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Nur ar-Ramadan

Albanian Muslims Pay for Televised Ramadan Adhan
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By Hani Saleh, IOL Correspondent

TIRANA, IslamOnline.net

Albanian Muslims are bracing themselves for the holy fasting month of Ramadan in the secular southeastern European country.

The Islamic Sheikdom in Tirana, the highest Islamic body in Albania, has paid $4,000 for the state television to buy airtime to broadcast part of the Maghrib Adhan (call to Sunset Prayer that marks fast breaking), an official source told IslamOnline.net.

After the downfall of communism in 1991, Albania adopted a strict secular system, though it guarantees the right to freedom of religion.

The Sheikdom is also setting stage for a series of seminars across the country during the holy month, so that Muslims can learn more about the merits and virtues of observing the dawn-to-dusk fasting.

It further invited officials, Arab diplomats and public figures to attend such get-togethers.

Private televisions are now competing to lure more Muslim viewers during the holy month.

Some stations allow free airtime for the Sheikdom scholars all over the month, while others will broadcast the Adhans (call to prayer) and the Tarawih prayer live from Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Muslims make up a majority of 75 percent of Albania’s 3.2 million population.Iftar Banquets

Iftar (fast breaking meals) banquets for the needy and the passers-by are a key feature of Ramadan in Albania.

But this year several municipalities across the country announced, for the first time, they would host a number of banquets as a sign of goodwill and reverence for Islam.

Turkish Imams are usually dispatched to Albania and other Balkan countries in Ramadan to lead the worshipers in their prayers and recite the Noble Qur’an.

There are now some 270 mosques in Albania out of 1667 established before the advent of anti-religion Communism.

But the beginning of Ramadan still divides Muslims in Albania, with one camp following the Turkish calendar, while the other depends on crescent sighting.

The European Council for Fatwa and Research issued on October 6 a statement announcing that the first day of Ramadan would fall on Friday, October 15, according to astronomical calculations.

While one group of scholars sees that Muslims in other regions and countries should follow crescent sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night, another states that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.

A third, however, disputes both views, arguing that Islam is against division and disunity, since Muslims, for instance, are not allowed to hold two congregational prayers in one mosque at the same time.

This group believes that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a certain country is the body entitled to announce the start of the holy month.

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