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Concepts Of Month Ramadan in Diwan Poetry


ABSTRACT
Being one of the religious-poetical genres, Ramadan themed poems constitute an
important place in diwan literature. Ramadan themed poems are generally present in nesib
(introductory chapter of qasida) parts of qasidas. However, there are also poets writing
seperate poems under the title of Ramazaniyye.

Poets used such concepts as month

Ramadan, fasting, Qadr night, Koran, iftaree, sobriety, suhoor, tarawih, holy nights (Kandil),
feast in Ramazaniyye which is among indispensable themes of poetry as it is the month of
fasting and Koran.
This study aims to determine the reflections of these concepts regarding month
Ramadan in diwan poetry.

*R. A. Atatrk University Faculty of Theology Department of Turkish Islamic Literature


reyhankeles@atauni.edu.tr

Concepts Of Month Ramadan in Diwan Poetry


Reyhan KELE*
Having begun after Turks adopted Islam, Turkish Islamic Literature schooled a great number
of poets and writers who are faithful to requisitions of this new religion , who do not stray
from Koran and sunnah priciples and reflect these sentiments to their pieces. Thus introducing
a poem with tawhid, invocation and naat; introducing a prose with basmala, hamdele
(glorification) and salvele (part of the prayer to Muhammad) became tradition as a requisition
of this expression and in pieces of many figures this tradition is not abandoned.
Although the concept of Ramazaniyye, which has become the name of a great number of
qasidas, increased its examples in 17th and 18th centuries (elebiolu, ty., p. 704; Uzun, 2007,
p. 439; Yksel, 1977, p. 35), month Ramadan and all the concepts this holy month includes
are actually encountered in pieces of poets who lived in previous centuries.
Ramadan is the month of culture. Within the frame of this culture month continuing for
fourteen centuries there are such beauties as reciprocative Koran reading (mukabele) together,
Ramadan drummers, sparkling roof ridges, Ramadan pitas, faces of children, who wait for
iftaree time with excitement, when Ramadan bomb crashes, excitement of women, men,
children and old people gathering for tarawih prayes. Turkish people welcome Ramadan as if
it was their guest, wait for it as if they missed a belowed or a friend. They compete with each
other when it comes to clothes, food, goodness, services and obedience, tranquility and peace
(Karahan, 1990, p. 96). It is not possible that such a tradition did not affect diwan poetry
including six-century long period.
In diwan poetry, Ramazaniyyes are poems poets write for sultans, viziers, notables of era on
occasion of Ramadan generally in qasida form. Actually, Ramadan is the theme of nesib parts
of qasidas (elebiolu, 1998c, p. 692). The most notable poets of this form (Akku, 2007, p.
212) are Snblzde Vehb, Enderunlu Fzl, Srr, Enderunlu Vsf, Sbit and Nedim. The
most notable poems of Ramazaniyyes that are written in the form of Ghazal belong to Zt,
Fuzl, Rh, Nedim, Koca Rgb Paa, eyh Glib and eref Hanm (elebiolu, 1998b, p.
703). Other than these, Sleyman Nahf's Fazlet-i Savm (elebiolu, 1971, p. 343), Nabi's
Hayriyye, brahim Tennr's Glzr- Manev (elebiolu, 1998c, p. 692; ener ve Yldz,
2003, p. 219) are examples written in the form of masnavi.

