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Turkish Social Nigh at The Turkish Cultural Center

On Saturday night, June 4th, we went to an event that we always look forward to going to which is "Turkish Social Night" at the Turkish Cultural Center on Madison Avenue in Lakewood.

IMG_1726The speaker was Professor Zeki Saritoprak, Ph.D., Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies at John Carroll University who talked about Ramadan which starts this year on June 6th and ends on July 4th. Over 1.7 billion Muslims will take part in this annual event which Prof. Saritoprak termed "a month of being thankful" and mostly talked about the practice of fasting from sunlight to sundown which all those taking part in Ramadan except for the very young and people with certain medical conditions will participate in.

Prof. Saritoprak said that the purposes of fasting included placing oneself in the shoes of others who do not have access to the proper amounts of food; bonding with others who are fasting also-in fact after the sun goes down many will gather together for a meal; create a better relationship with God perhaps through the loss of arrogance because, according to the Qur'an, people do not create the food but God does and the food is his gift to his people.

For sure, fasting has quite a few benefits, namely that it forces one to step back from his/her eating habits and evaluate if they are healthy. Along these lines, fasting can be an excellent exercise of discipline not only because a person can not allow themselves to eat or drink for 13 hours but then to eat in moderation after sundown. Along these lines, Ramadan is a month of moderation; no drinking or smoking or gossip which can be harmful. It is a time for the purification of the soul as well as the body.

Interestingly, Prof. Saritoprak compared one's stomach to factory because once a year the machines in a factory are overhauled to improve their performances. The same goes for one's stomach; indeed it has been proven that there are excellent medical benefits to fasting on occasion. One of our friends who was visiting who is not a Muslim told us that Prof. Saritoprak had to say stimulated her interest so she might explore fasting for health reasons.

During the dinner that always comes after the presentation, we sat with Mr. Serhat and Ms. Elif Gezer who told us some more things about Ramadan that we didn't know before such as each year it starts 10 days earlier than the year before so that it can be experienced at all times of the year. In 2017 Ramadan will start on May 26th and end on June 26th.

As we wrote earlier, due to the developing nature of a child's body, young children do not participate in the all day fasts but they often practice fasting for shorter time periods to prepare themselves for when they grow older.

We also visited with Mr. Bob and Ms. Laura Burns who we have seen at "Turkish Social Night" on several occasions.

We really like Professor Saritoprak, who is the father of our good friend Mr. Murat Gurer, so we looked him up on the John Carroll University website. We really liked a statement that he wrote as the Nursi Chair which read, in part:

"One of Nursi's key legacies is his insistence on good relations and dialogue between the 'People of the Book,' Christians, Muslims, and Jews. In the current political climate, we need dialogue and understanding now more than ever before. The Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies promotes dialogue and cooperation not just between People of the Book, but between people of all faith traditions. As Nursi poignantly said, 'Our heart is so full of love that there is no space for hatred to enter.' We welcome your heart to our space."

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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