From the Vaults: Unraveling the History of Ramadan’s Classic Songs

Ramadan is here! Family gatherings, konafa, atayif, and Taraweeh prayers are all back for what many describe as their favorite month of the year.

In the same way that we adore all these traditions, we cannot help but also take a step back in time and listen to old songs that have a special connection with Ramadan. Let’s learn the stories behind our favorite classic Ramadan tunes:

Wahaweee Ya Wahaweee

Dating back to 1937, we all know and love this song by Ahmed Abdel Kader, “Wahawee Ya Wahawee Eyaha.” But did you ever try to figure out the meaning behind the song? It turns out the song mixes several languages.

The word ‘Wahawee’ means ‘hello’ in Coptic, while ‘Eyaha’ means ‘moon’ in the old Arabic language. So when you put that all together, the song says hello to the present moon, which symbolizes the start of the holy month. Fun fact: The entire song cost 125 EGP to produce.

Ramadan Gana 

Now that you have heard of Ahmed Abdel Kader, he’s also somehow connected to the classic song ‘Ramadan Gana,’ which acts as the official announcement that the holy month is kicking off.

Back in the 50s, he was supposed to sing the popular song on the radio, but because he had already sung ‘Wahawee Ya Wahawee,’ the radio refused to allow him to perform because each artist was only allowed to sing one song.

That’s where Mohamed Abdel Mottaleb came into the picture. He was given the song and was paid 6 Egyptian pounds to perform it, as he really needed the money.

Aho Geh Ya Welad 

Safaa, Wafaa, and Sanaa are the Ramadan trio whose voices boomed out of some of the most popular Ramadan tunes. ‘Aho Geh Ya Welad’ was one such hit, and it was broadcast for the first time in 1959. It took an entire two hours to record, and once it was broadcast, the trio received a paycheck of 140 Egyptian pounds.

Since broadcasting the song, the trio has become excited about performing more songs, which has brought to life crowd favorites like ‘Efraho Ya Banat.’

Marhab Shahr El Som

Just as with ‘Ramadan Gana,’ ‘Marhab Shahr El Som’ is another song that acts as a wake-up call that Ramadan is here. Singer Abdulaziz Mahmoud was chosen to perform the song, and it was recorded and rehearsed at the gardens of the Arab Music Institute.

In 1966, it was broadcast on the radio to great acclaim, becoming one of the most popular Ramadan songs to date.

El Ragel Da Haygininee 

Bringing something completely different to the table is a playful song that brings together the legendary Sabah and Fouad el-Mohandes on the screen. The song came to life when Sabah was visiting Farid Al-Atrash and ended up meeting the poet Hussein Al-Sayed, who introduced the song to her.

She immediately fell in love with it and insisted on performing it despite her friends advising her not to because of its lyrics.

Thankfully, she ignored them and performed it alongside Fouad el-Mohandes. The song portrayed a wife’s frustration with her husband during Ramadan because of his endless requests. It was relatable and funny among the Arab community and made for an instant iconic hit.

Taking a step back in time and hearing these songs once again with the Ramadan season already underway gives us all that feeling of joy and nostalgia. These songs will always hold a special place among the Arab community.

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