Munich: The importance of Ramadan for young Muslims – Munich

“Little Türkiye in Munich” is what some call the restaurant “Anne’s Hausmamaskost” on Hotterstrasse. The liberal Forum for Islam has its rooms on the floor above. Downstairs in the restaurant, Turkish is cooked and this is where the joint evening fast-breaking “Iftar” takes place during Ramadan for many. Traditionally, it begins with a date, which is said to have a cleansing effect in Islam.

The minute the sun sets, according to the lunar calendar, it starts. Rarely does one of the 80 places in “Anne” remain empty. Many of the city’s young Muslims are also sitting at the tables, with visitors from outside of town being welcome.

Fasting is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. In addition to the pilgrimage to Mecca, regular prayer, the profession of faith and the willingness to donate, it is one of the basic duties of devout Muslims. They should not eat anything from dawn to dusk. According to the pure doctrine, sexual intercourse and smoking are also taboo. Ramadan started on March 23rd this year and ends on April 21st.

The crowning of the month of fasting is the so-called Sugar Festival – one of the most important festivals in Islam. So that all believers can participate, the so-called zakat ul-fitr, or giving, is imposed on them. Muslim communities should collect for their poorer members. In addition, Muslims are obliged to support the needy during Ramadan anyway.

How important is Ramadan in the lives of Munich Muslims? Is fasting still an option? And how can the deprivations be managed in everyday life? Four young Muslim women who work at or are guests at “Anne’s Hausmamaskost” respond.

“For me, fasting also means spending less time on social media”

Rumeysa Gules, 20.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

Rumeysa Güles, 20, studies social work at the FOM University of Applied Sciences in Munich: “A lot of people get a turn on their faith because their parents are too strict and force things on them. I started praying when I was 13 because I saw my parents do it and I thought, wow, what does that mean to them, I want that too. The most important thing is to find your own way there, and not just to do it because you were born into it.

For me, Ramadan means togetherness, very active in everyday life. In addition, it is somehow a cleansing of the soul and of the body, of course. You can concentrate much better and tend to do good deeds because you are somehow in this flow. For me it works like this: I ask a homeless person I see on the street if he is hungry and buy him a pretzel.

For me, fasting also means spending less time on social media. We often have breaks in the lectures at the university, so I can say my prayers, no problem. Just the anticipation of breaking the fast in the evening makes me happy. We usually start with dates. The sugar goes straight into the blood.”

“I’m not fasting this year because I work quite a lot of hours a day”

Islam in Munich: Asude El, 25.

Asude El, 25.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

Asude El, 25, student from Ankara who is currently doing her master’s degree in technical computer science at the TU: “Ramadan for me is like a warm feeling, hard to explain. It might be like Christmas for you: a great time to bond with your family and spend Iftar together. I’m not fasting this year because I have quite a few hours a day so I don’t have the energy to fast.

Basically, I don’t think it’s that traditional anyway. It’s not just about not eating and drinking for me. It’s about giving up bad qualities for a month (laughs): That means not watching bad videos either. It’s kind of like meditating to understand how poor people are doing.

It’s about feeding your soul, fasting is a secret. The mood, like when you meet on vacation. I was born into a Muslim family and I am also a believer; but my parents are not strict. Faith comes from within anyway. Connecting with others is what I’m looking forward to this month.”

“My non-Muslim friends accept my rituals”

Islam in Munich: Nihal Özcelik, 21.

Nihal Ozcelik, 21.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

Nihal Özcelik, 21, is currently changing his field of study from medicine to business informatics: “I’m usually someone who wants to eat all the time and can’t go two hours without it – it only works during Ramadan. When my mother is cooking in the kitchen and I smell it, I can imagine how people feel, who only ever smell food and are too poor to afford it.On Ramadan my mother makes doma for us, stuffed vegetables, that’s my favorite food, besides all kinds of kebabs.

I live with my parents and my two brothers. We all get up together and make breakfast at night, eat and drink together and then pray. This is my highlight. These things in common only exist during the holy month, even with relatives and acquaintances. I’ve been waiting for this all year.

I believe in God and the prophets and also come from a religious family. My non-Muslim friends accept my rituals on Ramadan. They then try not to eat in front of me, even though I say it’s okay. That makes me happy.”

“During Ramadan, I focus on being more understanding with others”

Islam in Munich: Feyza Nur Özer, 23.

Feyza Nur Özer, 23.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

Feyza Nur Özer, 23, English teacher from Konya, Turkey: “I saved some money to be able to celebrate Ramadan here in Munich and I go to “Anne’s Küche” iftar every night. I love this place, it’s such a nice vibe.

During the holy month I live in Munich with an old friend of my mother’s. I am a believer, read the Koran and pray five times a day. Otherwise I am always focused on everyday things in life, but during Ramadan I focus on being more understanding, helpful and careful with other people.

Apart from that, I also want to do good things for myself, which is also important. I really love to eat. Keeping myself from doing that all day actually makes me put less importance on food. I manage quite well and actually don’t mind if others around me eat something. When there are exams in my school in Turkey, it’s hard enough because we don’t fast. We’ll catch up on that then.”

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