Ramadan FAQs: Yes, not even water

Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim readers! May your hearts be filled with generosity for those who find themselves in strife and may you reap all the rewards this blessed month has to offer and may all good duas made for and by you be accepted, Ameen.

❤❤❤

The month of Ramadan is upon us and that means Muslims across the globe are going without food and drink from dawn to sunset. 

A lot of my non-Muslim followers have questions about this month and so in the interest of clearing some things up here are the most commonly asked questions directed at Muslims during this holy month. 

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar in which Muslims observe fasting by going without food and drink and bodily pleasures from dawn until the sun sets. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the sightings of the moon, which would indicate that a new month has started. 

Why do you fast?

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a religious obligation upon adult Muslims. There are exceptions for the elderly, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, people travelling, menstruating women, and people suffering from chronic illness.

Those who miss out on fasting because of pregnancy, menstruation, and travelling need to make up for the missed days after Ramadan.

What if you forget and accidentally eat something?

You simply rinse the food from your mouth and carry on fasting. It was a mistake and you’re human. (See below quote from Bukhari and Muslim.)

Can you smoke?

No, you cannot.

Why can’t you drink water? Won’t you die?/ Not even water?

The healthy human body can survive without water for a week. (Please don’t go without water for this long.) During Ramadan we fast until the sun sets which means we get to still drink water every day at iftar (when we break fast) and suhoor (when we eat our morning meal before dawn) and will therefore be just fine. 

 

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Why don’t you just take a pill for your headache and carry on fasting?

Again we don’t ingest anything during the day and so will have to deal with our fasting headache until the evening. Of course if it becomes so debilitating that you can’t function, you’re allowed to medicate. Your fast will have broken though and you’d need to make up for it after Ramadan. 

Why do different countries fast for different hours?

Because of time zones. Dawn and sunset will be different times in different countries and so the fasting hours will differ. In summer, fasts are longer. In winter, they’re much shorter. Currently here in the Southern Hemisphere, our fasting hours are very short in comparison to the Northern Hemisphere where it’s approaching summer, meaning the days are long. 

What happens in countries where the sun doesn’t set?

I’ve read that they follow the fasting hours of the nearest city where the sun does set or alternatively they follow the fasting hours of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Are you supposed to fast if you’re ill?

If you have a chronic illness or are diabetic you should not be fasting. Instead you pay something called fidya.

Fidya is a payment made to feed a person in need if one cannot fast. 

Can you taste food if you are cooking?

I found this following answer on an Islamic website.

Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, states:

There is nothing wrong with a fasting person tasting the food if he needs to, as long as he tastes it with the tip of the tongue and then spits it out without swallowing anything.

But if the fasting person forgets and swallows it by mistake, there is no sin on him, and he should complete the fast. This is because the general rule of Shari`ah is that the person who forgets is excused. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks something, let him complete his fast, for it is Allah Who has fed him and given him to drink.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Why are you so moody?

Yes, some people have been asked this question. For some, being hangry is real. For others, they may just be quiet and introspective and come across as moody. While the lack of sleep that sometimes comes with Ramadan may also impact on people’s moods. I guess it’s something that needs to be answered on an individual basis. 

Do you lose weight during Ramadan?

Some people do. Some people remain the same. Some people actually gain weight. It all depends on what and how you eat when you break your fast.

Do you have any other questions about Ramadan? Drop them into the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer or I’ll contact a religious scholar if I am unable to answer.

 

Turkish-style red lentil soup (Mercimek Çorbası)

Walk into any Turkish eatery and you’ll find Mercimek Çorbası (lentil soup) on the starter menu. I visited Turkey during their winter and this soup was one of my favourite things to order.

I may have had it daily at lunch, when in the middle of walking around in the cold in the city, my stomach would remind that it needed warming up. This soup was the perfect midday filler, a great start to a dinner meal and, I even had it for breakfast one morning at our hotel as this was one of the offerings on the buffet. 

The addition of fresh lemon squeezed over takes the soup to another level of greatness. 

When I came back home one of the first things I attempted to recreate was this soup. I put a few of my own little twists on it – like adding a bit more carrot than they do and adding a chilli.

Mercimek Çorbası is hearty, healthy and, very simple to make. It’s also light on the stomach so you may want to consider adding it to your Ramadan menu as a start. Now that Ramadan in South Africa is in the colder months, soup is one of the most welcoming dishes at iftar. 

