Tag Archives: Ramadan

5 Tips for Students Fasting

By Mona Ismaeil

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Ramadan is just around the corner and with still a month of school to go, Ramadan joins us at a crucial time of the school year. Our children are the future of our Deen and it is essential we keep them excited, motivated and passionate about the practices of our Faith. At the same time, it is incredibly important to encourage education as a way of pushing our Ummah forward to more greatness.

Early mornings, attending classes, worksheets and exams are still business as usual. Here are some tips to help our students master it all.

  1. Inform: Inform teachers, advisors and fellow students of Ramadan. When others know, they can offer our students support. Also, by letting others know, our students can feel empowered.
  2. Diet: It is essential that our students have the fuel to get through the long days. Although it is hard to wake your child up for Suhoor, please do so! As an incentive to them to get up, prepare meals they enjoy eating that will give them good energy for the day to come.
  3. Support/Encouragement: It is very difficult to be the only child in the class fasting or one of just a handful. Be sure to offer your little one the greatest amount of support and encouragement possible. Remind them continuously that what they are doing is a big thing and you are proud of them.  Try different reward systems and trackers to help them see how many days they have successfully fasted.
  4. Be flexible: For young children below the age of maturity (puberty), encourage them to abide by the practice but still give them space for mistakes, accidents and just being children. School is a hard job and children get hungry and thirsty.  Although they are fasting, leave a small snack in their backpacks in case of emergency. By emergency, I mean they ran so hard during gym class that they feel dizzy and sick.  Remember there will be days when fasting just isn’t a good idea.  For example: big exam days, big presentations or generally stressful days.
  5. Educate: Children are much more inclined to do things when they understand why they are doing it. Explain to your children why we fast during Ramadan. Share with them some health benefits too as a bonus!

These children are the future of our Ummah. Inshallah with your support and guidance your children will be righteous Muslims.

About the Author

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a witty 3 year old girl and a sweet newborn boy. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

The First Days of Fasting

By Saraa Mahfouz

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I felt excitement when I learned that I will be fasting that Ramadan. I was almost 9 years old and Ramadan was during the winter months. The days were shorter and the breeze became cooler.

I remember telling my mom what I wanted for Suhoor; a bowl of my favourite cereal and glass of juice. When my dad woke me up with a slight knocking at the door and coming to my bedside speaking quietly, I immediately jumped out of bed. We sat together at the breakfast table and started eating. My dad reminded me to make the intention and then smiled at me proudly. It was almost time to for school and I brushed my teeth and headed out to the world.

The first thing I did as I got to school was rush to my teacher and tell her I was fasting and that I couldn’t eat or drink all day. My teacher seemed happy but confused as she didn’t know what was going on. She asked if I can explain more and maybe do a presentation to the class. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. At that time I was the only student in the school who wore a hijab. There were other Muslims in the school and many were fasting as well.

After the morning announcements were made my teacher called on me to come up to the class and explain what Ramadan was. I walked slowly to the front of the class and started telling my classmates about how I will fast for the month, no eating or drinking from morning until evening. Of course my knowledge of the subject was limited at that age but I explained to them that I was fasting to recognize the children in the world who don’t have food. Many of the students asked if they can fast as well. It was an exciting feeling and I felt proud of myself. The next day almost the whole class said they were fasting!

Fast forward 15 years later. I have my own classroom and my own set of students. The first day of Ramadan came during the fall. It was the first week of school and Ramadan had already begun. My students were the same age as me when I first fasted and the excitement was the same if not more. This time all the students in my class were Muslim but all of them had different cultural traditions. Students came rushing to me in the morning to tell me they were fasting with the same speed that I once had.

I imagined myself running through those doors excitedly telling my teacher. The students were proud that they were fasting and most of them knew they were fasting for the same reason and more. They wanted to decorate and sing Ramadan songs. They wanted to share their stories of breaking their fast with their families. I looked at them with pride the same way my father did that first morning of fasting. I thought to myself that I couldn’t wait to share the traditions with my own little family.

About the Author

Saraa Mahfouz is a mom of two boys (3 and 1) and is expecting a girl in July. She has been an elementary teacher for 6 years and has a passion for sharing her thoughts and experiences with others.  She started blogging in her university years but motherhood and her two busy boys have since become her first priority. Saraa also dabbled in photography for some time. She is very excited to get back into writing and sharing her passion with the muslimmoms.ca community.

