BY NESLIHAN KOÇAK
MAR 21, 2023 – daily sabah
Muslims prepare for a street iftar, in Istanbul, Türkiye. (Shutterstock Photo)
Famous as the ‘sultan’ of 11 months, the blessed month of Ramadan is a unique time of festivities and celebrations with deep-rooted traditions in Türkiye, so let’s take a look at the most notable ones as we approach this Islamic month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community
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This year, we approach the blessed month of Ramadan, which we have been waiting for for 11 months, with bittersweet joy and deep sadness in our hearts in Türkiye after the devastating earthquake disaster in the southeast of the country. As the holy month for Muslims, Ramadan, is about to begin, let’s talk about how this month is observed in Türkiye.
The peace of sharing, joyful tables, crowded prayer congregations, guests and blessed days each even more special than the other, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri calendar and the month when the verses of the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) according to the belief of Islam and is also the month of fasting for Muslims. Fasting in this month is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Fasting from dawn to dusk is a religious obligation for all Muslims except the sick, travelers, children, the elderly, nursing mothers and pregnant women. The meal before dawn is called suhur, and the dinner that breaks the fast is called iftar. Therefore, iftar dinner is significant for Muslims, invitations are given, and various elaborate meals are prepared.
Muslims welcome Ramadan with great joy and happiness. In this month, a separate peace and spirituality are felt daily. Moreover, it is believed that the thawab (spiritual rewards) of fasting increases exponentially during Ramadan.
According to this belief, Muslims avoid not only food and drink but also sinful behavior, and instead, they devote themselves more to praying and reading the Quran. As a result, Muslims worldwide avoid worldly desires from suhur to iftar during the holy month of Ramadan.
There are many purposes that this ritual serves to achieve. First, fasting aims to make us empathize with those in need at times like these, encouraging us to feel the pain and suffering of the underprivileged members of society.
Some preparations for this holy month begin before it even starts; houses are cleaned, desserts are prepared, and food is ready for iftar or suhur, canned or stored in deep freezers. Mosques are decorated, and aid is organized for the poor and needy.
Let’s look at some of the first things that come to mind when Ramadan is mentioned in Türkiye.
Zakat, a form of almsgiving, is a religious obligation and one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is given by those Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth other than “primary needs” and is therefore considered rich after a whole year has passed since they met the requirements.
Usually given during Ramadan, zakat means cleanliness, increase, abundance, and being good and proper. A connection is established between the word meaning and the religious meaning, with the belief that it cleanses the donor from stinginess, dirt, and sins and conduces to abundance in his wealth.
A Ramadan drummer wakes people up with the sound of drums as they walk around the streets at suhur time during the night in Ramadan. It is an indispensable tradition of Ramadan in Türkiye. The municipality of whichever district they serve gives to those drummers. They also visit the residents of the community door-to-door in the middle and at the end of the month for tips.
The fact that alcohol was not part of the Ottoman culinary culture due to the influence of Islam ensured the formation of a rich sherbet and compote culture, which gained a special place in both palace and public cuisine. As a result, sherbet and fruit compotes regularly accompanied Ottoman meals, especially during Ramadan’s fast-breaking dinner, iftar. Today, sherbet is mainly served in crystal bowls for ceremonial occasions across Türkiye, such as the holy month of Ramadan.
Tarawih, the plural of the word meaning to rest and relax, refers to the special prayer performed in the congregation after the night prayer (Isha prayer), especially for the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is greeted with enthusiasm in all Islamic countries. The first tarawih prayer is performed on the evening of the day to start fasting and continues to be performed every night after the Isha prayer throughout Ramadan.
Mosques are much more crowded than usual; men, women, and even children fill the mosques to welcome this holy month and pray together in peace.
Dates contain a high amount of carbohydrates in sugar, and their sugar rate is about 80%. The remaining 20% comprises fiber, protein, and trace elements such as boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc.
It is written in some sources that during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), they fasted only by consuming dates in suhur and iftar. Today, dates are the indispensable fruit of iftar and suhur tables when Ramadan is mentioned. Usually, one breaks the fast with dates and then starts eating the meals.
In the dictionary, qadr means “rule, honor, power, majesty.” In religious literature, it is used as the name of the night when the Quran was revealed, called Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Destiny. The 97th chapter of the Quran, which bears the same name, revealed the virtue of this night. It is stated in the surah that the Quran was revealed in Laylat al-Qadr and that the mentioned night is better than a thousand months. Therefore, it is the most virtuous night in Islam.
It is not clear exactly what night of the year the Night of Destiny is, but it is believed to coincide with the 27th night of Ramadan.
Categories: Arab World, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Europe and Australia, Fasting, Muslim World, Ramadan, Turkey, Turks
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