Prepared by Mohamed Baianonie, Imam of the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC
Allaah ﷻ says in the Qur’aan what may be interpreted as, “O’ you who believe, fasting is
prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may achieve Taqwaa
(righteousness, God-fearing).” [Surat Al-Baqarah, verse 183]
The prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whoever observes the fast during the month of Ramadan,
(while) believing in Allaah and seeking His rewards, will have his past sins forgiven.”
[Reported by Imaams Bukhaari, Muslim and others]
Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam. It is obligatory upon every sane, healthy Muslim whose reached puberty and is not traveling during the time of fasting. As for women, they must not fast if they are menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding.
There are two essentials elements for your fast to be valid and accepted. They are:
If you maintain these two essential elements during fasting, then your fast will be valid and accepted.
All scholars have agreed that the following acts will invalidate the fast. They are:
All the actions mentioned above are agreed upon by all scholars. However, there are some other actions that are not mentioned above which are not agreed upon.
There are some actions that are permissible to do while fasting, which will not nullify the fast. For example:
There are certain situations when it is optional to fast during the month of Ramadan, however, the fast must be made up at a later date. This is the rule for the sick or for the one who is traveling.
However, women who are experiencing post-childbirth bleeding or are in their menses are not allowed to fast until their bleeding ends. They must make up the days they missed fasting at a later date.
For those who cannot fast due to a permanent illness or old age, they have to pay fidiya (feeding one poor person) for each day that they have missed.
Pregnant and nursing women, who are afraid that fasting may weaken them or the child, have the option of fasting or not. After Ramadan ends, they have the choice of fasting or paying fidiyah (feeding one poor person) for each day that they had missed during Ramadan. However, according to the Hanafi School of jurists, such women are only to make up the missed days of fasting, and they are not supposed to feed one poor person a day. On the other hand, Imaams Ahmad and Ash-Shaaf’i, hold the opinion that if such women fear only for the baby, they must pay the fidiyah and make up the days later. If they fear only for themselves or for themselves and the baby, then they are only to make up the missed days at a later date.
There are some acts that are recommended, and if you practice them, you will gain more rewards from Allaah ﷻ such as:
Having suhuur (pre-dawn meal) and delaying it until just before fajr (dawn) time.
We should also hurry to break the fast at sunset.
Another recommended act is that we break the fast by eating an odd number of fresh or dry dates, and if those are not available, then having a drink of water would be sufficient.
Also we can earn rewards by supplicating at the time of breaking the fast, as the prophet ﷺ used to say, Dhahabadh-dhama-oo wabtallatil-‘urooqu, wa thabatal-ajru inshaa’Allaah. Which can be translated as, “The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and Allaah willing, the reward is confirmed.”
Another recommended act is that we pray taraaweeh daily after Isha
To gain even more rewards, it is recommended that during Ramadan we increase our recitation and study of the Qur’an. This is because the revelation of the Qur’an began during this time, and also Angel Gabriel used to review the Qur’an with the Prophet during this month.
We can also gain rewards by using Miswaak (a piece of root from the Araak tree found in the Hijaaz region of the Arabian Peninsula used to clean the teeth), if not available, any other cleaning tool to clean the mouth is sufficient.
We ask Allaah ﷻ to strengthen us in Ramadan, accept our fasts, and reward us with His forgiveness and the highest place in Paradise. Ameen.
The bean pie is sweet, custard-like, and a foundationally humble foodstuff.
It’s also a culinary icon of the controversial Nation of Islam and of revolutionary black power
The bean pie’s basic ingredients are simple: navy beans, sugar, eggs, milk, some warming spices, and a whole-wheat crust.
The execution is also straightforward, no different than any other custard-style pie, be it sweet potato or chess.
But the deceptively simple pie is one of the most enduring symbols of revolutionary black power that dates back from the civil rights movement. It has been sold on street corners and in high-end restaurants. It has been referenced in television shows
and rap music, and Will Smith feasted on it with friends on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Boxer Muhammad Ali even blamed one of his most famous losses on it.
The bean pie came to prominence through the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist and social reform movement founded in 1930. Based on beliefs that included black supremacy and self-reliance, the Nation represented a profound shift from the collaborative social-reform strategies of groups like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Led by controversial figures like Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, the Nation preached a separatist movement that rejected all enforced doctrines of white society, from clothing to surnames to religion.
Instead, it advocated for a new black identity free from the legacies of enslavement. Christianity, for example, was abandoned in favor of Islam, and surnames given by slave owners were replaced by an X.
A follower’s diet, methodical and inflexible, was one of the pillars that supported this new identity. The Nation’s leaders argued that many dishes and ingredients traditional to black foodways, particularly soul food, were relics of the “slave diet” and had no part in the lives of contemporary African-Americans.