Ramadan Crafts and Activities

By Maryam Kidwai

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Ramadan is right around the corner and I can hardly believe it. The holy month is a time of spirituality, solitude, socialization and a time to feast on savoury delights with friends and family. One of my goals every Ramadan is to indulge a little more in our religious traditions and become a better Muslim in some way. To this end, I also like to involve my kids in the festivities and try to bring them closer to our religion. I find involving them in arts and crafts an excellent way to educate them about the importance of this holy month.

So I have been on a pursuit to identify some fun activities that I can do with my kids this year. Thankfully, there is no dearth of ideas online so the challenge is really to choose the most practical and constructive ones. Below, I have listed some fun crafts and activities that teach something relevant about our beliefs and that are simple enough to do.

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Good deeds: Create a calendar or a jar of good deeds that children can do every day. The deeds can be as simple as being kind, helping out around the house or hugging a sibling. Check out these links for some great ideas:

Baked goodies: Bake cookies in the shape of stars and crescents. You can also bake mini cupcakes and frost them with stars or toppers that read “Ramadan Kareem.” Some people prefer the idea of dates – whatever you choose, put it together in a beautiful package and share the goodies with your neighbors, colleagues, friends etc. You may also attach a note to explain the significance of the month and the reason behind our fasts.

 

Ramadan journal: Keeping a Ramadan journal is a great way to set goals and keep track of achievements each day. You can keep it simple by using a notebook and a pen or feel free to try some options from the list below:

 

Mason jar lanterns: Mason jars are all the rage these days. So why not make lanterns out of them.

Make beautiful mason jar lanterns with glass paint and gold puffy paint. Use glass paint to paint the inside of the jar. For the outside, use gold in whatever design you like. To add decorative details, you can glue pearls or twine. For easy hanging, add loops of fine-gauge wire. Light them up and your candles are ready to enjoy indoors or out.

 

Screen time: Kids these days love their iPads/tablets. So why not incorporate some religious learning during their screen time. There are several child appropriate lectures on YouTube that you can watch together. You may also download some of these apps:

Sadaqah jar: Make a sadaqah jar out of cardboard, an empty pasta sauce jar or a pringles can. Decorate it to give it a holy vibe and encourage your children to donate frequently and also collect from family and friends. I find this a good way to reinforce the importance of giving, sharing and kindness. It will help teach them compassion for the less fortunate, which is an essential component of our religion. The collected donations can then be given away at your local masjid.

 

Quran time: If your kids are old enough, try learning a new surah with them. There are plenty of short surahs to choose from. You can also read stories from the Quran about our prophets, stories of the sahabah and hadith from the prophet’s life.

Prayer rug bookmarks: Make prayer rug bookmarks using simple items like felt fabric, puffy paint and glue. You can go to the moon with ideas on colors and designs.

 

Ramadan calendar: Indeed, one of the joys of Ramadan is the anticipation of Eid. You can create a calendar as a way to keep track of your fasts and also to countdown to Eid. Here is a link with some ideas:

 

Candy balloons: Ask your kids to choose candy and sweet treats and fill the balloons. Blow up 30 balloons for 30 days. Pop a balloon every night after iftar and enjoy the treats. You may want to save the best treats for the last 10 days/balloons.

Ramadan is primarily about prayer and worship. It is perhaps the most sacred month for Muslims and it is our responsibility to make the most of the blessings this month brings and at the same time celebrate in all its glory. As someone who grew up in Saudi Arabia, I definitely miss the atmosphere and the enthusiasm with which we welcome Ramadan in Muslim-majority nations. My daughter loves all the decorations and the general vibe during the Christmas/holiday season. She always asks why we don’t decorate our house and why we don’t put up a Christmas tree. While I am not fundamentally opposed to the idea, I do believe that we should celebrate our festivals with all the excitement and glamour that we can, if not more. So this year, I would like to decorate our house some more and I really want to put up lights outside. Something about lights brings out a festive vibe. There are some great ideas for decorating your home. Check out these for some inspiration:

Back home in the Middle East and in the subcontinent, there is tremendous excitement around Ramadan/Eid and I don’t want my kids to miss out. I have bold ambitions but I sure hope I am able to pass on the excitement and the spark of Ramadan to my kids.

