'Ramadan is the month of Quran'
The family go to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers later, and head back home later to get some sleep so that they can wake up early for the Suhoor.
Dubai - Suzan Salem told us that the holy month of Ramadan is a time for prayer, supplication, charity, and reciting the Holy Quran.
When it is Ramadan, Muslims in most get closer to Almighty Allah, and recite the Holy Quran more frequent, and this is what actually happens with the family of Egyptian Hani Mahmoud Sultan.
"I sit with my four-member family every day after the Asr (late afternoon) prayer to recite at least one Juza (volume) of the Quran," the 38-year-old father and electrical engineer told Khaleej Times. "We sometimes recite four pages after every prayer to finish the 20-page Juza in time."
When free and not exhausted after a long tiring work day, Hani helps out his wife, Suzan Salem, also an engineer. "I really feel sorry for my wife because of the amount of work she does every Ramadan, and always help her whenever possible, by making a salad or anything else she needs."
Suzan Salem told us that the holy month of Ramadan is a time for prayer, supplication, charity, and reciting the Holy Quran. "I also sit with my three sons to teach them the Quran and encourage them to fast."
Sitting together with her small family before and after Iftar time is so inspiring, she added. "However, we miss gathering together with my mother, my late father, and two brothers and four sisters who are in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Sweden. We used to recite the Quran, pray, supplicate to Almighty Allah, visit friends and relatives, eat, chat and watch TV together."
However, there is still a few things my small family can do here in Dubai in Ramadan, she pointed out. "Other than sitting together to recite the Quran, eating, chatting, watching TV with my kids, we go shopping, visit friends and relatives, and go to the mosque for Taraweeh and Tahajud (late night) prayers."
Because of the workload, Suzan only cooks two or three dishes for the daily Iftar. "However, the family's most favourite food in Ramadan include Sampusa, Bashamel Macaroni, soup and Banei (fried boneless chicken)."
When Suzan has more time, she tries to cook more and diverse dishes, like Mahshi (grapes leaves with rice) and Kushari (rice, brown lentil, macaroni, and sauce). "These are apart from the main appetisers, including green salad, pickles, hummus, and herbs."
As for dessert, Kunafa, Qatayef, Gullash, Basbusa, and Baqlawa are the family's sweet favourites. "We always start our Iftar with three dates, some milk or water, and then perform Maghreb prayer in congregation at home."
After having the Iftar meal, one of the two famous juices that are always associated with Ramadan in Egypt is served, she said. "These are the Khushaf (a mix of dates, nuts, and cold water) and Qamar Aldeen (made of dry apricot)."
To get everything done in time, Suzan starts preparing Iftar as early as possible. "I then finish my housework and study with my kids," she explained. "My kids like to watch TV while having Iftar; they prefer prank and comic programmes."
The family go to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers later, and head back home later to get some sleep so that they can wake up early for the Suhoor meal and Fajr prayer. "My elder son Yusuf, 12, started fasting four years ago, while Basil, 5, is trained to stop eating and drinking only from Asr to Maghreb time - about three hours - and he feels so happy to be taking part, while also eagerly waiting to have Iftar."
As for Adam, 3, the youngest child, he doesn't fast, but insists on waiting for the Azan call of Maghreb to end "fasting" like his elder brothers. "He thinks he is fasting too and feels happy to do so," laughs Suzan.