Don’t be in a rush to leave,
for sins are heavy and hearts are ill
Allow me to host you as you deserve.unknown
Ehlen ve sehlen, ya sehri Ramadan are the words you can see on almost every mosque in Bosnia&Herzegovina when the month of Ramadan comes. Our most beloved guest arrived and brought happiness to our hearts and souls. Along Ramadan came the opportunity to redeem ourselves and become better persons.
The thing about celebrating Ramadan in Bosnia&Herzegovina is that it feels natural, like breathing the air. Our life revolves around the mosques and the days are filled with many activities that usually do not take place during other months. This holy month begins with the adhan for the Maghrib prayer but in Sarajevo, before the adhan, you can hear the shot from the cannon on the Yellow Bastion. This method of signifying the beginning of the blessed month dates all the way back to the Austro-Hungarian period. For the next 30 days, the shot marks the time for breaking the fast, and many people go to the Bastion to witness the tradition and break their fast there. It is one of Sarajevo’s most treasured traditions.
Following the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which was formally instituted by caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, Muslims in Bosnia&Herzegovina have the chance to pray Taraweeh. The prayer is performed only during Ramadan. The practice is to pray 20 rakats, but in some smaller cities only eight rakats are performed. Since Bosnia&Herzegovina is a country that is very rich with the guardians of Allah’s (swt) Book Qur’an, in some mosques they perform Taraweeh reciting one page of the Quran for one rakah. By the end of the holy month they finish reciting the whole Qur’an during Taraweeh.
Congregational Qur’an readings have the important role in strengthening the connection with the holy Book. They take place in the mosques after Fajr, Dhuhr and Asr prayers. The readings start one day before the first day of fasting and finish on the penultimate day of the Ramadan. The reciters usually recite a juz’ (20 pages) after the prayers. In some mosques there is a variety of readings: huffaz readings, youth readings and woman-only readings.
During Ramadan the favorite part of the day for many people is iftar. When the cannon signifies that it is the time, people usually break their fast with an odd number of dates and water. Only the finest dishes are served during iftar, family and friends are invited and the happiness is shared among them. The sunsets are even more joyful when you get to break the fast in the mosque or in the open, with all of your neighbors, friends and family.
For me the most beautiful part of the day is the one right before the dawn, when it is the time for suhoor. Once I read a sentence that says that the most beautiful dawns are the ones during Ramadan and with Allah (swt) bestowing us with His mercy during the last third of the night, it makes the suhoor time filled with barakah, dua’s and hope. The Prophet (pbuh) said: The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Fifteen minutes after the time for suhoor is over, the Fajr Qur’an reading takes place. Listening to Qur’an while sitting in front of the mosque, with the light wind breeze, the birds chirping and city’s empty streets, nostalgia always creeps up on me – I start missing Ramadan while the most beloved guest is still around. I pray to Almighty God to give us the chance to experience Ramadan for many more years.