Ramadan in Bangladesh: A journey through the Muslim world - TAHA KILINÇ

Ramadan in Bangladesh: A journey through the Muslim world

“Mass iftar (fast-breaking) dinners are usually held in mosques. People send store-bought food, or dishes they cooked themselves to adorn the iftar tables at mosques. I used to send food to the mosque, along with my brother, from time to time. My brother would stay at the mosque and have his iftar meal there. Those who wish can head back home after dropping off their iftar meal. The muezzin or imam collects the food and distributes it evenly to each table. Those who come to the mosque to break their fast can then have the community food for iftar.

“Mosques play a significant role as mass iftars are held there every day. Someone unable to reach their home on time for iftar can buy food from a street vendor and pull up a seat at a table at any mosque. Since there is already food there, if one so wishes, they can eat their iftar meal there without having to bring any food with them. There are dozens of dishes on our tables. We have a very rich menu, but we do not have a soup culture as you do in Turkey. Instead, we have a special dish we call “chola,” but we can never have too much of it. Chola is a dish that we eat regularly, but it somehow tastes different in Ramadan. Apart from chola, we have a variety of other dishes such as “muri [puffed rice],” “piyaju [lentil fritters),” “beguni [eggplant dish]” and “jilapi [dessert].” We also have our own tea culture, but it is very different from the one in Turkey. If one’s glass runs out in Turkey, it gets replenished over and over again until five to ten glasses have been drunk. In our case, the tea is not constantly replenished. We drink a glass of milk tea and then we get up to leave.

"Another practice that is different from Turkish traditions is our Sahoor. Actually, there used to be a Ramadan drummer in Bangladesh. Today, however, prayers are recited from mosques to wake people up for Sahoor. After these prayers, the muezzin would recite some verses from the Qur'an and call on people by saying: "O, people! It's time for Sahoor—get up. It will be over at this time, wake up!”  When it’s over and the adhan is about to be recited, he would then make a final announcement: "The time for Sahoor is over, the adhan will be recited."

"Taraweeh prayers are performed at all mosques in Bangladesh. After iftar, we head to the mosque and listen to the sermon given before night prayers. In the sermons, the virtues of Friday prayers, the Laylat al-Qadr [the night of power], the holy month of Ramadan, and Eid are touched upon. Donations are collected for madrasahs [Islamic schools], the sickly, and those in need. Imams play a key role at this point. Additionally, the needy can come directly to the imam and explain their situations to him. For example, many families in Bangladesh are unable to give marry their daughters because the bride’s family is required to offer a kind of dowry. For this reason, the process can be financially straining for the family of the bride…”

I took this long excerpt from a book called "A Global Ramadan - Ramadan Impressions of Muslims Around the World." A dear friend of mine, Hakan Emin Öztürk, has turned the stories he collected on the website "Bi' Dünya Haber," which he founded in 2018 to offer "positive and hopeful news from the Islamic world" into a sweet little book. 

The book, which tells stories about how Muslims mark the month of Ramadan in different parts of the world and which traditions are kept alive in this blessed month, is a first in terms of its subject and scope. Hakan, who has for years devoted himself to the mission of "getting to know Muslims and introducing them to one another," says that the book will be the first in a series. You can find several strong examples of this act of recognition and promotion in many languages, including Turkish, English, Arabic, Albanian and German, on the website Bi' Dünya Haber.

“A Global Ramadan – Ramadan Impressions of Muslims Around the World” includes Ramadan stories from the following countries: Afghanistan, Germany, the U.S., Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Indonesia, the Philippines, France, Georgia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Canada, North Macedonia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Jordan, Greece, and Zambia. Each section is written by a local or an observer who visited the country in question. While reading the book, one gets to see the similarities and differences between Muslims scattered across the globe, and you realize that our differences are a source of wealth, and you discover the importance and beauty of being a colorful but harmonious Ummah.

If you’re someone who’s up for traveling far and wide to discover the blessings of Ramadan,  thinking, "Let me go far and wide with the blessings of Ramadan and wander among my Muslim brothers,” then this book is definitely for you.

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