 About the Author

Maryam Kidwai is a mother to two beautiful girls. She works as a Marketing Communications professional in the financial services sector. Maryam is passionate about women’s rights and empowerment and volunteers at several organizations across GTA. She loves to travel fearlessly, meet new people and entertain. She has entrepreneurial ambitions and wild ideas. Maryam wants to be a renowned author of many books and dreams of building a little she-shed in her backyard where she can curl up with a book to enjoy the gorgeous sun and the short-lived Toronto summers.

Planning a Fun and Memorable Eid Party

By Nasreen Faiz

Eid Mubarak

 

The holy month of Ramadan is almost here and preparations are in full swing for many families. 

As an event planner, I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to plan a variety of events, everything from weddings to aqeekas to corporate social gatherings. With each and every event, one thing has always been the main focus; guest experience. The same should hold true for an Eid party.
Ramadan 2015 isn’t here just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning for Eid already! Here are a few pointers that will help in making any Eid party a fun and memorable one!

Decorate the Home

This goes without saying. There are tons of cute Eid specific decorations that you can splurge on to liven up your home/venue. If you’re in Toronto, SalamShop, Modah and Kaamilah Boutique are great places to start. If not, there are plenty of small but fiercely creative shops on Etsy selling Ramadan and Eid specific decor. For example try Path of Light Designs.

Wear Your Best Outfit

You’ve dressed up your home, now it’s time for you to get ready. Be sure to wear a new outfit, or if not new, something that is special to you. Whether you’re throwing an Eid party with a guest count of over 200, or a intimate dinner with just close family, asking your guests to where formal attire will certainly help in creating a festive atmosphere.

Secret Eidi

This is a great way to get everyone (regardless of age or gender) involved! Ever heard of Secret Santa? The concept is quite similar to that. Essentially, you’ll need to:
     - Set a budget between yourselves. It can be $10, $20, $100, whatever you are comfortable with.
     - Write down the name of each person who’ll be participating on a slip of paper.
     - Fold their names and put it in a bowl
     - Go around the room and have everyone pick a name. This is the person who’ll they’ll be getting a gift for.
     - When everyone arrives at the Eid party, ask all of the guests to put they gifts in a communal area.
     - Once everyone has arrived, you can hand out to each guest the present that has their name on it.
     - The guest first has to guess who got them, but after one guess the person reveals themselves
There is one other variation to this game that you can consider using.
If you wont be able to meet with the guests prior to the party to pick the name slips, you can simply ask each guest to bring a gift that is suitable for anyone to the party. Once all of the gifts are at the party, you can label them all with a number.
Write down the same numbers on a slip and have each person pick a number.
A third option is to use a site called Drawnames.com to draw names and even add a wishlist.

Date Cake

Dates are an essential when opening up a fast, so why not celebrate by making a date cake for Eid? Here is a link to one of my all time favourite recipes; Easy Date Cake. You can even add your own little twists to the recipe by adding ingredients such as toffee.If you don’t want to serve it as part of dessert, you can even cut the cake into tiny bite size squares and give them as party favours. A couple whose wedding I planned recently gave date cakes as a favour to their guests and they were a hit!

Make Gift Baskets

We should do our best to help those around us, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. This year, create a new family tradition by making small gift baskets for women and children in need. It’s a great way to give back to your community. You can create small gift baskets for kids by adding a few toys, clothes or (my personal favourite) halal gummies! Blossom & Bean sells them in packets, or you can contact them about buying in bulk if you plan on making quite a few. You can add Pashminas for women, chocolate, gift cards,  etc. Work on them during the month of Ramadan, and then deliver them to shelters on Eid.
What are some of your Eid traditions? How do you liven up your Eid Parties? Comment below and let me know! :)

 

About the Author

Nasreen Faiz is a professional wedding planner and designer at Rangeen Weddings and Events. Life should be rangeen (colourful) which is why her main focus is to always create luxurious designs within any given budget.

Gluten Free and Fasting

By Sameera Ali

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Six months ago, while getting an adjustment at my chiropractor’s office, I  was complaining about how much pain I’m in all the time and that no matter how little I eat, I always seem to be bloated and lethargic plus losing weight is such a battle for me. After hearing me out, my chiropractor suggested I try going gluten-free for a week and see how that works! Well six months in and 15 pounds down, I’ve never felt better!

