Sunset on today will mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, also known in Turkey as the “sultan” and the most virtuous month of the 12 months of the lunar year for the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world — around one-fifth of the world’s population. The month is seen as a holy period of spiritual reflection and purification.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory for all adult and physically fit believers and regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. This holy month is celebrated all over the world with great enthusiasm and joy; it is an excellent opportunity to remove all cultural and geographical obstacles that stand before the unification of all Muslims around common sacred values. During Ramadan, believers are expected to put more effort into refraining from anger, envy, greed, lust, backbiting and gossip and are encouraged to read the entire Quran.

The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar (Hijri) calendar, established in 638 by the second caliph of the Prophet Muhammad. The month of Ramadan is the most venerated and blessed month of the Islamic year.

In the lunar calendar, months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons.

A typical day in Ramadan begins by waking up at an early hour for suhur, a small pre-dawn meal. Fasting, which starts with the break of dawn, continues until iftar, the meal eaten after sunset. Though fasting is only mandatory as of adolescence, some young children are also interested in fasting with their elders. They look forward to the excitement of the holy month of Ramadan and breaking their fasts with meals they share with their families.

Adults also appreciate the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for their past sins. Ramadan brings with it an atmosphere of peace, fraternity and tolerance, which enables Muslims to lead better lives in terms of spirituality and moral values.

Pregnant women, the elderly, the ill, travelers — provided that they make up the prescribed period of fasting later — and children who have not reached puberty are all exempt from fasting.

Ramadan is also a time when people reflect on their past deeds and seek to strengthen their family ties through the visits they pay to their relatives. It is also a time to share meals, even if it is a bowl of soup, with loved ones and thank God for the blessings He has given to mankind.

Experts say fasters should be careful with their eating habits during Ramadan and recommend that fasters do not skip suhur in order to maintain a healthy weight. Ramadan is also a time that brings significant changes to eating habits; pide and güllaç are very popular food among the fasters during Ramadan. Pide, a flatbread often coated with egg and sprinkled with sesame seeds; güllaç, a dessert made of cornstarch, flour, water and milk; and dates are popular foods during Ramadan. When it is not Ramadan, Turks rarely buy pide or make güllaç.

Source Zaman


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