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Ramadan: Worship Whirlwind, or Food Fest?

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Recently, I received a very inspiring email from one of my sisters in Islam, forwarded to her by another sister, who had written it with a very sincere underlying tone and a truly well-wishing intention. The topic of the email was how, as Muslims, we should focus more on worship during this month than on preparing and eating elaborate and lavish meals.

Now I know what the reader must be thinking: that it is the best of deeds for a Muslim woman to nurture her family, serve her husband his food, and take care of her children’s needs over and above her own – especially in Ramadan. No one is disputing this fact.

Ramadan is that special month when the family breaks their fasts together in the evening, and bond through other activities of worship, together. Hence, preparing iftaar and therefore facilitating the breaking of her family’s fast is indeed a very great deed that the Muslim mother/wife is in-charge of doing.

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Eating and drinking is a need of the body; however, Ramadan is all about quelling this need for the sake of Allah, in order to become more conscious of Him.

The point of this article, therefore, is to focus on the thin line that exists between earning reward by serving your family their food during Ramadan, and indulging their whims to the extent that you relinquish your own personal, never-to-come-again-for-a-year, valuable chance of humble, focused, tearful repentance, supplication and dhikr; i.e. undistracted worship in solitude.

Sheikh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid @ IslamQA points out:

“Many people misunderstand the true nature of fasting, and they make it an occasion for eating and drinking, making special sweets and staying up late at night and watching shows on satellite TV. They make preparations for that long before Ramadan, lest they miss out on some food or prices go up. They prepare by buying food, preparing drinks and looking at the satellite TV guide so they can choose which shows to follow and which to ignore. They are truly unaware of the real nature of fasting in Ramadan; they take worship and piety out of the month and make it just for their bellies and their eyes.”

Shiekh Muhammad Al-Shareef also hints at this trend among Muslims, to consider Ramadan a month of “feasting”, in his recent lecture “The Fasting and The Furious” aired on ilminar.com. It is true that, for most Muslim families, the arrival of Ramadan signals not a shift in focus from, but a shift in focus to, preparing and consuming food. Some reasons for Muslims’ extra focus on recipes, stocking, kneading, frying, cooking, baking and serving ‘special’ food platters during this month are:

  1. Assuming that the body needs large amounts of food in order to compensate for the “loss” of nutrition during the long hours of the fast. Consequently, they desire the presence of a special feast for iftaar every day; one that is designed more for the taste buds than for nutrition of the body, even if it means belching loudly and yawning obtrusively through taraweeh!
  2. Since the fast produces hunger pangs and thirst, special and personal-favorite foods and drinks are unnecessarily consumed to make up for them.
  3. They feel that there is reduced daytime socializing during Ramadan; hence, iftaar parties are held to make up for the “boredom”. These parties require extensive food preparation, obviously.
  4. Muslims differentiate between iftaar and dinner, treating them as separate meals, with separate courses for each; the first comprising mostly of snack-type, fried foods and the latter, of greasy, meaty stuff. This is especially common in families that do not go to the mosque for taraweeh.
  5. Staying awake way into the night, chatting, snacking, watching TV and movies, idly surfing the Internet; and sleeping through most of the day in order to avoid spending as much of the fasting time awake, as possible. This trend is admittedly more common in Muslim-majority countries, where business, office and school timings are shortened during Ramadan, with generally-accepted lower productivity levels and lowered expectations of good performance, on all fronts. Those Muslims who try to “sleep off” most of the fast end up compromising the rewards of Ramadan, by not spending most of the daylight hours in doing various good deeds, and not standing a part of the night in humble prayer.

The late Abdullah Yousuf Azzam gave Muslims the advice below, regarding Ramadan:

“Do not stay up late in Ramadan, as Ramadan is the time of praying, fasting, and seeking Allah’s forgiveness during the morning hours. So, break your fast in your homes on some dates or water, or in the mosque, and provide some dates and water in the mosques for those who might break their fast there, and glad tidings to the one who provides food for the one breaking his fast:

Whoever provides food for the fasting person, then, he will have the same reward as the fasting person, without the fasting person’s reward being diminished at all,” even if it is only on a piece of a date, so, for this, let the competitors compete for this great reward.