Benefits of being gluten free are numerous and immeasurable but it does come with its own set of challenges, mainly getting used to new and different flavours and letting go of wheat, and since Ramadan is here, a new challenge for me is to find filling and nutritious gluten free foods I can use for Suhoor and Iftar. The fasts will be long and time for replenishing lost energy and nutrition will be very little. You can literally call it the proverbial “race against time”!

Suhoor Tips

Here are my tips for Suhoor.

I plan to continue with Protein Smoothies/Shakes as my first meal of the day as I find them to be most filling and satisfying. Here some of my go-to Protein Shake recipes guaranteed to keep you full for 4-5 hours straight!

Banana and Date Protein Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 scoop of your favourite Vanilla flavoured protein powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk/plain milk
  • 2 dates
  • 1/2 cup ice

Directions

Blend everything together and enjoy!

Mixed Berry Protein Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1 scoop of your favorite Vanilla flavoured Protein Powder
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup ice

Directions

Mix everything together and enjoy!

For days I won’t have time to make a shake I plan to make ahead these delicious and easy to make protein bites!

Make Ahead Mocha Protein Bites

Ingredients

1/2 cup of almond butter

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp shredded coconut

3/4 cup of vanilla protein powder

1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

2 tablespoon crushed raw almonds

1 tsp cocoa powder [optional]

1 tsp instant coffee powder [optional]

Directions

Mix almond butter, protein powder, honey and coconut oil until smooth.  Then add remainder of ingredients. Roll into 1 inch balls and place in an airtight container in the fridge for storage.

These can be made with many different ingredients and proportions to create custom protein balls to satisfy your personal preference!

So far all my efforts at baking a gluten free bread have failed but just the other day I saw a new gluten-free blend in the store and I plan to bake some loaves of bread and freeze them to use as needed if the bread turns out good! Please share your tried and tested gluten free bread recipes if you have any in the comments section!

For Iftar Ideas, check out my blog at positiveidentity.blogspot.ca as I log in my tried and tested recipes throughout the month of Ramadan so everyone can benefit from them. Bon Apetit et Ramadan Kareem!

 

About the Author:

Sameera Ali is a full-time freelance content writer /SEO expert and a mom of four wonderful kids who keep her busy and thankful always.

What Ramadan Means to Me

By Muneezah Jawad

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Growing up in the Middle East, when times were different, Ramadan to me was the revered month. All the restaurants shut down during the day and people were not allowed to eat outsides till Iftar time and then it was a gastronomic delight for all.

It was a time when neighbours sent over trays laden with yummy treats and when I saw my parents make tremendous efforts to go for Taraweeh, read the Qu’ran and in general became extra devout.  Then there were the Eid preparations, but if I travel down that memory lane, I could fill up a little book easily so I’ll just stick to Ramadan.

Children in Canada I feel have a totally different experience and it’s up to us as parents and also as a community to make sure that they appreciate and understand the importance of this blessed month. You can read more about this in my article Ramadan for Children in Canada.

So I thought the best thing to do it to ask children of all ages and walks of life ‘What does Ramadan mean to you?’

Here are the very sweet, unedited responses:

1. ‘I can’t wait to have that red drink you always make Mama! And I am going to fast like you every day!’

Mariam Age 4

2. ‘This year I am going to fast every day and you can’t stop me. I love it when we all have iftar together and you make us those potato chips and spring rolls’

Azam Age 11

3. ‘Ramadan is when the gates of hell are closed and when our Holy Quran was sent to us. People try to give as much charity and do as many good deeds as they can. We go for Taraweeh and lots of iftaars too. In the last 10 nights we also sometimes spend the night at the mosque praying special prayers.

Imaan Age 13

4. ‘It means you cannot wear shorts and you have to wake up early for fasting and prayers at suhoor. You cannot eat the whole day, if you are thirsty in school you can’t eat or drink. You eat at the end of the day at Iftar time’

Daliyah Age 9

5. ‘Ramadan means being thankful to Allah for all his blessings. We fast in Ramadan to show Him our thankfulness’

Haiqa Age 9

6. ‘Ramadan is when people fast. People are poor so we have to be like them, to be like equal’

Afrah Age 9

7.‘Ramadan means we don’t eat and when Adhan goes off then we eat ‘

Ibrahim Age 5

8.‘We fast and pray because it’s nice. We can pray in the masjid and we can’t eat. We go to Eid parties and we can play for a long time in the house.

