Ramadan Kareem from my kitchen to yours
Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights – keeping our heritage alive
Ramadan – a brief explanation
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, a religious annual observance and month of fasting that is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The time spent fasting is meant to be used for prayer, charity, spirituality, and for purifying the mind and body. The beginning and end of the month of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the new moon. Muslims fast from before sunrise to sunset.
Does Ramadan always start on the same day?
No. Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about 10 days earlier each year. During a Muslim’s life, Ramadan will fall during winter months, when the days are short, and summer months, when the days are long.
Why is the month so significant?
Principally because it is the month that Allah revealed the Quran to the last Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Who is exempt from fasting?
Those who are not required to fast during Ramadan are young children, (those who did not reach puberty) the sick or those with mental illnesses, travellers, the elderly and women who are menstruating, pregnant, breast-feeding or have recently had a baby.
The month of Ramadan contains the most blessed of nights – known as Laylatul Qadr – about which Allah, subhana wa t’ala, says:
‘What will make you realize what the Night of Power is like?
The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
Angels and the Spirit descend upon it with their Lord´s permission with every command;
There is peace that night until the coming of dawn.
Muslims break their at sunset with dates or water. Traditionally we, the Cape Malays, will have a starter consisting of soup, samosas, dhaltjies, fritters. More often than not after prayers we will have a main meal. During Ramadan plates of food are shared with neighbours. Little children can often be seen carrying plates of food to neighbours, etc… The best charity, the best Zakah, the best Sadaqah is in Ramadan. Feeding the poor and needy fasting people is highly recommended in Ramadan. The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Whoever feeds a fasting person, will get a reward like him.’ (Ahmad) He also said, ‘Protect yourself from the fire even by giving half of a date.’ (Agreed upon)
The benefits of Dates
The Prophet (pbuh) used to break his fasts by eating some dates before offering Maghrib prayer. Modern science has proved that dates are part of a healthy diet. They contain sugar, fat and proteins, as well as important vitamins. Dates are also rich in natural fibres. They contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. Dates and palms have been mentioned in the Holy Quran 20 times, thus showing their importance. The prophet likened a good Muslim to the date palm saying, “Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. It’s leaves do not fall.”
The Five Pillars of Islam include Sawm: Fasting during Ramadan, Hajj: a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life, Zakat: giving to the poor, Salah: five-time daily prayer, facing Mecca, including absolution prior to prayer, Shahada: declaration of belief in one true God.
May you have a blessed spiritual uplifting month, ameen