Ramadan: We Answer Your Questions (And Share Recipes!)

 

Ramadan is here! Understandably, some of us are unsure about this Muslim month of fasting. Ramadan, which started on Sunday, June 29 and will continue until Monday, July 28 to celebrate Eid al-Fitr (Muslims will need to look at the moon to verify the end of the fasting month, but that’s a whole other post!).

So what do Muslims do, during this month? Why do they do it and most importantly, what are they going to eat? (Just us? We’ve got easy recipes for Muslims AND non-Muslims to enjoy.) We break it all down for you, and show you how even a non-Muslim can get onboard, and fast too!

What is Ramadan Month, Exactly?
It’s the month that Allah SWT revealed the holy book, the Koran to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). As one of the pillars of Islam, this is the month where Muslims will abstain from all food, drink, and pleasurable activities (we’re talking movies, music…) from sunrise to sunset.

How Does This Fasting Work?
Typically, Muslims will have a meal before sunrise (suhoor) and only break their fast (iftar) when the sun sets. No cheating, and opening the fridge ten times a day! Oh, and no smoking!

What’s The Point of Ramadan, Really?
It’s a holy month of abstaining not just from food, but from all the not-so-nice habits Muslims have accumulated, like cursing or binge-watching OITNB (though it’s really tempting, and really awesome!). Muslims do this, in an effort to learn self-discipline, restraint and kindness. The point is to understand the plight of the less fortunate, to spend valuable time on charity as opposed to… binge-watching.

Isn’t Fasting The Whole Day Kind of Dangerous For The Body?
Fasting has been deemed as an awesome way to detoxify, and giving your body a rest from all the abuse (smoking, late night ramen fixes, death by chocolate cakes). So, no. Not dangerous at all. It’s a great way to detoxify your spiritual self, too! It’s the season to not let things get to you. Patience is a virtue!

Must Every Muslim Fast?
Well, yes. Exemptions include young children, the sick, the elderly, travelers and women who are menstruating, pregnant, breast-feeding or have just given birth. Those dealing with hard labor, or even athletes, can also be exempted. No one’s expecting anyone to fast, if you’re hauling heavy construction materials in the sun!

So Ramadan Is The Same Period Every Year?
Not exactly. It’s a lunar month, so Ramadan will begin 11 days earlier every year. It could be summer this year, and winter in the next decade. Either way, a Muslim will fast from sunrise to sunset, every time.

Is There A Specific Food To Consume During Ramadan?
Yes, and no! Dates were preferred by the Prophet, with its nutritional benefits. The idea here isn’t to shock your system and stuff your face when you break fast! The key is to tread lightly, consistently. This is why soups, wraps and vegetables should be staple foods for consumption, instead of overwhelming feasts!

Is It Cool To Eat In Front Of A Muslim?
Yes, guys. It totally is! Muslims with true intentions will not have a problem with your eating, that’s their own problem to handle! What you can help to do? Don’t badger Muslims to eat lunch with you! (We also humbly ask you don’t offer chocolate cookies during this period, because some Muslims might not be able to resist The Incredible Power of Chocolate.)

Eat: Pumpkin Curry with Chickpeas, Silverbeet and Almonds 

Photo: NineMSN

Photo: NineMSN

Australian chef Curtis Stone has a fantastic recipe for a pumpkin curry, with chickpeas, silverbeet and almonds. This curry is perfect because it’s not too spicy, and perfect for those attempting a meatless fast! Serve this with rice, and Muslims will be in iftar heaven.

Eat: Oyster Sauce Glazed Asparagus and Mushrooms

Photo: James Ransom via Food52

Photo: James Ransom via Food52

Stir fry these veggie babies, for the easiest, awesomest meal ever. It’s salty, and filling with caramelized edges that will make any Muslim more than grateful when breaking fast! Full recipe and instructions here.

Eat: Fruity Peanut Butter Chia Breakfast Sandwich 

Any Muslim will tell you, it’s a lot of effort to wake up for suhoor. We’d wake up for this gorgeous recipe! It’s foolproof, with easy ingredients like smooth peanut butter, maple syrup, strawberries, raisins, chia seeds (trust us, it’s good for you!) and of course, your bread or bagel. This will fill you right up, Muslim on a fasting mission or not!

Eat With: The Islamic Center, NYU
Need a place for support, or just a group to break fast with? IC’s got their Muslim brothers and sisters covered, with a free dinner every day for the month! Click here for directions, and be part of the community. At IC, all is welcome!

What are some of your favorite dishes for Ramadan? Don’t forget, if all else fails and you need ideas on where to break fast, you got us! 

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