Rahmeen Age 6

9.‘Ramadan means to fast and remember what Allah has blessed us with that others don’t have. We read more Quran, pray and go to Taraveh. We give charity and try not to do or say bad things.

AbdulNafea Age 14

10. ‘We must complete Quran at least once. We must fast, pray and go for Taraveh’

Noufel Age 11

11. ‘We fast, pray salat, read the Quran and make sure we talk to others properly.’

Rahman Age 8

12.‘Ramadan is when we get lots of samosas, fruit chaat and meet with family at iftar time. I love going to going the masjid for iftar and taraweh so she I can make new friends.’

 Aaliya Age 4

13.‘Ramadan means fun for me. It’s fun because you get to fast. I get to stay up all night and eat Sehri in the morning and then sleep late. Ramadan is also exciting because I buy toys for my baby brother and cousins and the poor people. I also help my mom in Ramadan to give treats to our neighbors and friends’

Ruqayyah Age 7

14.‘Ramadan is when you don’t eat food to learn how poor people live. We keep fast, do suhoor, have iftar feast. We should be thankful to Allah for all He has given to us because he gave us good parents and we should behave well towards others, obey our parents. We should pray and try not to miss any prayers.’

Nabiha Age 6

Judging by the responses, it’s easy to see that Ramadan is not lost to our children. Infact we deserve a round of applause for instilling in them wonderful virtues.  There is always room for improvement. I think that while the food, family and prayers are apparent perhaps what is missing is the history of Ramadan. What actually happened and why. It’s in the  details. Tell them why we eat dates, and the significance of the last 10 nights. Ask your child what Ramadan means to them. It would be interesting and cute to hear! Don’t forget to let us know what they said.

 

 About the Author

Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Kids Busy During the Summer

By Rahila Ovais

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As the end of the school years is fast approaching us, I bet most moms are fretting already about how to keep their kids busy during summer vacations; especially if you don’t have any plans to go out of town during this time.  Since this year’s summer vacation will start in the midst of Ramadan, it presents us with an excellent opportunity to get the kids to brush up on their Islamic studies. Besides reciting Quran everyday as part of their Ramadan activities they can also

  • Memorize a new surah a week
  • Learn a new duaa a week
  • Learn the 99 names of Allah
  • Read a new story of a Prophet a day
  • Read a chapter a day of Prophet Muhammad’s life story
  • Check out Sukainaz CraZy Creations for some fun Islamic arts and crafts

 

At the end of Ramadan there will of course be Eid parties and get-togethers with family and friends, leaving us with lots of time to enjoy the rest of the summer;

  • Visit a local farm for berry picking and other adventures like corn maze, farmer’s market etc.
  • When the heat is on, there is nothing better than to visit a water park/splash pad or hit the beach or go swimming at your local pool.
  • Have a picnic or two; you don’t even have to go too far.  Little kids would be happy to have a small picnic in their own backyard.
  • Take the kids to a zoo.
  • Be a tourist in your own town and visit a historical site or visit a public garden or take advantage of museum discounts.
  • There is lots happening in the city during summer; attend a free event or go to the most popular summer festivals or check out a neighborhood festival.
  • Watch a movie under the stars

Check out more summer activities ideas here: http://muslimmoms.ca/10-fun-and-frugal-summer-activities-for-kids/

About the Author

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

10 Things I Miss About Ramadan In Canada

By Mariam Mazhar

Ramadan in Canada

Nothing in this world makes me miss my home country Pakistan more than the holy month of Ramadan. It makes me nostalgic and brings back wonderful memories of fasting and feasting for a whole month.

While I appreciate the fact that Canada has a big Muslim population – we have quite a number of mosques and Muslim cultural centers – but nothing makes it comparable to Ramadan in a Muslim country. The readers who have migrated to Canada from Middle East, KSA or South Asia will definitely agree with me.

Here are few things that I miss about Ramadan in Canada.

Muezzin’s  Call for Prayer

I miss it throughout the year and have finally come in terms with the Azaan App. However, it is not comparable to the ‘real’ call for prayer five times a day. In Ramadan I miss the’ signals’ announced from the mosque close to Suhoor and those joyous announcements to break the fast.

