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Ramadaan Globally

 Country Profile – Turkey

Blue mosque

Cii Radio | 06 Ramadan 1436/23 June 2015

Cii Radio senior journalist, Azhar Vadi, is currently in Turkey on the first leg of the Cii Global Qaafila 1436/2015, which is a epic Ramadan journey undertaken by Cii correspondents.

As Azhar’s reporting has borne evidence to so far, Turkey is an amazing place to be in for Ramadan.

Setting the scene for the location, Cii’s Rafeeah Ally offers a brief account of the Islamic history of Turkey:

Home to rich landmarks of Islamic history, Turkey offers the world a fascinating and picturesque view of the beauty of Islam.

Delegations of Sahaba RA established the Islamic Empire in Turkey from the 7th to early 8th centuries which gave rise to Islamic Golden Age which was inaugurated in the middle of the 8th century by the Ottoman Empire who owed its allegiance to the Abbasid Khilafah in Baghdad.

The Abbasid Khilafah incorporated the Ottoman System where each religious community was autonomous in domestic affairs and could apply its own religious laws.

During the 10th century, the Byzantium (Roman Empire) successfully contested with the Fatimid’s (Shia’s) of Turkey for presidential power until the arrival of the Seljuk Turks (Originally Sunnis that gradually adopted the Persian culture).

The Seljuk Turks at first allied with the Abbasids until they captured many Abbasid and Byzantine lands where they broke down their Ottoman System, replacing it with Armenian, Bulgarian and Greco culture.

In 1453, the Ottomans consolidated their Empire in Anatolia and Thrace where Sunni Ulama played important political roles.

The Secularization Era then followed from 1923 where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk set into place an ideology called Kemalism, which arose on the back of the destruction of the Khilafah. His system which was mainly based on separating the new Turkish state from its Ottoman Islamicity wholeheartedly embraced the Western way of living, and was especially vicious in its suppression of Ulama, Islamic identity and Islamic motifs.

Those intent on preserving their Islamic identity had to go to extraordinary lengths, and often sought refuge in the countryside. Many found a home in Khanqahs, or spiritual seminaries and the practice of Sufism.

Although Turkey was secularized officially, religion remained a strong force which was ready to embrace the Multiparty Period in Turkey. This period showed a few political leaders supporting religious programs and policies which were opposed by majority of the state elite who believed that Secularization was an essential principle.

In 1980, Polarization of society began whereby religiously motivated leaders; who were proud of their Turkish Islamic heritage, challenged the Secularized Political Elite.

By 1994, there was a spark in the revival of Islamic observance and mayoral elections were won by religious leaders in Turkey’s two largest cities, namely Istanbul and Ankara.

Today, Islam is known to be the main religion practised by the population of Turkey which counts as 99% Muslims, the vast majority of them being Sunnis.

Former Prime Minister and now President of the Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as a major figurehead of Islam in recent years and has been responsible for several reforms that have allowed the religion to play an even more prominent role in public life.

Important places of Islamic history in Turkey include scores of Masaajid, the Topikapi Palace and Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the resting place of the Companion, Abu Ayyub al Ansari RA and the spiritual retreat and grave of Jalaludeen Rumi RA.

A Ramadan postcard from Gaza

Hamza Deirawi | 06 Ramadan 1436/23 June 2015

Ramadan comes this year with a new flavor, which mixes feelings of joy and sorrow, especially for the residents of the Gaza Strip who spent most days and nights last Ramadan under bombardment in the residential blocks and hospitals. The only opportune moments to emerge from indorrs, back then, were during temporary ceasefires and during the funerals of martyrs.

Today will be harsh on those who lost their beloved ones and homes. Azan Al-Maghrib (Maghrib prayers) will break the memories of the ones who are absent from the Iftaar table. The trauma would prevent some of them from eating their food.  Duaa this Ramadan is being made in abundance for the departed ones, and and there are hearthfelt expressions of gratitude for the day after the war when families were finally united under the same roof, after the war machine had dispersed them between shelters, rented houses and graves.

