The Jordanian town of Maan has stood for centuries as the final oasis for travelers and pilgrims heading east to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Considering that the eighth century, residents have presented travelers As Sabeel – rest and refuge in the name of God.
It wasn’t just hospitality, but a religious duty. And for great purpose: Involving Maan and Medina lay 500 miles of scorching desert exactly where temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Through Ramadan, when Muslims quickly amongst dawn and dusk, Maan residents make it a mission to feed pilgrims their quickly-breaking iftar meal.
Some 50 volunteers are preparing 700 chickens and 800 pounds of rice to pass out and serve at sunset. They feed an typical of 600 impoverished households and a lot more than 600 travelers every single day.
At tonight’s meal are truck drivers, Saudi vacationers, pilgrims, Egyptian farmhands, Syrian refugees, and students from the nearby university.
“They pulled us aside and stated we had no selection in the matter: We have been their guests,” Mohammed, a Saudi national, says with a laugh.
As the guests completed, Maan residents, who had however to break the quickly themselves, have been just starting perform on the subsequent day’s meal.
“Who requirements meals?” says Mohammed Saleh, who has volunteered for 16 years. “We in Maan have some thing higher: faith.”
When Amman resident Walid Abdullah spotted a group of young hitchhikers attempting to flag him down on the principal highway to the port of Aqaba, he drove previous with out providing a lot notice.
When a second group of young males 100 yards later waved their arms wildly in the air, he started to wonder if he had a flat tire. Then a man stepped out in front of his auto, forcing him to cease.
“They told me I had to come with them,” Mr. Abdullah stated. “I was their guest, and a meal was waiting for me.”
It was no kidnapping it was Ramadan in Maan.
Identified as the gateway to the Hejaz, the Jordanian town of Maan, 60 miles west of the Saudi border, has stood for centuries as the final oasis for travelers and pilgrims heading east to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
From the starting of the Umayyad era in the eighth century, residents in this geographically strategic town linking the Levant with the Arab Gulf would offer you travelers As Sabeel – rest and refuge in the name of God.
It wasn’t just hospitality, but a religious duty. And for great purpose: Involving Maan and Medina lay 500 miles of scorching desert exactly where temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit and which till lately had handful of settlements.
For caravan traders and pilgrims heading to Mecca, Maan marked the final possibility for days to stock up on clean water, supplies, meals, health-related assist, and a great night’s sleep.
Even right now, the initial rest cease following Maan on the pilgrimage route is Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, 150 miles away. By auto, the trip to Medina requires 10 hours, and a lot more than 14 hours nonstop to Mecca.
The town, which straddles the road to Mecca, would bustle for the duration of the hajj season, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca Muslims are essential to make as soon as in their lifetime.
The Ramadan season
But a second peak season would come for the duration of Ramadan. The holy month is a preferred time for Muslims across the globe to make the non-compulsory Umrah pilgrimage out of the belief that praying at the Kaaba in Mecca although fasting elevates their prayers and rewards from God. So Maan residents would make it a mission for the duration of Ramadan to feed going to pilgrims their quickly-breaking iftar meal at sunset.
In 2002, the town of 50,000 decided to pull its efforts with each other into 1 organized campaign, “As Sabeel Maan.”
“Throughout the generations for more than 1,000 years, households continued the tradition of hosting and feeding travelers and pilgrims, it is component of their heritage,” says Abdullah Al Hussan, Maan historian and cultural writer. “Today, As Sabeel is an organized continuation of that tradition.”
On a donated two-acre plot of land on the principal road to Saudi Arabia close to the town center, volunteers in a tent and a uncomplicated concrete kitchen are busy preparing hundreds of iftar meals to pass out and serve at sunset.
Right here, students, retirees, and males who take unpaid leave from perform carry on 24-hour shifts to obtain donations, cook, clean, provide meals, and flag down and serve iftar guests.
“As Sabeel is Maan residents performing great deeds for God and their fellow man and lady, no matter who they are,” says Abu Hareth Al Qureishi, As Sabeel Maan organizer, as young males shovel vats of rice onto platters.
He oversees 50 males who feed an typical of 600 impoverished households in the location and a lot more than 600 travelers every single day.
It is a grueling schedule.
Right after a evening of cleaning and following dawn prayers, the volunteers start out cutting and prepping 700 chickens and 800 pounds of rice. Quickly, 14 giant pots 4 feet in diameter would be bubbling with aromatic spices, rice, and chicken or other meat.
All the things at As Sabeel Maan comes by way of donations from the nearby neighborhood, organized a month ahead of time.
Contributions can be as big as a shepherd donating a ton of lamb or camel meat, or as tiny as a bag of rice. Some Maan residents living abroad in the Gulf wire back house as a lot as $three,500, which pays for an whole day’s meals. The town raises an estimated $140,000 in donations and meals for the month.
“We take all donations significant or tiny. Blessings are not primarily based on the size of the great deed, but the intention in your heart,” Mr. Al Qureishi says as residents drive up with cartons of water and dates from their residences two hours prior to sunset.
Although volunteers passing out bags of dates and water to drivers shortly prior to dusk is a prevalent sight in a lot of the Muslim globe for the duration of Ramadan, Maan requires it to a fully unique level.
Abu Jaber and a group of his mates and neighbors formed their personal informal As Sabeel, stationing themselves every single afternoon on the Desert Highway operating from Amman to Aqaba, two miles from the outskirts of Maan.
The young males flag down trucks, buses, website traffic cops, and passenger vehicles at a speed bump 50 yards ahead of the turnoff for Maan.
If they can’t convince the drivers to head to As Sabeel Maan for their iftar meal, they hand out bags of fruit, yogurt, dates, and water for all – no exceptions.
“We make confident everybody on this road is fed by sunset – vacationers, the police, building workers, households,” says Mr. Jaber as his volunteer crew stops a tourist bus. They motion the driver to roll down his window and pass via a dozen bags of fruit and yogurt to the eager Jordanian driver and bewildered vacationers.
“This is not just for Muslims, this generosity is for all travelers and for all of God’s creations.”
One particular night’s gathering
In Maan, with sunset approaching, the As Sabeel tent is nonetheless empty, and volunteers roam the principal street, searching for foreign license plates and unfamiliar faces to flag down.
In the kitchen, volunteers prepare 40 giant platters of rice and chicken kabseh.
As quickly as they take out the trays to the tent, some 300 people today seem like a sudden desert mirage.
At tonight’s meal are Jordanians driving to Aqaba for the weekend, truck drivers, Saudi vacationers, Umrah pilgrims, Egyptian farmhands, Syrian refugees, and Jordanian students at the nearby university who have been unable to travel house for the weekend.
“They pulled us aside and stated we had no selection in the matter: We have been their guests,” Mohammed, a Saudi national heading to Amman with his household, says with a laugh. “Maan has turn into popular amongst Muslims for hospitality.”
Fifteen minutes later, as the guests completed dining, Maan residents, who had however to break the quickly themselves, have been just starting perform on the subsequent day’s meal.
“Who requirements meals?” says Mohammed Saleh, who has volunteered for 16 straight years. “We in Maan have some thing higher: faith.”