Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins
REUTERS photoMuslims in Turkey are set to begin fasting on May 27 for the holy month of Ramadan, when most of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time when Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual intercourse from sahur meal in sunrise to iftar meal in sunset. It will end on June 24 after continuing for 30 days.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion.
Welcoming the holy month of Ramadan, people are expected to fill mosques to perform “Tarawih” prayers, an extra prayer specific to Ramadan, according to the practices of the Prophet Muhammad, which is performed by Muslims following the obligatory night prayer known as “Isha.” The historic Blue Mosque and the Eyüp Sultan Mosque are the two most symbolic spaces for these prayers during Ramadan in Istanbul.
Throughout the course of the fasting month, Muslims are urged to perform extra prayers, recite the Quran, give alms to the poor, and refrain from misbehavior. Ramadan ends with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
During Ramadan, local municipalities across Turkey organize mass public iftar meals - free meals consisting of soup, stew, pudding and juice - while street performances such as clown and shadow puppet shows are put on for locals.
While Ramadan starts for many Turks on May 27, the first day of the fasting differs in several Arab and African nations, which will start their fasting after the new moon is sighted. Sighting the new crescent moon is essential for the start of any month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
Ramadan is due to begin also on May 27 in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, religious authorities in both countries announced. The Sunni Mufti of Lebanon, Abdullatif Deryan, also announced that May 27 would be the start of Ramadan.
There was no immediate announcement from other Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Speaking about Ramadan, Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Prof. Mehmet Görmez said 90,000 mosques are ready for worship, and that necessary efforts were made for women, people with disabilities and children for them to pray in mosques.
Görmez also said Ramadan should not be turned into a month of amusement and gaudiness, while warning worshippers to not make iftar meals a place of wastage.
“Let’s not turn our iftar tables into waste tables. Let’s not turn our iftar tables into gaudy tables where only wealthy people are invited. The rich shouldn’t stop contributing to the tables of the poor. With this occasion, every rich citizen should go and attend the poor’s tables with their children, spouses and family,” Görmez told journalists in a press conference on May 25.