This being my fourth Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates and not being able to witness the cannons fire at dusk, which is a major part of the country’s culture and tradition, is a shame. Sure, we’d seen it on T.V., but the fact that this is happening just fifteen minutes of drive away from where we live should actually encourage us to get ourselves out there and be part of this old tradition. Yet three Ramadans had passed and we sat home and watched this event on T.V. at iftar.
So this Ramadan – just a couple of days ago – Masood and I decided to go to Al Noor masjid in Sharjah to witness the cannon firing ourselves. Who knows where we’ll be next Ramadan. We don’t even know if we’d still be alive next Ramadan. Anyway, so we reached the masjid around 6:30 pm (iftar is at 6:50 pm) and saw no cannon in sight! We looked around and discovered a huge tent nearby. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a place where free food was being distributed for iftar. Regardless of how tempting it was to get a box for ourselves, the endless queue discouraged us.
However, just as we turned towards the masjid, we saw a police jeep pull up next to the masjid. And there was a cannon in tow! I was grinning like I’d never seen a cannon in my life before. At first I hesitated to take pictures because a) no one else was taking photographs that time, and b) perhaps it was illegal to photograph policemen. I’m shy like that. But two minutes later, a woman walked up to one of the police officers and asked whether if was okay to take pictures, and they said, “Yes.” So her husband stood right next to the cannon and she took pictures. I need to be brave like her!
We sat on the nearby grass and watched (and waited). People started to gather around the cannon, including a man with three children. He appeared to be explaining to the kids what the cannon is all about.
And few minutes later, the cannon was fired. “The noise is deafening!”, Masood told me when it was over, but I was too engrossed to capture it on my point and shoot camera to notice. The fire was immediately followed by the adhan. We ate the dates we brought with us and drank water before proceeding to offer maghrib prayers.
In the masjid, there were sweets and huge plates of biryani, but we had other things planned and, therefore, left right after prayers.
A little bit of history about this tradition here.