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Iftar in Madinah: The Past and Present

8 May 2019

Madinah is known for its warm and friendly atmosphere all year round, but this positive ambience is doubled with the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan. Relatives visit each other more frequently, especially for iftar; bringing along homecooked meals and beverages. The people of Madinah are distinguished by their manners and generous nature when dealing with each other, as well as their hospitality towards guests of the city of the Prophet.

More than 50 years ago, traders would showcase their Ramadan goods in front of the Salam and Rahma doors of the Prophet’s Mosque to sell dates, various pastries, Qatayef, sweets, Samosas, and fried foods, chanting “Prepare for your iftar, fasting one,” between Asr and Maghrib prayers. A large number of buyers would go directly to the Prophet’s Mosque to distribute what they bought among mosque visitors out of the generosity deeply embedded in their characters. They are referred to as ‘the good people’ because they do this solely for Allah without seeking praise or rewards; they embraced the value of brotherhood between the Muhajireen (emigrants) and the Ansar (helpers) and pride themselves in this quality. This iftar tradition still happens until today and now includes the white days as well as the Mondays and Thursdays of every week, with a slight difference from an organizational point of view; now a permit for iftar service is required to allow a person to distribute iftar to a certain number of fasting people through a specific gate in the Prophet’s Mosque. The number of dining tables for fasting people now exceeds 5,300 tables per day, and in Ramadan 122,000 meals are distributed among fasting people in Madinah.

Discover some of the famous Ramadan foods in Madinah with Shaza Al Madina:

Dukka: A powder made with a mixture of dry coriander, cumin, and black and lemon salt, where these spices are combined and eaten with what is referred to as a Talbiya consisting of tea, Shireek, and cheese
Shireek and Madinah Fatout: Different types of pastries added to the table as a side dish, appetizer, or bread entrée with main dishes.
Jareesh: Crushed wheat cooked instead of rice with cream, where the wheat or corn is boiled and dried, crushed to break the grains without grinding, and then boiled with or without meat.
Vermicelli: Dry ground dough cooked and added to harissa with sugar; it is one of the best Ramadan desserts in Madinah.
Sobia: This beverage is known for its signature red or white color, and its ingredients vary from barley, baked bread, oatmeal, or raisins. After it is filtered, sugar, cardamom or cinnamon are added in appropriate amounts, then it is iced and served cold.

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