Assalamu Alaikum (Peace be upon you),
This time we Pass the Lantern right here to Dallas, Texas USA! I am so happy to share with all of you the traditions and spirit of Ramadan and Eid, here in the United States...or at least here in Texas! Whats even more exciting is that I will also be sharing with you a Ramadan experience from the aspect of non-Muslim Americans, who were thrilled to share their "fasting" stories with us!
This year, Ramadan 2011 had some pretty distinct timing, as it began on August 1, 2011 and ended with Eid on Aug 30th, 2011. Here in Dallas, the Muslim community follows the Islamic timings according to the Islamic Society of North America. This is how we get the exact dates and fasting times with which we follow during Ramadan. Our local mosque, Islamic Association of North Texas, hosts all kinds of amazing events and activities during Ramadan! They even publish a convenient Ramadan fasting calendar for Muslims to use, so that we can keep up with proper times for suhoor, breaking our fast, and praying Tarweeh prayers each night. You can check out the Ramadan prayer and activities here.
IANT helps keep Ramadan quite organized, members can follow that link and find out who will be leading the Tarweeh prayer each night, how long that Brother has been a Hafiz of the Quran, and even find out about additional khutbas, or lectures, that will be scheduled that evening. Twitter and Facebook are also used, to let members know ahead of time which section of the Quran will be recited that night during prayers, so that others can follow along! Iftars are also hosted every weekend at the mosque and the busy Tarweeh prayers are kept well organized with assistance from security and local police to aid in the over flow of traffic inside and outside the mosque! This is a necessity because in Dallas, hundreds and hundreds of local Muslims gather each and every night to pray.
At our home, we really look forward to Ramadan! This year, we decorated our home with glittery gold Islamic crescents and bright twinkling Islamic crescent lights! We also have a basket that says "Ramadan Kareem" on it and it's full of candy, which the kids (and everyone else) loves when they come over for iftar. For me, it's important for Ramadan to really feel like a holiday, since I am a convert to Islam. I really wanted guests of our home to know as soon as they walked in that we were celebrating a special time of the year. You can find Ramadan decorations at Noorart and Eidway websites! We found ours while on our recent trip to Amman, Jordan, so that's an option too if your in the neighborhood, LOL.
When it's time for suhoor, we are always excited the first few weeks of Ramadan to wake up and have some breakfast! Right now at our home, it's just me and Hassan, so we wake up together and make some boiled eggs (his fav), and juice and water and I usually have a big bowl of whole grain cereal with some cut-up fruit. While we are eating, an application on my computer will play the voice of an old Muslim man, walking through an ancient Islamic village, beating his drum and calling out in Arabic for everyone to wake up for suhoor! It's so cute and really makes the early morning breakfast a little more fun. We then pray Fajr together and usually will sleep a little before time to start the work day!
Each year we enjoy hosting close friends for iftar, and we love visiting each other. There are so many nights that we will get invited to share an iftar at friends or families homes and we try to invite them back, the same. In Dallas, we break our fast with plump juicy dates, most are imported from Saudi Arabia (YUM). Then, we have a small bowl of soup and small salad. Afterward we will stop and all pray Magrib prayer together. Then it's time for the main course, then Tarweeh prayers.
At my home, if I invite Hassan's Jordanian family for iftar, usually I will make a large roasted rosemary leg of lamb with roasted potatoes and carrots in the broth! On the side we will have a pasta salad and my hubby will make the best kabseh dish ever. He's the "Rice King", the title is not official though, LOL. We also serve up some yummy garlic cheese bread and a delish dessert with tea awaits everyone when they return from praying Tarweeh together at the mosque. For the kids, I make them their own individual personal cheese pita pizza's, it's their favorite and shows them they are special! Each year, I also prepare a Ramadan craft for the kids to create together. This year they colored Islamic mosaic designs for the kids to take home and decorate with, so beautiful! You can download your own Muslim coloring pages here.
For the past few years, we have invited a few of Hassan's co-workers, at World Affairs Council, DFW, to fast for one day and then to break their fast with us in our home. It's always been something important to us, to share Ramadan with non-Muslims, and Hassan's co-workers really enjoy being included. This year, Hassan's boss, Jim Falk-President of WAC, suggested that the whole office be invited to fast and before you know it, the owner of a local halal restaurant offered to donate the iftar for that evening! I am so excited to share photographs and a few video clips from that special night with you!
We first prepared a friendly Ramadan email that was sent out to all the staff, highlighting the beauty and tradition of Ramadan and fasting, to give the participants a background. I even included some helpful "tips", like when you hit that afternoon fasting wall and you MUST have a coffee...just remind yourself of all the children in Somalia who are dying for only a drink of water. We also made sure to email positive motivation to participants the day of fasting, and tried to give a feeling of pride in having strong self-discipline.
The day was over and the sun was about to set, probably not quick enough for the brave few who made it through the fasting adventure. We all met at the beautiful home of Br. Ahmed, who owns an amazing (and favorite) halal Moroccan restaurant called, Kasbah! In his home he had a beautiful Moroccan inspired room for all of us to gather in, and a local religious leader was present to give a small speech on the beauties of Ramadan. The staff was surprised to learn all of the details involved in fasting, such as the fact that it is not seen as a burden and is pardoned from those who cannot partake in it. Shortly after it was time to break our fast with ice cold milk and juicy dates, and then on to delicious soup and warm bread! After the first course we all dined on the best Moroccan feast in Texas!
|WAC staff along with Nicole, Natsiria, and Hassan|
|Nicole with Jennifer and Natsiria|
|Hassan, Jim Falk and WAC staff members|
If you would like to visit the amazing Moroccan restaurant that provided the feast for our iftar that night please see their information below: