Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins today
AA photoThe Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on June 6 with Muslims in Turkey set to practice fasting, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, until July 4.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time when Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion, as well as a time of increased religious observance and socializing, with families sharing rich meals after sunset followed by gatherings with friends or neighbors.
Welcoming the holy month of Ramadan, pious residents in Istanbul 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.
The holy period creates a unique atmosphere in Istanbul - changing millions of people’s eating habits, working practices and praying times.
Popular resolutions often include spiritual endeavors such as reading the Quran or praying daily in a mosque.
Others are more everyday, such as refraining from listening to music or cutting out television or social media.
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 in Istanbul 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.