JERUSALEM – With prayers and religious lessons for Muslim worshippers, East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque is providing Palestinians with a special taste of Ramazan this year.
"Daily religious and jurisprudence lessons are being delivered in the Dome of the Rock Mosque and the Al-Aqsa courtyards," said Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of the Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs.
Hundreds of Palestinians converged on the Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform daily prayers and Tarawih (special nighttime Ramazan prayers). Some also engage in Itikaf (religious retreat) inside the mosque. "At least 350 tents have been set up for prayers, let alone water resources and medical services," al-Khatib said.
"The Al-Aqsa Mosque is fully ready to welcome Ramazan." During Ramazan, which began last weekend, Muslims must abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset. Throughout the course of the fasting month, Muslims are urged to perform extra prayers, especially at night; recite the Quran; give to the poor; and generally refrain from misbehavior.
Al-Khatib's organization, in collaboration with several other institutions, is preparing to provide iftar (Ramazan fast-breaking meals) for mosque visitors and poor people during the fasting month. "Today we prepared more than 2000 iftar meals for people inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque," said Mohamed Abu Arafeh, a volunteer.
"We start cooking after noon prayers. We put each meal in a bag and deliver it 20 minutes before the Ramazan cannon is fired," he said. "In the last ten days of Ramazan, we deliver more than 100,000 meals – all of them cooked," he added.