By Salah Takieddine
BEIRUT, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli celebrates the holy month of Ramadan as its people are practicing the traditional ways inherited from their ancestors.
The city that embraces a variety of monuments remnant of various eras is considered a principal venue for the religious activities performed by groups from many Arab and Islamic states.
Based on the teachings of Islam, Muslims would care primarily for two major duties during Ramadan, namely, to avoid certain sins and to abstain from eating and drinking in private or in public spheres from dawn to dusk.
In addition, Ramadan for Muslims in general is a period of spiritual causes, including prayers, charity activities, self and collective restraint.
Historian Khaled al-Tadmouri told Xinhua that keeping the Ramadan traditions inherited from the ancestors alive in Tripoli is due to the fact that the city is the second largest Mamluk city after Cairo.
From the very first day of the holy month, the city is adorned with ornamental and electric lanterns, colorful flags and strips symbolic of Ramadan.
The city is known by the spiritual heritage of Ramadan activities and rituals, including celebrating the "holy trail," which is the hair from the Prophet's beard that was sent by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to the city as a gift for their allegiance to the Ottoman state.
"The hair was left in the Great al-Mansouri Mosque that was built 720 years ago and is displayed every weekend during Ramadan," al-Tadmouri said.
As for the popular cafés in the city, they offer Iftar, the meal that marks breaking the long day of fasting, and the "Souhour" meal, which is the last meal allowed before fasting.
Other religious activities are also organized in the city during this month. The "Hakawati" is one of them, which tells in cafés the stories related to the history of Islam.
Barrak al-Soubeih, a local Hakawati in the city, told Xinhua that many hakawatis are performing in Tripoli as it is a very popular tradition.
The activities are not concentrated in the city of Tripoli alone, but go beyond to the "Rabitts Island," a few miles away from the port city.
Rola al-Maaliki from Tripoli told Xinhua "I go with my family to the island where the celebrations of Ramadan require the attendees wearing traditional uniforms that takes us back to the eras of real values."
Janan al-Mobayed, an organizer of Ramadan activities, said Tripoli is witnessing a boom in such activities and turned to be a touristic attraction.
"Most of the activities are celebrated in the historical sites in the old city and in venues that have been renovated for this purpose," she said.