Keep Calm and Have a Samosa

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Name: Samosa

Date of birth: 10th Century

Appearance: Triangular shaped flaky pastry filled with spicy potato, chicken or lamb filling.

Best known for: He’s the friend you never notice when he’s in attendance at every occasion but are quick to recognise his absence.

Recent controversies: Ramadhan 2021 (1442 AH). Who would have thought Muslims, around the world, across their dinner tables and zoom iftaars, would be up in arms with their favourite triangular friend? And it’s all because of this one image:

“Astagfirullah!” proclaimed one friend of mine during the month of Maghfira. “Who’s next on the character assassination list? Biryani!”, slammed another. “Can someone please check in on his cousins, bhajiya and pakora please?”, shouted a third. “Hold on, the fact we’re having this conversation, isn’t that a good thing?”, asked a fourth. “Isn’t this just about our individual perspective on this image?”, questioned a fifth.

Shock marketing, such as the above, is designed to startle and offend its audience by violating norms for social values and personal ideals. And in this instance, the reason for that is quite simple? Our food, our cuisine is a big part of our heritage, where we originated from and how we grew up. It defines the many relationships we hold with our friends and families with gatherings revolving around a meal. How dare somebody question my right to tuck into my samosa!

As with most things we see the world around us in black and white. It’s either right or wrong. And our religion hands down clear edicts on most matters. But on a topic like this, maybe our thinking needs to be more nuanced. On one hand, diet and nutrition are topics that need to be broached in a sensitive and considerate manner. If handled poorly, possibly as the above image does, it can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing.

On the other hand, shutting down and stifling debate that aims to raise awareness of the impact our eating habits have on our body, is of no benefit to anybody. As a community, we continue to make great strides every year in improving our understanding of the importance of taking care of the body Allah (S.W.T.) has given to us to ensure we can continue to serve to the best of our ability. So why should we stop that journey now?

Whatever your dietary choice is this Ramadhan, this author would suggest everything in moderation. Supressing cravings is a difficult model to sustain, particularly during Ramadhan. But balancing it out with periods of physical activity makes it a more manageable change to endure. Remember, small steps lead to big changes.

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Ali Momin