Ramadan or Ramazan?

Home / Balkan Islam / Ramadan or Ramazan?
Green and red banner with "Chestit Ramazan" on it, with balloons above it, and above that a neon sign on the side of a house with "Ramadan" written

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts today ☪️

For the past few years there has been debate in some countries over what to actually call the month. In Bulgaria, where over 10% of the population is Muslim, online forums have been going off about whether to call it ‘Ramazan’, the traditional Balkan way (originally from Persian via Turkish) or ‘Ramadan’ (as it is in Arabic)?

This duality is best displayed by the picture below from the Muslim village of Ribnovo in southwest Bulgaria. We see a banner with ‘ЧЕСТИТ РАМАЗАН’ (CHESTIT RAMAZAN – HAPPY RAMAZAN), but above it there’s a neon light sign that states ‘РАМАДАН’ (RAMADAN).

This is a relatively new phenomenon, and much is speculated on the origins for this dual use. A likely reason for it has been the increasing standardised nature of Islam through globalisation and the internet, where there has been a levelling out of Islamic-related terminology through the use of international and supra-ethnic languages, particularly Arabic, but also English, French and Russian, all of which use the original Arabic ‘Ramadan’. This is why the same debate is encountered in South Asia (Urdu ‘Ramzan’ vs Arabic/English ‘Ramadan’) and ex-USSR (Turkic/Persian ‘Ramazan’ or ‘Uraza’ vs Arabic/Russian ‘Ramadan’). Here’s a very informative article from India that deals with the issue https://lnkd.in/gJnJssjZ

In Bulgaria there has also been the question on whether to capitalise Ramadan/Ramazan as, unlike in English, months of the year in Bulgarian are not capitalised, but the argument is that it is too special a month to be left fully in lower case.

To add to the mix, both ‘Ramazan’ and ‘Ramadan’ are Muslim male names that are just as frequently encountered as the other in the Balkans.

The debate will rage for the next four weeks until Eid al-Fitr, which in the Balkans is called (as in Turkish) Ramazan Bayram… or should that be Ramadan Bayram? 😐

Ramazan sherif mubarek olsun!