Comply with this program, and it is easy: break your fast in the mosque, then pray the Maghrib. Return to your homes, eat as much as Allah has willed for you to eat, and after that, make istighfar while you are awaiting the time for ‘Isha’. Then, pray the ‘Isha’ and Tarawih in the mosque, then, return to your homes. Eat the suhur, and be particular about this time. In addition to it being a blessed meal, the best time to make istighfar is in these early morning hours.

So, after the suhur, rush to make ablution and perform some Tahajjud, and increase in your connection with the Lord of Glory: “Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, Asking: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?’“

So, take advantage of these times – the early morning hours – in which an answered supplication is almost certain.{“Those who are patient, those who are true, the obedient with sincere devotion in worship to Allah, and those who spend in the Way of Allah, and those who pray and beg Allah’s Pardon in the last hours of the night.”} [Al ‘Imran; 17]

{“They used to sleep but little by night, and in the hours before dawn, they were asking for forgiveness.”} [Al-Dhariyat; 17-18]

So, when the Fajr time enters, go to the mosque and pray there. And try, if you do not have work, to not sleep during the time between Fajr and sunrise: “For me to sit with a group of people after the morning prayer, remembering Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – until the Sun rises is more beloved to me than freeing four slaves from the children of Isma’il…” [Reported by Abu Dawud]

After this, go and rest until midday. From midday until ‘Asr, attend to the needs of your family.

Try to generally decrease in eating, drinking, and consuming sweets, keeping in mind that you are surrounded by widows, children, and orphans who are unable to afford plain rice. Set aside your sweets, bread, and rice for such people.

Our women are also in need of cleansing their souls, and they are in need of freeing themselves for the recitation of the Qur’an and worship. Their preoccupation with preparing food is a preoccupation from the essential activities of Ramadan; it is a preoccupation from istighfar, recitation, and worship. So, if you pray the ‘Asr, and you have no other obligations to keep you busy, seclude yourself in the mosque until the Sun sets, and indulge in the recitation of the Qur’an: “…and for me to sit with a group of people after the ‘Asr prayer, remembering Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – until the Sun sets is more beloved to me than freeing four slaves from the children of Isma’il.” So, when it is time for Maghrib prayer, pray it, and return to your home.

This is a program that anyone can follow, either most or all of it. Pay close attention to these days, in particular, and pay attention to these hours. In Ramadan, there is no time for ‘he said, she said,’ or watching television, or socialization. Do not visit one another in your houses during the nights of Ramadan, as this constitutes wasting and theft of time of this blessed month. There is the mosque in which you are able to meet and chat in after praying taraweeh, and any of your brothers who need something from you, your meeting place is in the mosque, and your place of departure is the mosque. Do not preoccupy the people with your presence in their homes during the nights of Ramadan…”

[Abdullah Azzam; ‘At-Tarbiyah al-Jihadiyyah wal-Bina”; 3/86-93]

It is interesting how the late sheikh mentions freeing the women from preparing iftaar so that they can be involved in seeking repentance, recitation of Quran, and worship. A point to note, however, is that if the wives prefer to have their husbands break their fasts at home rather than at the mosque, together with them and the children, the husbands should be considerate of their feelings and oblige. Plus, they can help their wives out in the meal preparation that way and partake in the reward.

Indeed, the few minutes before iftaar are the golden moments of the entire fast! Allah is highly attentive, merciful and loving towards his hungry, thirsty, and tired slave at that time. To spend those precious moments watching TV, laying a lavish table-spread, or frying the last few fritters is idiocy indeed!

Ideally, the food should be cooked and the table laden with water and dates well before sunset. Everyone should make ablution and spend the last five to ten minutes in earnest supplication/du’aa, dhikr and repentance.

As for Muslim students, I’d advise them to remember that an empty stomach is the key to sharper memory retention and a more alert mind; it is a full stomach that stands most in the way of studying well for exams. Take Ramadan as a means of improving your studies, and cash in most on the hours immediately following suhoor, till sunrise, and the time immediately after iftaar, until `Ishaa, for getting homework or test cramming done.

As for the simple meals a family can have after Maghrib salah (having broken the fast with dates and water), they can comprise of simple, wholesome recipes such as:

  • Cut-up, fresh fruit salad;
  • Fruit juice instead of fizzy drinks;
  • One-pot/casserole dishes such as lentils, chickpeas, pasta, or pilav (desi: ‘pulao’);
  • Grilled kababs or chicken;
  • Vegetable salad – (Waldorf, Caesar, Russian, etc. take your pick): chop a few fresh raw vegetables, throw in beans, fruit, cottage/feta cheese chunks, olives and/or corn; dress in olive oil (go low on the mayo though) – and enjoy;
  • Milk, tea or coffee;

All of these are better choices for making a nutritious meal before taraweeh. Following the sunnah of leaving one-third of the stomach empty for air would also help boost concentration during the night prayers, insha’Allah.

