By now every Muslim across the world should have celebrated Eid and a new month is upon us.

Saturday was our last fast and it was a busy one as Mo and I travelled across to the Yorkshire town where my (very large) family live, to visit and catch up with loved ones who we knew we wouldn’t get a chance to see on the day.

I also managed to find time to pop into the Trafford Centre to check out some of their celebrations, which I was excited about – it’s been really amazing to see how many mainstream companies and organisations are starting to recognise this all-important Islamic holiday! Of course, I also had some last minute shopping to do (face. palm).

I officially began my Eid celebrations with family on Sunday morning. Even with the rain, there was a great turnout at the park for the community Eid prayers. Followed by visiting more family, lots of good food and some real laughs!

The holy month of Ramadhan is now over and I personally feel like it passed way too quickly. I feel almost a bit in shock that everything is expected to return to normal.

I ran an #idealiftar competition over the last few weeks, which I really enjoyed hosting. There were so many great entries and I received some really nice supportive messages from non-Muslims, it was wonderful. The winning entry was from Sadia Iqbal who sent in a fantastic tweet of her ideal iftar at a Great Get Together community evening, in memory of Jo Cox. It completely captured the essence of Ramadhan to me – a worthy winner! (Congratulations again Sadia!)

At dinner the other day, one of my dear friends asked me:

“so what do you think you’ve gained during this month?”

I kind of paused. Partly because in my head there was so much I had planned for Ramadhan which I just didn’t get round to doing. With such long days, tiredness stopped me from being as productive as usual. It’s left me feeling a bit disappointed in myself.

But I knew that fasting this year reinforced my feeling of gratitude – a key element of why we do what we do.

When the weather heated up in the last week, all I wanted for iftar was a glass of water. I can’t actually describe that feeling of the cold glass in hand, the relief of feeling that same coolness travel down your throat. The throbbing headache from lack of fluid starts to slowly relieve itself. I didn’t even care about food on those days.

Filling the glasses ready to drink, it really hits you how privileged we are to be able to turn on a tap and know that the water gushing out is clean, cool and safe to drink. It broke my heart to think of those around the world, from all kinds of situations, who probably endure the same ‘fasting’ conditions we observed, not by choice. Feeling that sense of dehydration only to quench it with a warm drink, perhaps one that isn’t clean. If you look at world news right now, Yemen is currently suffering from the worlds worst outbreak of cholera – 14.5 million people are said to have been cut off from clean and safe water supplies. It really puts things into perspective.

From that moment, I’ve thought about that same feeling every day and I hope I continue to do so for the foreseeable. One of the problems with the month of Ramadhan is a lot of people assume its a month to behave, but it’s actually more about reflecting on your life and making long term changes.

Changes for your own good and that of others. Changes that make you a better person.

I am so grateful for everything I have in my life.

For my husband. My mum, my dad. My sisters. My brothers. My grandparents. All my crazy cousins, aunties, uncles… of which I have many (like seriously, hundreds). For my friends. Scattered all over the world.

For the privileges God has given to me throughout my life. For the tests he’s thrown my way. For the ambition and strength he has given me to do everything that I do.

For the fight he has burned into me these last few years. For the feeling that I want to be more than just a 9-5 TV watcher robot and for helping me feel that even just the one person can make a difference.

For opening my eyes to learning about the world. Through travel. Through politics, through hope and activism.

I’m going to end with a quote I heard recently… one of the worlds greatest singers of all time, the sensational Celine Dion, said that her late husband gave her a piece of advice that she will always remember.

“You don’t want a hit. You want a career”

 

 

And she said from hearing those words, that’s exactly what she set out to do. (And she did a bloody good job)

Now I too want to take those words of wisdom, I want to take everything that I love doing and not focus on just the one thing becoming a ‘hit’ – I want to throw the same amount of dedication Celine has put forward and turn my dreams of helping people into a career.

Turn my fight for humanity, politics and spreading hope into something more meaningful.

It’s not going to be easy, I know that. But we got through a month of 18 hour fasts, so surely anything is possible!

I just know that even if we don’t always have the answers, faith can carry us through so I won’t give up on mine.

After all…

Love comes to those who believe in it.

