The way Ramadan is observed in Qatar has changed tremendously over the years, says an octogenarian.
Alarm clocks and mobile phones have replaced a genre of people who used to wake up others for the pre-dawn Suhoor.
Called Al Musahar, they roamed around in different residential localities in Doha well before dawn, beating drums and singing songs so people got up to have Suhoor.
Each Musahar, according to octogenarian Mohamed Al Ghazali, a national, used to be known for his own sings — lyrics that he wrote and sang.
The common theme of all such songs used to be ‘wake up for Suhoor’ and then the songs used to describe what the holy month was all about and how the devout could take the maximum advantage from fasting and praying.
Al Ghazali rued that in his times, some 50 to 60 years ago, people used to go to work normally and the rest of the time in the day was spent reading the Holy Quran and praying.
But, sadly, he said, the situation has changed now as most people shun work and prefer to take rest during daytime, waiting for the evening so they can break the fast.
After the late night prayer (Taraweeh), people used to open their living rooms (majlis) and invite relatives, friends and neighbours. They read the Holy Quran and whoever finished used to distribute sweets in the neighbourhood.
People used to automatically know what the sweets were all about, said Al Ghazali.
The food people ate during those days was simple and nourishing. What people call the fast-breaking feast used to barely comprise dates, bread and curry in the good old days.
Today, rued the octogenarian, the focus is on eating as dozens of exotic and expensive dishes are served at the time of Iftar.
Al Ghazali said he missed the Ramadan of his times the most. People did not have so much money as they have today, but they had the heart and the spirit, he said.
Ramadan was truly a month of austerity in those days and no matter how hot and humid the days were in the summer, “we did not feel hungry or thirsty.” he said.
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