Ramadan's willingness to eat this Portland couple is a pleasure to watch

Ramadan's willingness to eat this Portland couple is a pleasure to watch ...

The Ramadan brothers use their own methods. And that, they argue, is the whole point.

Muslims refrain from eating or drinking between 5:45 a.m. and 7:40 p.m. during Ramadan, which began this year on April 2 and ended May 2, is the highest month on the Islamic calendar, the period in which Muslims believe God revealing the scriptures to his prophet Muhammed who wrote them in the Quran. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from sex and tobacco, and they spend as much time as possible in prayer and contemplation. This year, Muslims in Portland

Muslims break their fast after midnight with a dinner meal called iftar. In the morning, they usually eat another meal suhur before starting the daily fast again.

What foods should Muslims eat for iftar and suhur?

You can get a peanut butter jelly sandwich, Omar Collins says, laughing. It's not about the food. It's about your devotion and self-driving, regardless of whether or not. Ramadan puts you back in the center.

Recipes for this page are included:, and

To Omar's dismay, the Collinses are not eating peanut butter and jelly. In fact, wheat is almost entirely absent from their grocery this year. he and his wife are both focused on health. Omar, a retired delivery driver, has been a regular at the 24 Hour Fitness for many years, with a focus on living wellness. Aqiylah is a traditional naturopath and founder and owner of Qi to Wellness, who provides daily visits from their living room and recently.

Although Ramadan is an annual opportunity to re-assess their diet entirely, according to Aqiylah, and initiate more permanent healthy changes. Muslims have a responsibility to take care of their physical bodies, according to Omar, and fasting for a month helps clear issues and bad habits. If you see fasting as a period of deprivation to suffer through, you're more likely to overindulge once iftar comes around, according to Aqiylah. Muslims who

"I'm more willing to serve during Ramadan than I am the rest of the year," Aqiylah said. "I'm more attentive and I'm planning a little more."

Aqiylah, who has O-type "hunter and forager" blood, is opting for a fruity version of the Ramadan, with red meat, chicken, and other fruits, although they have no gluten-free relishes this year.

Aqiylah, left, and Omar Collins share their Ramadan cooking traditions. April 8, 2022 Beth Nakamura/Staff The Oregonian

Aqiylah and Omar Collins share their Ramadan cooking traditions, including a recipe that consists of lamb and black eyed peas. April 8, 2022 Beth Nakamura/Staff The Oregonian

As many Black Muslims of their generation, they developed their faith as adults. Omar grew up in Washington, North Carolina, at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, although he never considered himself a Christian. After college, he discovered some deeper meaning to his life, meaning he did not find in his background. Despite her beliefs, Aqiylah and her family immediately discovered what they found, expressing their gratitude and reverence.

"It's really something that you are going to the bathroom, there's a way that you get dressed, there's a way that you eat, and there's method in everything you do. When I step out my door on my right foot, and I say 'Bismillah,' I'm not only reminiscing myself, but I'm also reminding myself that I'll do his work to be a representative of what's right and what's right

Aqiylah reports that his strengths are my weaknesses, but his strengths are his weaknesses. After an intense courtship of hours-long late-night phone calls, the couple married within two months. "It was like a pseudo-arranged marriage," he adds. "We weren't really aware of each other," Aqiylah says. "But we discovered that his weaknesses are my weaknesses."

In fall of 2020, they moved to Portland, raising three children, then starting a small mosque in Vancouver. After their kids had left home, they moved to Richmond, Virginia, where they said they fell in love with a strong black Muslim community. But in the end of the year, they saw the weight and the isolation of pandemic travel limitations.

The Collinses have two children in the Portland area: activist and writer Hanif Collins, who operates a Vancouver barbershop. They also have a daughter Hafidha Acuay in Seattle, who does not practice Islam. That is okay, according to the Collinses. Their own conviction has always been a profound process of force and participation. It is not in their nature.

Its common sense that culture and religion are often confused, especially for non-Americans, Aqiylah said, adding that many Muslims believe regional innovations are essential to their faith.

Those differences have a long way been seen during food gatherings and community events for iftar. Aqiylah says she would often receive meat pies and other Arabic ware from neighbors in Virginia, which they valued, but were never linked with Ramadan personally.

Its not Islamic food, she says. If we decide well make bean pie or potato pie or... lasagna, then thats Ramadan meat.

Aqiylah and Omar enjoy this culinary freedom. The only scriptural system for iftar is to get rid of dates and water, as Muhammad himself did. Besides that, all foods are fair game. (Aqiylah even notes that the diet she has followed this year does not allow dates, so she's instead subbing in figs.)

"African Americans don't have a culture outside of America. Our culture was lost, stolen, and erased. That's a double-edged sword," Aqiylah said. "One side [of that sword] is that a lot of African American Muslims adapt other people's Islamic beliefs.... But then the other side of that sword is that we can learn Islam without our own cultural baggage being overwhelming. We didn't grow up with Islam."

For The Oregonian/OregonLive, Marty Patail

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