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We frequently encountered such concepts regarding Ramadan as yevm-i ek, fasting, suhoor,
sobriety, iftaree, tarawih, holy nights (kandil), roof ridges, Ramadan drummer, Qadr night,
alms handout, feast and feast prayer in the search we conducted in Ramazaniyyes in different
poetic forms and in poems included in diwans. Let's see how poets formed these concepts
from their hearts to their pieces:
1- Yevm-i ek: In the past, the beginning of Ramadan depended on the sight of
crescent and this issue was handled by Istanbul Muslim Judge (nver, 1960, p. 22). One day
after the day in which the moon was seen and determined with two witness in the presence of
Qadi, the beginning of Ramadan was declared by Qadi (Levend, 1962, p. 61). According to
calculation when Ramandan was supposed to begin, there might be one-day long delay if the
moon was not seen, which was called yevm-i ek meaning doubtful day (elebiolu,
1998a, p. 705). It was indispensable that such a case was reflected to diwan poetry. Thus
Nedim displays the case of imam who goes to bed to sleep and gets up immediately for
tarawih prayer when the first day of Ramadan is determined suddenly.
When the first day of Ramadan was determined immediately
Imam who was about to sleep stood up for tarawih (Macit, 1997, p. 43)
Contrary to this case, in another couplet Nedim displays that pub addicts consider this
day as an exception and cannot wake up until noon as:
Until noon they didn't wake up those with grace,
Who are getting ready for the joy of doubtful day (Macit, 1997, p.43)
Although that Ramadan begins one day before does not appeal much to food addicts
who are called ehl-i ikem, that the holy month is seen in skies like a plate is expressed by
Fzl as following.
While food addicts were discussing on the doubtful day
The holy bright moon was put on the sky like a plate (Kl and Macit, 1995, p.95)
2- Month Ramadan: Ramadan deriving from the root whose lexical meaning is
that the day is too hot, that the sun heats sands and stones very much and that feet get burned
while walking on hot earth, is the ninth month of Muslim calendar. The most accepted
commentary in the sources stresses that this month called Ramadan because the season to
which Ramadan falls is too hot overpowering (Gnay, 2007, p. 433) Ramadan coincides with
the same season once in approximately thirty two years and the periods, when Ramadan

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coincides with hot months, are involved in pieces of poets. While Fzl expresses this case
with following couplet,
Sometimes it coincided with July
And made spring colds dearest (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 100)
Kelm says that Ramadan fasting and the cinder lips of belowed one push lover into grief
with following words.
Ramadan makes silent lips of belowed one cinder
That makes people die of grief (Karltepe, 2007, p. 390)
While Zati who considers Ramadan as a guest sent to themselves says:
God sent us Ramadan as a guest
We need to treat well each moment of it (avuolu and Tanyeri, 1987, p. 427)
Srr says that this guest should be hosted properly with following words.
It is wrong to see it off while it is hungry like fasting people
Once a year comes as a guest Ramadan (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 72)
According to Erzurumlu brahim Hakk it is necessary to fast and sleep less to host
this guest properly.
Month Ramadan arrived ou the face of moon
Ou those who fast, sleep less so that your heart grow mature(Kleki and Karabey, s.
1997, p. 147)
Sabit who is inspired by the holy hadith saying The doors of heaven are opened in
this month. The doors of hell are locked. The hands of Satan are tied to his neck... (Buhari,
Savm/5, Mslim, Syam/2) says these in one of his poems:
The devotee started his suffering without misgiving
Demon is trapped until Ramadan finishes (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 13)
The expression of the same hadith in Niyz-i Msr is thus:
The prophet said that in this month
Jinn and Demon gets trapped and no way out.(Erdoan, 2008, p. 331)
While Fuzl, who stresses that the doors of heaven are opened wide, says following couplet in
his poem

The doors of Heaven are opened, Month Ramadan


The doors of pubs are locked, what is who is suitable (Akyz vd, 1990, p. 247)