That’s the way it is

😉

 

 

What career are you wanting to make for yourself? If you were fasting too, do you intend on carrying forward any life changes???

 

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We’ve just passed the halfway mark of Ramadhan! If you’ve been fasting, I think you definitely deserve a pat on the back. I know I’m certainly chuffed I’ve managed to make it so far this year without too much whingeing, very unlike me but I am trying my best to keep my cool.

I’ve got a few bits and pieces I’d like to share which may seem a bit random but I’m in an offload kind of mood. Things that I’ve been thinking about, stuff coming up and also just a general update:

 

First of all…

Still time to enter your #idealiftar for a chance to win a £100 intu Trafford Centre Gift card!

A competition not exclusive to Muslims, I’m simply asking you to share what your #idealiftar (meal) would be. I’ve had loads of great entries on twitter and Instagram already, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourites so far:

 

 

I’ve been lucky enough to share a number of wonderful iftar meals over the last two weeks, even an extra special one with a non-Muslim friend who decided to give fasting a go that day (she did amazing!).

 

 

The competition is running up until the 22nd June so snap those pics and send through your ideas – there’s a hundred pounds at stake here!!!

 

(click here if you want to read the full competition info)

 

Ramadhan update:

Earlier this month I wrote a post explaining exactly why we fast and why this month is so important to us. Many people look at Ramadhan like an esteemed passing guest, one that has chosen to enter our homes and we are expected to be on our best behaviour. I also mentioned in my last post that this was the month in which the Quran, our Holy Book, was revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him)

It is believed that this important moment occurred in the last ten days of Ramadhan. The night it happened is called ‘Laylat Ul Qadr’ an Arabic phrase that loosely translates to ‘Night of Power.’

In the Quran, we are told that worship on this night is better than 1,000 nights of worship, the angels descend upon the earth and it is the ultimate time to ask for forgiveness, for mercy and for blessings.

Of course the beauty of this blessed night is that no-one knows exactly when it is! The date itself was never revealed, all we know is that it occurs at some point in the last ten days of the month. Most Muslims believe that there is a high probability that it falls on one of the odd nights, i.e. the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th etc.

It’s a night like no other and is the reason why most people ramp up their prayers and try to dedicate as much time as possible to worship, this can be quite hard as energy levels start to fade as we start nearing the end!

But needs must, it only comes around once a year and with the state of the world these days we have a lot of peace to pray for 😉

 

What’s coming up?

Well the last half is not just the most precious spiritually, it’s also the most testing. Some people find it flies, others find it drags… it always varies for me. But by this point most food reserves have been burned off and exhaustion can start to set in.

Either way, I’m looking forward to savouring the last moments of this holy month and of course excited to start preparing for Eid too!!

Across America, even here in Manchester, this weekend saw a number of organisations out on the streets protesting – mainly against Muslims. But what these people didn’t expect is that love is always the most triumphant power of all and counter protests were quick to assemble and in most cases completely outnumbered the hate-preachers.

As a Muslim, knowing that there are so many people out there who are willing to stand up for us is comforting. And that goes for companies and governments too. My (very obvious) love for Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters stems for their belief in equality and looking out for everyone, no matter who they are. And when better to show Muslims support than Eid.

London draws on its strength of community and plays host to a fantastic Eid celebration right in the heart of the city. On the 2nd of July Trafalgar Square will host their annual Eid Festival.  Theres a main stage, stalls, food carts and much more as everyone is invited to celebrate this special time of year.

Up here in Manchester, our very own intu Trafford Centre has decided to show they are also ready to celebrate, and have organised a celebration of their own. Whether you’re Muslim or not.. get involved! Come and see the shows, the drummers, the Bollywood harpist (!?!) get a henna tattoo… Mo and I will definitely be checking it out so come join us!

 

 

I am so excited that people are starting to acknowledge our celebrations, the way they have with others such as Chinese New Year, Diwali and Christmas.

I remember a conversation with the lovely Emaan, marketing and events manager at Scene in Spinningfields, where she was telling me about her upbringing in Trinidad. One thing that always resonated with me was when she said one of her favourite things about growing up there was that everyone in the community made the effort to celebrate each other’s religions, cultures and festivals. Each person proud to show off their heritage and what makes them different.

