KUZEY NEWS AGENCY
Just like the rest of the Muslim world that is welcoming the holy month of Ramadan with joy and excitement, the Balkans is experiencing Ramadan with all of its spirit. In traditional iftars - fast breaking dinners- and tarawihs, a prayer special to the Ramadan, Balkan Muslims are praying for peace and tranquility.
Macedonia, with a 35 per cent Muslim population from different ethnic backgrounds including Albanians, Turks, Bosnians and Romans, is one of the countries that saluted Ramadan last week. One of the most prominent of Ramadan traditions in the country is the traditional fasting tables that are only set in Ramadan, which all the family members must attend.
Many aid organizations lend their helping hand to orphans and poor people especially in Ramadan. And tarawihs - like in the previous years - Mustafa Pasha mosque has become a 'praying center' as wide range of Muslims from varying ages rush to the historical mosque every night. A quick note representing Islam's transnational character is that Muslim have the opportunity to listening preachers in several languages. Government officials congratulate Muslims and convey a message with an emphasis on unity, tolerance and respect.
Another Balkan country where Ramadan is experienced with enthusiasm is Albania where mosques are decorated with special symbols of the month. Crowds filled the historical Ethem Bey mosque in the capital city, Tirana in the first tarawih prayer. Albanian Muslims, who constitute 70 per cent of the population, went through tough times during the 50-year communist regime when they were forced to distance themselves from Islam.
After the regime change, they regained their freedom of religion which they still enjoy. The head of the Albanian Muslim Union, Ali Zaypi, said the religious tolerance in the country should be admired. "Many countries in the world lack the inter-religious tolerance existing today's Albania. It really makes us proud that Muslims, Orthodox and Protestants have been living with peace and harmony. Albania is a nation that has learned well how to respect other religions. Therefore, Ramadan would cement our peace and tranquility."
Kosovo, a tiny Balkan state, is another place Ramadan stimulates a new wave of dynamism. After iftar, Muslims flow to mosques for tarawih. Followingtarawih prayers people spend time in squares till late in the night. Not only Prishtine, the Kosovar capital, but all the other cities have rejoiced the favor of Ramadan which cements unity, increases cooperation and improves spiritualism.