Milk shakes and fruit smoothies , too, are great-tasting and healthy options, especially for the younger lot. Instead of always frying puri’s or paratha’s, whole wheat pita breads can be considered as an alternative. Milk in its original form with a dash of honey is not bad either; it’d actually be like killing two birds with one stone as far as following the food sunnah’s is concerned!

I am afraid that some readers might take this article negatively, taking a meaning from it that is definitely not intended. Hence, in the end I would like to clarify that I am not saying that you should make your favorite goodies haram during Ramadan; by all means, indulge in your culinary desires when you want to – just bear in mind that the frequency of consumption and the portion size should be within limits!

Sisters, make use of easy ways out and shortcuts in cooking during Ramadan, even if it creates a hole in your pocket! You do not have to make everything from scratch.

Brothers, you can also give your wives leeway during this month, and abstain from being fussy about food. It is the month of charity and giving, and the best charity starts with your family, especially if it allows them time and energy for worship.

Here’s to a healthy and worship-enriched Ramadan to all readers! :)

Take a look:

  1. IslamQA – Delaying Maghrib salah or missing the congregation because of iftaar.
  2. The Fasting and The Furious” Ilminar by Muhammad Al-Shareef.
  3. Ramadan and Food” – by Umm Abdul-Rahman

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Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Specs

    August 24, 2009 at 1:32 AM

    An informative and well balanced article. Thanks for sharing the tips, sister. :-) Jazak Allahu Khairan Katheera.

  2. Islam Blog

    August 24, 2009 at 2:00 AM

    Jazakallah. May Allah help us rediscover the sweetness of worship this Ramadan. Ameen

  3. Islam Blog

    August 24, 2009 at 3:03 AM

    Jazakallah. May Allah help us rediscover the sweetness of worship this Ramadan. Ameen
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  4. Abdul-Batin Murid

    August 24, 2009 at 4:42 AM

    JazakAllahuKhairun,
    Articles on nutrition are needed for Muslims in general as an ummah.

  5. SaqibSaab

    August 24, 2009 at 6:03 AM

    Alhamdulillah I’ve noticed a new trend in focusing on Ramadan food overeating awareness. That’s really awesome, and JAK for this article.

    However, I wonder if our people would be down for such a style. In the Desi community, for example, Ramadan is not Ramadan without pakoray, dahi baray, samosa patties, the whole nine yards. I’ve even heard someone say in response to not overeating or eating such items, “but it’s not iftar without them!” Sadly, that’s the way we live.

    I guess it comes down to education. If we teach people and they understand that Ramadan has a purpose of getting closer to Allah (SWT) and increasing in worship, they will be forced to change their eating styles.

    We ask Allah to help us do so and make the next generation much better at it.

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 7:39 PM

      Ameen.

      So true about the desi iftaar habits. Six items (besides dates) are usually a must for them: chickpeas cholay/chaat (which is not all that unhealthy if you look at it), dahi baray, samosa’s, pakora’s, fruit chaat (again, a healthy item) and sherbet/juice (can be healthy, depending on choice).

      I think young mothers of the current generation, who are not living in a joint family, can make a major difference by bringing up their children to eat iftaar the masnoon way. That way, when their sons marry, they won’t hanker after their wives to make samosa’s and pakora’s every day (which most of my friends’ husbands do, unfortunately). Insha’Allah. There is still hope. But my point is that younger mothers have a greater responsiblity to achieve this change.

  6. iMuslim

    August 24, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    Jazakillah khair sis Sadaf – I pray the people take notice.

    I do feel sorry for mums and wives – and of course, daughters & daughter-in-laws – in Ramadan. I am sure many of them would love to be ‘freed’ from the kitchen in order to make dua, or read Qur’an, but are almost compelled by fussy families to slave away over a hot stove.

    Thankfully, there are only three people in my family, and as mum and I both want to avoid the evil of fried, fatty foods for iftaar, that is two thirds less pressure on mum. I think dad then has no choice but to conform, hehe.

