Belgium Observes Ramadan with Traditions, Diversity, and Unit

As in the rest of Europe, Muslims are experiencing Ramadan. Some traditions are specially observed during Ramadan. Here in Belgium, a small country in Europe, Ramadan is also experienced with its beauties. There are over 1 million Muslims in the country, including people from many different nationalities, especially Morocco and Türkiye, who came with the labor agreement signed 60 years ago.

Every community has built its own mosques in the neighborhoods that have their own intensity. Belgium is a country where most mosques belong to Moroccans and Turks, but Muslims from Balkan countries, Africa, and even Asian countries also live here.

In the cities where the first generation, the majority of whom are miners, settled, the second and third generations continue to live intensively. As much as the capital Brussels, especially the cities with old mines in the Flemish region of the country and the cities with coal mines in the Walloon region, attract attention as places where a dense Muslim population is seen.

Of course, families often make iftar in their homes. During the day, intensive shopping is done for iftar preparations. Ramadan is reflected in markets, with many foods and sweet Ramadan treats, especially dates, being indispensable. In neighborhoods where Moroccan Muslims live intensely, both traditional clothes and souvenirs are sold, along with a variety of traditional delicacies.


Islam, recognized as an official religion in Belgium, can be practiced freely. People perform their prayers in mosques during the day and continue the tradition of reciprocity, which means reciprocal recitation of the Qur’an from beginning to end during Ramadan. Then the iftar time is slowly awaited.

In Beringen, a city in the Flemish region of Belgium, the mines are now closed but there is a vibrant Turkish community. It is home to the Fatih mosque, which attracts the interest of the Flemish with its community presence since the early years. Many Turkish restaurants are located near the mosque, making it one of the liveliest places during Ramadan. A Flemish couple, who pass by the mosque almost every day, says they are now accustomed to this diversity. They say, “we live here together, we have to live together.”


Turkish Pide Dominates Dining Tables

Among the Turkish people living in Belgium, Ramadan pide is a cherished tradition. Arif Yılmaz, who came to Belgium 30 years ago and has been baking bread since then, keeps this tradition alive thousands of kilometers away from Turkey. In this Ramadan, as in every Ramadan, he diligently prepares and cooks delicious pides until iftar. Despite the hard work, Arif is proud to see both Turks and Belgians enjoying these pides, keeping this tradition alive.

Ramadan is now recognized by everyone in the country and is not seen as an obstacle to living together. Fatih Yılmaz, born and raised in Belgium and part of the Yılmaz family, serves as an imam in Namur, the capital city of the Walloon region. Known for his beautiful Quran recitations, Fatih says Ramadan in Belgium is extremely meaningful.

Fatih Yılmaz, 28, who was born and raised in Belgium says, “I serve as an imam at the Namur mosque. Ramadan is going well in Belgium. We spend the month performing the five daily prayers in our mosque, along with recitations and conversations after the noon prayer, before the night prayers, and the tarawih prayers every day. We also provide iftar meals to Muslims living here in our mosque. This is how Ramadan is spent in Belgium.”

As iftar approaches, there is activity in Beringen, similar to restaurants in other cities of the country. Restaurants prepare a variety of traditional dishes for those who want to eat their iftar meal outside. Besides traditional soups, different dishes are served as soon as the iftar adhan is recited. Final preparations are made before the guests arrive, and iftar begins with the call to prayer.

Belgian Muslims break their fast and gather in mosques to drink brewed tea and chat. Then, they perform tarawih prayers together. The Ramadan experience is vibrant in every aspect in Belgium, just as it is in the rest of the world.

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