What you need to know about the iftar tradition
The month of Ramadan is very important for Muslims around the world. However, during this Muslim holy month, similar and different traditions and cultural elements can be found in different parts of Islamic geography. The iftar tradition, which continues today in many Muslim-majority countries, is one of the most interesting features of the month of Ramadan. Well, have you ever wondered about the history of this ancient tradition and how and when the first iftar ball was launched? Here’s what you need to know about the iftar tradition, one of the most interesting practices specific to the month of Ramadan.
The Ramadan ball tradition can be found in geographic regions dominated by Islamic faith and culture.
In other words, it is very likely that you will see and hear the sound of cannons firing one after another in the lands of Islamic geography, especially during Iftar, during the month of Ramadan. Well, how did these balls, which have a very simple purpose “to announce the time of iftar”, become an ancient tradition that has been preserved for hundreds of years, and in different geography of the world?
There is no consensus on when the iftar tradition began.
For this reason, there are different versions of the beginning of the tradition.
Some historians claim that the origins of the tradition date back to the 10th century, to the Fatimid state in Egypt.
This narration relates that one of the Fatimid Caliphs placed a cannon on Muqatam Hill in Cairo so that Muslims could accurately determine the time of iftar, and thus the tradition began.
Another account of the iftar bala tradition suggests that the tradition originated in the 15th century, again during Mamluk rule in Egypt.
However, there are some very interesting details in this story. According to this, the iftar tradition arose quite by accident. One of the rulers of the Mamluk state goes to the hill to test a newly acquired cannon and fires it.
However, since this ordeal coincided with the time of iftar and the azan was announced right after the cannonball, Muslims in the region think that the cannonball was fired to announce the time of iftar. On the other hand, there are other rather similar descriptions of the origin of the tradition.
Some legends mention that the iftar ball tradition originated by chance during the reign of the Egyptian governor of Kavalala, Mehmet Ali Pasha.
This Ottoman pasha, who wanted to give Egypt a modern military look, ordered military cannons from Germany in the early 1800s. The moment of the first test of this modern weapon also coincides with iftar. Thereafter, cannon shots are kept as a tradition of Ramadan.
There are different versions of when and in what era the iftar tradition arose. However, many historians argue that this tradition originated in Egypt and spread to Islamic geography.
However, one more thing that is almost certain about tradition is that the possibility of its occurrence by chance is too strong to be ignored.
The tradition of the iftar ball, which has been preserved for many years in regions where the Islamic faith prevails, was also very important for the Ottoman people.
Especially for the Ottomans living in the capital Istanbul. The iftar tradition, which is extremely important in Istanbul (perhaps it should be said about the tradition of throwing cannons, because at that time cannons were fired during both iftar and suhoor) began in 1821 with the first cannon shot at Anadolu Hisari. This tradition, which in a short time spread to other areas of the capital, has become one of the most important symbols of Ramadan in Istanbul.
The iftar tradition is maintained today only to “make a sound”.
This ancient tradition of Ramadan has lost its function of informing the timing of iftar in modern times. Now this task is taken over by smartphones, computers or TVs. However, the tradition of the iftar ball continues in many countries where shots are fired from balls meant only to make a sound.
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