What Ramadan Means to Children’s Book Author Hena Khan
This week is the beginning of Ramadan, a monthlong observance by millions of Muslims around the world. To commemorate this holiday, we reached out to Hena Khan, the author of Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors and Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story, to hear about her plans for Ramadan.
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I made my first green smoothie this week. The recipe came from a book promising me more energy, higher alertness, and improved health in just 30 days. The blend of spinach, mangos, bananas, and pineapple sounded like something worth trying. I’ve been feeling pretty lousy about a few extra pounds I can’t seem to shed, and there’s something appealing about a detox or a kick-start to better living. So I pulled out my blender and tried the frothy neon drink. And it was surprisingly tasty. My kids even drank it.
This week also marked the beginning of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar. Ramadan is best known for its ritual fasting—when Muslims abstain from any food and drink and other pleasures during daylight hours, every day of the month. Like all diet changes, it’s not easy, especially during this time of year, when the days are longer and warmer than when the month falls in the winter.
But despite it being challenging, Muslims celebrate the arrival of this month and welcome it like an honored guest. That’s because Ramadan is essentially a 30-day spiritual cleanse that leaves the observer renewed in faith, God consciousness, and devotion. During Ramadan, while skipping morning coffee, sitting through lunch meetings without eating lunch, and suppressing that mid-afternoon chocolate craving, Muslims are supposed to refrain from any unkind words or actions. They are encouraged to reflect on life’s gifts, and to be more grateful and generous.
While observing Ramadan, you can’t help but feel energized in your faith, have a heightened awareness of yourself and your surroundings, and feel spiritually healthier, as if you’ve been ingesting the ultimate smoothie. And like the camaraderie built into a group fitness program, there’s comfort in knowing that over a billion Muslims around the world are experiencing the same feelings as you.
The biggest challenge, like all lifestyle changes, is figuring out how to sustain these improvements into regular life after the sacred 30 days are over. After the Eid festival—a celebration to honor the conclusion of the month—it’s easy to fall back into old habits. An extra cup of coffee or Twix bar replaces the green smoothie. Gradually, the blender gets shoved into back into the cabinet and is forgotten. My goal this year is to keep the recipe for spiritual health in my regular rotation. Maybe I’ll feel so great that I’ll keep it going until next year. And who knows, I might even graduate to kale.
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To celebrate this significant month, we are giving readers a sneak peek at Hena’s new book, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes, which will be in stores in Spring 2018.
To learn more about Hena, you can visit her website. And don’t forget to pick up your copies of Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors and Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story.
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- What Ramadan Means to Children’s Book Author Hena Khan - May 26, 2017
- Holding Fast to Ramadan Traditions - August 7, 2012
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