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the Message Continues ...
for June 2010
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'Longest table in the world' in
Prophet’s Mosque, Madina
By Abdul Rahman
Riyadh: Serving Iftar for visitors to the
Prophet's Mosque is a cherished tradition for
the people of Madinah.
It’s a practice which dates back 1,400 years,
since the Prophet first built the mosque.
Dr Mohammad Khoja, who researches the history of
Madina, says there are
parts of the mosque named after families, who
for centuries have been bringing food to feed
those who attend Iftar. “The families
make budgets in which every member contributes.
They buy food and serve the visitors," he said.
In fact, some of the tables on which the food is
laid out are very old and have been donated by
specific clans. Often these relics relay the
family history and ranking in Madina.
For instance, laying down tables in Al Rawdah Al
Sharifa (also known as the old Haram) has been
done by the Al Kurdi and Al Humaid families for
tens of years.
Talking to Gulf News about how these Iftars are
prepared, Mohammad Yousuf Mahmoud, said
preparations take place long before the advent
of the fasting month. "We
serve the best kind of Madina dates, in addition
to water, orange juice and fruit like yoghurt,
orange, bananas and grapes,” he says.
"But it is not just the food for which the
mosque is famous.
“We have the longest table on the face of
earth,” he adds. “It extends the length of the
Prophet's Mosque. Millions of people have taken
their Iftar on this table.
Mohammad Ibrahim Ammar, a Madina resident has
been bringing food to the mosque for Iftar for
more than 40 years. "We have inherited this
tradition from our fathers and grandfathers and
will hand it down to our children and
grandchildren," he said..
The average cost per Iftar for one person is two
to three Saudi riyals.
As milk is the main component of the meal, milk
companies compete to sell their products at
discount prices outside the mosque.
Bread, known as ‘Madinah Shiraik’ is usually
served for breakfast. It’s only allowed to be
eaten in the courtyard outside the mosque
however. Inside the mosque, only dates, yoghurt,
coffee, and Al Shiraik bread are allowed.
Residents usually start laying the tables for
Iftar immediately after Asr. They serve an
average of 300,000 meals a day.
The director of public relations at the
Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy
Mosques, Abdul Wahid Ali Al Khattab, says about
170,000 meals are served each day in the mosque,
while 130,000 are served in the outside.
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