The Feast at Suhoor and Iftar

Growing up in a big family, Suhoor and Iftar times were not less than a feast. Suhoor menu included fresh parathas (flat fried breads) and varieties of eggs.  A lavish menu used to be set by my mom even before the start of Ramadan, for Iftar and dinner - Iftar time meant happy family time. In Canada, I know of some families who do not get to break their fast together due to late and night shifts so Ramadan is different for them.

Ramadan Transmission

We have all sort of satellite channels and many of them telecast Ramadan Transmission in North America as well, but I still recall and miss the special Ramadan transmission shown on television channels in our childhood. I sometimes recite those Naats and Nasheeds to myself and they take me down the memory lane.

Street Food

Street Food - Samosa

I really miss the fresh and greasy samosas, pakoras and kachoris that could be bought fresh, right out of the wok! No matter how much frozen and fresh varieties are available here, nothing compares to last minute shopping from crowded street vendors.

Deserted Streets at Iftar Time

Street in Pakistan at Iftaar time

I remember at Iftar time, the streets would get deserted as everybody would want to have Iftar with their family or at least would try to reach their desired destination before the Azaan. Life would come to a halt for few minutes with the call of prayers.  Here things keep running as usual.

Iftar for Neighbors

Growing up I remember my grandmother preparing extra snacks and sweets to be sent to neighbors for Iftar. And almost every evening, few minutes before the sun would set we would wait for somebody to ring the doorbell and drop off yummy treats from one of the neighboring houses. I particularly miss that here in Canada.

Shorter Working Hours

In almost all Muslims countries offices, businesses, schools and other institutions close early in observance of Ramadan. That means shorter working hours so people can have more time to pray and rest while fasting. Similarly working hours would be different on Fridays so people could attend Jumuah prayers during Ramadan. These are luxuries not to be found in Canada.

Salah in mosques

Salah

The mosques are usually busier and crowded in Ramadan as compared to other months as people try to pray Salah in the mosque. Even here in Canada, Muslims try and make an effort to pray Salah at mosques but it is not as convenient as in Muslim countries where mosques would be just around the corner. Most often we have to drive some distance to get to our nearest mosques.

Eid Shopping

eid shopping

In recent years I have noticed lots of Eid fairs and bazars happening in almost all major cities of Canada. These fairs have almost everything available for last minute Eid shopping. They start from the beginning of Ramadan and continue till after Eid, thus giving a chance for families to witness festivities and celebrations outside their homes. However, it still makes me miss the hustle and bustle on the streets in Pakistan during last few days of Ramadan. Last minute shopping trips, bargaining over the price of bangles, hunting for matching sandals and the traffic jams made Ramadan and Eid special back in Pakistan.

Eid Festivities

Last but not the least I miss Eid festivities at the end of the holy month. Eid is not the same for Canadian immigrants whose families are continents away and for them celebrating Eid means making special phone calls and Skype conversations. I miss celebrating Eid with my loved ones.

I miss Ramadan in Pakistan but now that Canada is my home I still look forward to it every year. There is much I miss but there are many other things that can make Ramadan in Canada special as well, for our kids as well as us.

 

About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is a teacher by profession, with a passion for kids, cakes and creative writing.

 

How is your Ramadan here in Canada? Are you an immigrant as well, pining for traditional festivities back home or have you adjusted well to the routine in your new country? We’d love to hear from you, on how you make this month special at your home.

Ramadan For Children In Canada

By Muneezah Jawad

Ramadan For Kids

Growing up in Dubai, one could simply not miss the arrival of Ramadan – it was evident in street decorations, in grocery store sales, in schools and just about everywhere else.

My parents didn’t have to make too much of an effort to make sure I understood its significance. For one whole month, the whole country got into the Ramadan spirit. Restaurants closed all day and were open all night. No one was allowed to been seen eating out doors during daylight hours or you would be fined. Offices had shorter working hours. My school had a special room for the non-fasting kids to go to during lunch hours and those fasting would be allowed out of gym and physically exhausting activities. All in all, the world revolved around us and Ramadan.

I love Canada and feel blessed to be in a country with such a large Muslim population. Mosques, Islamic schools and halal restaurants can be found at every corner! However I feel that my children are missing out on the nuances of Ramadan. It needs to be celebrated because here is a joyous month where our good deeds are multiplied and people strive to be the best version of themselves.

