While walking and/or driving through the bustling streets of Cairo, it’s easy to see that Ramadan is literally everywhere. The streets are glistening with decorations, and lanterns light up at night making for a truly majestic view. But have you ever wondered how it all started; all the decorations and the lights?
This is actually quite an ancient tradition, so old that it started with the Prophet’s Companions (Sahabah). Tamim bin Aous Al-Dari started this tradition when he would light up oil lamps every Friday around the mosque. This version of history is according to Dr. Zahir Shafiq Kaby, who found evidence of celebrations during Islamic feasts and Ramadan, in the fourth and the beginning of the fifth Hijri century, at the time the Tulunian State was established.
Other opinions, such as that of Ziad Sami Einany, in an article called Ramadan Habits: Decorations of Ramadan, states that history mentions that Omar bin Al-Khattab was the first to pioneer such Ramadan celebrations. He did so by decorating the mosques with lamps from the first day of Ramadan, as Muslims started their Ramadan rituals and prayers.
While Ahmed Al-Maliky, one of Al-Azhar’s scholars, stated on television that Ali bin Abi Talib was the first to decorate mosques with lights in Ramadan, explaining that these are the decorations we see nowadays.
Opinions may be conflicting, but everyone agrees that this tradition dates back at least several centuries. Certainly, it developed through the ages, and manifests itself in different forms, but we hope it retains its authenticity and remains a source of joy to our hearts.