Ramadan: a month that belongs to God
When? In 2021 it begins on Monday 12th April at sunset and continues until Wednesday 12th May.
Where? Turkey and other Islamic countries.
The meaning. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. It is the most important and the most anticipated month of the year - the sacred month of Islam. Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars (five basic acts) of Islam.
How it is celebrated. During the fasting, Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke from sunrise to sunset. "The mouth should be completely closed," Suna Yilmaz says, a Turkish woman who has been living in Austria for twenty-five years. The exceptions are old people or people with chronic diseases, but they need to help the poor for every day they go without fasting. At night, the ban is not valid.
The fast teaches Muslims to appreciate God's gifts (food and drink): the believers should know what hunger means. That’s why during Ramadan they try to support the poor as much as possible.
Prayers are very important. Only during Ramadan Muslims should also pray at night in addition to the usual five compulsory day prayers. Interaction between people is very important too. It’s necessary to pay particular attention to your behavior and language: people should be polite. Empathy plays a significant role in everyday communication: everybody tries to help those in need, as far as they can.
During Ramadan towns are decorated with flags, lanterns, luminous garlands etc.
Family traditions. Suna moved to Villach with her first son in 1990; her husband had come one year before. In Austria Suna has given birth to two more children.
"We live in Austria like in Turkey and follow all our traditions," Suna says. "Ramadan is very important for me personally. I don’t understand how people can live without God in their soul. This month belongs to God and we fast for God. Ramadan lasts 30 days and ends with the second most important Muslim holiday - Eid al-Fitr. People celebrate the breaking of the fast, visit their parents, meet for the festive meal, give presents to each other. They thank God for everything He has done for them. "
Text and photos: Vita Vitrenko