Guest Post By Hannah
Salaam alaikum to all and good morning to those near the Pacific time zone.
I didn’t get to the store to buy dates before Ramadan, so when I went yesterday I bought a big bag of medjool dates. I invited my husband and some friends to share iftaar together, and cooked my favorite food: Indian vegetarian. We had parathas stuffed with green peas, mung and tomato dal, mint-coconut chutney, tomato-fennel chutney, and rice, and it was delicious! The chili peppers, tomatoes, and even one lemon came from my own garden, and the gratitude I felt for them was certinaly more keen than usual. How good it is to share food with friends! Leftovers made suhoor this morning, with more dates. The dates made me think of the Prophet, peace be upon him. I knew so little about the Prophet before I became a Muslim, and now, thank God, when I think about him I have a feeling of happiness and love in my heart. Muslims are blessed to have so many stories about him: about his love for his family, his kindness and courtesy towards women as well as men and animals, his humility and even his willingness to share the housework! When I get home today I’ll share a recipe that he is supposed to have liked that I’m planning to make for iftaar tonight.
One thing I’m thinking a lot about right now is all the generosity my non-Muslim friends have shown me since I converted. There have certainly been people surprised, worried, uncomprehending, about why I would convert, but most have been lovely. My husband gave me my first Qu’ran, my employer (I’m a caregiver) told me to take all the time I need to pray at work and made sure I have a pleasant spot for it, occasionally strangers have greeted me on the street with “salaam alaikum”. So in the spirit of the comments earlier on the blog about how strange it is that gulfs develop between people who have a lot in common, I’d like to suggest that Ramadan is a great time to reach out to non-Muslims. Gifts of food and invitations to iftaar at home are good ways, since food always brings people together.
And now I have a question about food—Those of you who cook, do you do it all without tasting the food? I tasted just a speck a couple of times because I didn’t know how hot these home-grown chilis might be. I rinsed my mouth out after, but still it felt like breaking the fast.