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on the other hand he does not abstain from informing pub addicts. The addict who is informed
When you say suddenly to an addict that Ramadan arrived
He prays for patience for a while due to his grief (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 76)
utters L havle as it is also asserted by Vsf with the words above.
Ramadan is a unique month in that it is mentioned in Koran and its importance is
underlined (Gnay, 2007, pp. 434). The importance of this holy month which is reflected to
diwan poetry with following verses
It announced the holy fasting city
It heralded beauties for the followers of Muhammed (elebiolu, 1971, p. 344)
and in which grace and good news are hidden is mentioned in following couplet of eref
Hanm.
Don't give way to despair forgetting your generosity so that in the time of armageddon
Pride! Ramadan trait shall not deprive you. (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 119)
eref Hanm also says that Ramadan will not abandon those who give way to despair.
Ramadan is experienced with different emotions everywhere and in every heart but
experiencing Ramadan in Istanbul is unique.
However the luxuriant nawruz makes the rose garden
Ramadan has given an ornament to Istanbul (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 70)
says Srr and expresses that when this month arrives Istanbul resembles ornaments. Nb,
Days become together in kind Hagia Sophia
People become friends in friendly Hagia Sophia (Bilkan, 2011, p. 988)
displays those fasting who gather in Hagia Sophia with the words above.
Like nightingale Koran is heard everywhere
In Hagia Sophia (Bilkan, 2011, p. 988)
and he displays Koran reading in Hagia Sophia with the words above.
As it is known, in the first fifteen days of Ramadan there are such expressions as
ave or welcome o month Ramadan, o the month of mercy which are more like joyful and
hopeful expressions and in the last fifteen days of Ramadan expressions turn into grief
expressions (elebiolu, 1998a, p. 699) such as farewell, o seperation in the prayers which
are said in mosques. Poet Baht hosts Ramadan with ave in following couplet
Since you went away we have been in sorrow for eleven months
Ramadan arrived again and said hello (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 110)
Niyz-i Msr with following words

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Sometimes with invocation and praise
Sometimes with glorification and gratitude
Unkempt tongues would be refreshed with heavenly light
Unfortunately Ramadan is now gone (Erdoan, 2008, 331)
and Erzurumlu brahim Hakk with following words
We did not appreciate, the moon was seen
Days and nights we spent in sleep
Unfortunately it is gone like a guest
Come again and seperateness be far from us
Ou Ramadan, farewell to you (Kleki ve Karabey, 1997, p. 121)
bid farewell to Ramadan.
3- Fasting:
One of the pillars of Islam, ou good person
One of the foundations is the Ramadan fasting. (elebiolu, 1971, p 344)
As Sleyman Nahf, who introduces his poem Fazlet-i Savm- ehr-i Ramazan
with the words above, says fasting is one of the requisitions of Islam. On this day which starts
with sobriety and ends with iftaree people avoid eating, drinking and other things that break
the fast. These are not sufficient to fulfill fasting properly. All kinds of misdoings should be
avoided as much as possible as Nahf says:
Do not backbite, gossip, criticise and defame
Do not omit your fasting for no reason (elebiolu, 1971, p 346)
Otherwise, regret takes the place of service which is not fulfilled properly as
Erzurumlu brahim Hakk says:
We did not fast in its days with respect
We did not rejuvenate its night with wakefulness (Kleki and Karabey, 1997, p. 121)
In fasting themed couplets we encountered fasting is compared to lover due to its
difficulty and the feast coming after this difficulty is compared to strangers seperating lovers
(ayar).
For those who are in love fasting and suffering are endless
Tell others the endless treasure of heart (Tulum and Tanyeri, 1977, p. 47)
In another couplet, fasting is compared to seperation and the feast is compared to
ultimate union. However, lover cannot come together with beloved one in this union. All the
troubles are suffered in vain:

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Fasting is union with beloved and the end of apartness
Thus I told and be deprived of food in vain. (zen, 2010, p. 130)
According to Nesm, fasting itself is like feast, because it comes from God:
God made the fasting month a feast for us
Whatever God gave us is good.(Ayan, 2002, p. 858)
4- Suhoor: Suhoor, which means the meal eaten before sobriety, is as important as
iftaree times in our culture. Tables are set carefully in this time. Srr, who says that if the
table is not generous he will not have strengt to fast, expresses God's forgiveness for himself
just this once in this way:
If your servant cannot find favour for feast
Ramadan cannot find strengt in him to fast
Either make people come to sahoor
Or forgive this servant for this once Ramadan. (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 72)
This meal in unusual time is especially interesting for children. Therefore, in Vsf's
poems, the child who desires to fast or rather to wake in the night speaks to his or her
grandma in this way:
Infants say with eagerness for fasting bread
Wake me up dear granny for sahoor tonight (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 74)
Poet Kn describes child's fear for not being able to wake after sleeping in high spirits
with an unnecessary apprehension:
I guess the boy fell asleep with the joy of fasting
Or I fear that he will be of bad stock (Yazar, 1991, p. 176)
5- Sobriety: The effect of sobriety, when people stop eating and drinking and start
fasting, on diwan poetry is accomplished through cigarette addicts. Cigarette which resembles
miswak in that it has a similar form and it is in mouth, never falls from addict's mouth in
Seyyid Vehb's poems:
Like miswak in times of sobriety,cigarette never falls from my mouth
I am true in this words of mine (Dikmen, 1991, p. 176)
In another poem Vehb expresses that the fasting person starts to think about tomorrow
putting his hand on his mouth in sobriety time after he feels anxious because of difficulty
fasting makes:
Don't think that fasting ones hold miswak in sobriety
With the concern of tomorrow they get worried, putting hands in their mouth.
(Dikmen, 1991, p. 256)

