There is no sun and you are sitting half-awake at your dinner table. The fast will soon be beginning, and once the sun is up you are no longer allowed to eat till it sets. So now is the time to feast.
Your family gathers around the smells of warm bread, dates covered in a sweet rice pudding, and your favorite dish, Shahan ful, has been made. Brown beans grounded to a paste, mixed with the rainbow of peppers and vegetables that will get you through your day. Rice accompanies this dish and its simplicity makes you smile knowing you get to decorate it with beans and vegetables.
This is Ramadan. A time of fasting, contemplation, and remembrance. Each day starts with a prayer reminding the followers of the Quran to contemplate the miracle of the Prophet Muhamed. Suhuur, or the meal before the sun rises, is enjoyed with family and is extremely early. The heart of this holiday is to remember what had been done many years ago when Muhamed received the Quran and is meant to be celebrated with family. Cooking dishes, prayer, and textual readings of the Quran are the focus of this holiday. Abstaining from fleshly desires or needs allows followers of Islam to be focused on Allah. This religious practice lasts for a month, as the faith and familial bonds of people under Islam are strengthened. The hope and prayer during this time are to grow a deeper connection to god and celebrate with each setting of the sun family, food, and friends.
The experience of the feast or Iftar is extremely special and I am glad to say I have been able to experience this religious tradition. A prayer is recited by the members of the family and as the sun sets releasing its last golden rays the moon seeps onto the skies canvas. This is when the meal begins and the intoxicating smells in the kitchen are able to be fully experienced. I can’t imagine having to prepare an amazing meal for my family after not eating all day and not nibbling at it.
But that’s exactly the point, your focus is not supposed to be on yourself but in contemplative prayer to Allah. Spices, colors, life, this is Ramadan. Being connected to a long history of faithful prayer, meals drawn together with family, this story covers multiple countries and continents. As family members prepare the evening meal, Kheema, a puffed pastry filled with meat, normally mutton or ground beef, is served and enjoyed with tea. You help your mother bring the feast to the table and feed the family. With each dish placed onto your family’s worn table, a moment taken from history is shared. Kisses, food, prayers, and time with family are enjoyed with a feast that comes after a day of contemplation and reflection.
Photo Credit: dw.com