Istanbul marks Ramadan with spirit of tolerance

08:45, August 02, 2011      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The advent of Ramadan transforms the face of Europe's largest metropolis Istanbul, rendering it a unique place to witness the traditions associated with the holy month of Muslim and the spirit of coexistence among its residents.

Since Monday, millions of Muslims across the world will refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset for a whole month, which intends to train Muslims about patience, humility and spirituality.

The minarets of the main mosques in Istanbul are decorated with Mahya, a pattern of light bulbs hung high to send a message of Ramadan, and local markets are busier than usual as people shop for Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their fast.

Iftar tents are also set up across the city where hundreds of people gather to break their fast together, which are generally operated by local communities and free of charge. Moreover, restaurants and cafes remain open during Ramadan.

While Ramadan is marked across the Islamic world, perhaps it is only in Istanbul where one would be able to see a group breaking their fast and another enjoying a cold beer at adjoining tables amid the friendly atmosphere.

It is a combination of such attitudes and traditions that render Istanbul an organic link between East and West.

For the city's local residents, Ramadan means different things. Mehmet Alkin says apart from fulfilling his religious obligations, Ramadan also provides him with the opportunity to detox his body.

There are still plenty, though, who find the noise generated by the pre-dawn drummers an irritant and an obsolete action.

"I don't see the point of these drummers in this day and age. Those who want to get up early could set their alarms. Why do they wake up the entire neighborhood," said Hamit Coskun, a student living in Istanbul's central district of Beyoglu.

An Iranian tourist Arash who did not want to reveal his surname and visited the city for the second time during Ramadan, expressed his surprise at how different Ramadan feels in Istanbul.

"This is actually quite amazing. It is much more authentic when it is not forced upon people," he said. "I can feel the people fasting here are out of real faith."

  Weekly review  


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Lebanese, Israeli soldiers exchange fire over border
  • Farmers busy at summer harvest in S China's Guangxi
  • 14th Harbin International Auto Show kicks off
  • Public welfare activity provides medical service to Tibet's local people
  • Fire drill marks PLA founding anniversary
  • Filipino Muslims pray in mosque during Ramadan
Hot Forum Discussion