I strongly dislike cooking. I hate being in my usually grimy kitchen, having to watch the stovetop, getting my hands dirty, the kids tearing down the walls in the background, and then having to clean up late at night. All that effort and usually the results are less than perfect. I often cook a large amount and then we eat leftovers for one or two days, so that I can have a kitchen-free day in between.
This Ramadan though, I am going to try to make an intention every day before I roll up my sleeves and chop the onions to feed the fasting people of my home. I want my cooking, cleaning, diaper-changing, and all of the mundane chores to become a spiritual experience that brings me closer to Allah. I will still cook simple, quick meals, but maybe I can transform my hate-relationship with cooking into an act of worship and sacrifice for Allah.
The Prophet (saw) said in an authentic hadeeth, “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him. And nothing will be subtracted from the fasting person’s reward.” (Saheeh by Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and others)
Everyday, I want to get reward for my fast, my husband’s fast, and anyone else who might be joining us for dinner. The time I spend in food prep insha’allah I will try to fill with remembrance of Allah, reciting Quran, being aware of Him, calling on Him. I plan to encourage my girls to help me chop, wash, peel, and clean, even though it takes longer and often is more of a bother than a help, because it is tarbiya for them–character-building and faith-developing. Having my little ones help in the kitchen is, in a way, the best use of my time because they are happy and occupied, I feel good about myself as a mom, they learn skills and patience, and there is less distraction and chaos. I will give my baby a date to suck on, so maybe she will be contented too and there will be some degree of peace in our home. This Ramadan, I intend for my cooking and cleaning to become worship.
Something is different about this Ramadan, I think. For the first time, I notice the Muslims preparing actively for it before its coming. Maybe this will be the Ramadan that will shake the earth with our prayers and our supplication to Allah, our sincerity that permeates our kitchens and chaperoning and crazy lives. Ladies, if you haven’t started preparing yet for this month, there’s not much time to catch up. “O Allah… make my prayers, my sacrifice, my life, and my death for you alone…”
Maha Ezzeddine lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She is a dedicated MAS worker, part-time writer, and creative homemaker.