The relentless sound echoes through the darkness; deafening, reverberating and incomprehensible. My eyes awaken, breaking the chains of sleep, it is only my phone alarm.
2:00 am, with muddy eyes and heavy arms I reach for the phone and silence it for a few more minutes. Falling back into sweet slumber, I’m shocked into awareness a second time and this time there’s no slipping into oblivion.
My God is calling me. Calling on me to ask of Him anything that I desire; for me to rest my head in prostration in the depths of the night and to seek His forgiveness and favour, to show my gratitude.
These are the last ten days of Ramadan. God descends to the lowest heavens to hear the prayers of the faithful. He says ask and it shall be granted.
The angels are on Earth and they mingle amongst the gatherings that glorify His name. They note the faithful in prayer, in prostration, or with their hands held up to the heavens, repenting, grateful and humble.
The last few days have been heavy on the heart and the soul. I have put my head on the ground and wept. I am thankful for all that I have because so many struggle everyday without the basics. I am thankful for the roof over my head because so many tonight, in this country and all over the world, are homeless. I am thankful of the food in my fridge and pantry because so many will be going to bed hungry tonight, and maybe even tomorrow night.
I am ashamed to think of my complaining and my bad attitude at times when all I should be is grateful, my problems are trivial. I complain about my aches and pains even though I have access to healthcare and medication, there are so many who suffer so much more than I do and survive without sufficient medication.
This week has also been emotional because when you pray and reflect in the silence of the night, everything is so much more clearer. I see my behaviours, I see my shortcomings, I see what I have to be grateful for. I reflect on my life and the life of others. I am reminded of the suffering of the many people of this world.
This time last year, over 2200 people were massacred in Gaza, of which over 500 were children. I pray that they are granted the highest heaven. The plight of the Gazans continues, they live without power, clean water and food shortage every day. None of the infrastructures destroyed last year have been rebuilt and any aid or help sent, is not allowed in. I pray that they one day know a life without war and oppression, and that one day they will enjoy the basic freedoms that I am so lucky to have.
This time 20 years ago, over 8000 Bosnians were massacred in Srebrenica. I pray that their souls are granted peace and a way to heaven. I pray that their family members, any who survived, are able to live in some semblance of peace, even though their hearts and souls are irreparably broken.
As we speak, there is ethnic cleansing happening in Burma by the Burmese government, and the Rohingya people are being savagely killed. When they flee their oppressors, no one will take them in.
We know about the refugees of Syria, who are homeless and country-less.
We have terrorists killing through countries in the name of their religion, but their religion is not my religion. I refuse to call them by the name that the media has labelled them. They insult my Islam, my religion of peace, with their actions.
We have our own homegrown idiots, who in the name of free speech, will insult a whole group of people.
We have savages who will kill innocent church goers in cold blood while sitting with them studying the Bible.
We have racists who will burn down the churches which are the cornerstones of the African American community.
I pray, pray for unity amongst the difference races, I pray for tolerance in our religious beliefs, I pray for freedom for the oppressed, food for the hungry, a home for the homeless, a cure for the sick and wisdom for everyone to understand.
When the last days and night of Ramadan are here, the increase in worship and reflection, the long nights and early mornings, all take a toll emotionally and physically. My comfort food is always based around rice and usually a warming curry of some kind, that and lots of dessert.
This is a wonderful curry, warming spices, tender chicken and fresh spinach all in a light gravy. Enjoy with a steaming bowl of fragrant Basmati rice or some fluffy naan.
Serves: 6 servings
- 3 pounds/1.5kg bone in chicken, cut in small pieces
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cayenne chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ¼ cup/60ml oil
- 1 ½ cups355ml water/ or chicken broth, maybe more
- 1 pound/455g spinach, fresh preferably, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large Dutch oven, on medium high heat, add the oil.
- Drop in the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods.
- Cook a minute, until aromatic.
- Add the onions and cook until lightly browned.
- Add the chicken pieces and mix into the onions and coat with oil.
- Add the garlic and ginger.
- Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin and coriander.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Brown the chicken in the spices for about 5 minutes.
- Add the water, bring up to a boil, cover, turn down heat to low and simmer.
- Simmer the chicken until tender, this may take 30 minutes up to an hour (takes me close to an hour at my altitude)
- Stir the chicken occasionally and check for water.
- Add a little if it looks too dry.
- I like my chicken very tender so I cook it for a while.
- You can make this curry drier instead of brothy, but we like to eat ours with rice so I leave it with a bit of gravy.
- Once the chicken is tender, add the fresh spinach.
- Let the spinach wilt, add more water if desired, if the curry is looking too dry.
- Once the spinach has wilted, add salt and pepper and it's done.
Frozen spinach will work here but the fresh has a different flavour and texture.
I used fresh spinach from my local Isabelle Farm and it was pretty amazing.
If you prefer to not use cardamom pods because they surprise you mid bite, you can use a pinch of ground cardamom or just leave them out.
The end of Ramadan festivities will be officially on either Friday or Saturday (depending on the sighting of the new moon). Eid ul Fitr is one of the two Islamic holidays that is celebrated with gusto. Food, friends, family and more food are the important matters of the day. I am lucky to celebrating with my lovely friends starting with a congregational prayer service at the mosque, followed by a breakfast and then meeting up again for some quality friendship and food time.
Ramadan and the end of Ramadan hold a lot of importance to Muslims. In that spirit, I would like to wish all my readers and friends peace, prosperity and much happiness. I am grateful for your friendship and support, and truly appreciative that you visit and read my ravings. I know I’ve been super busy this month and haven’t been able to read all your posts diligently, but I promise that I will be back on regular programming soon.