For a lot of us, what made Ramadan special was the atmosphere and our families. Since most of us have left family behind and our routines do not change here, how do we ensure our children eagerly await and participate in Ramadan as we did?

In the kitchen

All children love to cook. From chopping, dicing, mixing and laying the table, involving the children in preparation of the food achieves many things. It shows them that both women and men should work in the kitchen. There is no stigma in it. It also encourages team work amongst even the most squabbling of siblings. It teaches them to resist temptation and makes it more challenging by handling food and not being able to eat rather than just sleeping through the day. It makes them feel genuinely needed – honestly, with the long summer fasts we are having I am grateful for an extra set of hands to peel a few potatoes and they can see they were really being useful.

Ramadan menu for Iftaar and Suhoor is always different than other months, we make special food and snacks. In our house these include samosas, pakoras and rolls. These deep fried delicacies rarely show up during other months and children love them and look forward to it eagerly each year.

One thing that I particularly missed is neighbors sending us Iftaar. Almost every other evening a half hour before sunset the doorbell would ring and my dad would bring in a tray the neighbor had delivered filled with goodies.  For the past two years I have taken to sending Iftaar out to our Muslim friends who are nearby. Iftaar distribution day is an eventful one for us with the kids running around, helping package dates, filling up and labelling food containers and arranging them in trays. Then we pile into our car two hours before iftaar and kids deliver the meals. It teaches them the joy of sharing food in Ramadan and also about how to love and take care of others.

Charity

We all know that all our good deeds multiply during this blessed month. This is the perfect time to teach children how to give to the needy and appreciate what they have. My children are encouraged to donate their pocket money to the mosque. We go on weekly grocery shopping trips and load up on staples like rice, oil and flour, then we go fill up an empty food bin for one of the Muslim organizations.  Something about watching an empty food bin fill up makes their eyes light up. When I tell them how many families it will feed they are astonished and humbled.

Charity does not have to be about money. It could be about donating your time. We spent an entire afternoon at the ISNA mosque preparing 520 Ramadan food hampers for their food bank. Four hours of standing continuously doing physical work while fasting and my children didn’t complain once. They were so dedicated and determined. When the job was done and they saw the mass of food hampers they helped create, their pride in themselves could not be contained.

Ramadan For Kids

Spiritual development

Ramadan is the month where the Quran was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) for the first time. It is a time for us to strive to strengthen our faith. Those who are not diligent in prayers make sure to fulfill their religious obligations. People go to the mosque for taraweeh and tahajjud. They stay up nights praying and reading the Quran. They pray incessantly and ask for Allah to forgive them and bless them.

A pleasant difference I have found here from Dubai and even Pakistan is that women go to the mosque. I had never stepped into a masjid in Dubai for the purpose of praying. Here we try to go for Jumuah prayers every week. During Ramadan, there are  babysitting services for younger kids to facilitate mothers who want to go for taraweeh. There are numerous camps and courses for children of all ages at the mosques. Introduce your children to the mosque and make them familiar with it. Have them volunteer at the community iftaars or even take down some food during iftaar time and open your fast there and share your food with the others. Take them late during the last 10 nights. Explain to them their significance and show them the people standing all night in prayer. The mosque is alive and aglow those nights.

At home devote time to pray, sit and read the Koran together. Pick a Surah from the Koran and explain its meaning and relevance. Close or limit TV time and instead play games revolving around Ramadan. Make this month different from your regular routine and take advantage of the fact that the kids are off for the summer. A lot of nights my children have stayed up till suhoor just to play around and then slept in till 1 pm. It is all about making it fun, making it special so that every year they look forward to it.

We have to make the extra effort to make sure our children grow to love Ramadan and don’t see it as a hindrance to their activities. They have to feel pride at their participation and they have to understand why it is an important month. It is our job as parents to fill in the gap that living in Canada has created and to enhance the opportunities it has given us to fulfill our religious duties.

 

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca.

Tell us how you involve your children in Ramadan, are there any special traditions you follow. Do you have to struggle to get your children excited and interested in this blessed month? We look forward to hearing about your experiences.  

 

Eat Wisely This Ramadan

By Arooj Ali

Eating Healthy

photo credit: raasiel via photopin cc

Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan has many benefits – spiritually, physically, psychologically as well as socially.  However, there can be serious health problems if fasting and the breaking of fast are not carried out sensibly.

