramadan Mubarak to u too brother and to everyone.  May Allah accept our efforts.  Ameen.
May 16, 2018, 04:01:41 am N. Truth Seeker: Ramadan 2018 Mubarak to all.  Just finished sahoor, getting ready for Fajr.  Alhumdulilah.
View Shout History
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Send this topic  |  Print  
Author Topic: History of Mesaharati ( مسحراتى ) – the dawn caller in Ramadan  (Read 33 times)
Zeynab
TEAM MV Founder
Admin
Hero Member
*
Posts: 4465



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« on: September 24, 2018, 05:39:34 am »




Artwork of a medieval era Mesaharati.


Mesaharati or the dawn caller is a public waker for Sahoor and the Fajr prayer during the month of Ramadan.   Sahoor is the pre-dawn meal in Ramadan before fasting begins at dawn, shortly before the start of a new day.  Traditionally, this is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted customs of the blessed month of Ramadan.  It makes Ramadan more joyous for Muslims.

Some historians presume that the Mesaharati's task initially began in Medinah during the time of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). It is believed that the first Mesaharati or drum holder was Bilal Bin Rabah, one of Prophet Muhammad’s companions.  He used to walk the streets and roads throughout the night to wake people in the month of Ramadan. 

Gradually, the Mesaharati became traditionally synonymous with Ramadan, similar to the decoration of Ramadan lanterns and the firing of the Ramadan cannon  to notify worshipers that it was time to break their fast in the evening after sunset, also known as the Iftar dinner.  Approximately three hours after Iftar and the Tarawih prayers, was the time for all Mesahratiyah (plural of Mesaharati) to start their Ramadan rounds in their respective neighborhoods.  Every neighborhood would select one of their residents as their own Mesaharati.  It was necessary for the Mesaharati to be a healthy person as he had to walk long distances, across an entire neighborhood and back.   He also needed to have a loud voice.

In medieval Mecca the imam of the mosque would climb on the minaret at pre-dawn hours holding a lantern and calling for people to wake up for the Sahoor meal.  Even if the people couldn't see or hear him, they could see the light he held.  That's how the decorative custom of lanterns symbolic of Ramadan came about which exists until the present.

The information coming from the ancestors of Muslims currently living in Egypt, Syria, Sudan,  Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine tells us that the more elaborate idea of Al-Mesaharati emerged in the era of the Fatamids in 909 A.D. when the Mesaharati used to walk the streets of Cairo holding a small tabla-like drum and tapping it with a piece of leather or wood.  He was often accompanied by his children holding a lamp to light the way so he could comfortably sing his distinctive calls.    Gradually the tradition grew more interesting.  Just two hours prior to Sahoor, dressed in a jalebiya and a headcover and holding a drum in his hand, the Mesaharati woke people up by calling their names to give a more personal touch to his voluntary assignment.  They would also often knock on peoples' doors to wake them. Some years later the Mesaharati began chanting lines of religious songs and simultaneously beat the drum; that felt like a sweeter way of waking up the neighborhood.   Whenever the Mesaharati began their rounds, kids of the neighborhood would find it exciting and rush towards the drum beater.  Some children would carry lanterns to light the path of the Mesaharati as there was no electricity those days and thus no street lights.

"Wake up sleepers, praise Allah" called the Mesaharati as he strolled through the streets before dawn, banging his drum to wake up people for Sahoor.  They come up with many of their own attractive chants, such as “catch the good month before it goes away!”    Other well-known phrases chanted by the Mesaharati, “Sabbahak Allah bil ridha wa alnaeem” (May Allah wake you with satisfaction and bliss) and “Ya nayem wahhid Aldayem” (Sleeping, praise the Permanent Allah).

Unlike present times when Muslims often spend hours watching television, using their laptops or cell phones after Tarawih prayers, during the early years of Islam, they slept soon after Tarawih prayers.  With no alarm clocks to awaken them at pre-dawn, the Mesaharati’s presence was a dire necessity otherwise many would oversleep and miss Sahoor.  But knowing that the Mesaharati would surely wake them at the right time, they would sleep soundly all night.  The Mesaharati would stand under the window or balcony of each house, calling everyone by name until he heard a response before moving to the next house.  Some neighbors would gladly express their gratitude during each pre-dawn call of the Mesaharati by wrapping a coin in a piece of paper and dropping it down to him.

The Mesaharati's job would be voluntary, out of kindness of their hearts, with no assured payments.   But the people always paid him something.  When the blessed month of Ramadan came to an end and the celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr began, the Mesaharati received gifts of money and food from people to express gratitude for his services during the blessed month.

