Mahfouz and family have shown considerable kindness and hospitality from first meeting, 9 months ago. At Christmas, although Muslim, they hosted my colleagues and I for an impressive dinner, complete with Christmas tree and lights.
In reading up on Ramadan, and learning a bit more than my very basic surface knowledge of Islam, I’ve seen how important charity and acts of kindness are in Islam, not only during the month of Ramadan.
Mahfouz doesn’t struggle for want of money or food; his family lives well and shares widely, not only with international guests.
But it does seem to be a certain pleasure of theirs to entertain us.
Their children, ranging from about 4 years old to last year of high school, are all very self-assured, lovely youths.
The girls have shared in the food prep, contributing a salad, a ‘bird’s tongue soup’ (delicate pasta shaped in darts, like a bird’s tongue?), and a sweet dessert to go with the other dishes: rice with peas and corn, bahmia (okra) in tomato sauce, hummous for the vegetarians, potatos, and of course dates.
“The table used to be over there, but we moved it here, closer to the window,” Mahfouz explains after I comment on the stunning view of the night sky.
At the window, the still dimming colours of sunset combine with heavy but rainless clouds, and the crescent moon.