The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul will host its first tarawih, a special nighttime prayer held during the fasting month of Ramadan, 88 years after the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) chose to reopen mosques in Ramadan following a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.
Ramadan begins on April 2 with the first sahur, loosely translated as “meal before dawn,” during which believers fast. On the evening of April 1, the first tarawih will be performed in all mosques around the country.
Among these mosques is the world-famous Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, which was transformed into a museum in 1934 but reverted to a mosque status on July 24, 2020.
Diyanet decided to reopen the mosques for the holy month due to an increase in the number of administered persons and a drop in COVID infections.
Built in 537 as the eastern Roman Empire’s largest Christian church, Hagia Sophia was transformed into a mosque in 1453 following the invasion of Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. Separately, dieticians began advising believers who would fast throughout Ramadan on nutrition.
“In short, people should avoid fatty foods,” dietitian Nurdan eliktaş told Demirören News Agency. “These foods contribute to indigestion, acid reflux, and a decrease or increase in blood pressure,” she warned.
Recommending that believers consume dairy products for breakfast or light meals such as olive oil dishes, soup, or vegetables, eliktaş also urged believers to drink between two and two and a half liters of water.
The nutritionist suggested participants start with a glass of water during iftar, Ramadan’s evening meal, following long hours of fasting. After soup or salad dressing, she recommended taking a 15-minute rest before enjoying the meal.
“After several hours of fasting, individuals should refrain from eating immediately. Believers may begin eating the main entrée after 15 minutes.”
eliktaş stated that it would be preferable if individuals could take yogurt during iftar and two hours afterward.
Another dietitian, Deniz Pirçek, advised dessert enthusiasts to opt for creamy puddings rather than sherbet-based sweets.
Sabri oak, a doctor, also cautioned pregnant women against fasting.
“Mums-to-be should get medical advice before fasting,” he stated.