Islamic Culture

Beyond reductionism and stereotypes…

For a European newcomer, the Islamic habits prevailing in Istanbul (and Turkey at large) will probably seem unfamiliar and difficult to cope with at first. The possible conflict might arise from the fact that besides the beauty of Islamic Art as reflected in the historical monuments all around the city and the country, the daily Islamic habits of Turkish people are also an inseparable part of the society and might take a considerable amount of time to understand.  The understanding process of an expat will probably lack a simplistic nature as s/he finds a mainly Islamic image of Turkey and a more European image of Istanbul which seem to clash rather than bring one to a common notion of the city and the country it belongs to… So what?

Let’s try to leave aside the stereotypical images in our minds and look at the big picture. It would surely be a reductionist approach to regard Istanbul either as “Islamic” or “European”.  The city has a history as the capital of Islamic or non-Islamic empires and has therefore been the meeting place of multicultural various ethnic and religious groups. It therefore is still a multicultural mosaic where various components of different religions and ethnicities inherently prevail.

Religious holidays

Practically, it would be necessary for a newcomer to know about the religious holidays in the country in order to schedule the yearly calendar more effectively. Since Islamic holidays, as well as national holidays, are public holidays all around Turkey, we suggest noting these dates down into your agenda…

One religious holiday is Şeker Bayramı, Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, that is, the month of fasting. Ramadan is considered to be the Holy Month, a period when people fast. Fasting is considered a mandatory duty (one of the five mandatory duties in Islam). Some practices might differ from country to country but the main duties are common in most Islamic countries and communities. In Turkey, the public holiday lasts for three days and usually the eve is a half-day holiday. In 2010, there will be a half-day holiday on the 9th of September followed by a three-day holiday on 10-12 September.

Click here to read about the basic practices and a few tips for Ramadan.

Another religious holiday is Kurban Bayramı (Festival of Sacrifice), Eid Al-Adha. It is celebrated for four days. In 2010, the Eid will be celebrated between 16-19 November and will be followed by the weekend holiday which means a six-day holiday is awaiting.


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