Mercimek Çorbası (Turkish lentil soup)
A bowl of comfort
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup red lentils
  2. 1 onion
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. 1 chilli
  5. 1 tomato
  6. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  7. 2 stalks celery
  8. 4 large carrots
  9. 1/2 tsp cumin
  10. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  11. 2 tbsp vegetable stock powder
  12. salt to taste
  13. 1 tbsp olive oil
  14. Enough water to cover vegetables while they boil
  15. Lemons for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Saute onion, garlic, and chilli in olive oil until onion has soften and turned golden.
  2. Add in tomato, carrots celery, tomato, tomato paste, spices, stock and seasoning and cover with water and allow to boil until all the vegetables have softened.
  3. Once the vegetables are soft, blend the contents of the pot.
  4. Once it's blended and smooth it's ready to serve.
  5. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with crusty, buttered bread.
From My Fingertips http://www.frommyfingertips.com/

What to eat in Turkey

You’ll get a taste of Turkish hospitality and generosity at almost every restaurant you step into. Warm welcomes, generous portions, and tasty foods are the name of the food game.

From comforting lentil soups, grills, kebabs, pides to indulgent baklava and Turkish delight, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Even the carts selling simit (Turkish bagels), chestnuts, and corn will have you drooling and they’re ideal snacks while you’re walking around exploring the city. 

Here are some of the most mouthwatering foods I ate while there. 

Have you been to Turkey? Which food did you enjoy the most? Talk to me in the comments below. 

Bulgur and lentil salad

This salad is inspired by a Hellenic grain salad I saw on an episode of Masterchef Australia.

I looked up a few recipes and found one by Masterchef Australia judge George Colambaris. It’s also the one that appealed to me the most.

But I adapted it to make it more budget-friendly and according to what I had at hand. 

His recipe also calls for adding pomegranate kernels but I couldn’t find any at the shops so I used cranberries instead. I also excluded the pumpkin seeds (didn’t have any and couldn’t get at the shops for a decent price but I’ll add this in next time) and capers (I do not like capers).

I also used brown lentils as opposed to green. I had brown lentils in the cupboard so I used that rather than buy a new packet of green. It also has the same nutritional value so you’re not losing out on anything. 

Overall this salad is packed with goodness and can serve as a meal on it’s own. It’s really filling so if you’re going to have it as a side dish it’s going to serve quite a number of people so make it when you’re feeding a crowd. Or it can be a week of work lunches. 

Bulgur and lentil salad
A wholesome, filling, and delicious salad.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cup bulgur wheat, cooked
  2. 1 cup brown lentils, cooked
  3. ½ red onion, finely diced
  4. 1 large carrot, grated
  5. Small bunch coriander, chopped
  6. Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  7. 3 tablespoons flaked almonds
  8. 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  9. ½ cup dried cranberries
Dressing
  1. 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  2. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive
  3. Salt and pepper to taste
Topping
  1. 1 cup double cream yoghurt
  2. ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  3. 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Combine cooked lentils, cooked bulgur wheat, almonds, pine nuts, cranberries and prepared vegetables in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together ingredients for dressing and pour over the vegetables, lentils and bulgur wheat. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, cumin and honey.
  4. Place salad into a serving bowl or onto serving platter. Top with yoghurt mix and sprinkle with toasted almonds and cranberries.
  5. Enjoy!
From My Fingertips http://www.frommyfingertips.com/

Broccoli salad

As the days get cooler, I prefer a heartier salad to accompany my proteins instead of having something leaf-based. 

That’s why this broccoli salad was a great side to the roast chicken I cooked for dinner. It also is nice as a braai salad or it can be eaten on it’s own as a scrumptious work lunch or meat-free dinner option. 

I added dried cranberries for a little tartness, but you can add raisins too if you’d like something a little sweeter in it. Or leave it our altogether. As I always say recipes are a guide and you can play around and adapt it to suit your own tastes.

Enjoy!

Broccoli salad
Serves 4
A quick and easy salad. Have it as a full meal or a side.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
20 min
Salad
  1. 1 head of broccoli, steamed and chopped
  2. 1 large carrot, pealed and grated
  3. half a red onion, diced
  4. 1/4 cup walnuts, crushed
  5. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  6. 100g strong cheddar cheese cubed
Dressing
  1. 1 tbsp sour cream
  2. 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  3. 2 tbsp white grape vinegar
  4. 2 tbsp sugar
  5. salt
  6. pepper
Instructions
  1. Steam broccoli and then chop into small pieces.
  2. Add steamed broccoli into bowl and mix with all other vegetables, nuts, and cheese.
  3. Whisk dressing ingredients together.
  4. Pour dressing over salad when serving.
From My Fingertips http://www.frommyfingertips.com/