Traditionally, Mesahratiyah are usually men.    But in modern times, rarely women too volunteer for this interesting job in the blessed month.  The most recent story of a lady Mesaharati is that of Dalal Abdel Kader who belongs to a middle-class neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt.  She opted for it after her two late brothers who were very popular Mesahratiyah of their neighborhoods.  Dalal recalls the evening when her late older brother stepped out for the first time as a Mesaharati, wearing his best clothes and perfume.  She carries the same drum that belonged to him and emotionally remembers the beautiful spiritual songs he sung in praise of The Almighty.

Mesaharati in the middle ages:

The voluntary task of the Mesaharati was considered one of the most prestigious in all medieval Muslim societies.  In some families the task of Mesahratiyah was an inherited profession and the drums they carried were passed on from grandparents or great-grandparents.  The Mesaharati of every neighborhood had much the same status as the omdah or the mayor of that city.   In Syria every Mesaharati had strong connection with his neighborhood. People trusted him to deliver food and money to those whom he knew were in need. 

It's understandable for residents of every neighborhood to feel they need to know and trust the man to allow him to walk their streets late at night.  But back in those days life was wholly different, mainly because of the aspect of trust.  The rate of street crimes was next to zero.  Everyone in every neighborhood trusted the other.  They felt safe walking the streets after dark.  Each neighbor could count on the help of another, if needed.  Residents of some neighborhoods invited the Mesaharati inside their homes to eat Sahoor with them.   The only security risk was stray dogs, some of whom rarely behaved aggressively.   The stick which the Mesaharati carried for his drum was also sometimes used to scare away barking dogs with hand swinging gestures.  That's as far as safety concerns went.

Mesaharati today:

While it had been a popular and actively practiced profession in the Arab world for centuries, the need for a Mesaharati has gradually declined since the past six or seven decades due to new technologies such as alarm clocks, radios and televisions.  Construction of highrise residential apartments and the development and spread of cities have made it harder to hear the Mesaharati’s voice.   It was much easier for a Mesaharati to make himself audible in the yester years as he walked by small homes of close-knit neighborhoods in villages or towns.   Not to forget, the use of air conditioners that have helped  much to sound-proof the bedrooms and living rooms of modern homes.  Moreover, in sprawling over-crowded modern cities with high crime rates and unruly traffic, the Mesaharati often fears for his safety, that he may not be able to walk the busy streets without being harmed.

Nowadays most Mesahratiyah are from poor or middle-class families.  Some neighbors also refer to them as “beggars” looking for tips. 

In modern Pakistan, which is considerably lacking in Islamic traditions, no one would even know the definition of the term “Mesaharati.”  They simply refer to the dawn caller as the "dhol wala" (the drum guy).  They are unknown members of the community, neither trusted nor respected.  Some are even treated with disdain, viewed as greedy volunteers  which unfortunately is true of several Mesahratiyah in Pakistan.  They show up for a short while on just a few nights of the entire month but assertively demand money for the whole month during Eid-al-Fitr.   Most neighbors are unwilling to pay them. 

That’s how much times have changed!   

However, in the Arab world and Iran it’s different.  Community members  are still volunteering to keep this tradition alive.   Because of the past prestige of the profession, it continues to be one of the most appreciated Islamic traditions of the blessed month of Ramadan.




A Mesaharati in Cairo visiting a neighborhood with Ramadan decor at dawn, riding on a donkey.  Many mesaharatis are greeted with respect by residents of the neighborhoods. 



Mesaharatiyah in a Ramadan-decorated neighborhood of Jerusalem. 



Lady Mesaharati, Dalal Abdel Kadir, in Cairo - before Sahoor time waking through her neighborhood as the children gather around her.


Report Spam   Logged

Social Buttons

N. Truth Seeker
Quiet guy technology nerd | TEAM MUSLIM VILLA
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2023



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2018, 01:38:15 am »



SubhanAllah .. MashAllah, I so much enjoyed reading this.  Reminds me of the stories I hear from my dad.  One of his great-grand uncles, a very humble man of modest means, was a mesaharati in a small and beautiful Syrian neighborhood.  In those days working hours were shortened greatly during Ramadan.  Work started late and finished soon.  So he could go to work plus also do his mesaharati duty at night.  Despite his modest means, he didn't care for money; was only interested in helping neighbors so they don't miss sahoor for there were no alarm clocks to awaken them.  Yet, at the end of Ramadan on Eid-al-Fitr day, his little courtyard would be inundated with gifts of cooked food and money as tips in colored envelopes.  Such wonderful days .. and now look where we are.  Everyone speaks of the convenience of modern times but where's the happiness which our ancestors had?

