Host A Green Iftar Table For #Ramadan2016

It's very likely Muslims will host evening meals in Ramadan. After sunset, when Iftar time arrives to open the fast with dates or donu...

It's very likely Muslims will host evening meals in Ramadan. After sunset, when Iftar time arrives to open the fast with dates or donuts (we are impartial to both), we like to be the first to feed someone else.

As much as fasting is an inward experience, it is an honour to host someone else's Iftar meal. This is all a matter of spiritual reward in Islam's balance of 'good deeds' versus 'bad deeds'. Ramadan itself is a month in which any regular good action is multiplied hundreds of times and Muslims strongly believe Allah knows every hidden intention and tiny goodness, therefore no action goes ignored.

Since I'll be cooking for my in-laws (there's seven of us) and neighbourhood, here's our check list of ten things to help you host your own Green Iftar for #Ramadan2016.

Please feel free to add yours in the comments section below.

  1. COOK LESS. Count how many people you are feeding and make food for two less guests.
    • WHY? There is always extra food at an Iftar meal and while left-overs are great the next Suhoor (morning meal) or for guests to take-away, it is nicer to finish a meal that was just enough. Consider eating less a Sunnah (prophetic action).
  2. MAKE ONE COURSE. We have become spoilt with three course meals so simplify and make it one course. Make finger food to reduce spillage. Omit starters, serve your main meal with side salads and drinks, immediately with a sweet dish to take home or share on a platter.
  3. Images + Kebabs (food.ndtv), Salad (health.US news), Fajitas (Today), Sandiches (Pinterest)  
    • WHY? Why not. The idea is to eat less in Ramadan. It is a light meal, not a feast.
    • Heavy meals are harder to digest, increase flatulence and obstruct an energised prayer. 
  4. GO VEGGIE. Be gentle on your insides by going meat free for a few Iftars. Inform guests beforehand that the meal will be meat/chicken/fish free.
    • WHY? This is a good change also connected to the Sunnah as Prophet Muhammad ﷺ never ate beef, and rarely ate meat.
    • We assume Islam's relationship to animals is 'slaughter and eat' but in today's industry meat is farmed for massive fast food franchises. Read that again - meat is 'farmed', for all the meat addicts. 
    • It is completely Halal to be vegetarian. It is a noble act to protect animals, and it is Islamic to eat consciously.
  5. SUPPORT VEGANS. If you know you have vegan guests, acknowledge their requirements and cater to them. Be honest when it's your first encounter of vegan-ism.
    • WHY? Being a good host means being aware of others' lifestyles and by asking vegans or vegetarians what they would like to eat, you're putting their needs above yours. In Islamic culture this servitude is called 'Khidmat' (service), and shows the host's compassion.
    • Idea: At the very least, have one vegetarian option in any of the courses you prepare. Check out three cheap and easy vegan recipes on YouTube.
  6. LEAVE JUNK OUT. Don't buy fizzy drinks. Don't give out cookies, or crisps, or chocolates or sweets. Instead, whiz up home made fruit juices, add soda water for the pop or serve fruity popsicles at the end.
    • WHY? Normally the sugar and fat is a treat in Ramadan but you don't need that poison in you or your guests.
    • Sugar is not a good substance, nor a food group. It has no positive energy and can make you feel 'full' when it's actually draining you of nutrients. You don't need that while fasting.
    • Idea: Swap all candies for fruit alternatives. Give this yummy lemonade a go too.
  7. WASH THE DISHES. Use crockery, not paper plates. Use actual cutlery, not plastic; actual table cloths and hand-towels, not reams of tissue paper. Share the food in large platters.
    • WHY? Plastic is unhealthy for your soul. Many Muslim leaders banned plastic and say it's a danger to society.
    • Wash guests' dishes and serviettes with hot soapy water and air dry to save masses of energy otherwise wasted in disposal.
    • Idea: Verterra's biodegradable plates are made from fallen palm leaves. Gentle washing will make them last longer.
    • SIFT THE TRASH. Check how much waste is produced at the end of your meal and organise into categories. Recycle where possible and everyone clean up together. 
      • WHY? We tend to get lazy after eating and see the garbage as just, well, garbage. Who cares, right. Get back the #EcoMuslim momentum because we are accountable for our 'footprint' on God's Earth. 
      • Idea: organise trash by (1) Paper: recycle. (2) Fresh food: Compost. (3) Liquid: Feed plants.
    • EAT ON THE FLOOR. Traditionally Muslims have always laid out a blanket and eaten their meals on their floor.
      • WHY? A sitting posture helps to eat less. The Sunnah way to sit for meals is actually one leg tucked under the bottom, the other knee up, foot flat down.
      • Idea: Eat and pray outside when possible and if it gets darker use solar lights.
    • INVITE OTHERS. Organise a street Iftar with your neighbours.
      • WHY? In a nutshell sharing is caring. We feel happier and enriched when we give what we love to others. So make extra for a soup kitchen (Bradford's Al-Markaz ul-Islami has one every Ramadan); ask your friends to make a dish each to bring for sharing and everyone eat from the same large plate.
    • THANK ALLAH. 'Shukr'Allah' or 'Alhamdulillah' are Islamic phrases of gratitude meaning 'Thank Allah' and 'Every praise belongs to Allah'. God gives us therefore we thank Him.
      • HOW? Begin your meal with a prayer. Thank Allah for the food at the end as many of our own families abroad have less. Send blessings upon Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and make a prayer for the cook and host who went to all this effort.
    Hope that helps eco darlings. Have a be-a-you-tiful Ramadan.

    Images + Dreier, Vegaster

    + Which Veg To Eat In Ramadan
    + 5 Tips For Healthy Eating
    + 10 Tips For Food Management


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