Ramadan prayer time is getting shorter as Palestinians rush home to watch the Syrian soap Bab al-Haara (The Alley Gate), with some people asking preachers to read fewer chapters of the Quran so they don't miss a minute of the hit TV show.
"It's becoming an addiction all over Palestine," said Abou-Moussa from Nablus, adding that his son invents excuses to stay home and not go to the mosque, Ramattan New Agency reported.
Bab al-Haara is a Syrian drama whose storyline covers the Palestinian revolution and focuses on the unity of the rebels in al-Sham (the Levant).
Palestinian audiences traditionally identify with Syrian dramas as the Arabic accents and idioms are almost the same, and similarities in food and costume are also remarkable.
Families gather at home and friends meet in cafes to sip tea, smoke hookahs and watch the show every evening after iftar.
Many fans hunt down upcoming episodes on the Internet, and save them on their computers to watch time and again. Kids use the characters' catchphrases, mimic their behavior, and call each other by the characters' their names.
Muslims the world over join in a communal prayer every Ramadan night, a ritual considered one of the most important features of the holy month. In this prayer, called taraweeh, a section of the Quran is read every night so that the whole book is covered by the end of the month, a practice strongly recommended in Ramadan.
Critics say Ramadan TV specials distract people from the main goal of the holy month — worship and charity.
They accuse TV operators of broadcasting the most popular shows in the month of Ramadan and at the exact time when taraweeh should be taking place.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).