Yesterday was the first day of the holly month of Ramadan. It is observed by millions of muslims across the world. Holly because it is the month in which the Quran (words from God – Allah) was revlied to the Prophet. Holly because it is a month of worship. A month were muslims dedicate time to read the Quran, pray, read supplications and most importantly reflect. Giving to charity, looking after each other and the community is also a big part of Ramadan.
It is a month of true spiritual cleansing. To me it means refining and bettering two things at the same time, your inner and outer self. I define it as your inner self that is the spiritual self, nurturing that connection and understanding the true meaning of yourself and your mission and understanding the greater power that is guiding you and sustaining you. The second is the outer self which I like to think of it as your character and actions. Making good deeds and helping others, family and strangers, from a simple greeting with a smile to inviting them to break the fast with you. These actions will be rewarded many folds by God in this world or in the hereafter. Lets think of it as depositing lots of points in our savings account ! Ramadan is also about manners and conducting yourself in the best way possible. Being kind, friendly and helpful and also watching your temper, controlling your urges and bad habits. Therefore, Ramadan is not just about fasting. It is a month of total cleansing; food to spiritual and to character. Bettering yourself from a physical body point of view to a well mannered being .
What is Ramadan to me? A month of mercy, just knowing that my sins are being wiped away as I fast and do good actions with full pure intentions makes me so happy. Ramadan also means worship to me. Trying my best to do my daily chores and still make time to enter a spiritual mood by meditating, reflecting and praying as well as reading as much of the Quran as I can with the intention of trying to understand it. Community spirit, is a vital one for me and I think I will write about that in another post.
The second aspect of Ramadan to me is FOOD ! And not just eating it. Waiting patiently for the sun to set so I can break my fast with a juicy date and a glass of water or yogurt drink. Food in terms of cooking wholesome tasty food that is going to be SHARED. Planning the menu and shopping for it and cooking it with love and that little bit of excitement, and some times dread as I can’t taste the food am cooking, so having my fingers crossed that it taste as good as it smells.
So I went out and did my ‘Ramadan shop’ basically get bulk food of specific ingredients that is used a lot… example.. red lentils for lentil soup that we Middle Easterners break our fast with. Lets not forget to buy lots of dates too. They are packed with energy and natural sweetness that give you that much needed boost after a 18:30 hour fast ! I actually do a table of what food we are going to eat not only to help me prepare and known what to cook but so my family can throw in suggestions of what they would like and know when to get some take away lol !
Remember if you are cooking for people who are fasting , it is quality not quantity. People actually gain weight in Ramadan and not lose it contrary to many thinking. This is because we eat heavy meals or large amount of it in the evening and not do any physical exercise after. So remember to reduce fried food and sugar, increase soups and vegetables as well as salads, increase proteins too and water. It’s vital you hydrate yourself first and not reach for the dessert when breaking your fast! Do not eat in one sitting and eat slowly.
Speaking of desserts I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of beautiful desserts that come out during this months. Food is really pushed out this month to please all your taste buds. But you must strike the right balance and not over indulge as you will be missing the whole point of Ramadan. Like I said early, it’s restraining yourself and detach from worldly matters… I know it’s hard to detach from that roast chicken but eat with thanks and humbleness and not with gluttony.
For those who do not fast but would like to try it I urge you to do so, but remember it’s not just about abstaining from food. It is a much bigger beautiful thing that is designed to help and elevate us.
5 more hours till I break my fast and what is on the menu
-Selection of dates and nuts
-chickpea in cumin or maybe humous not decided yet !
-ice cream & fruit for dessert … Paris has been hot these few days, today 32C!
I will try to post some ‘Ramadan Special’ for you all on this blog so look out for them.
I wish you all a very happy Ramadan may all your deeds and actions and importantly your fast be accept and rewarded.
Sahteen Bon appétit in Arabic