There is no doubt that Ramadan 2020 is going to be an interesting one. I know it feels more like strange, lonely Ramadan; however, as Shia Muslims, we know that we have the power to make the best out of the worst. Therefore I encourage you to utilize this Ramadan as an opportunity to get creative!
Ramadan is indeed the time of the year when our community is the strongest. We enjoy eating together, we join in congregational prayer, do doa, and read Quran with community members. Thanks to COVID 19, we are learning that we cannot always count on or have expectations from the community to add to our spiritual feelings. There are times that we have to recreate the same joy and spirituality without having a community around or a mosque.
Just because we cannot utilize the traditionally known culture of Ramadan, we should not give up on making Ramadan 2020 a spectacular experience.
This article intends to invite you to a whole new Ramadan fun and joy in the safety of your home and with your immediate family members.
Here are some ideas to explore and recreate the culture of Ramadan:
1.Create international Iftar meals!
If you have friends and family members from different cultures, this is the time to shine! Dedicate some nights to international Iftar meals, cook food from different countries, ask your friends about their family or national traditions and give it a try, maybe send them a picture too J
This practice, a clear sign of respect to different cultures, strengthens bound between people and also creates an opportunity to try delicious foods we never knew about!
2.Try a color challenge!
If you are up for some extreme fun ideas, try this one.
Designate a night or two to eat and dress in one or two colors only!
Pick a color, and make sure your meal and drink are only in that chosen color. Wear that color during iftar time, and if you live with family members or a partner, encourage them to do the same.
For instance, a green dish Iftar could include green hummus, green salad, vegan soup, and green smoothies. If you have a hard time thinking of color-specific recopies, Google is your best friend: search color challenge meal ideas.
Here are some search terms to find color-specific recipes:
St Patrick’s’ day meals for green dishes
Valentine day meals for red dishes
Halloween day meals for orange dishes
3– Create change in your environment,
Never underestimate the power of change in your immediate environment. Decorate your home or a corner with Ramadan decorations. Set the table and center a Rehal (Quran holder) and a Quran. Add some candles, pictures of your previous Ramadan gathering, or just things you are grateful for.
4– Download some apps,
Utilize an app or a program that automatically plays Azan (call to prayer) on your phone or computer, so the call for prayer is played during Iftar time. That adds to the experience and spirituality during the Iftar.
5– Sponsor Iftar.
I was raised in a culture in which my mom would cook traditional soup and sent it to neighbors at Iftar time. Neighbors would return the act of kindness by returning our dish with sweet or a dessert. I even remember my family making food and taking it to the mosque to share with the community.
When it came to cooking, the sky was limit, and creativity was the way to go to make sure people around us were fed some good food or dessert.
If nothing else, eating with loved ones and sponsoring Iftar is one of the most joyful parts of the Ramadan, and we are defiantly not letting a tiny virus of COVID 19 take away such joy from us.
You can surprise your loved one by ordering food and have it delivered to their place. If you are not sure what they like, order groceries to their home. What a way to add a smile to someone’s face during Ramadan!
6– Go old fashion, send a postcard.
I know technology has changed the way we communicate; we prefer sending e-cards to mail. However, I can guarantee that receiving an unexpected card in the mail can change someone’s mood. Make or buy a lovely card, add a little prayer or happy wishes, and mail it out.
7– Go virtual,
Invite your family members, friends, and community members to eat with you at Iftar time on Zoom. The fact that Iftar is at a specific time of the night is beneficial. Create a Zoom, or any other visual-based platform, invite people and eat as a group in the safety of your home.
You can use the same strategy for nightly Doa’s, Quran recitation time, and even group reflection activities.
8– Be kind,
Another miracle of Ramadan is that people tend to be kinder and more emphatic toward each other and also those in need. COVID 19 or not, there is no reason to stop those acts of kindness. Pay charity, make phone calls to check in with people, offer a listening ear, and a giving hand to those that need it.
The best time to be kind and compassionate is when we need it the most. If you feel drained, feeling blue, loneliness bothers you, or miss pre-COVID19 Ramadan, reach out and offer some comfort to others. Random acts of kindness are the best remedy for personal discomforts in life, as it was taught to us by our beloved role models.