    Only problem is… we often get food parcels from the neighbours! So escape is quite difficult. But at least we’re not wasting time in the kitchen. The neighbours on the other hand…

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 7:42 PM

      You have nice neighbors, at least their gesture is sweet. :)

      Actually, besides just the deep frying making your diet a bit unhealthy, it’s the standing before a hot stove right at the end of the fast, as you said, that makes it all the more uncomfortable. I mean, husbands should fry some things themselves to see how hot it gets!

      I say: please make ease for your mothers, sisters and wives, brothers!

  7. WorldlyMuslimah

    August 24, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    Just today, my non-Muslim colleague remarked she had seen Muslims (in the Gulf) who gorge themselves all night during Ramadan. She suggested that this was a huge shock to the body, and that fasting had to be bad for the body. I had to correct her thinking that fasting was damaging to the body, and the idea that all we do is eat during the night. The emphasis that Ramadan is a month of increased prayer and devotion to God is lost upon these non-Muslims. We do such a great disservice to our religion by not stressing this.

    http://theramadanblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-fast-healthily-during-ramadan.html

  8. Ameera

    August 24, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    Alhamdolillah, this Ramadan I’m trying to reverse the centuries old tradition that the ladies of the house are frying pakoras as the adhaan goes and hurriedly sit down at the table to break their fast. It’s been two days and it’s been highly successful thus far Alhamdolillah. Iftaar is at 8 pm so I go into the kitchen around 6 and make a goal that I’m going to be out by 7 InshAllah. We divide the jobs between us sisters (while mommy rests – *hint* golden good deed opportunity) – one does the fruit chaat, another the pakoray/spring rolls/sandwiches (I meant, ONE of them, not all daily). There’s no dinner (isn’t iftaar dinner already?) so that’s that. Tang and Rooh Afza make juice-making a cinch and we’re done!

    About healthy eating – that really depends on what the family philiosophy towards food is. Alhamdolillah, our family has been slowly shifting to healthier habits so it’s either rolls or pakoray, not both. Fruit chaat, dates and a drink complete the iftaar. Plus, we try not to make too much food – the more you see, the more you stuff in! There’s also a tendency for people to prepare lots of dishes while they are fasting out of desire born from hunger. That’s where you have to put your foot down, think logically.

    It’s great to eat light – have fruit chaat and dates, go for Maghrib, come back and have a little more. Now, more time for Ibadah! :)

    P.S: There are less dishes to wash this way too so while the table is being cleared, one person can quickly wash the dishes and leave the kitchen once and for all. :)

    • noureen shaukat

      August 25, 2009 at 9:46 AM

      dats gr8 MASHALLAH…gud job!! u knw v r trying 2 do almost da same:)

      • Ameera

        August 26, 2009 at 4:40 AM

        Naureen, my friend! :) I didn’t know you had commented here. :)

    • Saleha

      August 27, 2009 at 4:15 PM

      Oh my god, that is exactly our routine I’m slightly scared..

      • Saleha

        August 27, 2009 at 4:16 PM

        ..and I mean the types of food too..

  9. Ahmad AlFarsi

    August 24, 2009 at 10:15 AM

    SubhanAllah, it is actually amazing the amount of energy that you will feel if you eat little at Iftar time. After breaking your fast with dates and water, and after maghrib prayer, when it’s time for dinner, instead of filling up a normal plate to the brim (and beyond), try instead to take a small plate, like a tea saucer, and put what you like in there, and eat only that before Isha. The amount of energy you will feel inshaAllah from easing out of your fast with a small meal is truly amazing. :)

    • Amreen

      August 24, 2009 at 11:00 AM

      Great Article MashAllah
      We have been following the healthy eating ways since last Ramadan. With no fried foods at all. We break our fast with dates.And all on the table at iftar is a bowl of Fruit chat and Milk Soda which is prepared an hour before Iftaar. In other words no consumption of fatty oily stuff, lots of time to pray before and after iftaar. And as soon as my father comes back from the Mosque we have our dinner together which is as simple as the iftaar.
      Since my dad is a doctor he prefers that his family consumes as much as healthy food as possible instead of over burdening you empty stomach with the oily and unhealthy things such as pakoras, rolls, parathas, samosas and so on.. at iftar as well at at the sehri!!
      Its a little difficult to get used to the healthy eating lifestyle especially in Ramadan but Alhamdulliah once you adopt it you feel good yourself..:-)

      • Ameera

        August 26, 2009 at 4:42 AM

        I remember the milk soda you used to make!!! Wasn’t it Seven Up+milk?

