Ramadan in Jeddah and Makkah
Ramadan mornings are very quiet in Jeddah; restaurants and shops are closed and not many cars are driving the Jeddah streets. Decorative Ramadan typical of Saudi Arabia dominated by red colors adorn the streets, shopping centers, restaurants, until the small stalls, usually opening after Dhuhr or Asr. Most Arab schools in Saudi Arabia have a holiday before Ramadan arrives, while only a few international schools stay until day 19 of Ramadan. Offices generally have new schedules from 9am to 4pm or 10am to 5pm depend on their own regulations.
Near Maghrib and after Taraweeh in Jeddah is much more lively. Right before ifthar, many buyers are lining up in front of small stalls lined the streets peddling food and drink for Ifthar. Buyers drop by from work to buy food such as sambosa, puff pastry, dates, or the traditional Saudi dish, Kabsa. But many are lining up waiting for the ifthar rations that are available for free in mosques, the hotel grounds, in one of the residents’ yard, or on the streets.
When Ramadan arrives, residents in Arabia racing to provide ifthar food not only for relatives but also people they do not know. They want to get the blessing of Ramadan.
From Zayd bin Khalid al-Juhani radhiyallahu ‘anhu, he said that the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu’ alaihi wa sallam) said,
من فطر صائما كان له مثل أجره غير أنه لا ينقص من أجر الصائم شيئا
“Whoever feeds the fasting is rewarded like the one who fasts, without reducing the reward of the fasting man” (Narrated by Tirmidhi no 807, Ibn Majah no. 1746, and Ahmad 5: 192. Al -Hafizh Abu Thahir said that this hadeeth is saheeh).
The meals provided every day in the mosques generally consist of a few dates, mineral water, juice, and Kabsa rice along with chicken or lamb. While on the streets, sometimes young people get off at red lights by distributing laban drinks (some kind of liquid yoghurt), dates, or there is a famous Al-Baik fast food chain in Saudi Arabia with its signature crispy and very flavourful fried chicken and bread ready to serve.
While ahead of Isha, both men and women head to the mosque, but not all mosques provide a place for female pilgrims. When the mothers bring children to the mosque, usually the prayer place is separated, so as not to disturb other pilgrims who do not bring children.
In the mosque near my house, mineral water is provided for the pilgrims who pray taraweeh congregation. Sometimes they hand out jasmine flowers for a jama’ah gift. There can be 2 or 3 imams in turn who lead the prayer. The mosque provides Qur’an and some women who joined the taraweeh congregation standing on my right and left read the Qur’an during the taraweeh prayer in order to be able to listen to the surah recited by the Imam. The surahs are recited from QS Al Baqarah in sequence until the end of juz 30 for the whole month of Ramadan. Even a large copy of the Qur’an is provided, with a place to put the Qur’an in front of the congregation, to be legible even when we are in a standing position. It is hoped that we can better understand the meaning of the imam’s reading and more intensely ‘run this qiyamul lail. Because the Isha prayer time in Jeddah is at 9pm , taraweeh finishes at around 10.20 pm.
When we pray in Masjid Al Haram in Makkah , taraweeh prayer is finished at around 11.30pm, for 23 rakaat. The Masjid Al Haram was already crowded since the first day of Ramadan Masha Allah! Even when we stayed at a hotel that is 0.4 mile away from the mosque, we had to enter the mosque at least 1.5 hours before the call to prayer in order to have place to sit inside the mosque.
The mosque is may be too crowded to perform Umrah. It seems there is no peaceful time to do Umrah. The mosque is usually the emptiest in the daytime, when the sun is at its highest point, at a temperature ranging from 42-44 degrees Celsius! Masha Allah, despite the heat of the summer many pilgrims still continue their Umrah. The atmosphere is similar to Hajj because the reward of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala never stops. Given to people who sincerely worship in order to obtain forgiveness and blessings from Him. In sha Allah.