Late night drum beats

Duhok considers reviving Mesaharati role to awaken faithful during Ramadan

DUHOK – The Directorate of Religious Affairs in Duhok is considering reviving the “Mesaharati” role, a Ramadan tradition absent from the city for many years. The Mesaharati historically wandered the streets during Ramadan, awakening people for their pre-dawn meal with drumbeats, particularly in peripheral old neighborhoods where the role was deemed important and appointments were influenced by local community leaders.

Dr. Karzan Bamerni, a history professor at Duhok University, noted to 964media that the Mesaharati’s presence in Duhok and its villages began diminishing in the late 1990s, persisting only in certain old neighborhoods like Al-Askari, Khasti, Shili, Qarqan, and Hammam. The Mesaharati was traditionally appointed by the Mukhtar, the local community leader, with residents offering symbolic sums of money as Eid gifts as the holiday approached.

Sarmad Jameel, Director of Religious Affairs in Duhok, told 964media, “The profession of the Mesaharati has vanished, and we’re exploring alternatives like using loudspeakers in mosques for Takbeer and Quran recitations to alert people.”

The Mesaharati, a traditional figure in Islamic culture, plays a crucial role during Ramadan, walking the streets to wake the faithful for Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal before fasting begins. This practice, deeply embedded in communities from Kurdistan to the broader Islamic world, serves not only as a reminder for the meal but also as a spiritual call, marking the nightly rhythms of Ramadan with recitations, prayers, or traditional songs.

Historically honored and appointed by community consensus, often through local leaders, the role of the Mesaharati symbolizes trust and communal respect. Modern technology and urbanization have seen the tradition fade in some areas.

The Mesaharati varies regionally, from the drum-carrying chanters in Egypt to other unique practices elsewhere, highlighting the diversity within Islamic traditions.