Muslims in Austria are enthusiastically grasping the month of Ramadan, despite homesickness and the coronavirus pandemic.
Although after the changes made to the Islamic Law in 2015 that restricted some rights of Muslims and increased anti-Islamism that caused serious problems, around 800,000 Muslims of various ethnic origins continue to live here with a large number of religious institutions and organizations.
Muslims who have spent a second Ramadan during the pandemic are glad mosques are open for worship and that they can perform tarawih prayer -- special night prayers during the holy month of Ramadan -- in congregation by following the masks, distance and hygiene rules.
The faithful mostly miss the Ramadan they used to experience in their hometown.
Abdurrahman Yapici, an official at the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) mosque told Anadolu Agency that the fruitful month could not be grasped in the desired way due to the pandemic.
He said before the pandemic in Austria, iftar – fast-breaking -- tables were set up in mosques every night during Ramadan, but this year pre-prepared iftar packages were distributed to those in need because of COVID-19 measures.
"We are trying to explain to our Austrian brothers and sisters as much as we can about fasting, which is one of the basic acts of Islam. We state that this is not just about going hungry, we are expressing our spiritual gratitude to our Lord and trying to fulfill his order," he said.
Local market tradesmen in Vienna's 16th district Hasan Zel Abidin said he sold bakery products such as lahmacun at his buffet and that Ramadan went well in Austria but he suffered from thirst rather than hunger because he worked in front of a hot oven.
He said he had customers from Arab, Turkish and Austrian segments, but Arab and Turkish customers made high-volume orders shortly before iftar in Ramadan, which was tiring for him.
Imam Fikret Fazlic, Islamic Cultural Center, Graz, Austria, through "Islam in Austria": Muslims in the West must do their utmost to present the true image of Islam. pic.twitter.com/r233pLqpC6— Muslim Communities (@WMuslimCC) May 8, 2021
Sahin Tekiner, who has been operating bakeries and patisseries for about 35 years, said Ramadan has been good and he makes desserts and bread varieties for iftar and sahur -- the pre-fast meal eaten before dawn.
"We are trying to make pitas similar to Turkish pitas. So that our citizens can shop more comfortably. We are trying to fulfill the longing of the country," he said.
Tekiner said special food made for Ramadan has also drawn the attention of Austrians.
"They usually ask if they can find these food after Ramadan and we tell them they can only find them this month because Gullac and Ramadan pitas were specially made for the holy month,” he said. “They enjoy Gullac because it is a slight dessert."
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