Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Jusoor at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Last night I managed to convince Linnea to come along to do something I've been wanting to do since we've been here - participate in an Iftar at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This year they  launched a new initiative at the SZGM called 'Jusoor', which has taken place every Monday during the month of Ramadan.
'Jusoor' in Arabic means bridge, and this programme had been designed to build bridges between people of various cultures, ethnicities and beliefs, all in line with the Year of Tolerance.

There was a large group of us participating last night. The evening started with a short lecture about Ramadan and a guided tour, which took us to see the Ramadan cannon.
They only fire a cannon in two places in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, at Qasr Al Hosn and here at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; just like in the old times. Traditionally it gets fired for the first time to announce the beginning of Ramadan, then on a daily basis the firing is announcing the time of breaking the fast in the evening. The last cannon fire is for the Eid celebrations at the end of Ramadan.

It is so beautiful around the SZGM now, with all these intensely red flame trees in bloom.

To end the 'Jusoor'-programme, we got to volunteer in one of the Ramadan tents, and help out with distributing some of the meal boxes that are served here. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque feeds more than 30,000 people daily (!) during Ramadan, it is considered the biggest mass Iftar in the UAE.
We got equipped with plastic gloves and mouth covers, got a few instructions and then it was time to get to work:

Linnea got right into it, placing the food boxes, laban drinks and salads. Each of these tents can take about 1500 people, but thanks to good team work, we were quickly done with the set up.

Then we were invited to sit down together with the worshippers to break the fast together. 

We waited to hear the cannon fire, and then we could enjoy our meal consisting of dates and laban, rice, lamb and vegetables with a cold salad, an apple and drinks. 

As we are getting close to the end of this lunar month, the SZGM is getting bluer by the day. It's so, so beautiful.

I was really happy that Linnea decided to come along, as she seemed to enjoy the experience as much as I did. It was interesting for me learning even more about the Ramadan traditions, and finally getting to get involved in these activities at the Mosque. I got quite emotional as it was rather overwhelming to see so many people of different backgrounds coming together.
I am so grateful my children get to grow up in a society so rooted in coexistence.

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