What is Ramadan?
Half of Ramadan is over! What is Ramadan? Ramadan is the 9th month in the Muslim lunar (based on the moon) calendar. This means Ramadan moves backward by 11 days each year. It is the most sacred month and a time for spiritual healing. Even amid a global pandemic, most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims observe Ramadan in some form. Fasting is one of the five pillars of faith in Islam. It is a time where Muslims who practice the religion of Islam fast from sunrise to sunset– this is fasting from food, liquid (not even water), no chewing gum, no smoking and not even sex! For us Dallas folks this means we start our fast as early as 5am and break our fast around 8pm.
As a Muslim, I enjoy Ramadan and the holiday spirit. Before Ramadan, I create an advent calendar for my kids. Every night after we break the fast they get a small treat. We also have a Ramadan Bucket list with goals for us as a family. My children and I make Ramadan baskets for our neighbors. I see this as an opportunity to share our culture with them. Some of my neighbors literally wait for Ramadan so they can enjoy their Ramadan baskets!
Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to brush up on their faith. Fasting takes away distractions and helps to focus on becoming better. While we fast, we are supposed to avoid negative thoughts such as jealousy or anger and avoid any swearing, complaining, or gossiping.
We wake up before sunrise and enjoy a protein filled breakfast. My husband prefers a more Mediterranean diet with kebabs and yogurt, while my older son eats chicken tenders or cauliflower crust pizza. My youngest son is in “training” and will only eat chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream and a smiley face. He’s 8 so he does not have to fast. It is encouraged to start fasting after puberty.
We break our fasts every evening with a communal meal called “Iftar” where we break your fast with family and friends. The menu at my house is diverse and includes wantons, egg rolls, samosas, falafels, and fresh fruits like dates and watermelon. After prayer we eat a complete meal for dinner and end praying the traditional Taraweeh night prayers (only offered in Ramadan). Last year was challenging with Covid, but we prayed at home together. This year my husband is going to the mosque with his mask on to join for prayers, six feet apart.
I’m off this week. Women are exempt from prayers and fasting when they are on their menstrual cycles, pregnant, or nursing. Children, elderly, anyone ill, or traveling are also exempt from fasting. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my iced, upside-down, caramel macchiato today.
Thanks for reading along today. There is a good chance you will encounter someone fasting – a colleague, a neighbor, your child’s teacher, or your therapist. There is nothing offensive with saying “Happy Ramadan” or “Ramadan Kareem” to a Muslim. It will actually go a long way toward making them feel comfortable and welcome.