In long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods that are rich in fibre, instead of fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours in our system, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.

Food groups to mind in Ramadan

Slow-digesting foods contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice, etc. They are also called complex carbohydrates.

Foods to avoid during this month include heavily processed and fast-burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour or fattening snacks like cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets.

It is also better to avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and cola since caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination.

Fibre-rich foods contain bran – whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, marrow, corn, spinach, and other herbs like methi (fenugreek), leaves of beet root (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc.

Food eaten should be well-balanced, containing something from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems.

Foods to avoid

-Fried and fatty foods such as french fries, sweets, fried samosa, pakoras, parathas, greasy curries and biryani. High-fat foods are high in calories and are nutrient deficient which will lead to an imbalanced diet, thereby increasing sluggishness and fatigue during Ramadan.

-Too much tea or coffee at suhoor. Both of these are diuretics when consumed in large quantities and the body can lose valuable minerals, salts and fluids that you need throughout the day.

- Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks or cola after Iftar, instead drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself adequately hydrated – plain water and fresh fruits juices are good.

-Avoid eating fried and salty foods, they are unhealthy and might make you thirstier during the day as you fast.

-Avoid excessive exercise during fasting times – if you want to go to the gym, consider doing so after Iftar.

-Stop speed eating at suhoor, take it easy, it is not an eating contest!

photo credit: Samad Jee ( www.pakmusic.net ) via photopin cc

photo credit: Samad Jee  via photopin cc

Health Concerns

If you have chronic health problems (diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc.), are pregnant or lactating, or are over 65 it is advisable to seek medical attention before starting your fast. Medications often require some adjustment. Vitamins and mineral supplements may be added to help ensure nutritional adequacy during fasting. Also keep in mind:

- Adequate fibre helps reduce gastric acidity and maintains digestion regularity. Include dates, granola, fruits and nuts in your diet.

- To minimize heartburn and indigestion avoid spicy foods and greasy high-fat foods.

- Eat small portions and space your courses over time to minimize blood sugar and blood lipid fluctuations.

- Avoid overeating sweets and high sugar foods which may interfere with blood sugar control and alertness.

A balanced Ramadan diet

Pre-Suhoor: Should be eaten within first 2-3 minutes of waking up, even if there is an interval of 45 minutes between waking up and azan. For pre- Suhoor you need to sleep at night. In case you miss on the sleep, you can proceed to eat your Suhoor meal directly and skip pre-Suhoor snack.

Choose four options for your pre-Suhoor meals and follow a rotational pattern. Also make sure you drink at least 2-3 glasses of water between pre-Suhoor and eating your Suhoor meal.

Tea or coffee can be taken 5-10 minutes before taking Suhoor meal.

Suhoor: Eat wisely, do not eat cookies , pheni, yogurt, or lassi every day. It’s better to take roti or whole wheat bread with egg, kebob, potato cutlets or bhujia, cheese, butter, honey, gravy or yogurt on a four days’ rotational plan.

Vegetable stuffed paratha, though better than a plain one, should be taken only twice a week. If you do not feel like eating a heavy meal, you can opt between wheat daliya (cracked wheat or bulgur), milk shake, yogurt shake, smoothies and raw cane sugar (shukkar) – just take a very fulfilling Suhoor meal.

Also include a few sips of green tea with some shukkar in this meal. Patients who are on medications can take their dose with a little water after eating their Suhoor.

Iftar: Avoid white flour products and do not mix sweet and salty foods.

If you break your fast with sweet foods like dates, fruit salad, milk drinks, juices, lassi, shakes, cold coffee or lemonade then take your dinner after 30-60 minutes.  Water has to be taken before dinner. Take salty foods with your dinner or break your fast with all the salty foods like pakoray, chana chat, dahi barey but avoid dates and drinks. Now fruits or desserts will come three and half hours after dinner.

Frying should be in the olive oil. Do not deep fry and avoid flour products like samosa, rolls or sandwiches that absorb a lot of oil.

Healthy alternates to popular Ramadan food

Foods to avoid and alternates

 

Remember, Ramadan is an excellent time for beginning and maintaining proper balance in your life!

 

About the author:

Dr Arooj Ali is a health coach, nutrition consultant, weight management and raw food expert. She has free diet plans on her website: Ali Diet & Health Clinic.