They also drew a line from soul food—specifically its elevated salt, fat, and sugar content—to the medical woes that disproportionately affected the black community, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypertension, and obesity. Soul food, the Nation’s leaders believed, was just another means through which whites attempted to control and destroy the black population. As Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation from 1934 to 1975, wrote in his two-book series How to Eat to Live, “You know as well as I that the white race is commercializing people and they do not worry about the lives they jeopardize so long as the dollar is safe. You might find yourself eating death if you follow them.” As a result, the Nation of Islam created its own radical—and somewhat idiosyncratic—new diet for his followers to adhere to, one influenced by both health and identity.
In How to Eat to Live, which was published in 1967, Muhammad emphasized vegetarianism, consuming whole grains and vegetables, and limiting sugar, processed grains, and traditional soul food ingredients, like sweet potatoes, corn, collard greens, and pork—the latter of which was vehemently forbidden to Nation members in accordance with Muslim law. Alcohol and tobacco were also prohibited. In their stead, black chefs cooked with ingredients like brown rice, smoked turkey, tahini, and tofu—which, as black culinary historian Jessica B. Harris writes in High on the Hog, “appeared on urban African American tables as signs of gastronomic protest against the traditional diet.”
The navy bean emerged as one of the Nation’s most important new ingredients; according to Muhammad, all other beans were divinely prohibited. “Do not eat any bean but the small navy bean—the little brown pink ones, and the white ones,” he wrote in How to Eat to Live. “Allah (God) says that the little navy bean will make you live, just eat them…. He said that a diet of navy beans would give us a life span of one hundred and forty years. Yet we cannot live [half] that length of time eating everything that the Christian table has set for us.
The navy bean was used in a number of new Muslim recipes published in cookbooks and pamphlets, including soups, salads, and even cake frosting. But it was via the bean pie that it truly rose to prominence. The pie’s origins are unclear. Lance Shabazz, an archivist and historian of the Nation of Islam, told the Chicago Reader that the pie allegedly came from the Nation’s original founder, Wallace D. Fard Muhammad, who supposedly bestowed the recipe upon Elijah Muhammad and his wife, Clara, in the 1930s. This claim, however, has never been fully substantiated.
Although Muhammad never explicitly mentioned the bean pie in How to Eat to Live, it quickly rose to prominence in the black Muslim community. With a rich, custard-like filling from starchy mashed navy beans, the pie was generously spiced and pleasantly sweet—a true dessert, despite being full of beans. The beans’ nuttiness, combined with the warming kick of nutmeg and cinnamon, proved an irresistible dish, and soon, as Harris writes in High on the Hog, it could be found “hawked by the dark-suited, bow-tie-wearing followers of the religion along with copies of the Nation’s newspaper, Muhammad Speaks.” Muslim bakeries in cities from New York to Chicago offered it to customers, and “that’s where you would go to buy it, like going to get bread,” says black food historian Therese Nelson. It soon become a staple on the menus of restaurants owned by Nation members.
Lana Shabazz, Muhammad Ali’s personal chef, was renowned for her bean pie, and she included a recipe for it in her cookbook, Cooking for the Champ. As Shabazz wrote, the boxer so loved the pie that he even blamed it for his loss to Joe Frazier in the 1971 heavyweight title fight, having been unable to resist slices during his training.
Eventually, the bean pie became one of the defining hallmarks of the black Muslim diet—a “juggernaut,” to use Nelson’s term, that was a mainstay on dinner tables and in bakeries, and a fund-raising tool to support the initiatives of the Nation in communities across the United States.
The bean pie has since become a fixture in African-American culture, referenced in rap, comedy, television, and movies, from Queen Latifah’s song “Just Another Day” to In Living Color. It continues to be served after mosque services and sold on street corners both whole and in smaller, snack-size portions, typically with a copy of The Final Call, the Nation of Islam’s newspaper. And of course, the bean pie is on the menu at landmark Muslim bakeries, such as Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland and Abu’s Bakery in Brooklyn.
Idris Braithwaite, who runs Abu’s Bakery, says that the bean pie is, in fact, more American than apple pie. Apple pie, he points out, has origins in England, whereas bean pie originated in America. And as Braithwaite tells me, it exists “along the lines of being creative, being innovative, taking sort of what you’ve been presented with and making something unique and awesome.”
It’s a lot of potent symbolism to ascribe to a humble pie, Braithwaite is quick to admit. And despite its powerful legacy, he says, the bean pie “happens to be a great dessert. It tastes wonderful, it looks nice, it smells wonderful. And so, it’s all that and then some.”