- As far as food intake goes during Ramadan, most Muslims seem to have the wrong mindset. Fasting during Ramadan does not deprive a Muslim of nutrition. Rather, by abstaining from normal food intake during daylight hours, the body gets detoxified. The stomach receives a yearly rest.
- The Muslim woman has to educate her family. That this month is meant to be a “break” from regular eating/drinking patterns. Not a time to indulge in greater portions of one’s favorite foods.
- This month is about worship, patience, and a certain level of abstinence.
Asalaamu alaykum, and thank you for the question.
This is an extremely pertinent question. It deals with an issue that is faced by a large number of Muslim sisters around the globe. Might I add, it is also an issue that we, as an ummah, need to deal with once and for all. In order to achieve the greater good for our forthcoming generations, our mothers deserve a break!
Change begins from within: our mindset about Ramadan
As far as food intake goes during Ramadan, most Muslims seem to have the wrong mindset. Fasting during Ramadan does not deprive a Muslim of nutrition. Rather, by abstaining from normal food intake during daylight hours, the body gets detoxified. The stomach receives a yearly rest.
The fasting routine, when followed properly, is very beneficial for a Muslim’s overall health.
Allah says in the Qur’an, about Ramadan fasting:
“God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship;” [2:185]
This verse clearly states that Ramadan fasting is not meant to be a physical hardship for Muslims. Yet, many Muslims perceive it to be just that. That it taxes their bodies by depriving them of its requisite food intake. That is why they deliberately eat more during this month. They binge heartily on unhealthy foods throughout the night. They do this in order to make up for the perceived “loss of nutrition”.
This mindset about Ramadan is utterly wrong.
Ramadan fasting does not deplete our body of resources. As long as we take a healthy and filling suhoor and iftar. Even if we feel hunger and thirst during the day, fasting is not detrimental for our health. Rather, it gives our livers and stomachs a much needed yearly rest!
Eating a filling meal at suhoor, the regular dinner meal at iftar, and staying hydrated during the night. This is what every Muslim should do throughout Ramadan. Our daily iftar meal should resemble the dinner that we eat throughout the year. Sans the fried finger-snacks, high-tea items, special desserts or sweet drinks.
As for suhoor, a power-packed breakfast meal is enough. The same kind that the modern fitness industry endorses. These “power breakfasts” last longer in the stomach.
The fasting Muslim should take extra care to hydrate well during the night. That is, they should drink at least 10 glasses of water.
Sisters need to put their foot down
I think that the situation of Muslim sisters around the globe will only change once they put their foot down. I do not mean that they should be rude and argumentative. Instead, they should resolutely refuse to cook elaborate meals during Ramadan. Period!
This will, however, take patience on their part. They will have to deal with some backlash in the beginning.
But they should hang in there and not give in.
It is normal for husbands and children to desire their favorite foods whilst fasting. E.g. special desserts and meaty main courses requiring hours of work. However, mothers need to change their response to their family’s demands.
Instead of caving in and cooking the foods that their families demand. A Muslim mother’s response should be: “Ïnsha’Allah, we will eat this after Ramadan. Maybe during the days of Eid. But during this month, be patient for Allah. Eat only healthy, filling, and nutritious meals. Focus just on worship.“
The Muslim woman has to educate her family. That this month is meant to be a “break” from regular eating/drinking patterns. Not a time to indulge in greater portions of one’s favorite foods.
We are not doing a favor to Allah by fasting in Ramadan. We are submitting to Him, body and soul.
This month is about worship, patience, and a certain level of abstinence.
Comparison with the fitness and wellness industry
Muslim wives and mothers should advise their families, by making a simple comparison. They should educate them about what the experts in the fitness industry advise. This advise corroborates the Muslims’ yearly Ramadan regimen.
People who follow the advice of their trainers, eat and drink less during the day. They focus on starting the day with “power” breakfasts very early in the morning, and staying well-hydrated. Also, wellness industry experts recommend daily “meditation” to remain spiritually connected.
Those non-Muslims who follow this advice, achieve good overall health. Both mental and physical. They discipline their minds and bodies well, in order to achieve their worldly fitness goals.
For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is already a physical and spiritual “retreat”! A month in which they submit to Allah, and worship Him more. They tolerate hunger and thirst, and give up sleep and socializing. They give more charity, and exhibit more patience.
Keep meals simple: focus on ease and speed
Muslim sisters need to come up with unique, quick recipes for Ramadan. The focus should be on those that are easy to prepare and nutritious. They need to keep in mind, 3 basic factors:
- Nutrition and health.
- Logistical and practical ease of preparation.
- Their family’s tastes and preferences.
It is Allah’s blessing, that innumerable recipe videos abound online. Unlike ever before in history, today we can watch countless videos teaching the same recipe. A wife and mother should use wisdom and avail these resources. She can also come up with her own recipes.
She should choose recipes in which ingredients can be easily processed. Further, she can use the help of appliances. Such as rice cookers, blenders, ovens, and crock-pots. One-pot casseroles and oven-bakes are easier to prepare. Dinner can be ready merely minutes after putting all ingredients into a tray or pot. She should avoid frying during Ramadan. Soups, meat and vegetable grills, and sandwiches should be given preference. Cooking oil should be replaced with olive oil.
As for suhoor, oat porridge, overnight oats (in mason jars), or power-packed cereals are best. Blessed ingredients such as honey, chia seeds, black seeds, deseeded dates, milk, and barley can be added to these.
Last, but not the least, sisters should request all family members to do their bit. Everyone should chip in and help out with the cooking/cleaning up. Every family member who is old enough, can wash up their own dish. They can also help out in laying the the table, and clearing up afterwards.
Muslim sisters should advise and mentor their families about one thing. That Ramadan is a month when everyone in the family should able to worship easily. And whobetter to help out in her prayer and fasting, than our own mothers?
May Allah make Ramadan food preparation easy for all Muslim sisters around the globe! Aameen.
And Allah knows best.
I hope that this answers your question.
Salam. Please stay in touch.
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