        Great to see you guys are also having light and healthy Iftaars… I hope this trend catches on quickly because this way, people might actually be able to focus on other things in Ramadan besides food.

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 8:21 PM

      Barak Allahu feekum!
      I liked the tea saucer idea, too; even Sheikh Muhammad Al-Shareef gave suggested this in his recent ilminar. It is SO true, because one can “fool” oneself into thinking one is eating a plateful of food.

    • Ameera

      August 26, 2009 at 4:46 AM

      I was sold into the “small plate” philosophy long ago during a dieting stint. It really makes a difference… our family all keep small plates for Iftaar now.

  10. Siraaj Muhammad

    August 24, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    Amazing article, if I might just make one recommendation, take away the fruit juice recommendation as a substitute over fizzy drinks – not much difference between the two. Try veggie juice instead :D

    Siraaj

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 7:45 PM

      Which veggie? Tomatoes?

      What about freshly-squeezed, natural juice, not the commercial one with added sugar?

      • Siraaj Muhammad

        August 25, 2009 at 1:41 PM

        For veggie juice, I’d recommend V8, very healthy stuff!

        About fruit juices, freshly squeezed:

        Weighing up Between Fruit and Fruit Juice
        Fresh fruit is low in energy (kilojoules). But we all know how little juice comes out when you squeeze it. You need to use several pieces of fruit to get a small cup. So quenching thirst by drinking juice can easily lead to excessive energy intake and weight gain. The vitamin C in fruit makes the juice highly acidic, and together with all those concentrated natural sugars can lead to tooth erosion and decay. By eating whole fruit, you not only get the juice, but all the goodness from the flesh, including the fibre, which helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and control unruly appetites.

        Source:
        http://www.healthy-kids.com.au/category/50/fruit-juice

        Siraaj

  11. MentalMuslim

    August 24, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    Jazakallahu Khairan,

    A wonderful article, Mashallah. Reading this article, I couldn’t help but see myself through the lines. I am also one of those sisters who spends most of the Ramadan daylight hours in the kitchen. Preparation for Iftar and Suhoor dishes usually start shortly before Duhr everyday and last up until before Iftar. And it doesn’t help if you have a big family (we have 5 persons at home this year). May Allah make it easier for each and every Muslim.

    BTW, the proposed alternative healthy dishes sound great – but tough luck for me to pass it through my East African family (especially parents)!

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 8:14 PM

      Aww. May Allah make ease for you in every possible way. Ameen.

  12. Abdullah

    August 24, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 12:51 PM

      May Allah reward you for this. Jazak Allah!

  13. Yasir Qadhi

    August 24, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    In Madinah, for many many years, we (students) would only eat fresh dates, half a bread, and yogurt for iftaar. Then we’d wait for tarawih prayer, and then eat a regular dinner afterwords. The freshness that one would feel eating healthy items for iftar is unbelievable – you actually enjoy tarawih prayers!

    This brings back memories of those fresh sukkari rutab dates and hot Arab qahwa – how I wish we could have them here! [Yes, I’ve tried to find them; firstly you can’t get rutab in America, secondly even the qahwa tastes different…]

    • Faiez

      August 24, 2009 at 4:46 PM

      Had some Arab qahwa at Shaykh Yaser’s yesterday. Was pretty good. He showed us some sukkari but didn’t want to share any haha. Must be a real joy to eat them if that is the case :)

    • muslimah

      August 24, 2009 at 5:50 PM

      i love sukarri dates too! have them at home right now..lol

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 9:15 PM

      jazak Allahu khairan for your input!

      Dates are actually a whole diet in and of themselves; Allah sent His angel to ask Maryam [a.s] to eat a meal of dates and water after she gave birth. Childbirth really weakens a woman and depletes her strength, thus we should ponder on how dates and water (our Prophet’s standard iftaar) should be enough to provide our body with nutrients to compensate for the day’s fast.

      I also was struck with the Saudis’ simple diet when I visited Makkah for the first time in Ramadan: thin, flat breads with perhaps some cheese and olives was what they mostly had as dinner between Maghrib and Isha (after breaking their fasts in the haram with dates and water). I found Kiri to be a standard snack for the locals (sadly, the way paan and chaalia is the standard snack for our locals….the remnants of which are spattered in every potted plant and stairway corner in public places….yuck!)

