On most Mondays and Thursdays, I usually break my fast (whether I am fasting or not *grins*) at the Prophet’s Mosque.
These two days every week, along with the 13th, 14th and 15 of every (Hijri) month, and other special days when fasting is recommended (like the first 9 days of the month of Zul-Hijjah), there usually is–make it always–sufras for breaking fasts.
The meaning of the word Sufra here includes:
1. A plastic, disposable cloth (about 2 feet wide and as long as the people want it to be, depending on the number of people they want to serve) laid out on the carpet (in essence, this is what is called the sufra, but here by sufra I am referring to itself and whatever is placed on it),
2. A cup of Zamzam water for each person sitting at the sufra,
3. A number of dates (types of which vary according to every sufra or even within the same sufra, although they try hard to distribute each type evenly),
4. A small cup of Arabic coffee (which I don’t particularly like because it tastes ridiculous),
5. A slice of a kind of bread.
In addition to this, you might also find the following in some of the sufras:
6. A cup of tea, the taste of which usually enhanced with a type of leaves which gives it a minty taste.
7. A brown colored powder called dhuggah, in which we dip our bread before eating.
8. Cheese and cream, which is also used for the same purpose as dhuggah. If I am not wrong, this is illegal, but some people smuggle them in. I am not complaining, though.
9. Yoghurt, which is rarely found except on really special days. Probably because it is a bit hard to smuggle them in, unlike cheese and cream.
Sometimes, we have to go and sit an hour or two before the time for iftaar if we want to get a ‘seat’ at any of the decent ones. You know, high demand. The moment the Muazzin starts the azan, we all start to eat. When we finish, the organizers of the sufra collect any remaining dates and pieces of bread. Then the sufra is picked up (with the used cups and all) and put in a dustbin bag.
After Maghrib, they spread a sufra and start eating again. In addition to tea, dates and bread (the unused ones collected before), this time some might provide extra types of hot drinks like zanjabeel (don’t ask me what it is) and green tea.
When I came here during Ramadan in 2011, I saw that some sufras here at Madhinah even provided rice and chicken. Looking forward to that, No, I mean Ramadan.