As Ramadan is coming up, I often get asked ‘why do you fast?’ together with ‘not even water!’. Anyway, I thought it would be good to provide a brief explanation about the month of Ramadan and why Muslims fast. I know it’s not about Moroccan food but plays a huge part in Morocco and we create meals especially for this time of month.
Ramadan is a holy month where many Muslims will focus on reflection, patience and self-restraint. I like to think of it like a pause or reset button where we reflect on our deeds, generosity and relationships including that with Allah. I love this period because it’s really when my whole family really make an effort to spend time together. It’s a type of retreat or rehab.
Fasting is not just about abstaining from food but also abstaining from other activities such as smoking and futile acts. The start of the month of fasting will be determined by the sighting of the new moon as the Islamic calendar is based on lunar months. As lunar months are shorter than solar months it means the Islamic calendar does not correspond with the Gregorian calendar. It means Ramadan occurs around 11 days earlier each year.
Now to answer the question to why:
- It’s part of the 5 pillars of Islam. The basic rules of Islam.
- Ramadan is the month which the Quran was revealed.
- Abstaining from we pay more attention as well as it makes us grateful for what we have.
- It’s to focus on the spiritual being not just the physical.
In terms of food, I really think about the meal; as the days are very long at the moment, my family and I eat really healthy to make sure we have enough nutrients to last us through the day. To break our fast, we eat dates and some milk followed by soup because if you go straight into a proper meal, you will feel so full and uncomfortable. Because your stomach has shrunk. After we have digested the soup then we will have a light meal, sometimes it will be a brick a l’oeuf, grilled chicken or grilled fish with some salad with some fresh juice and of course lots of water. I aim for 1.5 litre throughout the night. Yep, you need to get those 6 glasses a day in.
I take this time to detox my body so I stay away from caffeine, sugary snack and other unnecessary foods. I admit the first few days are hard but then I really feel good. I’ll post photos on Instagram during Ramadan of my meals and post some recipes.
There is a special three-day festival to mark the end of Ramadan. This is called Eid al-Fitr - the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.