Midfa al iftar, ar: مدفع الافطار, or literally the Cannon for breakfasting, is an ancient tradition that started in Egypt and spread to several surrounding Arab countries. Every day minutes before the Maghreb adhan, a cannon would fire a single shot to notify people the time of Iftar in Ramadan, when Muslims get to break their long day fasting as the sun sets.
Though a tradition practiced today in most parts of the Arab world. The cannon is first fired to herald the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, and then each day to announce the breaking of the fast at the sunset prayers of maghrib. The blast is an echo to inform the entire city of the time of Iftar, before the invention of clocks, TVs or cellphones. Its origins come from two stories in Cairo. Some historians believe the custom dates back as far as 10th century Egypt, when one of the Fatimid caliphs ordered a cannon be placed on Cairo's Muqatam Hill so all Muslims would hear the signal to break their fasts. A more popular story is that it began about two centuries ago in the rule of the Mamluk ruler, Khosh Qadam. It was said the Sultan was given a cannon and that his soldiers tested it by firing it one sunset. By coincidence, this happened at the end of the day's fasting in Ramadan. When the people of Cairo heard the boom they took it as sign they could end their fast, and were so thrilled with the idea that they thronged to the palace to congratulate the sultan. Seeing an opportunity to endear her father to the people, his daughter Hajja Fatimah urged him to fire the cannon every day for iftar. He agreed and the tradition of "midfa al iftar" was born, with the local nickname Hajja Fatimah. To this day, a cannon is placed on the plateau of Muqatam near the Citadel to announce iftar.
- Saudi Arabia - Several cannons are located in Saudi Arabia, especially in the Hejaz region cities such as Mecca, Jeddah and Medina.
- UAE - the UAE has recently added two new locations in Dubai where tourists can go and watch the Cannons fire. The first cannon was fired in Sharjah in the 19th century by Sultan Bin Saqr al-Qasimi.
- Yemen - The sound of the Iftar Cannon can be heard over the Capital Sana'a, though with the ongoing civil war it is not sure if this continues.