Educationist Engin Yiğit wrote about the Ramadans he lived in Pakistan and has not forgotten still. He explained how Ramadans in Pakistan differ from those in other countries with the iftar invitations and tarawih prayers.
This month of Ramadan, wrapping my soul with all its beauty and sweet breezes, took me to my unforgettable Ramadan memories in Pakistan.
The first thing that came to my mind was ‘i’tikaf’, to which I was able to commit myself for the first time in my life. It was a common practice of worship in Pakistan, where i’tikaf is placed at the center of life during Ramadans, people practiced in mosques or in their homes. After witnessing up close the zest of this lively culture and society, this feeling also aroused in me and I intended for i’tikaf. Those days and time periods during which you detoxed yourself from digital distractions and devoted yourself to worship, are still vivid in my memory.
Tarawih prayers offered with khatm-e-Qur’an (thorough recitation of the Qur’an) are another sine qua non Ramadan culture in Pakistan, and probably many of our friends, like me, have not prayed as much as they did there. I had the opportunity to work in three countries other than Pakistan, but nowhere have I sensed and felt Ramadan as profoundly as I did in Pakistan.
For the first time in my life, I rented a table for a home dinner
Iftars were delightful. Receptions and iftar invitations filled schedules throughout the month, and friendly assemblies would always grace our homes. The fast-breaking dinners and insatiable conversations we had with our friends ranging from state officials to media professionals in our house are evergreen in my mind. Even though we had times of trouble due to the problems inflicted on our PakTurk educational institutions and risk of deportation, when it became clear we would spend another Ramadan in Pakistan, it would be impossible not to have iftar with our friends and students. As it was not clear when we would leave the country, we had sold our belongings beforehand, leaving a few essential items to make do. To experience Ramadan with friends, we developed intermediate solutions to our shortcomings and hosted our exquisite guests at our home. For example, I rented a table to host a few special guests at my place. This still sounds interesting. We always rented out desks for well-attended programs at school, but that was the first time I’d done that for a function in my house. Even though it was a rented table, it means a lot as a token of the spirit of that time of hardship.
An extraordinary iftar for media professionals
Iftars outdoors were simply great. Let me share the memory of one with you: A journalist whom I cherish a lot called one day and invited me for an iftar. I said ‘Okay’, thinking the function would be in a classic big hall with an elaborate environment. I was very surprised when he said the fast-breaking meal would be brought from homes in a collaborative style, and that we would have our iftar and dinner in a casual atmosphere, like a friendly assembly, in the office of his newspaper. We prepared the meals as planned and reached the newspaper building (that belonged to one of Pakistan’s largest circulated daily) and stepped into a shared office section with many cubicles for journalists. We had our iftar together in a casual setting, far from the restrictions that can be counted among the weight of official iftar programs. It was an environment where conversation and sincerity peaked. This iftar program still strikes me with its exquisite style and method. If I had the opportunity, I would recommend everyone to try this format; at least I’ll convey it here. This iftar, about which I had asked, “How will that be?” was experienced in an immensely nice atmosphere full of conversation.
Our students always topped the list
Hosting our students from PakTurk and university-student friends at our home are also the first details that come to mind when I think of Pakistan and iftars. These precious and bright students were always at the top of our iftar lists; we would always invite them first in the month of Ramadan. When I think about it, I think I and my wife rarely had any iftar as a family.
In our corporate and public iftars, we would have guests from different public institutions. Between all those iftars and functions, we would sometimes be forced to choose.
Pakistan is a country where one can feel and breathe Ramadan with its iftar and sehri meals. I will always remember it with its friendly conventions. An incredible enthusiasm and spiritual atmosphere… Maybe many friends remember their first Ramadan in Pakistan when someone says “Where have those old Ramadans gone?” How exquisite those Ramadans in Pakistan were! We have spent five long years away from you, but you are still in our minds with all your freshness.