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Although sobriety makes addicts anxious as it refers to the beginning time of fasting, it
is an unmissable time for fasting people who expect God's forgiveness according to Nf:
It seems that forgiveness is hoping for God's generosity
Sobrieties are not for nothing and inapt (zen, 2010, p. 82)
6- Iftaree: Iftaree is the ending of fasting which stars with sobriety and in diwan
poetry it is considered to be like a feast day or the day on which lover and beloved come
together, with this aspect. Nedim describes this with following couplets.
Iyd oldu rze-i gama iftr vaktidir It is iftaree time, a feast for us
(Wine) glass time is past not it is time for green blossom (Macit, 1997, p. 293)
eref Hanm expresses the same case thus:
The iftaree came and broke the sobriety seperateness
It was feast and glory when the face of Ramadan was seen. (Kl and Macit, 1995, p.
119)
After a long day without food and water the most joyful thing for fasting people is
undoubtfully to hear the evening adhan.
It took a lot of time, we are fasting with seperateness
Day is gone and prayer evening is arrived now. (Tulum and Tanyeri, 1977, p. 104)
Nev expresses this case in his couplet above and Sbit says to cigarette addict that iftaree
time welcomes in this way:
From the beautiul scent in sobriety time
A cigarette is good for its addict (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 14)
One of the indispensable food in Iftaree tables is round Ramadan pita. Kn want his friend he
invited for iftaree to bring Ramadan pita, thus but for it he expresses that iftaree table will be
missing in this way:
Come and take round pita in the evening
Otherwise our iftaree table would be missing (Yazar, 2006, 288)
It is sunna for devout to prepare iftaree quickly
Those who do iftaree of their fasting will be forgiven (Yazar, 2006, p. 286)
Kn expresses in his couplet above that iftaree should be completed in rush and he says that
those who break their fasting early will attain forgiveness. In another poem an iftaree time
prayer is pointed out in this way:
In iftaree time I do not want to hear any old nonsense
Pray the God for good ness immediately (Dikmen, 1991, p. 258)

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Along with all these beauties iftaree times in evenings grant joy to the spirits of fasting
people, refreshes them and make them happy. In sobriety times people are equivalent to
angels:
The happiness of iftaree in evenings is broader than days
In the morning sobriety all the humans and angels become together (Cunbur, 1960, p.
61)
7- Tarawih Prayer: One of the concepts included in Ramadan themed poems of diwan
literature is tarawih prayer in which young-old, women-children in other words all people like
to participate. Thus Poet Vehb expresses the joy experienced in this tarawih time:
Come to tarawih and witness the joy
Look there happens to be noises in the nights (Dikmen, 1991, p. 202)
In the past, tarawih prayers were performed with rituals and chants in nearly all the mansions
and serails. This tradition was so settled that other than former imams, five or six muezzins
who got their shares from music and imams who read Koran adorably were recruited
especially for Ramadan (nver, 1960, p. 25). Seyyid Vehb points out this tradition and says
the following couplet regarding mosques turned into rose gardens in tarawih time and
regarding muezzins who have beautiful voices:
It returned to rose mosque with tarawih time
Please, the bird with beautiful melodies, read Koran tonight (Dikmen, 1991, p. 112)
The taste of tarawih prayer is unique. The purity people feel in their hearts begins with the
attempt for tarawih:
Let's gain God's forgiveness with nighs-long grief
By standing up for tarawih with a deep soul (Kl ve Macit, 1995, p. 84)
The spiritual smell which comes from the prosperity of tarawih prayer and fasting is reflected
in Sm's couplet in this way:
The beautiful scent made fasting and tarawih pleasant
Let this pleasant scent remain in our souls and words. (Kutlar, 2004, p. 172)
8- Oil Lamps (Kandils): In the past mosques and minarets were ornamented with oillamps. Thus it is indispensable that this beauty is reflected in diwan poetry.
Ramadan arrived again, oil lamps light up every night
One by one, they give fire to all muslims (Kl ve Macit, 1995, p. 108)
As Baht expresses in the couplet above, oil-lamps sparkling in Ramadan nightly, simply light
up Islam world entirely.

