Ramadan3rd July 2013
This month marks the start of Ramadan, an important period of fasting that Muslim people take part in every year.
In Turkey, Ramadan will start on the 9th July, each year the start and end dates change as they are determined by the moon.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; it is a time when Islamic people will fast for one month.
Fasting means that individual Muslims all over the world will not eat, drink, or smoke between dawn and sunset. It’s also common for people to abstain from any sexual relations during this time.
What’s the reasoning behind giving up food and drink?
Well fasting is seen as a way of reminding and educating individuals in spirituality, humility and patience.
Muslims also see it as a time to cleanse the soul and focus on God and most importantly put into practice selflessness.
As you can imagine, here in Turkey being without basics such as food and water in the heat can be challenging.
And although most Muslims take part in observing the rules of Ramadan, some people are exempt.
Anyone who is unwell, the elderly, those travelling and pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding can break their fast (eat anytime during the day or night) and make up for the days they have missed at a later date. If they cannot fast, they must give money to charity, or give food to a needy person.
Children do not have to fast, but many teenagers do take part.
So how does Ramadan affect everyday life, here in Turkey?
Well you may notice that people stay indoors and do not socialize as much during Ramadan. They may be conserving their energy by staying out of the heat and at sunset people like to be at home to break their fast and eat a wholesome meal with their families.
Although some Muslims do not take part in Ramadan, as a tourist it is polite to be aware of Ramadan and what it means to Turkish people. It helps to know that someone cannot accept a drink of water, food or a cigarette that you may offer them during Ramadan.
The end of Ramadan is called Eid Al-Fitr. The day of Eid is typically spent visiting friends and family, it is pretty much like the Turkish version of Christmas Day.
After Eid many Turkish families will go on a holiday to a different part of Turkey or abroad.
So if you live in Turkey or are planning to hop on the plane for a holiday here between early July or early August, be mindful that its Ramadan.
Even though it won’t have an impact on you, its respectful and educational to be aware of Ramadan’s importance and existence in Turkey.