The Prophet's Mosque

The Prophet's Mosque

Thousands of pilgrims break the Ramadan fast at sunset at a mosque that is the second holiest site in Islam. Paul Salopek shares in the meal.


5 - 12


Anthropology, Geography, Storytelling, Social Studies, English Language Arts

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In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Paul Salopek's first steps on his Out of Eden Walk journey, this dispatch is now available for educational use in fifth- and eighth-grade reading levels. The original text is available as the default reading level, as well as on the Out of Eden Walk website.

This article is part of a collection called Out of Eden 10th Anniversary: Food. It is also included in the Idea Set, Exploring Food Traditions With the Out of Eden Walk.

By Paul Salopek


It was during Ramadan, in the fasting month. The cleansing month. The holiest month of the Muslim lunar calendar. It was at Medina—just outside Al-Masjid al-Nabawī, the mosque of the Prophet Mohammed, the second holiest site in Islam after Mecca. Sixty thousand people had gathered at dusk to break the day’s fast together. There was a certain vibration of light in the air. A pale, tender, yellow sky at sunset. Across from me sat a big man from Afghanistan—a red-haired Nuristani. There were people from all over the world, hungry, musing quietly inward, waiting. I am not Muslim. But I had been fasting all month as well, out of respect, in order to know. The Nuristani passed me his orange. Passed him mine. We did this several times, laughing. And then we ate in silence.

View the original dispatch to see video of a crowd breaking the Ramadan fast in Medina.

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Oliver Payne
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Web Producer
Bayan Atari, National Geographic Society
Instructional Designer
Dan Byerly, National Geographic Society
With help froms
Claudia Hernandez-Halper
Kate Gallery, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

April 23, 2024

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