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Bringing In Ramadan with a Chocolate Cake

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Link to all Ramadan 2010 posts

I read a tweet from Wisam Sharieff the other day, on how he tried to spread awareness of Ramadan to non-Muslims by way of handing out treats.

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This inspired me to do something like this on my own, so I consulted my wife:

“I want to take something to work tomorrow. Do you think I should make brownies?” I asked her, before leaving for tarawih night prayers on the first evening of Ramadan.

“We could. But, how about a cake?”

After a little thought and realizing that she probably knows better than me, I approved it, and the plan went ahead.

The next morning, my wife baked and decorated the cake, while I went to work. I picked it up during my usual trip home for lunch, brought it in to work, and sent out the following email:

Hello everyone,

There’s chocolate cake with strawberries on the back counter behind Jayne’s desk. Please feel free to have some.

My wife baked it as a celebration for today being the first day of Ramadan this year.

Enjoy!

Saqib

While my associates were excited about getting free cake, it opened up a dialogue on Ramadan and Islam, as I had hoped.

Associate #1 asked what Ramadan was. I explained that it is our holy month, in which the Qur’an was revealed, during which we fast daily to come closer to God. She asked what the Koh-ran was, and if we do it for Mohamed. I explained that the Qur’an is what we believe to be the final scripture after the Bible. And, as is the case for everything else, we fast for God. To us, Muhammad is a prophet, just like Jesus, Adam, Moses, and so on. She was blown away! She had no idea that we believed in the other prophets, or in a continuation of scripture; she thought our religion was one dedicated solely to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). She then shared with me her annoyance at the way that Christmas and Easter have been commercialized and paganized, and commended us for keeping our tradition strong.

Associate #2 asked, “So are you fasting? When’s Eid?” Being from India, she probably knew what was going on, from being around Muslims back home.

Associate #3 came and said, “Happy Ramadan! Is that okay to say?”I laughed and replied that of course, it was.

Associate #4 also asked what Ramadan was and, after hearing that it involved fasting, mentioned that she used to fast three times a week for one year, while visiting sick people in the hospital. Amazed, I asked her if she felt spiritually empowered by it, to which she responded that it made her feel that, if she can give up things that she likes, then she can do anything. I explained that this is exactly what we believe we get out of fasting: if we can abstain from what we can have (halal), then we certainly can stay away from sins and what we’re not allowed to have (haram).

Associate #5 approached my cubicle with a very serious face. I asked her why she was so solemn; she said that she was going to ask a personal question, and didn’t want to offend me. When I let her know that she didn’t have to be so formal, she asked what Ramadan was. I explained to her what the month was about. She panicked at the idea of not eating all day, for twelve hours. I told her fifteen. She was shocked.

Associate #6 kicked in, saying that when he played football in college, he had a teammate named Nasir who fasted while continuing to train and lift weights. I mentioned that NFL’s Husain Abdullah of the Minnesota Vikings, and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon do the same. He said he remembered Abdullah doing so last year, and that he was really impressed that someone could do that for their faith. Props to that brother, Nasir!

Associate #7 chimed in, saying that she read an article in the Tribune the other day, about a woman who homeschools and was trying to focus on patience and self-control while fasting in Ramadan. The article is actually about Olivia Kompier, wife of MuslimMatters’ author Siraaj! I told the associate that she’s a convert who accepted Islam while in high school (may Allah reward the people who helped her find it), opening up the idea that non-Muslims in America find our religion and grab onto it.

So, with a little cake mix, frosting, and strawberries, I got a mix of dialogue that not only began with an explanation of Islamic theology, but ended with an example of someone converting to our faith.

As curious and open as some people are to hearing about our beliefs, a lot of them don\’t know much about them, or have misconceptions that can be easily corrected. It doesn’t hurt to have the information we give them go down with a little chocolaty goodness!

I hope this story inspires you to do something like this with your own co-workers, classmates, and neighbors. If not now, then for Eid. But try to do something!

Thanks to Wisam Sharieff for inspiring me, and thanks to my wife for baking the cake.

There’s a leftover chunk that didn’t get eaten. Iftar dessert after breaking my fast, you ask? Maybe. That, or a 4:30 am suhur… :)

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

SaqibSaab is an average Desi Muslim guy living in Chicago. He enjoys videography and design as side hobbies, and helps out with AlMaghrib Institute in Chicago, Wasat Studios, and other projects here and there. His go-around vehicle is a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta 5-speed Wolfburg Edition. Originally born in Michigan, he and his wife reside in Chicagoland with his parents who come from Bangalore, India. He blogs personally at SaqibSaab.com.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Uthman

    August 28, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    A very good story mashAllah! :)

  2. Ameera

    August 28, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    Hehe, loved it! Although the sight of that chocolate cake during the fast… =s Just kidding!

  3. Nadia

    August 28, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    I did this at work with savouries more because it was expected however they knew it was ramadaan but the amount of thought and respect I get us amazing being the one of the ten Muslims in the company that always wears hijaab

  4. CaliMuslimah

    August 28, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    very inspirational good read :)

  5. Hena Zuberi

    August 28, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    Good dawah brother!! we give Lindt chocolate truffles with Happy Ramadan/ Happy Eid cards to my husband’s coworkers and to my kid’s school office- They get so much stuff during the ‘Christmas’ break that is nice for them to get a random gift in the middle of the year.

    I got an ice-cream maker and its so HOT here, I’m thinking home-made organic strawberry ice-cream to the neighbors instead of Ramadan cookies this year, inshaAllah.

  6. Umm Reem

    August 28, 2010 at 4:35 AM

    oh that chocolate cake… :)

    my mom passes out candy baskets with a little brochure on islam to her neighbors on eid

  7. mms

    August 28, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    For almost 12 years, I used to gift 1 lb gift boxes of dates to the Principal, all teachers and office staff in a gift bag with an insert about Ramadan [from CAIR] included. This made many of them ask questions about Ramadan and some others who had dates for the first time in their lives, would come to me and inform that they have now started having dates as “dessert” rather than unhealthy creamy sugary desserts!
    Along with this, I would also make presentations in my child’s class about Ramadan and other teachers would invite me to make presentations in their classes when word got out.
    So yes, as implied in the article, many non-muslims are ignorant about the real Islam and it is our job to let the word out.

  8. Haleh Banani

    August 28, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    What an excellent way to open the doors of dawa!
    I love the idea masha’Allah .

  9. Sayf

    August 28, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Pure genius mashallah! #7 was really cool – it’s a small world after all.

  10. abez

    August 28, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    That is a really great idea- now, if only I had co-workers…

  11. mariam

    August 28, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    a very inspiring article, ma sha’Allah!

  12. Olivia

    August 28, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    Associate #7 chimed in, saying that she read an article in the Tribune the other day, about a woman who homeschools and was trying to focus on patience and self-control while fasting in Ramadan. The article is actually about Olivia Kompier! I told the associate that she’s a convert who accepted Islam while in high school (may Allah reward the people who helped her find it), opening up the idea that non-Muslims in America find our religion and grab onto it.

    Masha’Allah, those Muslims who helped me come to Islam during my teen years were and still are AWESOME. after we all split i made dua’ to Allah to bring us back to together in friendship and make them my neighbors here in Chicago.

    and you know what? duas totally answered :)

  13. mnm87

    August 28, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    Its a great story Alhamdulillah. But Id like the story more if you helped your wife bake the cake :O

  14. Megan

    August 29, 2010 at 3:43 AM

    WOW! This is excellent Masha’Allah!!! (and the cake looks amazing, masha’Allah! Your wife did a wonderful job)

    It’s funny how sometimes we make things so difficult in order to build bridges of understanding.

    I was slightly curious about one thing. Could that be seen in any way as bringing religion into the workplace in a way that could potentially violate a policy? I just wondered, and if anyone ever had some issues trying to do this.

    Otherwise, masha’Allah, I am really happy to have read this. Inspiring indeed…

  15. AbuMarjan

    August 29, 2010 at 4:29 AM

    Masha Allah !
    I appreciate your wisdom ..

  16. FrenchFlower

    July 2, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Alaikom salam Dearest Brother and Sister! Sister, THAT cake…..looks HEAVENLY! I’m getting my “to-do” list today – for our upcoming Ramadan. May you and your family have a blessed Ramadan, and may Ya Rabb accept all our deeds. meen

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