The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

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The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by sassy on Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:35 pm

In an age of alarm clocks and smartphones, the preserver of a thousand-year-long tradition is a local hero, even though he's of a different faith.


Ayoub walks through the alleys of Acre's Old City.

The Abboud neighborhood in Acre's Old City was completely silent a little before 2 A.M. last Monday. The only sounds to be clearly heard were the sea waves that crashed again and again against the city's western wall. Dressed head-to-toe in traditional Syrian clothing – known in Arabic as "Shami" – and carrying a small drum and stick, Michel Ayoub stands at the entrance to the neighborhood.

When the clock dials reached 2 A.M., he takes a deep breath, drummed strongly three times and began singing in Arabic: "You who are asleep, wake up, declare your loyalty to God and get up to eat the dawn meal." At the end of the call he added another three drum beats.

Drumming and singing, singing and drumming, Ayoub slowly walked across the alleys of the Abboud neighborhood, carrying out the part of a "masharati" – the person responsible for waking up Muslim believers before dawn during the month of Ramadan so that they eat their pre-fast meal in time. This is a thousand-year-long tradition, and Ayoub has been carrying it out voluntarily for over a decade.



Carrying out the part of a 'masharati' – the person responsible for waking up Muslim believers before dawn during the month of Ramadan – Ayoub walks across the Old City of Acre (captions in Hebrew).

"I wait for Michel every year, it's part of the tradition," says Mohammed Omar, who heard Ayoub's voice from afar and came out to the door with his mother and months-old baby. "There are people who are anyway asleep and don’t care. And he decides, without any obligation, to do something nice like this, and that's why everyone respects him." 

With no any legal obligation, surely, but also with no religious affinity. Ayoub is actually a member of a Christian family who lives in Makr, a mixed Muslim-Christian town east of Acre. A 40-year-old single man who makes his living in construction, Ayoub says he took up the role out of love and with no emotional or sectarian barrier. 

"On the contrary," he says. "I see it as a step that brings people together and symbolizes fellowship and living together in a community. We are of the same people and ultimately pray to the same God." 

He doesn’t make any exceptions for himself, either. Every night, he puts on the full costume that comes with the job – long black pants, heel-less black shoes, and a white shirt topped with a shiny red vest. On his head he dons a white keffiyeh, as well as the black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh on his shoulders. His hands are always holding the drum and the stick. His outfit is specially sewn by a Druze woman from the village of Yarka. "That also symbolizes a kind of fellowship," he says.
Drumming and singing, Michel Ayoub slowly walks across Acre's alleys.Rami Shllush

He says that he has never encountered a negative reaction because of his religion. "Everyone is respectful and encouraging. I pass through a few towns in the area, not only Acre. I pass through my town, Makr village, the adjoining village of Jadeida and also Abu Snan. Sometimes I receive invitations to tour other villages, because people like it and like the tradition."

In recent years Ayoub also received exposure abroad. A few Arab channels have reported of the Christian masharati in the Galilee. "Maybe it receives more meaning and importance because of the catastrophe and the wars that are taking place in our region now," he says. "They should see that there's no need to butcher one another. It's possible to live together."

According to tradition, the first muezzin in Islam was Bilal bin Rabah, who lived between the sixth and seventh centuries C.E, and who used to wake up believers with his clear voice. Since then, the role of the masharati passed down from generation to generation, until it became formalized at the beginning of the ninth century, and a person was appointed to carry out this role in every neighborhood and quarter during the month of Ramadan.

Upon taking up the role, Ayoub used the known and traditional tunes from the Palestinian and Syrian cultures, but also composed some of it himself – to great success, as was seen last Monday. His singing brought people out to the balconies, some of them waved toward him, others came out to shake his hand, and quite a few hurried to get out their mobile phones to film the event – and to take a selfie with the star of the moment. 

"In today's age, when you have a smartphone and an alarm clock, you don’t need to have someone like Michel to wake you up," says Suleiman Askeri, a resident of Acre's Old City and a social activist. "But look how nice it is to wake up with such a voice and with Old Acre's atmosphere – with the alleys, the stones and the ancient walls. It looks and sounds amazing. You can hear the voice's echo from afar."

"The figure of the masharati is a bit similar to the figure of Santa Claus at Christmas – the night-time show, the prayers and the special singing. This presence does its own thing to the holiday atmosphere," he says.

Ayoub stops near some of the houses whose owners he knows, calling residents by name. "Abu Marwan, wake up!" he calls into one of the neighborhood's homes. "Yalla, yalla," a strong and clear voice sounds from inside the house, "God, bless the Prophet Mohammed."

