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Breaking the Fast

At Ramadan, Shakeela Najjar shares her family’s tradition


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In the video above, join Shakeela Najaar (CAS’12) and her family during a holy time of the year.

A pink and blue sky spreads over the rooftops of a working class New Bedford neighborhood at sunset. The cry “Allahu Akabar,” God is great, rises from speakers beside a desktop computer, the opening line of adhān, the Islamic call to prayer.

When Shakeela Najjar and her family hear that call, they observe the evening Maghrib prayer together, and break their daylong fast in celebration of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday observed this year from August 19 until September 21.

From sunup until sundown, Najjar (CAS’12) refrains from eating and drinking. “Most people find it shocking when I tell them I don’t even drink water during the fast,” she says. Because Ramadan follows the Islamic lunar calendar, the holiday rotates through the seasons, beginning 11 days earlier this year than last. “Fasting is harder,” says Najjar, “because the days are longer, and that means more time without food.”

But hunger pangs are not the holiday’s deeper challenge. “I’m not just giving up food to feel hungry; I’m giving it up for a reason,” says Najjar. “I’m making myself remember God more often. Having discipline to do that is the real struggle.”

Najjar is joining other Muslim students at Boston University celebrating Ramadan at school now that the new semester has begun. For the observance, the Islamic Society of Boston University (ISBU) has organized group dinners and prayers on campus.

ISBU breaks fast (iftaar) and offers the evening Maghrib prayer through September 9 at the School of Theology, Room 325, and from September 10 to 18 at 1019 Commonwealth Ave. Sessions begin at 7:20 p.m. Halal dinners are available afterward at the West Campus dining hall. Students without meal plans can buy meal tickets at 7:40 p.m. at the front entrance. Prayers and halal dinners are offered Sunday through Thursday.

“Ramadan refocuses us spiritually,” says Najjar. “It brings Muslims together to worship God, and gives our lives purpose.”

In celebration of the end of Ramadan, the ISBU will host its annual Eid dinner on Sunday, October 4, in Metcalf Hall, with food and a guest speaker. The event is free and open to all members of the Boston University community.

In the holiday’s spirit, Najjar shares two of her mom’s traditional recipes:

Yogurt Lassi

3 cups plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon
1 cup water
ice cubes


  1. Add ingredients to blender.
  2. Liquefy until smooth.

Yields 4-6 cups

Dal Puri

Ingredients for Dal:
½ cup lentils
½ cup water
¼ tsp. salt (or as preferred)
1 tsp. onion
¼ tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cilantro
½ tsp. crushed pepper

Ingredients for Puri:
1 1/2 cups sifted flour, plus extra for dusting surface when rolling out dough
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/3 – 2/3 cup water
3 cups vegetable oil for frying


  1. Boil lentils in water with onion and ginger until the water evaporates completely.
  2. Combine remaining dal ingredients: salt, cilantro, and crushed pepper.
  3. Mash lentils with combined dal spices.
  4. Set aside mashed lentils to use as filling for puri.
  5. Add oil to frying pan, turn up heat to medium.
  6. Combine flour, salt, melted butter and water, and knead into a dough.
  7. Separate dough into 12 evenly portioned balls.
  8. Create pockets in the dough.
  9. Distribute the dal evenly, filling in the pockets.
  10. Close the balls, and roll them gently on a lightly floured surface until flattened (avoid tearing the dough).
  11. Place the flattened dough into a frying pan with oil.
  12. Turn dough occasionally.
  13. Remove from oil when dough has expanded and turned a light brown color.
  14. Set dal puri portions on a plate lined with paper towels.

Creates 12 servings

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.


5 Comments on Breaking the Fast

  • Ihssane on 09.08.2009 at 9:04 am


    I love this video. It really reflects how Ramadan brings people and families together. On a normal day it would’ve been really hard to get the whole family to share a 7:30pm dinner.

  • Anonymous on 09.08.2009 at 1:20 pm

    Breaking the Fast

    What a beautiful video! Thanks for sharing that piece of your faith and life with us, Shakeela.

  • Ehsan on 09.10.2009 at 7:15 am

    It's really nice one, you

    It’s really nice one,
    you showed the Islamic Tradition In RAMADAN of MUSLIMS,which is very beautiful.
    I personally liked this video,Shakeela

  • Anonymous on 09.10.2009 at 7:17 am

    very beatiful

  • Durrah on 09.10.2009 at 4:07 pm

    Go Shakeela :D

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