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When all the mosques were surrounded by oil lamps
This sparkling light made slam all people's curiosity and wish (Kl ve Macit, 1995,
p. 84)
Vsf says that minarets and prayer rooms are ornamented with oil-lamps in his couplet
above.
No different from the bright stars above in the sky
The light of oil lamps fascinated all the eyes (Dikmen, 1991, p. 78)
In his couplet above, Vehb expresses that thanks to sparkling oil-lamps the earth is not
different from stars in the sky anymore.
9- Roof Ridge: One of Ramadan traditions from past to present is roof ridge.
Expressions like welcome ou month Ramadan, the sultan of eleven months are written or
sometimes pictures are drawn on roof ridges hanged between two minarets. In this couplet
which belong to Vehb, roof ridges with pictures are pointed out although it is little:
Reading Merhabathe night before the one who saw said
How artful the Roof Ridge painter is (Dikmen, 1991, p. 202)
10- Ramadan Drummer: Even if just a drop, there are some cities maintaining this
tradition and Ramadan drummers singing Turkish poem although neighbourhood's lock and
shovel, watchers with gaberdine coat on their back in warm summer nights, with black
sheepskin cloak in cold winter nights, with lamps and thick rod in their hands and these
watchers' announcing the arrival of suhoor time with drums in their hands and with songs in
their utterings (Cunbur, 1960, p. 26) are now in the past.
The nightwatcher answered with his ways
Did month Ramadan arrive as asked (Macit, 1997, p. 43)
In the couplet above Nedim expresses that those who do not realize Ramadan's arrival are
reminded the month of fasting thanks to Ramadan drummers.
It makes the silence of sleep vanish like a raptor
The beats of Ramadan drummer in sobriety (Dikmen, 1991, p. 254)
In the couplet above, Vehb underlines that drum's sound is enough to wake those who sleep
in peace.
11- Qadr Night:
Koran came in you ou with beautiful face
Ou with invaluable Qadr Night(Erdoan, 2008, 331)

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As it is understood from the verses above one of the factors attributing importance to
month Ramadan is that Koran came down in Qadr Night. As Ramadan is the sultan of eleven
months, the sultan of Ramadan is Qadr Night which is more propitious than a thousand years
(ener and Yldz, 2003, p. 224). Poets who do not want to keep away from the abundance of
such a night do not abstain from writing.
Angels come down to earth in Qadr Night
Those friends have my heart in this night if they wish (Kl ve Macit, 1995, p. 102)
In the couplet above Zati reminds us the Ayah which is within Qadr Surah, saying In that
night Angels and the Spirit (Gabriel) descend and descent for any concern with the permission
of their God. In another poem, Zat expresses that God accepts prayers said in this night,
with these verses:
They say prayers will be accepted if it is Qadr Night
Hope the day will rejoin the night (Kl and Macit, 1995, p. 102)
Same emotions encountered in Vsf's verses in this way:
Appreciate the Qadr Night
Without doubt forgiveness is for people on this night (Kl ve Macit, 1995, p.75)
Appreciate Qadr Night in this month, it is undoubtfully the reason of forgiveness of all the
worlds.
12- Alms Handout: Alms handout (ftr sadakas) is among national religious services
and it is also called zekat- ftr(zakat of the alms). But it is widely known as fitre (alms).
(Baltac, 1970, p. 338)
Without doubt in fasting
Alms is required doubtlessly (elebiolu, 1971, p. 347)
In the couplet above Nahf mentions that the service is obligatory.
To your resentful Muslim friend
Fitre is required as my as fasting (elebiolu, 1971, p. 347)
In the couplet above, the poet uses the word fitre which is known and used by public and
says that those who have property on a level this service requires, should fulfill it. Glib also
have words to say about this adorable service which increases helping to poor people,
showing interest to them, reconciliation of resentful people (elebiolu, ty., p. 25) ; and in
which charitable people who cannot sleep while their neighbour is hungry and who depend on
religious and national emotions (zden, 2006, p. 86), cause poor people and fatherless
children be happy:

