A beautiful habit that the residents of Makkah - known as Makkawis -have inherited from their ancestors is to show hospitality toward the guests of the holy city.
Makkawis are competing among themselves to take good care of their guests, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Sometimes the Makkawis would go as far as pleading with the guests to accept what they offer them. They are doing this to be rewarded by Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad said whoever provides a faster with a meal to break their fast will receive the same reward from Allah as the person fasting.
To gain the reward from Allah and preserve the good habit that has existed for many centuries, the Makkawis are determined to provide fasters with special meals for iftar (the meal taken to break the fast).
The Makkah residents may take their ready-made meals to the mosques, the plazas of the Grand Mosque, the central area around it, squares and main streets in various parts of Makkah, the traffic lights and other places where pilgrims gather.
At a mosque in the al-Shuqiyyah residential area local Saudi resident Khaled Bashaddadh said people in the neighborhood would bring iftar meals to the mosque every day before sunset.
He said it is a common tradition in Makkah that a group of young male volunteers will receive the donations of the residents in cash or kind to prepare iftar meals for fasting worshipers in mosques all over the holy city.
Bashaddadh said he made it clear to his neighbors that he would not accept cash donations but only food to prepare the iftar meals in the mosque near his home.
He said philanthropists provide him with cartons of water, fruits, dates and yogurt that he will use to prepare meal packages.
“The residents also supply me with meals that are cooked in restaurants to add to the package,” he said.
Bashaddadh said he and a group of young men have dedicated themselves to preparing the iftar meals every day at their mosque.
He said: “We begin our work at 6 p.m., an hour 10 minutes before iftar time. We lay down the sufras (plastic spreads on which food is laid) and start placing the meals.”
He said every day he distributes 10 cartons of water, eight cartons of dates as well as the same number of cartons filled with fruit and 250 small bottles of yoghurt.
Bashaddadh said every day he and his group of friends to provide 250 fasters with iftar meals at their mosque.
Ali Qudus said he and his sons cool down bottles of natural water and yoghurt to serve to the fasting pilgrims or visitors.
“We add dates too and put them all in plastic bags to serve to the fasters,” he said.
Qudus said he and his sons would every day distribute more than 1,000 iftar meals about 20 minutes before it is time to break the fast.
“I inherited this custom from my father who died about nine years ago. I hope my sons will also inherit it from me.”
Abdullah Barakah, an old Saudi, said with the advent of Ramadan every year he would gather his sons and grandsons at the family home to help him prepare meals for fasters.
He said his meal consists of an apple, banana, tea biscuits, a small bottle of natural water and a number of dates.
“When we finish putting all these ingredients in plastic bags we go to the undeveloped areas where we will distribute half of the quantity and take the other half to the main streets and squares,” he said.
Khaled Banamah said he inherited the custom of providing iftar meals from his father and grandfather.
He said: “Fifteen minutes before iftar, I prepare a large quantity of plastic cups, small tins of dates and handkerchiefs.
“When the Maghreb adhan is called, I start filling the cups with cool Zamzam water while my son distributes the dates tins.”SHOW MORE