Ramadan in Galway following the Turkey-Syria earthquake

After the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 6 February in Syria and Turkey, more than 50,000 people died, thousands of homes were destroyed and thousands of people were displaced.

This year, following the earthquake, Ramadan will be difficult for all. It is the most holy of events observed in the Islamic calendar.

It is a time for prayer, self-reflection, charity and fasting. The Holy month began on 22 March.

For those with Turkish and Syrian roots in Galway are copying with the loss of loved ones. Being far away from friends and family who are suffering weighs heavy on the hearts of those in the city.

Abir Biazid has lived in Galway for 14 years, but she is originally from Taqiya, Syria. She looks forward to Ramadan each year along with her husband and three kids. She says, “As Muslims, we charge our soul five times a day through prayer, but annual charger is in Ramadan.”

The Holy month is a reminder of the less fortunate who are suffering around the world.

Believers fast from sunrise to sunset, refraining from eating or drinking anything, breaking the fast late each evening with family and friends.

Bezya Koç, a postgraduate student at the University of Galway who has Turkish roots says, “Ramadan is not just about fasting; it is also a month of sharing and detoxing. I hope that the feeling of community is going to grow in these few months and people are going to help each other more.

“It’s easy for us to fast because we know we are going to eat in a few hours and cook the best meal, but these people lost everything. We are personally affected by it because friends and family members are affected by it,” she added.

Charitable deeds are an important part of Ramadan. Koç says they usually send money to poor countries or people in need, but this year, the community will be putting a bit extra to those suffering in Turkey and Syria.

Although, Imam Shakeel ur Rehmen of the Galway Islamic Cultural Centre is not from Turkey or Syria, but he says when their brothers or sisters suffer, they also feel the pain as if it’s their own.

He says, “There is one saying of the Prophet Muhammad in which he says the whole Muslim nation is as one body and if any part of that body hurts, the whole-body hurts. Wherever we see a believer in pain, then we feel the pain as if it’s our own personal pain.”

Ramadan ends on 21 April with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

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