  14. Ali

    August 24, 2009 at 3:11 PM

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    August 24, 2009 at 3:12 PM

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  16. Juli

    August 24, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    Assalamualaikum

    Sis sadaf another great article!

    What I did to cut down time on cooking in Ramadan is my pre-Ramadan prep.

    I would blend onions, garlic, chilli paste and whatever spices I use to make a certain dish, and jar them up and freeze them. I would do this before Ramadan, as I cook that same dish for our daily meals. I stock up on these pre-blended spice pastes before Ramadan.
    Every Ramadan I also do Ramadan activities with my kids, we make it a tradiiton and it originally arose from trying to make Ramadan a highlight in our life here in the west as we do not celebrate the other festivities other than Eid, so I try to make Ramadan something they look forward to as young kids. I started with this Ramadan chain made out of construction paper and on each strip I would write down a question and I would design a crossword puzzle on a large posterboard, put it up on the wall ready for Ramadan. As we enter ramadan, we would take down each strip, they would read the question, try to answer and fill on the crossword puzzle on the wall. For that day, I would teach a lesson related to that question. Throughout the years, as they kids grew, this tradition of ours has evolved into differnt forms. Last year my 9 yr old son and 10 yr old daughter took Torch Bearers with me and the exam was after Eid, so instead of doing Seerah from Shepherd’s Path, which I had wanted to do originally for Ramadan, we swtiched plans and did Torch Bearers review instead. It was fun! I wrote facts about each scholars on paper, cut them up, stuffeed them in balloobns, blew them up hung them all across the lviing room (all this before Ramadan) and during Ramadan we would take down 2 ballooons each day and learn about that particular scholar. The kids would then fill up a timeline and make a scrapbook of each scholar. Eevery time we learn the Ramdan lesson of the day, they would come up with a representation of what they learend. Usu, by eid time our wallls would be full of these representations. This year, we’re doing Taleem Quran bits. I call it TQ Bits. I am doing with them fr Surah fatihah till Baqarah ayat 35, 1-2 ayah per day. We cover root words, some tafseer (it’s review for me and soemthing new for them!). This year, we are doing paper airplanes instead of balloons or paper chains.

    Each day they take down on paper airplane that has been stapled with crosswrd puzzle clues and each day this day has a speacil crossword puzzle instead of one big crossword puzzle for the whole month As the kids are bigger I wanted to make it more mentally challenging.

    And going back to cooking, those frozen spice paste jars would be thawed along with chicken, meat whatever and thrown into apot/aluminum foil, covered and baked. This worked so well for me last year in ramadan that I didn’t really spend much time in the ktichen. Kids help with iftar prep, and I find that we tend not to eat much during Ramadan anyway bec ‘were always rushing to get ready for Maghrib, then taraweeh and then sleep and then suhoor.

    This year, our routine so far, clean up after iftar, pack food for suhoor for easy reheating, get ready for tarweeeh, brush teeth, go taraweeh (we only drink water after this point as we already brushed out teeth) then come home, sleep, wake up suhoor extra early, eat, make wudhu, brush teeth, drink water only and do our ‘qiyam’ then quran and then fajr.

    I find Ustadh Muhammad’s tip on preparing suhoor the night before very very beneificial, mashaallah walhamdulillah!

    So the cooking time can be cut down, plus when one breaks fast with only a little food and water and then go pray maghrib, one may find one is not that hungry afterwards anyway…..:)

    jazakillah khair for a great article!

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 24, 2009 at 9:02 PM

      Barak Allahu feeki, Juli. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your Ramadan experiences. For the readers’ knowledge, I’ll just share that Juli writes for SISTERS Magazine and other publications, and is a homeschooling mother based in USA.
      We all can see how blessed the children of homeschooling mothers are. Insha’Allah, your children will have rich, happy memories of Ramadan and Eid based on the hard work you are doing.
      And I can so relate to what you said about not having time to eat much after iftaar, because the moment the sun sets, the family is in a race against time to do one thing after the next.

