Editor's Note: Yvonne Maffei publishes MyHalalKitchen.com, a blog about halal food and cooking. She currently teaches cooking classes, gives lectures on healthy eating, and consults schools on how to source and create healthy and halal recipes for their school lunches.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar and the holy month of fasting for Muslims worldwide. Individuals at or above the age of puberty and who are physically able to abstain from food and drink will do so from dawn until sunset every day of the month.
Ramadan is also a time of focus on inner spiritual reflection. Muslims are encouraged to increase their good deeds, practice self-control, empathize with those less fortunate and use this as a time to devote oneself to the worship of God and contemplate his message to humankind in the holy Qur’an. (Muslims believe the Qur'an was divinely revealed to Prophet Muhammed through the Angel Gabriel in this month more than 1400 years ago.)
Though the focus of Ramadan is not on food in particular, it is still a time when so many different dishes are savored, shared and appreciated. Because of the lunar calendar, Ramadan falls at different times each year, so seasonal foods will often make their way onto the Ramadan table, changing things up just a little each time.
During the month of Ramadan, which begins today and continues through August 30th, from dawn to dusk observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings.
Throughout this ninth month of the Islamic calendar, at sunset, the family will gather to end the fast with iftar - a communal meal that often starts with the consumption of a date, as the Prophet Muhammad was believed to have done. Dishes vary according to regional and familial traditions and tastes.
iReporter AMERICANSOLE captured sumptuous snapshots of a family's feast to break their fast during the month of Ramadan. From dawn to dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings.
At sunset, the family will gather to end the fast with Iftar - a communal meal that often starts with the consumption of a date, as the Prophet Muhammad was believed to have done. Dishes vary according to regional and familial traditions and tastes; AMERICANSOLE's family partook of maftool, fried kiba, goat meat, baked chicken and more.
See a video and more delicious pictures at iReport
In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on the world's dietary tribes, we're attempting to do the same. Future installments will explore the foodways, politics and beliefs of vegans, raw foodists, pescetarians and other culinary collectives.
Today, we're delving into the dietary restrictions of twelve religions in the hopes of cooking up a little interfaith understanding. Learn which group looks to yogurt and fresh vegetables for enlightenment and whose holy men eschew the digestive effects of legumes and crucifers.
Off the menu: Alcohol
Why: While they're not strictly forbidden, practitioners maintain that living a simple life, free from alcohol and mind-altering drugs is beneficial to spiritual development. Many Bahá’ís are vegetarians.
Also: During the holy month of Ala, Bahá’ís abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset to more fully focus upon their spirituality and love of God.
Off the menu: It varies, but many Buddhists are vegetarians and refrain from the use of alcohol.
Why: Buddhists, like Hindus, believe in reincarnation and that the soul may at some point inhabit an animal. Thus, they abstain from killing living creatures. Buddhism also calls for a constant awareness of the body and mind, and it is thought that alcohol dulls this focus, and increases the possibility of negative karma while under its influence. FULL POST
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