Muslims Who Fast: Sumaya, a plus size model, eats iftar with her family

Welcome back to Muslims Who Fast – our mini-series looking at what Ramadan means to Muslims and all the trimmings that come with it which make it a yearly delight.

So far, we’ve shared iftar with a fitness trainer, a woman who organises mass iftars, a Mancunian who lives away from home, and today we meet Sumaya Ali.

Sumaya is a plus size model showing off modest fashion – that means clothes that are deemed to be in line with Islamic standards.

When she’s not modelling, the 25-year-old, from Somalia, works in her family business, providing care to vulnerable people in their homes.

She’s become quite the influencer in her community and regularly shares fashion and beauty updates on her Instagram and YouTube channel.

Today, she sits down on the floor of her London home and breaks fast with her family.

Let’s see what the Ali family had for iftar:

Tell us more about yourself:

I am a plus size modest fashion and beauty influencer, I create modest look-books and beauty looks for the everyday curvy girl looking for fashion inspo.

I am also signed with Modest Visions which is the UK’s first Muslim digital management agency, they work on ensuring there is a representation of the modern, millennial Muslim in mainstream media.

What have you prepared for iftar?

I have prepared some Somali delicacies such as samosas and bajiiya.  For our main, we have rice with chicken sauce, fried chicken wrap and chapati. We also have chopped fruits to eat after. Drinks are so important in our house, so we have a virgin mint mojito.

As a plus-size model, how is your diet affected during Ramadan?

Diet is important to maintain during Ramadan. You don’t want to eat too much or too little. I usually tend to keep a balanced diet, but there are times where I do stuff my face.

What’s difficult about fasting?

I work and model during Ramadan and attend events. The hardest bit is when there’s a sudden heatwave and you’re sweating buckets. It’s difficult because you just want to drink a gallon of water.

How old were you when you first began fasting?

I started fasting properly when I was 13.

Is there anything you crave when you fast?

I crave everything!!!! From burgers to even salad. But when it’s time to eat, I hardly eat. I always remember the foods that I never finished. The half eaten Nando’s/ chips etc and I always regret it.

What does Ramadan mean to you?

Ramadan enables me to find peace and cleanse my soul. Through prayer and worship I feel closer to God spiritually, I am able to spend more time with my loved ones as everyday life means we don’t get to spend much time together.

Ramadan is a time of reflection for me, so I appreciate the life I have. It reminds me of the less fortunate people around me so my family and I try to feed our community weekly and give to charity.

Our aim is to cleanse our soul and increase our spiritual activities and ask for forgiveness.

Any fond memories?

My favourite memories in Ramadan is seeing old friends and family eating and praying together. My second favourite memory is when it is the last night of Ramadan, and it has been confirmed that Eid is the next day. Everyone celebrates and showers each other with hugs and kisses.

Do you have any rituals/traditions?

My family reads/ listens to the Quran and also prays together daily. It is a month of mercy and forgiveness, so it is important that we raise money for the less fortunate.

After we break our fasts, we go across the street and set up our community centre for Taraweeh (night prayers). As our area doesn’t have a mosque, the community rents out the local hall and we place around 100 prayer mats before people arrive.

I also like looking at hashtags like #Ramadan2019  and #Monthofgood on Instagram to see how Muslims around the world are celebrating Ramadan. It makes the global Muslim community feel so much closer to home.

On the weekends, we cook and serve free iftar for the community so that we can break our fasts altogether.

After we finish, we come home and eat suhoor (pre-dawn meal). It’s a meal we eat before the sun rises to prepare us for the next day’s fast. We pray and then we go to sleep. We do this every day until Eid.

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