Assel and Olzhas, are a young Muslim couple, originally from Kazakhstan, now living in the Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes region of France famed for its ski-fields and gastronome, where they live with their three young children.
n fact, Assel, a Research Biologist, is still breastfeeding the youngest child so she is not keeping Ramadhan in terms of the fast, while her husband Olzas, a Research Engineer, will be.
Ramadhan for them is generally a private celebration, though this year of course, under quarantine is more so. “This is a special opportunity for us, and we should value this time.”
However, Assel explained that they see this as, “Maybe a more deeply spiritual and family-focused celebration. We give the children gifts each day of Ramadhan, but they are not expensive gifts, more like an advent calendar, with small gifts, tasks, or messages that relate to the key elements of this time. We will help them learn of our faith and spirituality, but as importantly about the practicalities of life in which the religion offers so much support and guidance. We want them to understand that this month is not one during which you lose anything, but that there is so much to gain spiritually and In creating this perspective, we are always ourselves thinking and reflecting on our faith.”
“We will read, invest in conversations and spiritual discussions, to reflect on what we do, how we live, our lifestyle, are we living as we should? Our responsibilities, are we fulfilling our spiritual and social responsibilities? Our charitable perspective, not just in terms of the zakat, but are we living with a charitable mindset, with enough kindness and thought, and are we profoundly grateful for all that we have? After all the Prophet wrote that even a smile is a kindness, and we want our children to understand that philosophy. These are the sort of reflective thoughts and conversations that are deep within the Ramadhan perspective, and how we see Islam.” said Assel.
The couple believe that their private worship is a blessing, and that their Ummah, is strong as, “The world is one large mosque, isn’t it, and we can reach Allah from anywhere?”
Olzas and Assel will share the food preparation this year, and they are making a conscious decision to put the accent on healthy foods, no junk food at all, mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and with his preparation Olzas will also focus on the arrangement and presentation of their Suhour and Iftar. A benefit of the healthy food options says Assel is that “We will sleep better, not with a heavy stomach, so we will get quality sleep, and function better during the day.”
They usually do the intellectual ‘things’ in the mornings and focus on the physical type activities in the afternoons “To keep us sane,” Assel laughed.
This is a young couple, with a growing family of their own, are living far from their wider families. However, their knowing that others of the family and faith are sharing this month of reflection and spiritual rejuvenation, comforts and sustains them.