Pheonees:  my favorite Iftaar treat as a child***

It is Ramadan and I am back to being a child again. This time with a slightly different twist.

It is Karachi, and it is the dead of the night on the first of Ramadan. I hear the “dabbay waala” clanging his drum and shouting in a sing song voice “jaag jaou”again and again. I register in my sleepy brain that it must be around 3 AM, which is the time when this man walks our street calling to wake the faithful. I also know that the fast does not start till two hours later.

My lids droop and I am dreaming soon. In my dream it sounds like the pans are clanking in the kitchen and there are low sounds of the china being set on the table. I wake up with a start and realize that it is not a dream and the sounds are coming from the kitchen and dining room ushering in the first of Ramadan. In one fail swoop movement I throw off the thin cover sheet, and find myself running to the dinning room.

I stand at the door; all my family members are sitting at the dining table and eating suhoor. I sit down in my place. “ You are not going to fast? “ says one of my brothers. I look at my mother “ I am “ I say with an obstinate lift of my chin. “ She is underage! Says my interfering brother, “she is not allowed!”

My mother looks at him and he is silenced.

I happily eat the paratha and yogurt, and whatever else is on the table as if I will never eat again.

Soon the siren sounds to alert us to wrap up the eating, I down my last bite which is way too big for my mouth, drink a whole glass of water and make my intention for fasting.

I get up from my chair and the line up for the bathroom for wudu begins.

The musical melody of the sounds of adhaans being called echo each other in a symphony of a well-tuned orchestra. I feel I am in musical Heaven.

Thus it is every morning at suhoor. An objection from my brother, and a veto of that objection from my mother and I get to fast, I am so happy that I can successfully fast 12 hours and do it without complaining. I am especially careful, as I know that others are watching if I can manage the long fast in the humid heat of Karachi or not.

Ramadan always brings joy to me. Long before I cognitively read the reasons of why I should fast as a muslim, I knew from my inner spiritual being that when I fasted it made me float at a level of spirituality that was never present after Ramadan ended. I did not want to miss a day of it ever.

Why do I feel like a child again this Ramadan? I am all grown, mistress of my daily life, who is there to object to my fasting or not fasting? No human being!

However the objection and scare tactics come not from an external source but from my own concerns and insecurity about my ability to fast.

Three days before Ramadan I fell off a step in a small alley in Santorini Greece. The very aspects of Santorini that beckoned me to it are now my nemesis.I have injured my legs, left greater than right. I am in pain and a long ways from home.

I feel my bones are bruised and my leg muscles are tender from the impact of my fall. I am unable to walk with my left leg.

The specter of Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) rises in the horizon, I tamp it down firmly. Another objection arise what if I have further injury to my knee while trying to do sajdah while my left leg lies at a weird angle, I tamp that down by resorting to pray in the chair.

What about dehydration that puts you at risk for DVT, insists that inner critic, my Nafs says “just give in! you are injured, in pain and high risk for DVT since your mother had it in similar circumstances. Allah has given you Rukhsa (permission) to not fast when ill and then make up later when you are well and if it is permanent give charity for each day missed”. It sounds tempting!

The Nafs! That is what it is all about; it is the battle of the Nafs with the Spirit that connects me to Allah and his hand of Mercy.

The Nafs is alone in Ramadan it does not have Shaytaan as a helper so the calling to disobey or bypass the obedience of Allah is weak.

Prophet Muhammad pbuh told us that in Ramadan the Shayateen are chained and the doors to Heaven are wide open.

Al-Bukhaari (1899) and Muslim (1079) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained up.”

 The desire for comfort, the fear of getting DVT and landing up in the hospital and all the ramifications that go with it stand as an impediment to the simple desire to cleanse my insides both physically and spiritually by fasting in this blessed month of Ramadan.

As I recite the adhkaar the answer rises to the top and obliterate all objections.

اللّهُـمَّ لا مانِعَ لِما أَعْطَـيْت، وَلا مُعْطِـيَ لِما مَنَـعْت، وَلا يَنْفَـعُ ذا الجَـدِّ مِنْـكَ الجَـد .

“Allaahumma laa maani‘a limaa a‘tayt, wa laa mu‘tiya limaa mana‘t. Wa laa yanfa‘u dhal-jaddi minkal-jadd.”

“Ô Allah none can prevent what You have willed to bestow. And none can bestow what You have willed to prevent. And no wealth or majesty can benefit anyone, as from You is all wealth and majesty.”

I am a happy child again, putting all my worries and anxieties into the lap of Allah Subhananwataala and know that He Subhanawataala will do what is best for me and I will inshallah accept it with gratitude……

Please keep me in your duas……….


*** photo credit:


  1. Asmi, I am so sorry that you fell on those treacherous steps on our mountain home and hurt your legs. I wish you speedy healing ; I wonder if you should take some preventative anticoagulant for the flights home? The Central Clinic of Santorini prescribed heparin for me to inject for three days before my flight home and several days afterward, and I am now safe in Santa Cruz.


    • Thank you so much for you concern and love Marlene. I hope you are making a steady recovery. Alhamdollilah I am home and am improving everyday but as you know it is a slow process and I have to be patient with myself:)


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