  17. tabassum ahsan

    August 24, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    nice post mashallah. and thanx for the exam tip , its always easier studying on an empty stomach

  18. AbuZakariyya

    August 24, 2009 at 7:32 PM

    you echo my feelings…that paratha looks sooo yummy! Is that spicy bhuna gosht on the side? :P

  19. o

    August 25, 2009 at 2:11 AM

    for the past few years, we have been opening our fasts with dates, having some fruit and then we go pray maghrib. regular dinner afterwards. It’s so much better than the standard oily pakora-samosa iftar, after which you have no energy to do anything but sleep!

  20. lightside

    August 25, 2009 at 11:32 AM

    “A point to note, however, is that if the wives prefer to have their husbands break their fasts at home rather than at the mosque, together with them and the children, the husbands should be considerate of their feelings and oblige”

    Aftering having prayed Maghrib in the masjid of course :) Many people ignore praying maghrib in the masjid’s just so they can eat all this fancy food at home.

    The ideal solution, quickly pray maghrib and go home and eat a more proper iftaar with your family. :)

  21. Abu Rumaisa

    August 25, 2009 at 4:10 PM

    I do prefer to have more than just dates & prefer unhealthy food like samosas. We do have aleast 2 dishes for iftar but it’s like having two types of appetizers rather than entree’s. But then I don’t usually don’t have my dinner till 11 PM i.e after taraweeh & masjid clean up. And dinner is a light as I already had a filling iftar & I can’t sleep after heavy meal.

    When it comes to healthy food, i never cared abt it when it’s not ramadan, so it’s not going to be any different now. What matters to me is the traditional taste n fat-free stuff takes the taste away.

    my 2 cents, if one wants to go lean & not have samosas for iftar… cool but stop judging those who do.

  22. Kashif

    August 26, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    You ask us not to concentrate too much on food, and then stick up pictures of some of the most appetising food i’ve seen since.. well since yesterday’s iftar !!

    I mean, c’mon! With two hours left until Iftar here in London, that top photo of parantay in your article won’t make me be dreaming of dates come sunset :)

  23. Hassan Suboh

    August 28, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    To add to more specific alerts and notes on nutrition side:

    On juices:
    Any “juice” should not be assumed to be better than soda. Most mass produced juices contain terribly high levels of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. This is the exact ingredient that makes soda so unhealthy. Just look at nutrition label and if you are seeing 20-40g sugar per serving (especially High Fructose Corn Syrup is in the ingredients) you are doing yourself no better than drinking a can or two of soda.

    When purchasing juices look for ones that are natural, fresh, and/or sweetened naturally (non-refined sugars or stevia).

    Making fruit cocktails at home is another option.

    A frugal yet not detrimental to quenching thirst and sweet tooth:

    In a blender combine-
    Water
    Banana
    Couple teaspoons Lemon/Lime juice (store bought, no sugar or calories, i.e. Real Lemon or Real Lime and generic versions)
    Ice
    Teaspoon of Orange blossom or rose water
    Couple drops of stevia extract

    This is especially great for us above the equator as it’s cool and very refreshing.

    On carbs:
    Try your best to avoid refined flour and that which is made from them. These are high glycemic carbs which lend to that lazy and sluggish feel after eating just as much as over eating can. These momentarily kick up your blood sugar levels (just like drinking soda or eating candy) and then they drop and result in feeling sleepy and lethargic. Yes, that means minimizing white bread, white rice and pasta.

    Alternative:
    Go for Multigrain, Wholegrain or wheat/brown instead and look at nutrition facts for no less than 3g fiber per serving.

    If you’re afraid of “grainy” flavor or texture there are usually white whole grain breads and pasta that taste identical to their less nutritionally beneficial counterpart.

    Besides not being high glycemic the added benefit is fiber takes longer to digest. This leaves you feeling full for longer and from less food. Another added benefit of whole grain foods is that they are considerably higher in protein than their plain refined white counterpart.

    By cutting sugar and high glycemic carbs out of my diet I’ve shed a few pounds and become more active.

    A good way to exercise discipline after iftar time is when you break your fast do not sit. Eat some dates or fruit and have some water, milk or juice. Then break away and pray maghrib. You’ll come back to the table to find that the little bit you ingest helped curb quite a bit of your hunger and will keep things from getting voracious.

    Insha Allah I haven’t been redundant.

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      August 29, 2009 at 12:22 AM

      This information is very beneficial and relevent to the article. May Allah reward you for your input!

  24. Blerta

    September 9, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    A very good article. May Allah forgive us for waisting our time …!
    Asselamu alejkum :)

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