News / USA

Afghan-American Family Finds Ramadan Good Opportunity for Reflection

Monaliza Noormohammadi

The Muslim Ramadan holiday is nearing its end. And for one Afghan-American family in California, it is a special time - a time to be thankful for all they have. 

Just before dusk on the 22nd day of Ramadan, the Noorzayee family is working up an appetite. Already hungry from fasting for Ramadan, they are shooting some hoops in the back yard of their Orange County home. 


Suraya, her husband Mohammed and their 12 year-old son Hamza have fasted all day, while their eight year-old daughter Zohala fasted the majority of the day.

All share a passion for basketball.

Holiday Tradition

Suraya Noorzayee emigrated from Afghanistan more than 30 years ago.  Today, she continues a holiday tradition of her mother's.   "I'm making picharwah. During the month of Ramadan my mother always made this dish as a way to entice us to fast.  Since then this picharwah has remained in our family. Whenever it's Ramadan, my mother still makes this dish, so to keep the tradition, during Ramadan I make it for Zohal and Hamza.  And it's easy to make and very tasty," she said.

The dish consists of sliced potatoes marinated in spices and fried to golden perfection. The kids love it.

"My mom, her picharah is the best. It's like French fries, but with better taste," said Hamza.

Beyond the delicious picharwah, Ramadan for the Noorzayee family means a time for spiritual growth while practicing self-control. "If someone fasts for a few days, they see that the hardest thing for a human being is not eating.   So when you can control that desire you can control anything,  see that anything else is easier than the month of Ramadan.  If someone has a bad habit, they can learn to control it," said Mohammad Noorzayee.

When the temptation to eat becomes nearly unbearable for Zohal, she gives herself a little pep talk.  "I'm saying like [to myself]  'I can't break my fast, I can't break my fast,' that's all," she said.

Benefits of Fasting

During Ramadan, Hamza goes to the mosque with his father every night after Iftar. He says fasting gives him strength and peace,  "For us at a certain time we can break our fast; other people they have nothing to break their fast with. So it just makes me pray and ask for forgiveness, and be grateful for all the things I have," he said.

His sister shares the same sentiment. "God gives us all this and some people don't have it, so … we should be grateful of what we have," Zohal said.

The Noorzayees feel they have much to be thankful for.  In addition to their home life, Suraya and Mohammad own an information technology company.

While it may be demanding to juggle careers, family and faith,  Suraya says the important thing is to remember the basics: "Unfortunately,  it's not entirely possible to adhere to an Islamic culture night and day.  But the things that are important in Islam - be a good person, be honest, help others, be loyal, take care of your parents, help your friends, and be loyal to your family - in my opinion those are the best characteristics of a Muslim," she said.

Suraya passes more than traditional values to her children.

She advises her daughter Zohal to be independent, not to wait for a "prince charming" but instead to take care of herself by getting an education and establishing a career.

And although at times it may be challenging to maintain an American lifestyle that still conforms to Islamic values,  Mohammed Noorzayee says finding the balance is key.

"In everything there is good and bad, and we have to listen and let them know what things are Islamic and what things are not. They have to understand because after us, this is the generation that will carry the family name that will carry the name of Islam, so we have to teach them. We learned from our parents, and they learn from us," he said.

While times - and circumstances - may be changing, for the Noorzayee family, the values and traditions of Ramadan remain the same.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs