Gaza:Every night just before dawn since the beginning of Ramadan on late August, Mohammad Bakhar, 20, and his brothers start their work, which happens only one month a year during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mohammad and his brothers are called by the local residents as ”Al Musaharati,” the man who roams the streets, beats the drum and sings songs during Ramadan to wake people up for their pre-fasting meals, better known as ‘Al Sahour’.
They roam through the narrow streets and alleys of the beach refugee camp of over half a million population in Gaza city, breaking the silence by beating the drums, singing traditional Ramadan songs, call prayers, praise mighty Allah and prayers on Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Hey sleepers … Get up and praise Allah…,” used to be the Musaharati’s cry. It was difficult to find this gentleman in the daytime, but he came alive at night, and the early dawn.
Sometimes Mohammad calls the people by their names through poetry to wake them up during the night and while his colleague Rafat would beat on the drum.
Mohammad said: “I know all the people at this neighbourhood because I live nearby. I always call them up by saying their names and mentioning their jobs or their children to encourage them to wake up and add a little fun and joy to it…etc.”
The Bakeer sons are not the only “Musaharatis” in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. In every neighbourhood, refugee camp or village, there are Musaharatis. The local authorities, mainly the department of religious affairs in Gaza, offer them a special permission for this exclusive job during Ramadan.
At the end of Ramadan, the two Musharati’s will knock on people’s doors and get their reward from the people in the neighbourhood.
Although we are living in the age of digital alarm clocks that can easily wake a person up in Ramadan at the set time, the traditional Musaharati is still taking a place in Gaza strip not only for cultural but also for financial reasons.
Most of the people who work as Musharatis are unemployed and try to fill their time and make some money.
Mohammad said: “I am unemployed; I can earn some money at the end of Ramadan. Plus, I do this because it is a good thing which is waking people up for their pre-fasting meal.”
According to figures of the international humanitarian organisations, the poverty rate and unemployment rate in Gaza both stand at more than 70 per cent,due to a tight Israeli blockade imposed on the impoverished enclave since Hamas seized control of it in June 2007.
“Working as Musaharati does not bring us lots of money. In fact it is temporary and only lasts for one month. But anyway, we are doing something good for our people and religion.” Mohammad added.