Esin Gokgoz, Web Designer III, Philadelphia, PA
Celebrated each year during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, introspection, and prayer for Muslims, the followers of Islam. The start day of Ramadan changes every year because the lunar Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon; Ramadan starts with the new crescent moon. This year, Ramadan began on April 12 and will end on May 12 with Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast). This month is considered to coincide with when Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, so fasting is a mandatory duty for all healthy adults. If a person has health problems, they have to feed a poor person for the number of days that they did not fast. Esin has been fasting during Ramadan since elementary school.
During Ramadan (also known as The Sultan of the eleven months), friends and relatives usually invite each other for iftar (the evening meal that breaks each day’s fast during Ramadan). Alternatively, they go to the mosque for iftar and after iftar, they do their prayers. Here is a big iftar that was given by the Istanbul municipality in Turkey in front of the Blue Mosque. The lighted wording on the mosque pillar says “Welcome The Sultan of 11 the eleven months.”
On Eid al-Fitr, all families get together. Usually, Esin’s sisters and their husbands and kids come to her home. The men go to mosque for morning prayer, and when they come back home, the family has breakfast together. Then, they usually go visit family elders. Of course, the celebration has been different this year because of the pandemic. Mosques are closed, and families and friends cannot get together for big dinners. Luckily, they still have been able to buy their traditional Ramadan flatbread (Pide).
Ramadan is special to Esin because, “First of all, I get to do one of the duties of my religion.
Second of all, I feel like my body lightens up. Eleven months of the year, we get to eat and drink whatever we want. During Ramadan, since we don’t eat/drink (not even water) anything from sunrise to sunset, it gives my body a chance to replenish itself. This also helps me nourish my soul. Lastly, even though I try to help the impoverished all year, during Ramadan I truly understand the importance of this. Sometimes we pour half a bottle of water down the sink or do not finish our meal because we don’t like the taste of it. However, when you are fasting, you really understand the importance of even the little things.”