Everything you need to know about Ramadan:
Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims
During the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. Many also pray more frequently, give more to charity and study the Quran more deeply.
It is a time for families and celebrations. Despite the fact that everyone is fasting, the fun begins after sunset when special meals take place. There is a great community spirit of knowing that everyone is partaking in the same thing.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to take part every year. Children, the sick or elderly, pregnant and menstruating women are all exempt from fasting.
During Ramadan, food and any liquids are not allowed. Chewing gum is also not permitted. Taking medication is not allowed, even without water. Smoking and engaging in any sexual activity is also not permitted.
If you slip up during the day it spoils that whole day. To make up for this you can fast later in the year to replace the day or you can provide a meal for a homeless or needy person.
During Ramadan, Muslims wake before the first call to prayer. Often a drummer will walk the streets banging his drum to wake everyone up. People then eat and drink as much as possible. This year, because the days are so long, most people will then go back to bed after the first prayer.
Muslims are not allowed to eat until the evening call for prayer. The fast is often broken with a small snack. Dates are popular as is soup. A larger meal is often eaten a bit later in the night with friends and family.
Muslims follow the lunar calendar for religious celebrations. So, this year it falls within the longest days. Not as easy challenge for anyone. In the deep of winter, obviously, the days are much shorter but arguably it is more difficult due to the cold.
To add to the confusion of the changing dates it is also difficult to know the exact day. It all depends on when you actually see the new moon. Obviously clouds and weather conditions play a part. Also, some believe that Ramadan should start when a new moon is sighted in Mecca. Other countries dispute this so every year there is the fun and drama of new moon sighting.
In some Muslim countries, it is a crime to eat and drink in public during the day in the month of Ramadan, even if you’re not Muslim. Of course, this is not an issue in Turkey and the chances are that you won’t even notice much while you are on your holiday.
Fasting is often broken by eating dates. These sugar and energy packed treats are the perfect thing to pop in before your main Iftar meal.
This recipe is for a banana and date cake. Probably best after your dinner and not before.
140 gram of plain flour
140 gram of sugar
140 gram of butter
1 over-ripe banana
1 teaspoon of baking powder
100 gram of cream cheese
50 gram of icing sugar
Handful of dates with stones removed
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Butter a 2lb loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then slowly add the eggs with a little flour. Fold in the remaining flour, baking powder and banana.
Pour into the tin and bake for about 30 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then cool on a wire rack.
Once the cake is completely cooled, mix together the cream cheese and the icing sugar
Spread onto the cake with a flat knife
Chop the dates in half and add to a small pan with half a cup of water
Cook together for 10 minutes until the juice begins to thicken and turn sticky. Once cooled poor over the top of the cake