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AP PHOTOS: Egypt woman gives wake-up call to Ramadan fasters
In this Monday, June 12, 2017 photo, Dalal Abdel-Qader, known as Hajjah Dalal, a 43-year-old "mesaharati," or dawn caller, wakes people up for a meal before sunrise, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in the Ard Besary district in Cairo, Egypt. Each night, Dalal, banging her decorated drum, chants traditional religious phrases and calls out to residents' children by name to wake them in time for the vital pre-dawn meal known as "suhour." (AP Photo - Amr Nabil)
From Associated Press
June 19, 2017 10:26 AM EST

CAIRO (AP) — Just before dawn, Dalal Abdel-Qader paces the streets of Cairo, beating a drum and calling out to her neighbors to wake up and eat a final meal before the start of the daily Ramadan fast.

The 43-year-old is one of only a few women to serve as a "mesaharati," a volunteer who wakes up the Muslim faithful so they can eat "suhour," the last meal before the start of the dawn-to-dusk fast. The centuries-old tradition is mainly carried on by men.

During the lunar month of Ramadan, which ends next weekend, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, with even a tiny sip of water invalidating the fast.

With Ramadan falling during the long, hot days of summer, the pre-dawn meal is more important than ever. And many Cairenes rely on the local mesaharati to wake them up. Volunteers like Abdel-Qader see it as a good deed — and also accept tips.

Abdel-Qader, who works a day job at a clothing factory, says she delivers the wake-up call in part to honor her late brother, Ahmed, who also served as a mesaharati.

She beats a drum on her nightly rounds, chants Ramadan-related religious phrases, and even calls out children by name as she passes by their homes in the poor Cairo district of Ard el-Besary. Her son, Mahmoud, accompanies her on her nightly three-hour rounds.

"This job requires no official permits," said Abdel-Qader, who contends that the main requirement is a loud and attractive voice, as well as friendly relations with neighbors.

"Although many people already are up late, because this Ramadan fell during the summer, they still like to hear their names called out."

As far as tips, she makes around 50 Egyptian pounds, or less than $3, a night. "It is not much, but they are worth millions to me."


Here is a gallery of photos by Amr Nabil of Abdel-Qader at work.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.