- Sunday, 05 August 2012 12:21
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Madinah, 17 Ramadan 05 August (IINA) – Umm Bilal has been running an Iftar breaking of the fast dining table at the Prophet’s Mosque for over 20 years without any break. Ramadan is not only a blissful month for her but also a time to fulfill the will of her father.
Therefore, throughout the year she eagerly waits for the holy fasting month and makes preparations for the Iftar well in advance. Now there are two Iftar tables spread out by Umm Bilal at the mosque. There is a 60-meter long space inside the mosque for women worshippers. The second space, with a length of 20 meters, is in the courtyard of the mosque. Speaking to Al-Madinah Arabic daily, Umm Bilal said she has been serving women worshippers who observe fasting at the Prophet’s Mosque for more than half of her life. She said: “I accompanied my father to help him arrange Iftar meals at the mosque when I was seven. “He used to lay the meals near Bab Al-Salam inside the mosque and we displayed various types of food and drink.”
She added meals and sobia drinks were allowed inside the mosque until 40 years ago. Going down memory lane, Umm Bilal said: “My father’s friends, mostly businessmen, were present at his Iftar table, which was arranged near their shops in the textiles souk and Sakeefa Al-Rasas area at the mosque’s courtyard.
“I also sat with them and most often used to break my fast before everybody else, taking advantage of being a child.”
Umm Bilal has no brothers and therefore her father asked her to continue the Iftar table tradition before his death. She added: “Running Iftar dining tables at the Haram was part of his will, and he had set aside a portion of his wealth for this. “After his death, my mother entrusted three workers from my father’s farm to organize Iftar meals.” She recalled that she served Iftar food for another 10 years near Bab Al-Salam. She added: “But when I grew up, I decided to move it to the women’s prayer area inside the mosque and have been continuing to do so for two decades without a break. “Two maid servants are giving me a helping hand.”
Umm Bilal’s daughters, Ghadeer and Fainfeer, are supervising Iftar tables at the mosque’s courtyard. She said: “I asked my daughters to continue this tradition even after my death.” According to Umm Bilal, her Iftar menu is strictly in line with the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs’ regulations and includes dates, yoghurt, bread and Qahwa. As for meals in the courtyard, she serves various dishes including kabsa, rice, and fruits.