I love that we can do that here too and I love even more that this time of year I can share mine!

 

 

What have you got planned for Eid? Are there any other Eid events you can recommend? Or perhaps you celebrate some other way? I’d love to hear your stories!

 

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share your ideal iftar win with intu trafford centre

 

Thought I’d start by saying Ramadhan Mubarak again as we have now officially entered this holy month 🙂

This post today is all about iftar.

Let’s be brutally honest, yes we are all excited for this truly blessed time of year but when it’s the first few days and it’s hot and stuffy like it has been, the most exciting thing on our minds right now is definitely DINNER TIME.

 

What exactly is Iftar?

If you’ve heard of it and ever wondered what it means, its an Arabic word that translates into ‘break a fast.’ So technically our morning breakfast is in fact a daily iftar, as we are breaking fast from not eating over night.

In Ramadan, iftar comes at the moment of dusk, when the sun goes down and Muslims can finally eat after a long day of fasting. Like I mentioned in my last post, Ramadhan is a time to spend time with family and loved-ones and iftar is usually the one moment in a day where everyone can get together, regardless of whats going on in each others lives.

 

What do we do at Iftar time?

Well everyone tends to have their own traditions, their own routine.

My ideal iftar is definitely when we make the trip over to our mothers, who always go the extra mile and make incredible feasts!

 

iftar meal at mums

sneak preview from last night at mums 🙂

 

In the UK, group iftars have become increasingly more popular over recent years. Friends and families get together and each attending couple or family brings a dish and everybody shares what have been the labours of love that day.

In Egypt, people traditionally break their fasts with a dish that is very close to my heart, foul (pronounced fool) medames. It’s a hearty dish made with medames beans eaten with a wholemeal flat bread and its AMAZING!!! (I ate it every day when we were in Abu Dhabi and never got sick of it).

 

 

Iranians traditionally break their fasts with a sweet tea, cheese and walnut sandwiches. Other special foods eaten during the month are firni, which is a type of sweet rice in milk, as well as vegetable soups and a variety of rice dishes.

In East Africa (which is where Mo’s family are from) iftar consists of a mixture of Indian and African dishes, like samosas, bhajis, coconut and corn curries – it really is a melting pot of flavours and cuisines.

Moroccans break their fasts with Harira a hearty North African soup (my dads favourite) and also a selection of fried pastries filled with cheeses, spinach and mince.

I love this article from the Huffington Post which shows a series of beautiful images of iftar meals from around the world, I only wish there were more photos!

 

 

iftars from around the world

Images by the Associated Press, from Huffington Post, link in article

 

The one thing all iftars have in common, regardless of geographical location is that people tend to come together.

 

What would you eat?

Earlier this week, my mum pestered us to tell her what we fancied eating for our very first iftari of 2017.

I had NO idea.

When you’ve not had a crumb of food all day deciding what to eat is hard.

What would you choose?

This year, I’ve decided to explore the idea of finding my ideal iftar. So I’m looking to you for help…

Inspired by the images from iftars around the world, I’ve teamed up with intu Trafford Centre and for the first time in a long time I am giving you the chance to win something. Not just something, a chance to win a £100 intu Trafford Centre GIFT CARD

(a hundred quid!?!).

Share your ideal iftar on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #idealiftar and you could be in with a chance of winning the perfect pre-Eid gift.

It could be at home with friends, with family, just you perhaps. It could be out and about at your favourite restaurant or Ramadhan event… the choices are endless. Whether your Muslim or not I’d like to see what meal you would choose to break your fast with.

So…

What’s going to be your ideal iftar?

 

whats your ideal iftar? #idealiftar

 

 

*** Terms & Conditions ***

  • You can share as many or as little entries as you want!
  • Entries must include the hashtag #idealiftar 
  • Last day for entry is 22nd June, Winner to be announced 12:00pm 23rd June.
  • Winner will be contacted by twitter/instagram direct message
  • There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  • The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.
  • By entering this competition participants consent to their full names being available by request from jetsetchick.com
  • By submitting photographs under the #idealiftar hashtag participants consent to their photograph being used on jetsetchick.com
  • Entry to this competition confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions

 

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