Mesaharati tradition flourished in Syria enough to enjoy until pre war period.  But now .... I suppose it's all over  Sad

In Palestine and Egypt this tradition is still largely alive particularly in old Jerusalem city (despite occupation) and Cairo as shown in the images posted.

Great article Sister Zeynab. 

Report Spam   Logged



HE WHO KNEELS BEFORE ALLAH CAN
STAND BEFORE ANYONE.
Ruhi_Rose
TEAM MUSLIM VILLA The Avid Reader | Mom of 3 cute rascals
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2911



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2018, 02:45:45 am »



Absolutely mesmerizing post sis!   Love it.   It's so heartening to watch beautiful Ramadan, month of the Noble Quran, as a month to celebrate with such humility and dignity.   Unfortunately in Pakistan Ramadan is only synonymous with food and those nut-heads simply look forward to Eid for celebration and the superficial-minds of Pak women spending a fortune on weird clothing.

All images are soooo lovely!   I read of Dalal Abdel-Kadir last Ramadan.  Her story is sad, reminiscing her late brother, yet she cheers herself taking up the same task as he did.  May Allah Almighty reward both of them in the Hereafter.  Ameen.  I especially like that one on the young Mesaharatys in east Jerusalem.  They have replaced tambourines with the drum.  That Jerusalem neighborhood looks so wonderfully surreal taking one back to the serene medieval times.  Is this neighborhood covered from above, somewhat like the old souqs?


...... Reminds me of the stories I hear from my dad.  One of his great-grand uncles, a very humble man of modest means, was a mesaharati in a small and beautiful Syrian neighborhood.

So heart-warming to learn that brother! Smiley   I'm sure your dad and his family must be having lovely stories to tell all of you, coming from his respected grands. 

You're absolutely right sis Zeynab.  In Pakistan, apart from not knowing the term "mesaharaty," this profession is ridiculed and despised.  Also, the dhol walas of Pakistan have done little to earn respect.  I don't know what the situation is now; some years ago they were to an extent a security risk.  A dhol wala once entered the compound of my aunt's house by opening the gate about one hour before the end of Sahoor. He sat down on the porch silently, periodically striking the drum once or twice. Her 2 sons and her nephew along with their servant went out to tell him to leave.  They said he seemed to be in a daze, not quite alert nor in his senses.  They had to tell him repeatedly to move out, until he finally stood up without speaking and slowly walked out of the gate.  From then onward, they got a big lock and would put that on the gate every evening after 10 p.m.   They continued doing that even after the month of Ramadan.



Report Spam   Logged

Zeynab
TEAM MV Founder
Admin
Hero Member
*
Posts: 4465



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2018, 08:51:05 pm »


Thanks brother and sister.  I so much appreciate your appreciation Smiley 

Brother TS, me delighted to read your input on your great-grand uncle  Smiley Smiley
Allah bless. 

Sister Ruhi .. that incident you mentioned about the dhol wala gate-crashing your aunt's house is weird but it doesn't surprise me.  Such things surely happen in Pakistan.  I would not call these folks "Mesaharati" by any stretch of my imagination.   They are just suspicious loiterers looking for tips and some free food.  Majority of them don't even reside in the neighborhood they walk.   They pick different neighborhoods every evening, thus in each neighborhood they don't show up more than few times in the month of Ramadan.  Just as well they don't, no one misses them either.  This guy you mentioned sounds like a dumb thief on dope.  Your aunt's folks did well kicking him out.

In countries like Egypt, Syria, Palestine etc. it's a very different story and a beautiful one as displayed in the images.  Yes, in modern times the Mesaharatiyah are mostly young men in Palestine, replacing the drum with tambourine.  Tambourine sounds more melodious and is a more gentle awakener.   Some Jerusalem neighborhood lanes are covered but not all.  I think the one in this image is covered but can't confirm as the top portion of the image isn't visible.   All of Jerusalem neighborhoods are grand medieval settings.  The bloody occupying Zionists have ruined everything.




   
Report Spam   Logged

Heba E. Husseyn
TEAM MUSLIM VILLA Villa Artisan
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 3507



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 01:37:45 am »



SubhanAllah!  Love this post  Smiley   Wonderful piece Sis Zeynab.

Br. TS, how heartening!  Takes me too down the ancestral memory lane  Cheesy  like the smell of freshly baked apple pie reminiscent of the aromas from granny's kitchen  Cheesy Cheesy   And families were big those days.  My mom has tons of stories of her grand aunts and great-grand aunts getting the jalabiya ready for their husbands who would set off on their rounds a couple of hours after Isha or tarawih prayers.  Those volunteers were the honor of their neighborhood, folks of true repute. 

