A Ramadan Story

Bekir Develi, a TV presenter, says: “Yesterday we went out for dinner with my friend Sadettin Acar and other friends. While we were eating, we told each other stories from earlier times. Sadettin Acar told us the following story: “I come from a family of 11 from Mardin-Kızıltepe. We were doing very badly financially at that time. I was a student at a madrasa. During one night in Ramadan, when we were coming out of the mosque from Tarawih prayers, I saw an old man walking back and forth, looking around to the right and left as if he was looking for something. I grabbed his arm and said, “Uncle, you seem to be looking for something. Maybe I can be of some help to you”. Whereupon the man said, “I, need to make an urgent phone call”. So, I took him to a telephone booth and he got a handful of telephone coins and said, “I will need these”. Of course, I don’t know who he was talking to on the phone, but all I heard was this: “My daughter, our flight has been canceled. Therefore, do not wait for me today. They have organized a hotel for us and I will be back tomorrow on the first flight”. Afterwards, he invited me for a tea, while he inspected my clothes and shoes. We really lived in very poor circumstances at that time. Then, before leaving, he reached into his pocket and tried to give me money. For example, while I had 10 lira a month, he gave me 40 liras. Even though I tried to refuse the money, he held my hands very tightly and said, “My son, Allah has given me enough to live on. I have enough wealth. I am a wealthy man from Germany. Please take this money!” Then he wrote me his address in Germany on a piece of paper, with terms I did not know, and then I never saw him again.

I later finished the madrasa and won the entrance exams to the university in Istanbul. My way to the university was one hour and the bus ticket was one lira. To save this money, I walked one hour every day instead of taking the bus. I also had a job in addition at that time, but my money was not enough to finish my studies. In my desperation, I suddenly found the piece of paper with the man’s address again. I wrote to the man and described my distress to him. He then sent me a sum of money with which I could finance my entire studies. When I received my diploma, I sent him a copy of it as a thank you and wrote to him that I was indebted to him for this. Later I became a columnist for a newspaper and always sent him my articles. But at some point, unfortunately, the contact with him broke off, so that I received no more answer from him. My late father had told us children, “Pray a lot for this man!” so this man is in all my prayers. May my Creator let him share in all my good deeds.”

Bekir Develi says, “I told Sadettin that I can find this man from Germany if he tells me his name and the city he is from. Sadettin took out the note and I learned that this man lived in Braunschweig. Three days ago, I had a Ramadan program there, so I called the local mosque board of the Islamic faith community Milli Görüş and asked if they could find me the address of an Ahmet Balcı. They said, “We know Ahmet Balcı very well. However, he passed away three years ago”. I then asked about his family. They said that he had a daughter.

When I was back in Turkey, I called there together with Sadettin. Her husband answered the phone and I told him, “I am calling you from Turkey to tell you a story. Can you please put the phone on loud so your wife can listen in?” and I passed the receiver to Sadettin. Sadettin tearfully talked about her father and how much he had helped him. His daughter also started crying and I could not hold back my tears either. And then the daughter said, “Do you know why I am crying? My father was a poor person. We lived in a very run-down house. I don’t know how he could send you all this money, but my father was poor man”.

Bekir Develi continues, “The interpretation of the Quran verse.

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا ٱلإِنسَانَ فِيۤ أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

(“We have created man in the most beautiful form”) must be someone like Ahmet Balcı…”

The illustration is by Maryam Siedelahl.