Ramadan in Aden [Archives:2006/987/Reportage]

October 5 2006

Aden Bureau
Aden residents received this year's Ramadan – whose expenses exceed those of the entire year – by preparing all house utensils and foodstuffs needed during the month.

The Yemen Times made a small tour of Aden to learn Ramadan habits and norms followed there.

Donia Abdullah from Aden's Al-Tawahi district explains that Ramadan is the month when the Qur'an was revealed to Mohammed. Further, the month has a special flavor among Yemeni families, particularly in Aden. Ramadan preparations are done early, as families buy requirements including drinks, spices, dates and other edibles.

“Though families spend too much during Ramadan, the month stimulates mercy and harmony among members of the same family, as well as other families. All family members gather around one table, which never happens at other times of the year,” Abdullah adds.

When asked about special Ramadan dishes, she notes that there are several like sambousah, bajiah and al-maqrmesh, which are necessary for Iftar. Further, shorbah (soup) as well as meat, labaniah and some drinks are prepared for the Iftar meal.

On one Saiyrah district street, an elderly man named Hamed Saleh was going with his family to buy Ramadan requirements. When asked about Ramadan, he said, “Ramadan is a worship and prayer month. It's a time for drawing close to Allah. Heaven's doors are open wide to Muslims' prayers and invocations.”

According to Saleh, Ramadan was different in the past because a cannon was fired at the time of Iftar and foodstuff prices were reasonable. Also, mercy and harmony were present, which no longer exist.

“This year, Ramadan came while citizens were busy with presidential and local election results, so they didn't prepare well for it. Following the announcement of election results, prices increased remarkably, such as flour, which rose to YR 3,500 and gas bottles mounting to YR 1,000, as well as fruit and vegetable prices,” Saleh adds.

Concluding his thoughts, he asked the government to fix prices, particularly during Ramadan.

Speaking about Ramadan and its beautiful nights, Safa'a Ahmed from Crater district says, “Everything is beautiful in Ramadan, especially the harmony people have for others for Iftar, thus embodying the meaning of cooperation and mercy between people, for which Islam calls.

“Ramadan is beautiful, especially at night, when citizens come out to buy their monthly needs or things for Eid Al-Fitr,” she adds.

According to Ahmed, what's distinctive about Ramadan on a spiritual level, is that Muslims draw near to Allah this month by performing the five prayers, reciting the Qur'an in mosques and doing night prayers (tahajid and tarawih). Others prepare themselves to Mecca's visit sacred lands in Saudi Arabia to perform the umrah.

Regarding dishes made during Ramadan, Ahmed noted that most Yemeni families in general, and Adeni ones in particular, agree on Ramadan meals. Adeni women prepare sambousah, bajiah, shorbah, shafout, labaniah and beverages. They also make fattah (bread with milk) for sahoor (the dawn meal).

Closing her speech, she asked the government to make prices stable, especially when merchants exploit the opportunity of Ramadan's advent to raise prices, particularly for meat, fish and other foodstuffs.