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Ramadan Atmosphere in Turkey | Symbols of Identity and Social Cohesion

Posted by Cayan on March 27, 2024

Ramadan Atmosphere in Turkey | Symbols of Identity and Social Cohesion


The Turkish people maintain their rich heritage during the month of Ramadan, living as if they are transported back in time to the era of the Ottoman Empire. This is manifested in their embrace of several Ramadan traditions that trace their roots back to that magnificent period.


Professor Ali Buyukaslan, Dean of the Faculty of Media at Medipol University in Turkey, highlights the importance of transmitting these rich and authentic Ramadan traditions, which are an integral part of Turkish identity, to future generations. Preserving these traditions is vital to ensuring their continuity and prosperity, among these cherished old traditions of the Turkish people are “debt book forgiveness,” “tooth renting,” and “price notebooks.”


These traditions reflect the deep spirit of solidarity and participation that the Turkish people exhibit during the month of Ramadan, as they strive to preserve their rich heritage and cultural distinction. They live through these experiences with pride and pride, affirming their social cohesion and the spirit of brotherhood that unites them.


Ottoman Heritage in Ramadan | Spirit of Generosity and Solidarity in Modern Turkey

During Ramadan, Turkey fosters a social climate characterized by generosity and cooperation, as per the saying of the Prophet, “so that the left hand does not know what the right hand has spent.” This climate is evident in numerous traditions closely linked to the Ottoman heritage during Ramadan.


Among these traditions is “debt book forgiveness,” where the poor have their debts cleared by grocery stores, giving them a chance for a fresh start free from debt. Another tradition is “tooth renting,” where the wealthy open their homes to host the poor for iftar, reflecting the values of generosity and solidarity in the holy month.


“Price notebook regulation,” or determining prices, is also part of these traditions, as prices are set reasonably to ensure the availability of essential goods for everyone during the fasting month.


These Ottoman Ramadan traditions embody the spirit of charity and cooperation among members of society in Turkey, making this blessed month an opportunity for deep social interaction and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and social cohesion.


Debt Book Forgiveness” Tradition | Embodiment of Social Solidarity and Mutual Support

The tradition of “debt book forgiveness” symbolizes the values of solidarity and benevolence in Turkish society during Ramadan. A merchant in neighborhoods clears the debts of poor and needy families in “debt books” found in grocery stores in the area.


This custom is characterized by humility and discretion, as it’s not known who paid off those debts, nor who benefited from this charitable act. This tradition is an integral part of the Ottoman heritage and has spread and thrived during the Ottoman Empire period. It still today embodies an important expression of the values of assistance and cooperation among members of society, as the wealthy extend a helping hand to the poor without revealing their identity, reflecting the spirit of communication and mutual support that governs social relations in Turkey.


Price Notebook Regulation” Tradition | Consumer Protection and Price Stability During Ramadan

The tradition of “Price Notebook Regulation” represents an important aspect of Ottoman heritage in Turkey, where it was used to protect consumers from price fluctuations during Ramadan. In this context, prices are recorded in special notebooks known as “Price Notebooks” to ensure price stability and prevent sudden increases during this blessed month.


The government closely monitored the implementation of these prices, with state employees roaming the markets incognito, aiming to monitor merchants’ compliance with the specified prices and prevent any manipulation. This measure is part of the significant concern for the people’s welfare and ensuring the availability of essential goods for everyone during the fasting month.


Thanks to this tradition, authorities were able to protect consumer rights and ensure the availability of food items at reasonable prices, reflecting the existing social care in the Ottoman state and its commitment to the citizens’ welfare during the blessed month of Ramadan.


Tooth Renting” Tradition | Symbol of Generosity and Solidarity During Ramadan

The tradition of “Tooth Renting” is considered an important part of Ottoman heritage in Turkey, where solidarity and generosity are demonstrated by hosting the poor and needy for iftar in the homes of the wealthy.


During this blessed period, doors of homes are opened to welcome the poor and needy for iftar with the hosting family members. Alongside iftar, various gifts are presented, sometimes including small bags containing silver or gold coins, known as “Tooth Renting.”


This tradition reflects the spirit of generosity and solidarity in Turkish society, as the wealthy strive to help the poor and provide them with direct and practical support during Ramadan. It symbolizes caring for the poor and sharing joy and blessings with them during this blessed month.


Taraweeh Prayer | Upholding Religious Values and Cultural Heritage

Regarding Taraweeh prayer, the Dean of the Faculty of Media at Medipol University points to the strong adherence of Turks to performing it in the traditional way, which involves reciting the Quran with various readings.


This deep-rooted tradition showcases the faith and dedication of Turks in performing religious worship, as they are keen on regularly and diligently performing Taraweeh prayer during Ramadan. It is also noticed that families habituate their children to perform this blessed prayer, reflecting the adherence to religious values and the upbringing of righteous generations.


This tradition is not limited to modern times alone but, as mentioned, has been present since the era of the Ottoman Empire and even during the Seljuk state. The continuity of this tradition across ages reflects the significant importance Turks attach to Taraweeh prayer as part of their religious worship and cultural heritage.


The Legacy of the Seljuks and Ottomans in Enhancing Humanitarian and Social Values

During the era of the Seljuks and Ottomans, they recognized the blessings and virtues of the month of Ramadan, leaving behind Ramadan traditions that strengthen the fabric of society and bolster its cohesion. The Turkish academic emphasizes the importance of instilling Ramadan values in the hearts of children and youth to pass them on to future generations.


Ali Buyukaslan points to Turkey’s dedication to providing humanitarian aid globally, where volunteer organizations and civil society send aid to the afflicted and needy without discrimination based on religious, linguistic, or ethnic backgrounds.


He adds, “Our ancestors in the past sent humanitarian aid to needy countries through endowment institutions, and today we continue to support all oppressed people through civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations.”


This enduring commitment to providing assistance and aid reflects engagement with Ramadan humanitarian traditions and altruism inherent in our society, strengthening social and humanitarian bonds among individuals and communities in Turkey.


Turkey’s Solidarity with Gaza | University Students’ Efforts in Fundraising and Supporting the Afflicted

Amidst the destructive Israeli war on Gaza, Aslan sees the effort to stop this “massacre” as not just a humanitarian duty for Muslims but for the world at large. He points out that Turkish university students are diligently working to raise funds for the benefit of the affected in Gaza, aiming to provide both material and moral support to the devastated population.


This effort involves organizing charity markets and fundraising events, where students work tirelessly to achieve this goal. This humanitarian work reflects their deep empathy and significant awareness of others’ suffering.


The efforts to raise funds for Gaza demonstrate the solidarity of the Turkish people with the Palestinians and their support in facing difficulties and tribulations. This support and solidarity reflect noble humanitarian spirit and ethical principles governing human relations in Turkish society.


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