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October 27, 2009
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Memories of Ramadhan in Tripoli - Lebanon

Author: EurIng. Hilal Kabbara

Photographs are courtesy of Architect Khaled O. Tadmori

Reproduction is not allowed

Part 2

The Tripoli Citadel
The canon of the Tripoli Citadel silently waiting for Ramadhan.
Nawbet alSoufi
Nawbet alSoufi.
The Sayyagheen District
The Sayyagheen District.
The Attareen Bazaar
The Ramadhan Rush at the Attareen Bazaar.
Click here to listen to sounds from the Bazaar.

Here are the last couple of days of Sha'aban month approaching. Tripolitans are desperately trying to look at the sky to sight the moon crescent (al-hilal) showing in the sky to establish whether Ramadhan is beginning the next day or not. Customarily, one day before the start of Ramadhan people in Tripoli would eagerly wait to see the moon. They would start asking each other whether it's tomorrow or not by uttering the word 'Sabatooh' or 'Sabataah' as the very elderly would say it? (Meaning: has the manifestation of the moon crescent (el-hilal) been confirmed?).

Although God had never commanded that the moon is to be sighted with the naked eye to know the beginning of the new month, but the Quran is very clear that any method of sighting and/or scientific calculation is acceptable. God knows that the future generations will have more knowledge and means to calculate and observe the birth of the new moon of Ramadhan. God, therefore, had never defined any specific means to observe the birth of the new moon, but rather had left it for every generation to use whatever knowledge they acquired to do so. The observer of Ramadhan in the last few years can easily spot the abuse and lies used by some of the so-called Islamic countries of the sighting method. Politics and personal desires replaced science and accurate calculations in determining the first day of Ramadhan. Thanks to God almighty, we can have our calendar as accurate as an atomic clock for the next several years (inna haza dinna la yussr) that's 'this religion is so easy to practice'. Thank God for this precious gift.

Despite that and because of sky clarity problems the moon cannot be sighted by the naked eyes and therefore most of Ramadhan observers wait to hear the news from the media, either by TV or Radio. It's getting like a dilemma for some people. If Egypt declares that Ramadhan starts tomorrow, Saudi Arabia will turn round and say no this not true we are observing it the day after for some reason or another, not to mention Iranians objections either, of course!

In the good old days, however, Tripolitans used to go up to a hill between the citadel (el-quala'a) and el-qubbeh known as (tallat el-Zouhbi) to observe the moon and go back to break the news to everyone especially the mufti by whom the official confirmation of the beginning of the month is declared. The mufti in turn would inform the 'midfa'agy' (the man who fires the canon) at the citadel to fire his canon seven times so that all Tripolitans would know it is Ramadhan tomorrow.

This confirmation would have its effect on all Tripolitans especially the very religious ones. You would find 'nawabet el-soufi' taking to the old streets 'el-aswak el-dakhiliyeh' beating their drums and knocking their cymbals in celebration of this holy month, starting from sahet el-diftar through to el-awaynat, than to souk el-attareen through to el-shagha than crossing to birkit el-millaha to end up in bab el-tibbaneh. Free drinks such as 'lamonada' (lemonade) and 'Tamar Hindi' (Tamarind, Indian dates) would be offered to the celebrating people everywhere and on the sides of the streets.

A visit to the seat of passion of the month where saliva dripping will be wetting those sheets is surely imminent; talking about food and the Tripolitan cuisine during the holy month of Ramadhan is unquestionably a prerequisite, until then unfasten your seat belts and put your feet up.This is a copyrighted material, copying this material will generate a report to:!

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