Happy Thursday, everyone! Today I am so excited to welcome a very special guest and new contributor to the blog, Mubina Sami. About a month ago, Mubina reached out to us to see if we would be interested in highlighting a few Ramadan traditions on the blog, and I was SO excited for her to share their celebrations and traditions with us.
Let’s give a very warm welcome to Mubina! Take it away, Mubina!
Hi! My name is Mubina Sami. I was originally born in Faisalabad, Pakistan and my family moved to Canada back in 2000. I have four sisters (me being the 3rd child) and we lived in a very traditional house. My parents always made sure that we never forget our roots and mother tongue. Today, I live with my husband, Haseeb, and almost-two-year-old boy, Faris, here in Ottawa. Although my husband and I come from the same cultural background, we are very different when it comes to how we were brought up with Pakistani traditions and culture. So, a few years ago, we decided that we would create our own family traditions by incorporating some traditions we grew up with!
Growing up in a traditional Muslim family, Ramadan was very special time for us. My mom loves traditions and always made sure that we took part in every tradition that came with celebrating Ramadan. Whether it was fasting, calling family and friends and wishing them a “Happy Ramadan”, or helping those less fortunate than us (we used to make charity baskets for the homeless). I remember my mom would take us to our neighbours home and share date fruits with them and tell them about Ramadan and what it meant. My mom used to say to me “I want people to know the meaning behind Ramadan besides the fasting part”. During Ramadan, you are obligated and forbidden from “bad habits” like smoking, swearing, participating in gossip, or anything that is morally wrong, just to name a few examples. Every night at the dinner table, my mom would ask my sisters and I what act of kindness or good deed we did that day. This actually encouraged us to do more good deeds throughout the day (not to mention the bragging rights you had at the dinner table!). Looking back, I see this as a pretty clever way to teach and encourage your kids kindness to others.
As an adult, I feel like I am starting to understand the real meaning behind Ramadan. It’s as if it is starting to make more sense to me now that I have my own little guy. I guess it took me a while to understand the meaning behind it but hey, better late than never. I think through fasting, we learn better self control like commitment, dedication, and compassion to those less fortunate. In our busy lives, we’re usually so busy and forget to think about others in need sometimes.
Ramadan is a special month for a lot Muslims around the world and me and my family were no exception. Growing up, my parents had many traditions that we did during Ramadan. One of the ones that was always so tough was waking up early in the morning for fasting. And when I say early, I mean EARLY, as in before sunrise! We started every morning with a prayer and would then come downstairs. My mom would already be making our saheri (breakfast) and my dad would play Allah’s (god) name in the background (a recording of a religious arabic poem) and make all of chai (tea). Of course, we would all try to drink and eat until the last second before the time is up (just before the dawn). That was the cut off time before fasting would start for the day. The thing I disliked the most was having to go back to sleep after all that and then having to wake up AGAIN for school or work just a couple of hours later! Personally, that was the absolute most annoying part in Ramadan when I was younger!
My favourite part of the day during Ramadan – and I’m sure any person participating in fasting would agree – was iftar (breaking fast). My mom would cook traditional appetizers such as fruit chaat (pakistani fruit salad), pokaras (spiced fritter), samosas (vegetable or meat filled pastries), and mango lassi (mango milkshake). My dad would of course be making chai. My sisters and I would have some responsibilities too, mine was setting the table.
Whether it’s traditional food or cultural customs, I love doing them with my own family. It’s a bit challenging to bring the Ramadan spirit here in Canada since Ramadan is not celebrated by the majority of the population, but my family and I try to keep the Ramadan spirit alive in our households through the traditions we carry on and traditions that evolve. Decorating our house with moons and stars and lit candles is my favourite! For this year, I wanted to make an advent DIY calendar for my son, so he can get involved too!!
I hope you enjoyed me sharing my family traditions with you! If you want to see more of how I prepare and decorate my home for Ramadan, you can follow me on Intagram @athomewithmubina.
Until next time!