A Month of Fasting, Not Feasting

Just as a balance must be maintained between the demands of our daily routines and our Ramadan resolutions, a conscious effort should be made to establish a similar symmetry with reference to our consumption of food and socialization during Ramadan.

“For some reason, Ramadan has given rise to a culture of month-long feasting within the community,” complained Musaddique Thange, of San Diego, Calif. “There is an urgent need to bring about some moderation in our eating habits during Ramadan. While there is no prohibition against eating well after breaking one’s fast, there is a clear and general prohibition against extravagance.”

Jahaan Muhammad, of Madison, Wis., agreed, “I do see a lot of over-cooking in our community. This leads to a lot of food-wasting. I feel that the more ‘elaborate’ meals should be saved for the Eid celebration.” Muhammad strives against this in her own home by keeping things simple, such as having more soups than heavier meals.

Last year, Thange, in his own way, rebelled against the deep-fried delicacies traditionally served for the dusk meal among the Southeast Asians. “I made a special effort to eat healthy during Ramadan. I would have a light dusk snack, and a regular dinner before the night prayers,” he said. “[Hence,] I would limit myself to two meals a day – a pre-dawn meal and dinner – rather than the three I had grown used to.”

“Preparing a after-fast dusk meal is extra work,” San Francisco Bay Area resident Sehr Fareed, also of Southeast Asian descent, admitted. “I do skip it some times to balance with other chores. In my opinion, there is no harm in a little feasting as long as you don’t waste food and too much time preparing it.”

Part of the feasting, of course, is the dusk-meal gatherings which occupy most weekends, whether at the mosque or the homes of one’s friends and relatives. A balance in these must be maintained as well; after all, while increased socialization is a natural consequence of Ramadan, it should not come at the cost of one’s spiritual growth.

“It is sometimes difficult to get back to the mosque in time [for nightly prayers] if you go to break the fast at the home of a relative or friend who lives far from the mosque. I try to avoid such gatherings towards the end of the month,” Umar Ilyas, of Plainsboro, N.J., stated.

“However, building community ties with friends and relatives is also important during Ramadan. So, these gatherings may be beneficial and a balance has to be found between community activities and fulfilling the worship of Ramadan,” he concluded.

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