Reading Sister Ruhi's story, I was more than shocked to learn how this dignified and cheerful medieval tradition has been distorted in Pakistan.  Sister Zeynab is right.  Such ones are not Mesaharatiya.  They are people with suspicious designs on the residents of neighborhoods.   If a society has no knowledge of a certain culture, it's better to ignore it than to distort it this way.
 

 
Report Spam   Logged

Zeynab
TEAM MV Founder
Admin
Hero Member
*
Posts: 4465



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2018, 01:49:05 am »



Thanks a billion Sis Heba  Smiley   



.... Takes me too down the ancestral memory lane  Cheesy  like the smell of freshly baked apple pie reminiscent of the aromas from granny's kitchen  Cheesy Cheesy   And families were big those days.  My mom has tons of stories of her grand aunts and great-grand aunts getting the jalabiya ready for their husbands who would set off on their rounds a couple of hours after Isha or tarawih prayers. 
 

Sounds wonderful to say the least  Smiley



 Those volunteers were the honor of their neighborhood, folks of true repute. 
 

Exactly .....



... I was more than shocked to learn how this dignified and cheerful medieval tradition has been distorted in Pakistan.  ...   If a society has no knowledge of a certain culture, it's better to ignore it than to distort it this way.

I couldn't agree more, Sister Heba.

Report Spam   Logged

N. Truth Seeker
Quiet guy technology nerd | TEAM MUSLIM VILLA
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2023



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2018, 02:03:25 am »



Some more very heartwarming images of modern Mesaharatiyah.



These 2 mesaharatiya are the same one whose pics are posted in the original post in Jerusalem neighborhood.  As they walk by, neighbors step out of their homes to offer them a cup a sahoor tea. 



Here's another one in old town Jerusalem of 3 young Palestinian boys wearing their best clothes holding lanterns and their drummer following them.



And look at this.  The caption explains it all.  Sister Ruhi is right.  Nowadays Muslims look upon Ramadan listlessly as a tough ritual of simply keeping your stomach empty until evening and impatiently wait for celebration on the 1st of Shawal.   They forget, the real celebration is Ramadan itself, to observe the month of the Noble Quran with happiness and cheer as we continue to worship Allah, The One and Only. 

Report Spam   Logged



HE WHO KNEELS BEFORE ALLAH CAN
STAND BEFORE ANYONE.
N. Truth Seeker
Quiet guy technology nerd | TEAM MUSLIM VILLA
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2023



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2018, 02:20:54 am »




That Jerusalem neighborhood looks so wonderfully surreal taking one back to the serene medieval times.  Is this neighborhood covered from above, somewhat like the old souqs? 

Yes Sister Ruhi, I'm quite sure all those neighborhoods shown in Jerusalem are covered from above.   The typical historical narrow pathways in neighborhoods and souqs of Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon were always covered.  The open  neighborhoods had wider walkways as shown in the pic below, for example.


This is the old Palestinian town of Bethlehem in Jerusalem just a few years prior to the world's biggest robbery - the Khazar-Ashkenazi Zionist occupation of Palestine .. Europeans calling themselves "Semites."  LMFAO.

Report Spam   Logged



HE WHO KNEELS BEFORE ALLAH CAN
STAND BEFORE ANYONE.
Heba E. Husseyn
TEAM MUSLIM VILLA Villa Artisan
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 3507



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2018, 02:32:10 am »



MashAllah ... what gorgeous pics!   Those three youngsters holding lanterns look hardly older than school boys ... so apparently educated from good families.  And that image of Bethlehem is sooo lovely.   The pirated semites robbed it.

I think the one of old Jerusalem from Electronic Intifada is narrowly open from above, ha?  .... that's why the path is also broader compared to the other image. 




Report Spam   Logged

N. Truth Seeker
Quiet guy technology nerd | TEAM MUSLIM VILLA
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2023



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2018, 02:35:09 am »


Yes Sister Heba, that one is clearly open from above.
Report Spam   Logged



HE WHO KNEELS BEFORE ALLAH CAN
STAND BEFORE ANYONE.
Zeynab
TEAM MV Founder
Admin
Hero Member
*
Posts: 4465



WWW
Badges: (View All)
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2018, 03:01:48 pm »



SubhanAllah, fabulous images.  Thanks for putting them up brother.
Report Spam   Logged


Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Send this topic  |  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Scammers & spammers will be reported | © If you borrow MV contents you must mention our link with hypertext | MV Team is not responsible for comments by members or guests.
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum

Buy traffic for your forum/website
traffic-masters
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy