It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it was a highlight in Ramzan transmissions: Ittehad Ramzan covered a number of topics in it’s daily five hour run. Perhaps the most anticipated portion of the show featured some of Pakistan’s most notable stars visiting Muslim nations across the world. Each episode took celebrities from the Pakistani entertainment industry and transplanted them into the cultures and celebrations of Islamic communities abroad. Whether it was Malaysia, Iran, Iraq or Kenya – the show strived to not only explore the customs that differed from Pakistan but also those that were remarkably familiar. A country which was explored with particular effort was none other than Turkey.
In its inaugural season, Ittehad Ramzan took three of Pakistan’s most popular actors to our neighbouring country Turkey, where they got to experience first hand how Turkish Muslims celebrate the holy month and also the notable Islamic history that lies within Turkey’s borders. Each actor experienced Turkey in a different way, allowing viewers to not only see how they break bread or what kind of bread they break (read more ahead) but what parts of history and culture define Turkey.
Actor and singer Junaid Khan took us along as he sat for iftari with a Turkish family in Istanbul. Kicking off his adventure we accompanied him and a member of the host family on an excursion to a local bakery, where we were introduced to the country’s bread of choice for Ramzan – pide – which as Junaid noted, was very similar in both look, texture and baking as our own naan.
Sami Khan, a mainstay of TV plays, headed to Konya, Turkey, where he visited museums where Turkey and Islamic history were both explored. Konya, known as the ‘City of Saints’ belongs to the central region of Turkey. He spent time learning from locals the many events that lead to and defined what is modern day Turkey and the relationship between Islam and Turkey. As well as visited notable landmarks such as Molana Shamz Tabrizi’s Tomb; Tabriz was the spiritual leader of revered poet Rumi. Sami was able to discuss with locals the legend of his tutelage as well as provide a teaching moment to viewers who maybe didn’t know this significant part of Turkey’s history.
Imran Abbas, who has taken his talents abroad before, gave us a tour of Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Built almost 400 years ago, Imran went deep into the mosque’s history and its present day attitude of embracing non-Muslims behind its doors. The mosque strives not only to be a place of peace and reflection but of learning for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, where the latter have a safe and open space to ask questions and learn more about the religion, as well as seek refuge.
The show strived and succeeded in sending trusted personalities abroad to not only represent Pakistan, but show honest, respectful and open-minded curiosity for fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. Each episode that dived into Turkey did so with the idea of not only showing another world a mere flight away, but also demonstrating how Islamic culture is not a one size fits all formula. For the audience watching, they got an understanding of both historic and modern day Turkey and how Ramzan was culturally influenced by Turkish culture, customs and personalities.