CAIRO (Rahnuma): Christians in Cairo have been sharing Ramadan traditions and rituals alongside their Muslim neighbors, including donating to charity and enjoying iftar meals at sunset.
The Shobra area of the Egyptian capital has around 590,000 Christian residents according to the Cairo governorate.
“I do not eat in front of fasting people,” Yasmine Tadros told Arab News. “I learned that at an early age. My parents taught me this at home. I have been sharing the rituals of my Muslim brothers for 20 years. In our street in Shobra we used to prepare iftar and have it together, Muslims and Christians. Many people would join in and we were very happy. This year, due to the coronavirus, safety is making us more cautious.”
Her childhood Muslim friends used to want to join her in the Christian fasting months by avoiding certain foods and drinks, she added.
Coexistence is part of Egyptian life, especially in Shobra, and Ramadan sees the two religious communities come together out of respect and compassion.
Magdy Aziz, who owns a popular grocery store on Shobra Street, donates rice and pasta to Ramadan charity banquets on the streets. This year, because the pandemic prevents the holding of such banquets, he decided to donate food to Shobra’s needier residents.
“What I do comes from the heart,” Aziz told Arab News. “What I do is goodness that I wish for everyone, that is the love of God.”
He remarked that Egyptians loved to do good deeds and were connected to each other on all occasions, especially Ramadan. “Sometimes I sell things in Ramadan at half price to everyone.”
It was a gesture he had practised for years and more so during the holy month because it was a time for charity and good deeds, he added.
It is not always to tell people from the two faiths apart in Shobra because of the care that some non-Muslims take to avoid offending or upsetting those who are fasting.
Accountant Gerges Hanna said he was always keen during Ramadan not to hurt those who observed Ramadan, so he abstained from eating and drinking in front of them. He said he felt happy during the month and enjoyed the vibe of Ramadan, especially at sunset just before the fast was broken.
Hanna told Arab News that he tried as much as he could to exchange shifts with his Muslim co-workers who were unable to work at full capacity while fasting. He added it was the least he could do for his colleagues during the month.
He also said that he stayed with his Muslim friends on the street during iftar to give away dates and juice to passersby.