MOSCOW – After years of living under communist regime, Russian Muslim families await the holy fasting month of Ramadan to enhance community relations during iftars and tarawih prayers.
“Hopefully, Ramadan will accompany fortune to all Muslims,” Metin Dönmez, who migrated to Russia 3 years ago, told The World Bulletin on Saturday, July 13.
“They pray for each other. Ramadan is the most sacred month for us, giving us the chance to meet with Muslim fellows living in different parts of Russia.
“We come together for sahurs, (the last meal eaten before the day's fasting begins during Ramadan), and tarawih (a particular prayer for the holy month).”
Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, started last Wednesday in Russia.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
In Ramadan, fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
Muslims also dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Under the communist regime for years, Ramadan was far away from its spirits.
The case has changed after the collapse of communist dictatorships has brought relief in terms of Islam and Muslims.
Currently, Ramadan serves as a season to educate people about the true Islam.
To reach this end, special movies about Islam are presented, educative talks are given and fund-raising meetings for disabled people and orphans are held during the İftar programs where thousands of Muslims have a fast-breaking dinner together in a friendly atmosphere.
Despite of enjoying a better Ramadan atmosphere, Russian Muslims were facing a dilemma over the absence of halal food.
“The biggest problem for Muslims living in Russia is finding halal food, food products that are permissible to consume in Islam,” Turkish Ambassador to Moscow Aydın Sezgin noted.
“Muslims, not having any opportunity other than the foods produced in accordance with Islamic principles, are trying to get halal meat from the butcher serving in the mosque.”
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Moreover, a limited number of mosques in Moscow, only six mosques, posed another problem to Russian Muslims who usually fill mosques during Ramadan for socialization and iftars.
The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Islam is Russia's second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.
The total number of mosques in the country has also exceeded ten thousand while it was only around 100 during the communist era.
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