Introducing the Ramadan calendar featuring dates with a difference: chocolate
- 21 May 2019
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Fasting during the Holy Month can be a challenge, and it’s easy to lose sight of its spiritual message as you test your endurance, more so if you don’t live in a Muslim-majority country.
It’s this challenge that led Nadia Doukali, who was born in Morocco but now lives in Germany, to create the “Iftarlender”.
This sturdy paper calendar has little doors for each of the 30 days of Ramadan. On each flap is an Arabic word related to the broader message of the Holy Month, such as sabr (patience) and dua (prayer). Behind each flap is a chocolate-covered date, a reward to be eaten during iftar for contemplating the word all day.
Nadia says she wanted to find a way for people to understand the true meaning of fasting, which is difficult when you also have to keep up with the challenges of work, family, and for many, being far away from home. She also wanted to find a more significant way to count down to Eid as well as to show “non-Muslims how important and full of love Ramadan is for all of us.”
Based in Frankfurt, the Iftarlender is produced by Nadia’s company, Honeyletter Productions. The idea came from Advent calendars, which she was always excited by as a child. An Advent calendar is part of a Christian tradition originating in Germany that counts the days to Christmas. It usually consists of flaps or doors for each day of Advent that open to reveal a toy or a sweet. To the doors and the little treats, the Iftarlender adds “words to assist you through the day and help you and people around you understand each other.”
Nadia was raised Muslim in Marrakesh, before her family moved to Frankfurt. She played with her Jewish neighbours in Morocco, and in Germany, she went to a Christian kindergarten. Exposure to different religions has led her to a passion for interfaith and intercultural understanding. No surprise, then, that Honeyletter sells halal as well as kosher chocolates.
“Everyone thinks that these two religions (Islam and Judaism) could never fit together or that they have no connection,” Nadia told My Salaam. “For me, as a Moroccan from Marrakech growing up with Jews, [the celebrations were] about big families: two different holidays, different prayers, and the food rules were a bit different, but all with the same heart.”
Nadia, is also an author of children’s books and says that she focuses her energy on creating more understanding between people, and that includes her children’s stories. The intent behind her products is “to bring two sides of misunderstanding together in understanding and respect for each other.”
Nadia’s idea of the calendar also led her to take a closer look at what halal entails. “Halal for most of us usually means no alcohol and no pork. Well, there is more! I found out that chocolate is full of non-halal ingredients. I learnt about chocolate production to make halal chocolate for my products […] It is about health, fair trade, care for the environment, no synthetic aromas. And these are not just Muslim concerns.”
Honeyletter has an online shop and deliver worldwide. Nadia’s products are also on offer at cafes, hotels, supermarkets and hypermarkets such as Kaufland and Metro Realin Germany and Groupe Casino in France, among others.
Anton G. Klocker, who works at H.M.Weihs GmbH, Vienna, a food and sweet distributor in Austria and Central and Eastern Europe, told us, “We like the concept, combined with the high-quality products and [the fact] that they are handmade from carefully selected ingredients.”
He says the fast-growing Muslim market is what drew his company to Honeyletter. “We see a great potential throughout Europe as Ramadan gets celebrated more and more here and major retailers offer special Ramadan promotions; we are not targeting to sell at ethnic stores but in ‘standard’ retailers like Metro, Kaufland, Casinogroup or Rewe.”
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