Updated: Oct 14, 2021
About the interviewee
Hi, my name is Madjeline and I am 32 years old. I was born and brought up in France to Moroccan parents. I live in the beautiful south of France. I love traveling and cooking (and traveling while cooking different cuisines).
1. Tell us a little bit about how Muslims in France prepare for Ramadan? Is there anything they do specifically before the first day of Ramadan?
I think preparation is the same around the world. There is a big cleaning session of the house to welcome the Holy Month in the best way. Some decorate the house to give it a special feel for this very special month. People try to get ahead in buying and stocking groceries, prepare some food and sweets ahead: the aim here is to save some time to dedicate it later to spiritual activities, prayers, Quran reading.
2. How would you describe the overall Ramadan spirit in France? Does it have a different feeling on the streets when you go out in Ramadan?
France being a non-Muslim country it is difficult to get a Ramadan feeling going out on the streets. So it is up to us to create and maintain that spirit in our home. During Ramadan, we only go out for tarawih prayers at the Mosque after Iftar.
3. How does a typical iftar would look like?
I can speak for the North African community (being myself of Moroccan origins). Our iftars consist in having fruits, juices/smoothies, dates (very important), samosas (with all kinds of fillings), the traditional soups (harira or chorbas), and then any dish you like on the side… And of course lots of water (STAY HYDRATED!!!)
4. How does a typical suhur (suhoor) would look like?
Suhoor is a very tricky question because some people find it difficult to eat in the morning, others are able to have a full meal. There is no typical suhoor for me. What I advise personally is to have something well balanced and nutritious such as fruits, dates, proteins (like eggs), good carbs to have energy during the day.
5. Is there any food or drink that is specifically consumed in Ramadan?
As mentioned previously it is hard to imagine Ramadan without the traditional soups and samosas. As for dessert, there is a choice but for me and from my childhood memories I can mention the following typical Moroccan sweets: Moroccan sellou, also called sfouf or less commonly zmita, is a rich, nutty confection of ground fried almonds, ground toasted unhulled sesame seeds and browned flour. It is very nutritious and energizing (you can make energy balls of it I am sure). There are also briouates these are sweet samosas dipped in honey and filled with ground almond flavored with cinnamon and orange blossom. Chebakia (sometimes spelled chebbakia or shebakia) is a Moroccan sesame cookie that is shaped into a flower, fried and then coated with honey and sesame seeds. I know all this sounds mouthwatering.
6. How do people celebrate Eid al-Fitr?
Ahead of Eid al-Fitr, new sweets are prepared to be shared with everyone. It is the tradition to buy new clothes or prepare your best clothes for that day and buy gifts for the children. On the day of Eid we all go for the Eid prayer first and then come home to have breakfast together (It is Sunnah to not eat till after the prayer is performed). Then it is the moment to call everyone, family, and friends, to wish them Eid Mubarak. For the rest of the day, you go visit your family or you welcome them at your home. You make this day special with your loved ones.
7. What makes France special in Ramadan? Tell us about any activities, festivals, bazaars, etc..
As mentioned earlier France being a non-muslim country you may find activities in your local Mosque but there are no festivals and bazaars such as those you can find in other countries where it is more open or in Muslim countries. I have spent Ramadan in India, UAE, and Morocco and, it is so much better than Ramadan in France. It is up to us to make our Ramadan special at home.
8. What should travelers expect to experience if they visit France in Ramadan?
You will not experience anything different in France. As I mentioned before there is nothing special to find outside. You will find so much more to see during Christmas but not in Ramadan. It is better to spend it in a Muslim country or at least a country where religious celebrations are allowed in public space.
9. If I was visiting France in Ramadan, where would be the best place to have iftar?
I would not advise you to visit France during Ramadan unless you are visiting family or friends who can welcome you, make you feel comfortable and offer you a proper iftar.
10. Anything else you want to share about Ramadan in France?
In France or anywhere else in the world, just make the most of it. This is the month of spirituality and you can do that from anywhere you are. You may not find bazaars or festivals, but Allah is always with you and listening to your prayers.
And finally, feel free to share your message with your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.
I wish for my Muslim brothers and sisters across the world a wonderful Ramadan with their loved ones, filled with spirituality and kindness. May we take this moment to ask Allah for forgiveness and mercy. May He deliver us from this epidemy. May the sick be healed. May the dead rest in peace. Let us also pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters who suffer from injustice across the world: may Allah give you justice in this life and the afterlife. Ameen.
RAMADAN 2020 PROJECT: Fellow sisters and brothers around the world joined Halal Travel Experts to spread the joy and knowledge of Ramadan. To become a part of this exciting project, email us at email@example.com. It is just 10 simple questions but the answers go beyond the oceans.