Walking to Masjid Nabawi after Asr are scenes of vans parked in the shade of palm trees with serpentine lines of people holding a plastic bag waiting their turn to have "ful" scooped from massive pots into the bag. Other vans and trucks park closer to Haram, distributing drinks, bread, dates, yogurt. And once in the courtyard groups are beginning to roll out various forms of ground covers preparing for the laying of the strips of plastic sufra in rows upon rows upon rows. Some of the more sophisticated, and prestigious locations go to the extent of laying down a vinyl area. The prized and most sort after place for Iftar being as close to the Abode of Peace as possible. I can barely imagine how our Beloved Prophet SallAllah alahi wasllam, would be reacting to the activity so close by, SubhanAllah. People begin sitting here soon after Asr to procure their place for breaking fast. Other areas do not fill up until closer to Maghrib time.
The sun is still radiating an intense heat, challenging levels of patience, with the majority knowing that Allah Ta’ala has blessed us with this month of patience, promising the patient with His Jannah. Sitting on the marble is like sitting on a hot plate!
It is the month where the true believers Rizq is increased, the month of increased sympathy with our brothers and sister of the Ummah of Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, the month of drawing nearer and nearer to Allah Ta’ala and His Habib SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, the month where virtuous deeds are rewarded as a Fardh, and every Fardh blessed with the reward of seventy Faraa-idh in any other time. The donors, or philanthropists who year after year vie for providing Iftar to everyone in and around the Haramain, with the numbers in the millions over the month, are to be blessed.
Generations after generations have taken on this honour of feeding the inhabitants, whoever they are and wherever they are from, of the Haramain for Iftar. The organization each day is beyond superlative! The donor families not only organize the purchase of the food, but the transporting, the distribution, the serving and the initial cleaning up. Most areas seem to accommodate one hundred to two hundred people, with groups of brothers performing the Khidmah to the masses. Many personally invite you to their sufra as you walk by, eager to gain the multitude of blessings promised. The whole scene is so emotional, tears of overwhelming gratitude soaking my niqab! The selfless serving of hundreds of brothers, themselves fasting, and yet caring more for the welfare of total strangers. The true spirit of brotherhood is deeply felt at such a time.
Whoever feeds another who fasted at Iftar, will be the forgiveness of sins and emancipation from the fire of Jahannam, and receives such a reward as the one who fasted without that persons reward being decreased in the lest. I contemplated how many rewards the provider would be accumulating! Each day being as though they had fasted one hundred, two hundred times, multiplied by thirty! SubhanAllah!
And Allah Ta’ala grants the same reward to the one who gives a fasting person a mere date or a drink of water, or a sip of milk. And whoever gave a person who fasted water to drink Allah Ta’ala shall grant the giver to drink from His Fountain, such a drink where after that person shall never again feel thirsty until he enters Jannah.
Every person is fed ample for renewing and sustaining energy levels in preparation for the evenings Ibadah, culminating in the resounding offering of Taraweeh.
The atmosphere is incredibly subdued given the thousands strolling in from all directions, seeking a place to share this moving time together. The whole spectrum of the Ummah is present; from the bent over elderly to babes in arms, every country represented, the rich and the poor. But this is a time when we all should feel so rich in the eyes of Allah Ta’ala, for all the favours He is so generously pouring on us in these days and nights. Eyes patiently watch the sinking sun paint the sky in hues of gold, reds, pinks, mauves, until that piercing moment Adhan fills our hearts and the sky. There is a contented and grateful silence as parched lips are quenched and hunger satiated by the One Who has gifted us with this most Blessed Ramadhan.
Iqama is slightly prolonged during Ramadhan, giving ample time to break fast. Most of the sufras offer water, juice, dates, yogurt, break, fruits, some offer rice, some offer home made pastries. The transformation of one massive eating area into a prayer area has to be seen to be believed! The teams who have been serving, in an instant roll up the long strips of plastic containing all the rubbish, into huge yellow garbage bags, which are loaded into strategically placed trolleys and or metal caged trailers attached to the Haram vehicles. After Salat the cleaning continues with bands of the usual Haram cleaners, consisting of fully covered sisters with pans and brooms, brothers with fan shaped sweeper things which can catch large amounts as they swiftly move along, others pushing big moveable bins, the Raptors attempting to vacuum the outer courtyard, as people seem reluctant to move for them, others washing the outer areas followed by the lines of the squeegee operators! And then the bothers assigned to rolling out the carpets in preparation for Esha and Taraweeh struggle to move groups in order to complete their task! Insha’Allah make Du’a for all of these people who immediately after Salatul Maghrib tirelessly go to work to ensure the cleanliness and comfort of the worshippers.
The following articles, which have been appearing in Arab News over the past few days may be of interest:
Ful in Makkah
Umrah from within the Kingdom
Ramadan then and now
Excessive spending on food during Ramadhan
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. Ameen.