Suhūr (Arabic: سحور suḥūr, lit. "of the dawn", "pre-dawn meal"; also spelled suhoor, sahur, or sehri) is an Islamic term referring to the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting, sawm, before sunrise during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The meal is eaten before fajr prayer. Suhur as the morning meal is matched by Iftar as the evening meal, during Ramadan, replacing the traditional three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), although in some places dinner is also consumed after Iftar later during the night. Being the last meal eaten by Muslims before fasting from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan, suhur is regarded by Islamic traditions as a benefit of the blessings in that it allows the person fasting to avoid the crankiness or the weakness caused by the fast.
The mesaharati (public waker) is a public waker for suhur and dawn prayer during Ramadan. According to the history books, Bilal Ibn Rabah was the first Mesaharati in Islamic history as he used to roam the streets and roads throughout the night to wake people up.
The occupation is summed up by Abu Rabah, a mesaharati in his neighbourhood in the old city of Damascus: "My duty during the holy month of Ramadhan is to wake people up in the old city of Damascus for prayers and Sahur meal." According to Abbas Qatish, who is considered Sidon’s best mesaharati, the attributes every mesaharati should possess are physical fitness and good health, "because he is required to walk long distances every day. He should also have a loud voice and good lungs, as well as an ability to read poems. A mesaharati should supplicate God throughout the night to wake the sleepers."
The tradition is practiced in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine. However, there has been a gradual disappearance of the mesaharati due to several factors, including: Muslims staying up later; using technology such as alarms clocks to awake for suhur; and louder and larger homes and cities that make the voice of the mesaharati harder to hear.
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