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.

By Paul Salopek


It was during Ramadan, the month of fasting. Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection, when people go without eating during the day. It is the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. It was at Medina. Medina is just outside Al-Masjid al-Nabawī, the mosque of the Prophet Mohammed, the second holiest site in Islam after Mecca. Sixty thousand people were gathered at dusk to break the day’s fast and eat together. There was a certain light and feeling of excitement in the air. The sky was pale, tender, and yellow at sunset. Across from me sat a big man with red hair, from Afghanistan. There were people from all over the world. We were hungry, quietly listening to our inner thoughts, waiting. I am not Muslim. But I had been fasting all month as well, out of respect. I wanted to understand. The man from Afghanistan passed me his orange. I 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.

Media Credits

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Oliver Payne
Text Levels
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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