We will miss our Masjids that were demolished and the many beautiful voices that are now silent.

Hhymns and verses were recited in entire neighborhoods which have become rubble, and only a Ramadan lantern is now left of them.

Today, a hidden moan will come out from the chests of the mothers and wives whose kidnapped husbands have now become fodder for Israeli jails.

Despite that, they will be keen that no one around them will hear or feel their pain so as not to spoil the first joyful moments of Ramadan.

Today the devils are chained up, while politicians plots do not stop weaving conspiracies against Gaza and Jerusalem day and night.

The war startled the Gazans in the last Ramadan, left wounds in every corner and alley and in the souls, and it seems that Ramadan this year will see an extension of the political developments and the effects of war.

Who knows? This Ramadan may perhaps carry with it other surprises for the Palestinians.

We hope that this Holy Month (in its circumstances) this year, will not be like its predecessor, (last Ramadan)…

This year we hope to harvest the fruits of patience and the steadfastness from the sacrifices of the people of Gaza the last Ramadan…

And we pray that Allah grants the Palestinians, whom are defending the dignity of the Ummah, a lifting of the siege and permanent opening of the borders…

And honors all Muslims to pray at Masjid Al-Aqsa after freeing it of the Zionist Occupation.

Hamza Deirawi is a journalist based in the Gaza Strip. The above entry is adapted from a recent Facebook posting

Pakistan’s Ramadan Scorcher

Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 06 Ramadan 1436/23 June 2015

An extreme heat wave has claimed dozens of lives in Pakistan. The wave hit the Asian country over the weekend taking with it more than 150 lives in just a matter of days. The wave has sparked a humanitarian crisis as punctuated by worsening water shortages in hardest hit areas, power interruptions and medical services overworked as heat casualties sought relief. Others perished in the process. Just last month India, Pakistan’s neighbour to the east, also fell victim to the swelter. In India, the world’s second most-populous after China, the phenomenon took thousands of lives.

Sindh – and, specifically, Karachi, a city in that province – is the hardest hit, noted Rahimullah Yousafzai, a veteran journalist and editor of News International (Peshawar bureau). People have been advised to stay indoors to avoid the scorcher and consequent dehydration. But, because of Karachi’s size and massive population (pegged at 25 million – that’s more than double the size of the entire Gauteng), infrastructure in this city is not coping. That on its own exacerbates a poor picture and worsens pollution as well as traffic jams as heat victims are driven to health centres.

The heat has also considerably driven demand for electricity for air-conditioning. This is notable given the globe is in the middle of Ramadhan. In some parts of the world – including Pakistan, home to roughly 180 million Muslims – this period tends to push power needs higher as the faithful fast during the day only to lift demand after sunset. That might be an aside but this populous Asian nation’s power supply is quite clogged as it is and the wave is not making things any easier. Drinking water, Yousafzai noted, was also barely adequate under normal circumstances.

“Because of the heat the electricity shortage is being felt. We are feeling it in the whole country. There are blackouts in the whole country for several hours (on end) but somehow Karachi was doing well until now,” he noted. “The water supply cannot be sustained. So, in many places there are a lot of shortages.” The prevailing weather condition has turned into a major crisis all round, he explained to Cii listeners during an interview with Sabahul Khair.

“Pakistan has had a history of having extreme weather – it becomes very hot, and then very cold. We have a country where we have plains, mountains, deserts and we also have a coast,” the veteran journalist said, noting the impact of the wave in Sindh, a province that is home to the densely populated coastal city of Karachi where dozens of people have succumbed to suffocation. “That part of Pakistan is now suffering from extreme heat. It’s unprecedented because the temperature in Karachi, yesterday, was 45ºC. It was 48 ºC in three other cities near Karachi – Jacobabad, Sukkur and Larkana.”

This, the journalist told Cii, was the highest recorded temperature in that city since 1979. The scorcher, amid an absence of the usual breeze, is the reason behind the suffocation-triggered death toll. Most of the deaths recorded are in Karachi, said the veteran journalist.

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