Up until this year, my Ramadans had all been spent in Canada. While I often hear people around me reminiscing about the festivities and exuberance of Ramadan “back home,” I have come to appreciate the quiet suhoor mornings by myself, and intimate iftars with friends that have become part of my own Ramadan traditions. But when I was making plans to attend a conference in Turkey in mid-July, I knew that I wanted to stick around to taste at least the first few days of Ramadan there.
As it turned out, a friend from Toronto was in Istanbul at the same time as I was, which made it more realistic to leave the hotel at strange times of day. In the early mornings (read: middle of the night), we would head out for suhoor, joining a crowd of mostly Turkish and Arab travelers at a restaurant near our hotel. Once the adhan was called, we made our way to the local mosque for fajr prayer.
And, for those magical early days of Ramadan this year, the local mosque was none other than Istanbul’s Sultanahmet, or Blue Mosque. Fajr time also has the distinct advantage of being the only time (that I saw) that this mosque is not very crowded, and there is space to just sit and breathe in its beauty. [Read more...]