Ramadan in Germany
By Frederik Richter – AUC German Student
Together with believers in Muslim countries throughout the world, Muslims living in Germany have entered the month of Ramadan. Ramadan in Germany takes place in a totally different atmosphere than in countries with a Muslim majority. Public and social life continues with the same speed and the running of the day does not know any interruptions, like for the Iftar. A difference also lies in the length of the day in Germany, which is a challenge in the summer, but is quite short in the winter period. This year the sun rises roughly at 8 am and sets at 4 pm.
Only those of the estimated 3.5 Million Muslims living in Germany, who live in one of the Islamic quarters of Berlin or the Ruhr area with a high percentage of Muslims living there might be reminded of the empty streets of Cairo or Istanbul during Iftar. Ali Ozkan, a Muslim from Berlin, was quoted by the Islamic Newspaper saying that it was a sign of this blessed month that the social life of Muslims becomes more noticeable than during the rest of the year. That food is offered everywhere and people eating and drinking can be seen during the day also changes the atmosphere but is not a major obstacle. Non-practicing Muslims prefer Ramadan in Western countries arguing that as Muslims there live in a minority the decision whether or not to fast becomes personal without any social pressure from others.
Shift-working Muslims have to use their pauses to break the fasting. Arrangements probably can be made especially as large companies who employ large numbers of Muslims handle these issues with pragmatism. But they preferred to spend the Iftar at home with their families and friends in a nicer atmosphere.
Those who are settled abroad without their families gather in their national communities to celebrate. Open-minded Germans participate in these gatherings and seek to understand the beliefs of Muslims. Some also join the fasting for a couple of days to get to know the feeling of it. In fact, Hasan Ozdogan, the head of the Islamic council in Germany said in a message that many communities would also invite their non-Muslim neighbors for the Iftar.