My first iftar!

Okay, so obviously I did not have my first iftar last night. I’ve been fasting for close to two decades – and I have attended plenty of iftars in my lifetime.

FYI: For my non-Muslim readers, “iftar” is the name of the meal Muslims eat after breaking their fast.

But last night was the first iftar I attended where my sole priority was not to just eat all the delicious food prepared by someone else and make sure I keep my wudu throughout the evening (mah Muslim peeps know what I’m talkin’ aboot ;)

For last night, I organized my very first iftar – and it just so happened to be for my interfaith group, the Muslim Jewish Women’s Alliance.

To be fair, I didn’t do it all on my own. It was wisely suggested to me to form a sub-committee to help organize it. And boy, if I did not have their help, I don’t think I’d be in a state to write this post. So thank you, all, if you’re reading!

I was nervous for plenty of reasons.

Nervous for my planned 20-30 minute “monologue” about Ramadan. This was an interfaith iftar, so there was bound to be a speech or two. Regular iftars need no introduction: we all know what to do – wait until it’s time, eat, eat, eat, pray, regret all that eating, pray, and start dreaming of food again. Results not typical.

But for interfaith iftars, someone has to speak and explain why all us Muslims who are fasting aren’t eating until after 9 PM this year. As the Muslim Co-Chair of MJWA, the task naturally went to me. There’s a reason why I love to write, but I realize with the kind of professional goals I have, I will have to take on more and more public speaking “opportunities.” I took on this role and many others with the knowledge that I would be expected to speak in front of crowds not entirely consisting of my stuffed Mickey Mouse and cow, Mufia. Still, it’s always a bit nerve-wrecking a few days weeks before.

In the end, I spoke for about 10 minutes. Ramadan cannot be condensed into 10 minutes, but hopefully everyone got the gist. We got a chance to hear from a couple of the Muslim members, so the conversation was organic – and perhaps even better than planned.

But I was nervous also because I started freaking out a week before that the catered food would not be enough (In retrospect, it was – this ALWAYS happens). I decided last-minute that I should prepare something for iftar. Cooking is still a work in progress for me, and to have to cook for over 20 women who may not be inclined to pour hot sauce over everything they’re eating, and I’m fasting, and can’t taste whatever it is I’m making – YIKES!

Good thing that half of the women were fasting and would have eaten anything given to them at that point. To my pleasant surprise, however, I ended up getting some good (unprompted!) comments, which for a self-described “fusion” cholay, I’ll take as a success!

That’s my “fusion” cholay on the right! Looks edible, eh?

In the end, although there were a few hitches that are inevitable when planning any event (Note to future self: When you’re working with fellow Desis and you *think* you’ll have plenty of time, factor in an additional 2 hours), I think it went well.

The staff at the mosque we held it at, Masjid Al-Mumineen, was incredibly supportive and helpful, staying close to midnight to help clean-up after. I was, to put it simply, amazed. This mosque also operates one of two Muslim-operated food pantries in Indianapolis, offering temporary food assistance to Muslim and non-Muslim families. I mean, this is what Islam is all about and this mosque is totally doing it. You can learn more about and support Lut’s Pantry here. Ramadan is meant to be a month of giving and with all the amazing work this mosque does for the community, I don’t think there was a better place we we could have held yesterday’s iftar. Thank you, Al-Mumineen!

I also must say that I’m quite proud of the decor and the colour-coordinating. We took a modest space and turned it into a really nice set-up. Never doubt the power of colour coordination, folks! It’s one skill-set I’ve absorbed from my artist sister and it served us well last night, I think.

Taken by Lauren 4
It may take talent to draw (i.e. my sister), but it takes REAL talent to colour in the lines (i.e. me) ;)

If all else fails, make goodie bags for your guests and fill them up with chocolate. Can’t go wrong there ;) Happy Friday, everyone!

Photos courtesy of Nayab Ahmed and Lauren Morgan

10 thoughts on “My first iftar!

  1. You’re such an inspo rafia! I would have a panic attack at the thought of public speaking! Glad the iftar went well, May you and everyone attending get a lot if blessings for your interfaith efforts ❤. (Ps I was always taught you can taste the food and spit it out if you’re cooking iftar since it’s feeding fasting people. )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ameen, thank you, Bazigha! Oh, you totally can, but I’m afraid that I’ll accidentally swallow the food, so I like to err on the side of caution ;)


  3. everything looks lovely Rafia, you should be so proud! Also man that kinda public speaking would make me break out in hives – kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Assalamoalaikum,
    It’s been a while since I paid a visit to you and Mufia. Technical difficulties of life. “eat, eat, eat, pray, regret all that eating, pray, and start dreaming of food again. Results not typical.” haha well put Raf! very well put! I love the work you are doing and I wish I was in your state to have enjoyed your company. Please share the recipe of fusion cholay!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s been forever!!! I deactivated my FB account today until Eid and totally forgot to add your number into my phone contacts. But IsA, we’ll keep in touch! Should I make a blog post about my fusion cholay??? ;)


  6. I love, love, love this whole blog post. Congrats on your first iftar, Rafia! It seems like it was a wonderful event and I’m sure those who didn’t know much about it, come away with a lot of meaningful experiences.

    I agree with Naureen that there probably should have been cake, lol. As the co-chair, can’t you do some kind of executive order in order to have a cake there?

    Yes, please make a blog post about your fusion cholay!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awww! Thanks, Laura :) but no one at the dessert we did have! Lol, I guess that would have meant more cake for me. But I’ve had my fair share of sweets since then, so it’s okay. Maybe next time! ;)


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