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If there is one losing temper for alms
The month Rajab is advised as fasting month (Okcu, 2011, p. 456)
As there are those who lose temper for alms handouts, the preacher already now determined
month Rajab as the month of fasting.
13- Feast Prayer: One of the concepts regarding Ramadan is feast prayer. We do not
encounter this concept much in diwan poetry but Vehb says
You might even confuse your Tekbir in feast prayer
If you pray the tarawih as an insistent mam (Dikmen, 1991, p. 256)
and expresses that imam who gets used to conduct tarawih prayer, makes mistake in the
number of takbirs within feast prayer with a humorous style.
14- Feast: In Ramadan and feast themed poems of diwan poetry, what people look
forward to after a diffiicult but abundant Ramadan and after Qadr night which is more
propitious than a thousand years; what people consider as a ultimate union is feast time.
People are step out from fasting which is called seperation and come togetger with beloved
one, namely the feast.
Let my beloved that the day is now feast
If not letting me kiss the hands, make it feet (Arslan, 2003, p. 291)
In the couplet above Leyla Hanm expresses that the lover who comes together with the feast
therefore to beloved one, is ready to kiss feet .
It is now the end of evening and beginning of the feast day
The beginning of feast is the end of month Ramadan (Akku, 1993, p. 76)
Nef' points out the first day of feast with the couplet above.
It is now feast let's start alcohol again
Eating and drinking were forbidden yesterday and now they are halal (Tarlan, 1992, p.
85)
With the couplet above, Necat Bey expresses with a great joy that the feast arrives, eating
and drinking are now halal. One of our diwan poets, Necat Bey who reminds us our traditions
we forgot, says in one of his poems that
Mothers, to their children's hands
Applied henna as it is now feast (Tarlan, 1992, p. 85)
and expresses henna applied to children's hands by their mothers. Feast of Istanbul where
Ramadan is experienced distinctly, is also under such a beautiful and different atmosphere
which might make other places jealous.

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Poems of Nedim, who is an ultimate Istanbul lover, are the most important factors of our
feeling.
When the holy feast is arrived
Every corner of Istanbul became feast, too.
Mounted on a horse with pertness and cool walking
Beautiful ones are now in Atmeydan
Also Hazret-i Eyyb and also Meydn- Tophne
Attracting all those within a close look
The seperation from skdar is there
But still we cannot deny its sightseeing
And do not even ask about Sadabad
Your servant cannot describe its beauty with words (Macit, 1997, p. 50)
In the poem, the spacious atmosphere of Istanbul on the occasion of feast, cavalcade gathering
in Atmeydan, young people who are fascinated by Eyp Sultan and Tophane, that skdar is
worth seeing with its slopes although is is far and finally that people cannot find a word to
describe the beauty of Sadabad attracting hearts are pointed out. As it is understood from the
examples of diwan literature we gave up to now, our literature which covers nearly all the
aspects of life, handled religion and and its effect on humans with different verse forms and
reminded us our values we forgot or lost. Shely nver asserts that diwan literature and
poetry which will hand these values down the next generations have such a great significance
that it can form a Ramadan civilization.

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