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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora