Marrakeck souk in the medina called Jamaa el fna

Ramadan: Embracing the Spirit of the Holy Month

As Ramadan swiftly approaches, I often find myself fielding questions like 'Why do you fast?' and the inevitable, 'Not even water?'. Given the curiosity, I thought it apt to shed some light on the significance of Ramadan and why Muslims partake in fasting. While this may diverge from my usual musings on Moroccan cuisine, it's undeniably intertwined with Morocco and the special meals prepared during this sacred month.

Ramadan is much more than abstaining from food and drink from dawn till dusk; it's a period dedicated to reflection, patience, self-restraint, and deepening one’s relationship with Allah. I liken Ramadan to pressing a pause or reset button, allowing us to introspect on our deeds, generosity, and relationships. It's a time when my family truly comes together, transforming our home into a retreat of sorts, where we reconnect and recharge spiritually.

Fasting during Ramadan isn’t solely about denying oneself food and water but also involves refraining from smoking and engaging in futile activities. The commencement of this holy month is marked by the sighting of the new moon, as the Islamic calendar is lunar-based. This lunar reliance means Ramadan begins roughly 11 days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar, adding a layer of anticipation and variability to its observance.

Why We Fast:

  • Fasting is a fundamental pillar of Islam, underscoring our faith's core tenets.
  • It commemorates the month the Quran was revealed, making it a time of profound spiritual significance.
  • By abstaining, we heighten our mindfulness and gratitude for our blessings.
  • It encourages us to focus on our spiritual rather than physical needs.

During Ramadan, meal planning becomes a thoughtful process. Given the length of the fasting days, it's crucial to eat healthily to sustain ourselves. Our fast-breaking meal typically starts with dates and milk, followed by soup to gently prepare the stomach for more substantial foods. We gradually move on to lighter meals like brick a l’oeuf, grilled chicken, or fish, accompanied by salad, fresh juice, and plenty of water—I aim for 1.5 litres throughout the night to stay hydrated.

I view Ramadan as an opportunity to detoxify my body, steering clear of caffeine, sugary snacks, and other non-essentials. The initial days are challenging, but the sense of rejuvenation that follows is incredibly rewarding. Keep an eye on my Instagram during Ramadan; I'll be sharing snapshots of my meals and some cherished recipes.

The culmination of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, a joyous three-day festival celebrating the end of fasting. It's a time of communal prayers, feasting, and giving, embodying the essence of the month's spiritual journey.

A Deeper Dive:

  • The social and community aspects of Ramadan reinforce the bonds between individuals and the collective spirit of generosity and empathy.
  • The health benefits of fasting, coupled with the challenges it presents, underscore the importance of approaching Ramadan with mindfulness and preparation.
  • Traditional Ramadan dishes not only nourish the body but also carry deep cultural and spiritual meanings, embodying the richness of Moroccan culinary heritage.

For those intrigued by the nuances of Islam, Ramadan, and Moroccan culture, I encourage diving deeper into the wealth of knowledge available. This sacred month offers a lens into the heart of Islamic practice and Moroccan tradition, inviting both reflection and celebration.

In sharing this slice of my world, I hope to illuminate the beauty and complexity of Ramadan, a time that, year after year, brings us closer to our faith, our families, and our communities.