It is a comfortable seating area in a Muslim’s home created especially for Ramadan (and sometimes on other important occasions) to receive visitors, mainly family and friends, but also colleagues and other respected members of the community. It’s not usually a permanent fixture of the house, but instead an area allocated for the purpose, and then furnished and decorated suitably. During the cooler months, a large tent or temporary atrium can be built for use, but this year most will be indoors! It is also, often, used as a recreation and relaxation area.
Find a Space
A Majlis doesn’t have to take up a whole room. A corner of a large living room or the empty space in an entrance hall will do. You can either buy yourself some of the comfortable patterned Arabic couches or take existing furniture you already have and decorate it with accessories and cushions to give it that Arabian feel. Floor cushions are also a very popular and traditional alternative, and make for very relaxed seating. Check out the homewares section on www.littlemajlis.com for everything from soft furnishings, to tea towels, lighting and so much more.
A very strong aspect of Arabian culture is hospitality, and this is especially relevant in a Majlis. You will be expected to serve traditional tea, coffee, and delicacies when you receive guests, and many families use this as an opportunity to demonstrate their hospitality prowess! It is all about being unique and memorable. A sure winner is serving some authentic Moroccan tea in ornate teapots. And, from what we’ve heard, the drink Vimto plays a big part – if you’ve got Vimto on tap all evening, then you’re really celebrating Ramadan! Or how about setting up your own shisha at home? This will surely impress your guests!
If the gathering is one with close family and friends, why not take it in turns to tell some fables and stories? Put a modern day twist on the pastimes at your Majlis with a good supply of fun board games. Everything from Monopoly to Guess Who? and Operation! Go old-school and get everyone involved for a game of Dawama (spinners!) or Kairam (wooden game board with four corner pockets), the options are plenty. A deck of cards to hand is always good to keep boredom at bay.
It’s important to set the mood and ambience with all the little touches expected at a Majlis. It can be as simple as having some candles with calligraphy, decorating your shelves with ceramic plates and cups, or even dotting the area with handcrafted ornaments like Arabian style lamps and lanterns or mosaic decorated show pieces. Incense is key to getting the aroma of the setting right. Oud is the most popular and can really help to create an oriental atmosphere.
Tajines are Moroccan cooking implements that are already popular as household ornaments around the world. Colourful and pretty to look at, they make great decorations for tables and unused corner arrangements. However, they can be functional too – fill them with different sweets and arrange them artfully around your Majlis. Serve up a good variety of traditional desserts like basbousa, kunafa, baklava, maamool, halva, Luqaimat, and dates with various fillings, and even a mix of nuts. Try your hand at makig Umm Ali, a favourite in Ramadan, and serve it in separate bowls or pots, like desserts at a buffet. This way, guests can pick and choose what they like. Savoury food options can also be served.