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Celebrating Ramadan in Turkey and in Issaquah Highlands

By April 12, 2021February 17th, 2022Connections, Holidays

As told by Pinar Mertan to Issaquah Highlands neighbor, Adriana Stamenova, both Daphne Park residents. Pinar has lived in Issaquah Highlands for more than ten years.

Pinar Mertan

Pinar Mertan

Ramadan is an important month for Muslims. It is observed at a different time each year because it follows the Lunar Calendar; this year, Ramadan starts on April 13.

I come from Turkey, a secular country where 95% of the population are Muslims. We fast from sunrise to sunset, eating or drinking nothing, including water, tobacco, or gum. Only adults and healthy people are obligated to fast during Ramadan, but I began fasting in my teenage years. When I moved to the United States, I kept my fasting tradition. Most Muslims use the holy month to reexamine their lives and remind themselves of virtues while avoiding vices.

During the holy month in Turkey, drummers walk around to wake people up for the pre-dawn meal by reciting short poems. People have a light meal that ends by the sunrise with a prayer (ezan). At sunset, we have another prayer (ezan), and we break the fast (iftar). Iftar is a very joyful occasion because you invite people to join you while also receiving invites from others. Local administrations set up tables in public areas for people in need to have iftar together.

While not everyone fasts in Turkey, everyone celebrates iftar and the last three days of Ramadan. It is a time to visit relatives and friends, enjoy one another’s company, and recognize the good fortune God has bestowed upon us. I remember visiting 10-12 households in one day while having our own door knocked on that many times. We always prioritized our elderly relatives. You can’t imagine how fondly I remember those days, with our doorbell constantly ringing and seeing packs of guests arrive. Many different foods are offered for iftar, including Turkish coffee, tea, and various desserts like baklava.

Among my Turkish friends, we invite each other over for iftar. It is important to have iftar with your loved ones, especially on the 27th day of Ramadan. It is difficult to keep up with the tradition of visiting every friend here during Ramadan, but some of us still manage to do it. We also hold picnics or organize events to celebrate. This year will be different due to the pandemic; we plan to have smaller, open-air gatherings.

No matter how you identify yourself religiously, we love seeing our friends at these gatherings. We believe in living, loving, and sharing under the same sun. I want to wish you all a happy Ramadan!