Muslims start observing holy month of Ramadan
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a time when Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual act from the “sahur” meal (the meal before dawn) to the “iftar” meal at sunset.
The starting day of Ramadan may differ in several countries according to the methods used to determine the time of the new crescent moon is sighted. However, Muslim-majority countries from North Africa to Indonesia have a consensus on observing the holy month between May 5 and June 4 this year.
“We prepare lunar beginning-of-month maps based on the first sight of the crescent moon in a place on the Earth,” Hümeyra Nur İşlek, an astronomer at Turkey’s top religious body Diyanet, told Anadolu Agency on May 1.
“Lunar months may take 29 or 30 days according to the first sight of the crescent moon,” she added.
In the last day of Ramadan, fasting time has been calculated as the longest across Turkey in the northern province of Sinop with 17 hours and 18 minutes, whereas the fasting time was determined as 16 hours and 24 minutes in the southernmost province of Hatay.
Muslims sense Ramadan a time of intense spirituality when believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven open, and Allah’s blessings and mercy are abundant.
Mosques are expected to be filled with Muslims gathered to perform Tarawih prayers.
Ramadan is also a time of religious socializing with people sharing rich meals after sunset. It is also a time of great excitement, filling the cities with jubilant festivities when the sun goes down.
Turkey’s Diyanet has announced the main theme of the prayers during the month as “Aid and Ramadan,” also designating the minimum necessary duty of alms-giving for well-off Muslims as 23 Turkish Liras ($3.9).
The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the Ramadan.
Turkey’s official aid agency the Red Crescent (Kızılay) plans to deliver aid in 400 places across Turkey and in 37 other countries.
“During the month of Ramadan, the Red Crescent will reach 14.7 million people in need,” according to Red Crescent head Kerem Kınık.