Ramadan is not about food, Ramadan is about worshiping Allah

According to an official statistics in Egypt, the food expenses of 83% of Egyptian families during the month of Ramadan sky rocket by up to 50 to 100%.  Not to mention, Egypt is considered to be one of the very poor Muslim countries in the world.  The statistical study revealed that in the month of Ramadan, Egyptians spend 65% more on meat and poultry, 60% more on sweets and 25% more on nuts, fruits and other snacks.  The number of lavish banquets and dinner parties hosted in Ramadan are 23% more than other months.  What makes this episode of needless extravagance still more pathetic comes from another observation of this Egyptian statistical research.  At least 60% of food in an average Egyptian household and more than 75% food laid on the tables in banquets is wasted, which is to say, tossed into the garbage while young children, their parents and the elderly in next door Somalia are literally dying of starvation in the thousands!  The attitude of the Muslims on food alone during Ramadan is enough to highlight how much the great principles of the Noble Quran are being ignored and violated during this blessed month. 

The waste and excessiveness Muslims indulge in around the world has led some Muslim observers to propose that the practice of Iftar parties or Iftar get-togethers should be abandoned altogether.  However, that might mean going to the other extreme.  Instead, we  need to balance our perception and re-arrange our priorities.

Lavish Iftar parties where half the food is wasted are unacceptable.  Abolishing Iftar parties completely would mean depriving the Muslims (particularly the Muslim youth) the opportunity of getting together periodically, an important gesture of unity within the Ummah.  Ramadan being the month of the Noble Quran, charitable spending according to one's financial means (however little that might be) and sharing food with the needy are important priorities.  But the food we share with the needy or the food we put on the table during Iftar get-togethers with our sisters and brothers need not be sumptuous and costly.  Just a simple menu like curry, bread, dates, fruits and coffee are enough.  The purpose is not to please our taste buds.  The purpose is to share, meet, talk, discuss the issues of our lives and our problems and get to know our brethren better.   There is absolutely no need for a festive spirit, neither during our get-togethers nor at the end of Ramadan (Eid-al-Fitr).  The hallmark of a truly Muslim event or party is simplicity and humility at all times.  In Ramadan that's still more necessary.  

I am also reminded of a Ramadan article I read by a sister titled "Turn off that stove!"  The sister shared the story of one of her Egyptian friends, I quote: "She recounted how her mother and the women in her neighborhood actually competed with each other in Ramadan over food.   They vied for the title of 'maker of the best cookies ..'  And this was despite the fact that male family members and even the Imam were encouraging women to share in the blessings of the month through prayer and mosque participation." 

Most sisters who carry the responsibility of cooking for their families end up spending too much time in the kitchen and too little time in the remembrance of Allah during the blessed month of Ramadan.  Husbands, brothers and sons often become more demanding concerning food during Ramadan.  They frequently invite their friends and extended families for Iftar at home.  The burden invariably falls on the sisters who end up slogging in their kitchens for hours.  Although our imams and scholars emphasize much upon spirituality for both brothers and sisters during their sermons and lectures, in Muslim homes Ramadan seems to be all about delicious food.   There are some who fast only with the view of enjoying the goodies laid on the table during Iftar.   Planning the Iftar menu for each evening and then getting busy to prepare it is the primary goal of most families.  From morning to evening there is little for anyone to talk about other than food. 

So, how much time would that leave for thinking of Allah and worshiping Him?   Simply rushing into the masjids like robots for Tarawi, standing there for an hour and then returning home without understanding a word of the recitations is NOT the kind of worship Allah mentions in the Quran during Ramadan .. or during any month for that matter.  The real worship of Allah with our entire heart & soul, with deep thoughts on His Final Message filled with reflections, contemplations and an introspective approach is no more in the Muslim community around the world.   The real worship of Allah has been replaced with food, parties, gossips and plans for the upcoming "Eid-al-Fitr."  That's how far away the pan-Islamic community has drifted from the Great Quran.   


  1. An excellent analysis and a very touching issue which a majority ignores. besides what you have said, it's sad to that as soon as the Ramadan month approaches, prices of the food items rises up. This is the month which teaches us to sacrifice but I think we do not want to understand the true spirit of Ramadan. I have heard many businessmen/shopkeepers saying Ramadan is the month to earn so why should they not increase the price of almost everything. We all know that majority is poor in many muslim countries and rise in prices decrease their buying power more. This should be focused and Govts should give subsidies to low income people.

  2. Yes .. unfortunately the true purpose and spirit of Ramadan is lost everywhere. Ramadan has been made so commercialized that in many Muslim countries it's known as the "month of good business." Instead of being the month of sharing and giving to the poor, it's turned into the month of robbing & stealing and depriving the poor. The governments in these countries are not even bothered to implement a proper price-control system, let alone giving subsidies or allowances to the poor. It's a very shameful situation and Pakistan seems to be at the helm of this mischief.

    1. Yeah, Pakistan is top on the list as usual. No planning and total mismanagement as ever.


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