The breakfast cannon that accompanies the Adhan of Maghrib (call to sunset prayer) is one of Ramadan’s distinctive customs, and there are many stories narrated about it during Ramadan.
Egyptians are keen to adhere to this tradition; its boom generates joy to the hearts of believers who gather before the time of breaking the fast around the table, with tongues praying ardently asking Allah to accept their fasting and prayers.
The first narration dates back to Mamluk era in 865 AH during the reign of Sultan Khasqdam whose soldiers were testing a new cannon; a shell was fired at sunset. This was the time of the call of Maghrib (sunset prayers) on a Ramadan day. The Egyptians, as a result, thought that the Sultan introduced a new way to announce the time of Iftar (fast-breaking meal)
They went to Sultan’s palace to express their gratitude for this new tradition, then the Sultan issued a decree allowing the custom to continue during the holy month.
The second narration dates back to Muhammad Ali Pasha era; he bought many modern guns as part of his plan to develop and build the Egyptian army. The equipment was being tested during Ramadan.
Then, the people who were fasting thought that the Sultan was announcing the time of Iftar. They later requested him to allow this custom of using cannon continue throughout the month.
Noteworthy, the cannon was moved from the fortress to the fire point at El Darrasa in El-Azhar, then it was transferred close to El-Azhar University.
The third narration goes back to Khedive Ismail era; the breakfast cannon was called “Fatima cannon”. One of the soldiers was cleaning the cannon, unwarily a shell was fired from it. People thought that it is a new tradition for alerting them to break their fast, and Princess Fatima Ismail was impressed it.
She issued a decree that the cannon would shoot at Iftar and Suhoor time. Since then, the Ramadan cannon has been launched from the citadel of Saladin in Cairo.