After getting through all of Abboud's alleyways, Ayoub moves on to the nearby Sheikh Abdallah neighborhood. There, at the entrance to one of the houses, stands Hajjah Umm-Bilal, her head adorned with a traditional covering, and a few of her family members beside her. "I'm waiting for you for an hour already, Michel, every Ramadan I have to see you and hear you," says the woman, in her 60s. "Join the meal," she urges. But Ayoub politely declines – he needs to get to another few alleyways, and the fast will soon start.

    
Ayoub (second from right) at a break-fast meal in Acre.Rami Shllush

Ayoub finishes his tour inside the Old City, at the home of Ahmed Askeri, Suleiman's brother. The breakfast table is already set. Tahrir Akkar, the mother-in-law, asks Ayoub to come to the city again, if possible on a Friday. "We want the children to see you and maybe to walk with you," she tells him. "It's important, it gives a feeling and an atmosphere, they should learn about what there once was, that not everything goes by a clock and a phone." Ayoub agrees, "God willing, I will come on Friday and also next week," he says.

On the way back to his car, a few children gather around him. The youngest one turns to his friend, asking, "Isn't he a Christian?" His friend scolds him. "Shame on you, it's Michel, what does it matter what religion he is?"

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.724542



Contrary to popular belief, Christians and Muslims do a lot of things together in Palestine, after all, they are all treated the same by Israel.

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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by Miffs2 on Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:48 pm

Very heartening, now we just have to get the Muslims to   Stop  trying to annihilate us and our way of life elsewhere
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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by sassy on Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:49 pm

And we have to get the West to stop bombing their countries to shreds.

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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by Miffs2 on Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:10 pm

What about all our home grown terrorists, those that live amongst us with their backward ideology. Like in Paris and Belgium. What about all the attacks and murders in India, U.K., United States, Indonesia Egypt, Nigeria, China! Denmark, Tunisia Are we bombing there?
No. Time for the excusing to stop.
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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by Ben Reilly on Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:19 pm

Miffs2 wrote:Very heartening, now we just have to get the Muslims to   Stop  trying to annihilate us and our way of life elsewhere

It's not "the Muslims," it's Islamist Jihadists, i.e. those who seek to impose Islamic rule over societies by force. We have to start realizing that there are many different subcultures in the Islamic world if we're going to effectively prevent violence and reduce terrorism.

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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by Miffs2 on Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:42 pm

Ben_Reilly wrote:
Miffs2 wrote:Very heartening, now we just have to get the Muslims to   Stop  trying to annihilate us and our way of life elsewhere

It's not "the Muslims," it's Islamist Jihadists, i.e. those who seek to impose Islamic rule over societies by force. We have to start realizing that there are many different subcultures in the Islamic world if we're going to effectively prevent violence and reduce terrorism.
We also have to stop tying ourselves in knots, paralysed with fear at the thought of offending a Muslim. These terrorist animals don't grow in Labs you know, they have family friends an Immam and a western life they want to destroy. Only the Muslims can effectively root out the cancer within. And I don't think all of them want to.
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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:55 pm

sassy wrote:And we have to get the West to stop bombing their countries to shreds.

And that would be as easy as getting 'SOME' members to actually read articles & links that are placed out here for adult discussion ...no - no, I think not! No

"On the contrary," he says. "I see it as a step that brings people together and symbolizes fellowship and living together in a community. We are of the same people and ultimately pray to the same God."
But here's the perfect example of a 'POSITIVE' story about 2 totally different faiths in a war torn region and the topic barely garners any feed back or attention!

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Re: The Christian Who Wakes Up Muslims in Time to Eat for Ramadan

Post by veya_victaous on Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:52 pm

Miffs2 wrote:
Ben_Reilly wrote:
Miffs2 wrote:Very heartening, now we just have to get the Muslims to   Stop  trying to annihilate us and our way of life elsewhere

It's not "the Muslims," it's Islamist Jihadists, i.e. those who seek to impose Islamic rule over societies by force. We have to start realizing that there are many different subcultures in the Islamic world if we're going to effectively prevent violence and reduce terrorism.
We also have to stop tying ourselves in knots, paralysed with fear at the thought of offending a Muslim. These terrorist animals don't grow in Labs you know, they have family friends an Immam and a western life they want to destroy. Only the Muslims can effectively root out the cancer within. And I don't think all of them want to.

And you make it obvious not all the west want to root out the evil of the simpleton either.
let us Lead by example and purge the bigots racists and cowards from western lands Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

Like those that cant admit they are stereotyping. make sure you never complain when I lump all Brits together, stereotyping them all like the most evil, since that is what twits like you do to non Brits.

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