Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Iftar Dinner

The word "Iftar" refers to the meal that breaks the Muslim community's fast every evening. During the month of "Ramadan" (the Turkish call it Ramazan), Muslim's fast from sun up until sun down. Ramazan falls at a different time every year as it follows the lunar calendar.

We had the opportunity through our church last night to take a bus into Adana and have an Iftar dinner on a roof-top of a hotel overlooking the "Sabancı Merkez Camii." It is the most visited mosque in Adana, as it is one of the largest mosques in the Middle East.

We left the church at 6:30pm and when the sun set, dinner was served. Here are some pictures of our evening (courtesy of my new friend Amanda since I realized our camera didn't have a card when we got there.)

Here is the mosque as the sun was beginning to set.

Our group. You can see JB and me, if you look very closely, at the far left table.

Another picture of the mosque at dusk.

A night out! (Thanks to Hannah, one of our new babysitters.)

The guy on the right is a Hodja. This is the head of a mosque and more specifically, a district of mosques. The guy on the left was translating for him. It was exciting to listen to the Turkish and English translation. I have only learned just a little bit of Turkish but am finding that the language is quickly becoming more familiar to me.

How gorgeous is this mosque lit up at night?

I learned some very interesting things during dinner that I wanted to share:
  • The two major Muslim holidays include celebrating the "coming of the word" and the "sacrifice" of that word. This is nearly identical to the Christian faith in which we celebrate Christmas (the coming) and Easter (the sacrifice) of the word.
  • From sun-up to sun-down, the fasting includes food, water, sex, and smoking.
  • Muslims pray five times a day. Last night I decided that every time I hear the Muslim call to pray, I am going to pray! What a great reminder to pray loud singing over loud speakers presents.
  • One of the major parts of the celebration of Ramazan is the giving of alms. "Rich people" (who are defined by a certain amount of net worth) are supposed to give to the poor during Ramazan.
  • The Hodja took the time to discuss misconceptions about Jihad. Jihad, according to the Hodja, has to do with the importance of spreading the word of Muslim faith. The faith itself does not teach violence unless you are defending your own country. While I know some Muslims do not hold to this belief, it is important for me to remember and for those that read my blog to understand that the vast majority of Muslims are incredibly peaceful people. It is a very small minority that make a bad name for their community.
  • This Hodja made a point of saying that He believes Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all worshipping the same God. We may argue differently, but this viewpoint still reveals what they personally believe.

John and I intend to learn as much about this culture and truly participate in their community while we live here. It is my hope that I can bring back my learning to this blog and that you can vicariously experience this community through me. As a Christian, I do believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. But that doesn't change the fact that we are called to love and live peacefully with the world.

P.S. I would love, with the help of JB, to answer any questions you might have about Ramazan or the Mulsim faith. I'll do my best. Just post a comment.


Susan said...

The mosque pictures are beautiful. Do you know if those tall parts are simply decorative or if they are used for something else - like prayer rooms or something similar - at the base of each one?

Anonymous said...

Good question. I was wondering the same thing! Must be a lot of stairs if they are used for something :)

Flakymn said...

They are called minarets.

I think they are designed to:

A. tell people where the mosque is.

B. Provide a "higher place" to hear the call of prayer (it is made from a loud speaker on the minaret.)

C. Help with air conditioning mechanisms providing natural ventilation.

Celine said...

I had the chance to live in Saudi Arabia at the end of the Gulf war and learned to embrace the culture. I think you will find it facinating. My parents currently now live in Doha, Quatar and love every minute of it.

Anonymous said...

Just wondered if any Turkish people have tried to witness to you. It seems that if people have the hope of Heaven and were peace-loving, they would want to tell each other about the hope they have, and the source of that hope.
Laura HP