Posted: Apr 13, 2021
Ramadan is one of the most important religious observances in the Muslim calendar. It is a month-long period of spiritual reflection and self-sacrifice culminating in a joyous celebration called Eid ul Fitr. From dawn to dusk during this holy time, Muslims are obligated to abstain from ingesting anything. This includes food, water and tobacco smoke. Exceptions are made for those who are ill and pregnant, as well as the elderly and young children. During this fasting period, Muslims are expected to spend time reading and contemplating the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, and performing good deeds.
Although it is a time of abstinence for the world’s Muslims, many approach the holiday with a sense of joy as the shared experience of fasting brings people together. The highlight of Ramadan is when Muslims break their fasts over an evening meal called iftar. A full day of fasting encourages many Muslims to better appreciate what they have. As well, the iftar meal is a time for sharing and community. In many communities, strangers will be invited into homes so that they won’t break their fast alone. Many organizations also provide free iftar meals to anyone, regardless of religion, during this time.
There is another Ramadan meal that is equally important called suhoor. In some parts of the world, this is also called sehri. This is the pre-dawn meal that is supposed to sustain fasters for the 13 to 17 hours they will need to fast. As Owais Siddiqui, a halal baker and caterer in Long Island, New York, points out, “suhoor is a meal that isn’t something people necessarily look forward to, as it entails getting up way early [before dawn] and preparing meals,” but it is “arguably the most important meal of the day.”
Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD, Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition LLC, echoes this sentiment, advising that “waking up for suhoor is important to prepare you for the day’s fast. Skipping this meal can place your body in ‘starvation mode,’ which may result in muscle breakdown and extreme fatigue.”
Ramadan eating habits don’t reflect how Muslims – or anyone else, for that matter – normally eat. As such, it takes a little planning and preparedness to have a stress-free and healthy Ramadan. Parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties have many traditional tips and specific foods they recommend, but as Siddiqui explains, “Meals over time and places are constantly evolving to suit the lifestyle and needs of people observing the fast in the holy month.” Many contemporary Muslims living in North America have thus incorporated some diverse hacks for a struggle-free fast.
By Carlos Olaechea
Source and complete article by: foodnetwork.com
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