Who could have predicted Ramadan 2020 would be like this? We knew we'd be turning our gazes inwards and focusing on spiritual development but…complete self-isolation? It's unprecedented! Lockdown Ramadan will be No Ordinary Ramadan.
It begins with food, of course. Food, which is technically NOT what Ramadan is all about - but we can't deny it is a central theme of the blessed month.
Yes, we're not supposed to spend too much time thinking about food while we're fasting. We're not supposed to open the fridge twenty times a day just to stare at everything we can't eat until Maghrib. We're not supposed to watch mukbangs and scroll through food-themed Instagram feeds and hang around the kitchen inhaling the beautiful scents of dinner cooking.
Yet, food - in the form of hourly cravings, daily iftars and learning healthy recipes to sustain us through fasting - occupies our minds a lot during the blessed month. And the first sign that Lockdown Ramadan is going to be No Ordinary Ramadan is, inevitably, food.
Our local supermarket, like many others, has limited how many items we can buy and getting an online delivery slot has become an elaborate game of chance. Usually, this close to Ramadan, we'd start planning our Ramadan meals and stocking up our freezer and cupboards - but Lockdown Ramadan is No Ordinary Ramadan.
Self-isolation is making us frugal. We're trying to make meals go a longer way and we're cutting down on luxuries. If we can't buy something we always have (chicken burgers) we start to re-think whether we should have been eating it so routinely in the first place (no.) We're more appreciative of what we've always taken for granted: a fried egg for breakfast, for example, now that eggs and oil are difficult to purchase.
We're hugely grateful to be able to still afford food; this unprecedented crisis has left many vulnerable, without income or savings to fall back on, and not having that burden is a privilege.
In short, self-isolation is making us eat more like the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
The Prophet (saw) used to eat a moderate amount of food. His meals were simple and he ate in a way which increased the barakah (blessings) in the food. Let's transform Lockdown Ramadan into a Super-Sunnah Ramadan! Here are four things to keep in mind when you are doing your Ramadan food shopping and planning your Iftar meals:
Eat together as a family
Some of the Companions of Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'We eat but are not satisfied'. He (saw) said, 'Perhaps you eat separately'. The Companions replied in affirmative. He then said, 'Eat together and mention the Name of Allah over your food. It will be blessed for you'. [Abu Dawud]
If you are fortunate enough to be with your family during lockdown - don't miss out on the blessings! Try to eat at least one meal together per day. This will increase the blessings in your meal and make the food last longer.
Share your blessings with others
During this time of hardship, don't take care of only yourself - make sure to share your blessings with the less fortunate! For many of us, this crisis has improved our understanding of how people in poorer communities live - with uncertainty, never knowing for sure where their next meal is coming from. It is imperative that we make sure those who are vulnerable have enough to eat during self-isolation.
As Muslims, we should not only lead the way in upholding community spirit - we should also remember that giving to others is a blessing for us and for them. Here are some hadith which illustrate how giving is actually gaining:
Allah says, 'Spend [in charity], O son of Adam - and I will spend on you'. [Bukhari]
The Messenger (saw) also said, 'The food of two people is enough for three people, and the food of three people is enough for four people' [Bukhari] - meaning sharing what you have does not decrease your portion, it only increases the blessings.
The 'one-third' rule
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'The human does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If this is not possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and third for his breath'. [Tirmidhi]
The Prophet (saw) only ate a little food at each meal and he recommended that we should only ever fill a third of our stomachs with food. It will inevitably be tempting to eat more at Iftar this Ramadan, but sticking to the one-third rule is the Sunnah and will ensure we continue to gain rewards even after we've broken our fast.
We have a bunch of Sunnah recipes up on our blog, explaining handy ways to use dates, barley, honey, olives and more in your Ramadan diet. There are also numerous seasonings which really add flavour to dishes whilst also fighting a range of physical and emotional ailments. This Ramadan, make the most of Sunnah seasonings to fight problems such as bloating, tiredness and indigestion.
To sum up: eat together, share your blessings, eat moderately and eat healthy! These are the basic goals you can set for yourself to transform Lockdown Ramadan into a Super-Sunnah Ramadan.
As you begin your Ramadan preparations, our teams around the world are preparing Ramadan Food Parcels to distribute to poor families! If you donate a Ramadan Food Parcel today, you will be ensuring a struggling family can eat Suhur and Iftar from Day 1 of Ramadan. Give now to share the blessings of Ramadan!