Ramadan in Al-Mahweet: Atmosphere blended with spirituality [Archives:2006/990/Reportage]

October 16 2006

Abdul-Wadood Annuzeili
Al-Mahweet, as the other Yemeni governorates, has its own characteristics and distinguishes aspects during Ramadan. The spiritual atmosphere widely prevails in almost all parts of the province, whose mosques are crammed with people day and night.

People receive Ramadan days before it starts. As they hear the announcement of its arrival, they receive it heart and soul. The atmosphere immediately becomes spiritual, with Ramadan echoes heard in the evergreen valleys and towering mountains.

There is a peace and tranquility pervasive in the area. Not only life is stimulating during Ramadan, it may also be said it is more interesting than it is through other months of the year.

In Al-Mahweet, people care a great deal about improving themselves and increasing their deeds by means of Quranic studies and extra prayers. It is common for people to go to the mosques and spend several hours praying and reading the Quran. For them, Ramadan is a time of intensive worships, giving charity, purifying one's behaviors, and doing good deeds. A sense of generosity and gratitude colors the behaviors of all people, who are obligated to share their blessings by feeding the needy and poor and making contributions to mosques.

In Al-Mahweet, certain dishes are prepared during Ramadan. For example, Shafoot and some dates are traditionally served to break the fast (Iftar) each night. They always invite one another to share in the Ramadan evening meal. In the evening following the iftar, it is customary for people to go out visiting friends and praying Taraweeh prayers, then they gather in Dewans to chew Qat and to listen to the recitation of the holy Quran. At about 3am young people wander around the village, knocking at the doors, awaking the families to prepare Suhoor.

For sure, family or personal hostility is at a minimum during Ramadan. People in Al-Mahweet are ready to iron out their differences; they have in themselves the power of beautifying the desert. Really they aren't easily irritated by trivial things or futile actions, bearing in mind the advice of our prophet who said, “If one slanders you or aggresses against you, say I am fasting.” Most people usually say a well-known proverb: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Great as Ramadan is, one cannot afterwards remember anything in it, but double-deeds, self-regulations, devotion to Allah, self-control, and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan.

The Governorate of Al-Mahweet is situated in the western part of Yemen. The governorate is famous for the cultivation of many agricultural crops,

especially coffee, which is recently spreading in the middle wadis. Other crops include the tropical fruits cultivated in the deeper wadis. The governorate is known for the many agricultural terraces in the slopes and summits of the mountains and in the suspended villages and fortified impregnable fortresses. Al-Mahweet Governorate is relatively densely populated with around 495,000 inhabitants. The most important cities of the governorate are the capital city of Al-Mahweet, Shibam-Kawkaban, which was the capital of the Ya'afuri Kingdom in the Third and Fourth Centuries AH (Ninth and Tenth Century AD) and Al-Taweilah, for its suspended fortresses on the tops of the mountains.

Abdul-Wadood Annuzeili is an administrator at Sana'a University. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in English Studies, Faculty of Language, Sana'a University.