Ramadan, known as Ramazan in Turkey, is the holy month of Islam. It is believed that the Quran – the Islamic holy book – was revealed to mankind during Ramadan through the Prophet Muhammad.
When is Ramazan?
The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, not the Gregorian calendar, which is why the exact date of Ramazan changes each year. As a result, the Holy month of Ramazan falls approximately 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.
Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and only begins when the new moon is sighted, ending either 29 or 30 days later when the next new moon is sighted.
This year Ramazan begins on Thursday March 23, 2023, and will end on Friday, April 21, 2023.
What is Ramazan?
People, and certainly non-Muslims, associate this holy month purely with fasting (oruç). But Ramazan is more than that. Keeping Ramazan is one of the five pillars (basic duties) of the Muslim faith.
It is intended to bring Muslims closer to God and teach them about patience, spirituality, and humility. Hence fasting, to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate and encourage actions of generosity and charity.
Fasting is the religious duty of all Muslims and it means not letting anything pass or even touch the lips. Starting from the twilight before sunrise (the first call to prayer) until the twilight after sunset, no food, drink, tobacco smoke, chewing gum or any other thing that involves the mouth is allowed.
Some people are exempt from fasting: children until the age of puberty, pregnant women, travellers, the elderly and people that are chronically ill.
During Ramazan, Muslims wake up well before dawn to eat the pre-dawn meal or sahur. In some cities, Ramazan drummers will be on the streets to help the fasting faithful wake up on time to eat before the onset of the daily fast.
Sahur is the most important meal during Ramazan since it has to last until sunset. This means eating lots of high-protein foods and drinking as much water as possible right up until dawn, after which you can’t eat or drink anything.
The day of fasting is over at sunset. The exact minute that it’s ok to eat iftar is signalled by the fourth call to prayer at dusk. Hungry people may start the evening with a light snack. This light meal, consisting of freshly-baked Ramazan pide bread, pickled vegetables, olives and other easily-prepared edibles is often enjoyed in a group with family members and/or friends.
More elaborate dinners are normally held later in the evening or at night, but some people just go for it right from the start.
Even though many Turks don’t fast for Ramazan, they are sensitive to those who are fasting around them. As a visitor, it’s best to be considerate by not eating in public during daylight, especially in rural areas of more traditional cities. Be patient with the hungry Turks you encounter – fasters can be a bit on the grumpy side.
Some restaurants which normally serve alcoholic beverages may not do so during Ramazan.
Throughout Ramadan, it is polite to greet people by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” (“Hayırlı Ramazanlar” in Turkish), meaning “Have a blessed Ramadan.”
Celebrate with the locals
Various events take place during Ramazan so keep your eyes (and ears) open when you’re out and about in the evenings. Join in the festivities to celebrate the holy month with local people.
27th night of Ramadan – Kadir Gecesi (Qadr)
The 27th night of Ramadan is called Kadir Gecesi, the Night of Power.
The greatest night of the Muslim year, this is the sanctified night when the history of Islam began, the night on which the first verses of the Koran are believed to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammed in Mecca in the year 610 AD.
The gates of heaven are opened wide, angels walk the earth and the demons of Hell are chained in their fiery pits.
It is also a night of forgiveness when good deeds performed are “better than the deeds of 1000 months which do not contain a Night of the Decree.”
The anniversary of that night or the birthday of the Quran became the holiest moment in the Muslim calendar (Kadir Gecesi).
This year, Kadir Gecesi falls on Monday, April 17, 2023, beginning at sunset in the evening and lasting until the following evening:
Click here to read more about Kadir Gecesi
Eid al-Fitr/Ramazan Bayramı (Şeker Bayramı)
The end of Ramazan is celebrated with a holiday, Eid al-Fitr, also known as Ramazan Bayramı or Şeker Bayramı. It starts at sunset on the last day of Ramazan and celebrates the completion of the holy month of fasting.
This year, Ramazan Bayramı will begin on Friday, April 21, 2023 and end on Sunday, April 23, 2023.