INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
Starting Saturday, May 27, you will notice that most of your Turkish friends will stop eating and drinking during day time. Your gardner working in your yard under summer sun and soaked with sweat will refuses to accept any food or drink during day time; don’t get upset. That means they are fasting during the holy month of Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish).
Saturday, more than one billion of the world’s population will change their way of doing things overnight. It is the work of God. The Islamic month of fasting, called Ramazan, begins Saturday, May 27, this year. This is the month where Moslems commemorate the revalation of God’s gift to humanity, the Holy Koran.
Ramazan is considered to be the Sultan of the Eleven Months since Prophet Mohammed started to receive the Holy Koran in this month. It’s the month of great spiritual and material blessings that Moslems all over the world are looking forward to. The religion of Islam based on five principles:
· Belief in one God and Prophet Mohammed as his messenger;
· Prayer, five times daily;
· Giving alms to poor and needy people;
· Fasting during the holy month of Ramazan; and
· Pilgrimage to Mecca and other holy sites in Saudi Arabia at least once in a lifetime.
Ramazan is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar. The months on the lunar calendar begin and end with the sighting of the new moon.
The lunar calendar is 10-11 days shorter than solar calendar and because of this, from year-to-year, Ramazan rotates throughout the four seasons and rotates throughout every month of the solar calendar.
Every Moslem should observe the fast of Ramazan. Children, pregnant women, sick people, travelers and soldiers at war are exempted from fasting. The fast starts daily from almost one hour before sunrise to immediately after sunset.
During the daylight hours one should abstain from food, drink and intimacy between husband and wife. The fasting ones should not let anything go through their throught. They should abstain from smoking as well. After the sunset, Moslems are permitted to break the fast for the day.
However, one is not to over eat, over drink or over indulge in any self-gratifying activities as this can take away from the spirit of the fast.
The Ramazan fast is not just a fast of physical food, or a fast for spiritual benefits, it’s a fast for the benefit of the total person physically, spiritually and mentally. Moslems fast for God’s pleasure. While fasting, Moslems are concious of the need to appreciate and respect both man and outer world as a creation of the Almighty God. The fasting Moslems also get a better understanding for the needy ones who cannot find food to eat.
Things to avoid during the fast are the tendency to be spiritually idle or morally absentminded, and the lazy tendency to miss daily prayers with no acceptable excuse.
The time one would spend watching television, listening to music or playing sports should be spent in prayer, contemplation and religious study. Moslems should read one thirtieth of the Holy Koran each day so as to complete the reading over this 30 day fast period. The time spent in devotion to God will help keep one in tune with the spirit of the fast.
As being guests and respecting the believes of our hosts, do not eat and/or drink anything in public or streets during fasting hours in the monthf of Ramazan. Smoking is also prohibited while fasting.
Ramazan ends on June 24 and the Moslem world observe a three-day Ramazan Festival starting on June 25-27.
Your Turkish co-workers, maids, gardeners might be fasting. As a result of that, mainly in the afternoons, their sugar level might drop, they might become nervous, less conscious and weak, and some might feel dizzy. For that reason, you should be more concious about safety. Please pay more attention to the ones who operate machines and vehicles. Drivers on base and off base might be very nervous and drive more offensively. Especially right before fast breaking time in the evenings, everybody rushes and becomes impatient, so drive offensively. Keep those facts in mind and think of your own and the others’ safety during Ramazan.