It is easier for me to go to bed hungry here. Not that it happens often. Maybe two or three times a week. But I notice this nighttime hunger since it nearly never happened back home. It isn’t for a lack of food. It is for a lack of gluttony. A finding of humility.
Generally, here, our family, all ten of us—kids, parents, grandparents, aunty and whomever else is around—eat from large “family-style” platters. We did this often in the states, too, but not with nearly as much adab as here. With other adults around eating is no longer a race like it often is when eating with just the kids. There is no hurry to get your share before fingers begin to cross over into your area of the platter. It isn’t as tempting to simply submit to the easier option of giving everyone their own plate. Here there are plenty of other adults on hand to help the kids learn how to eat according to the sunnah.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “When one of you eats let him not partake from the middle of the plate, rather take from around it, for the blessings descend from upon the middle of it.” (Sunnan Abu Daud )
Usually I eat sitting in-between my two youngest kids as they insist. But when I have sat next to my father-in-law I am always amused by the tidy little line—like a sandbar—that slowly comes to form between our places. It is a clear boundary of respect for the other’s share. Frequently adult family members will deftly reposition a choice morsel of meat into my section, “for the baby” as she is still exclusively breastfed. I have seen my older kids start to do this to the adults, offering the favorite of so and so to them when it falls into the child’s zone. “The baby” is also given any odd number of fruit or other items that cannot be portioned up equally. Snacks are also equally shared. Though generally younger children are given preferential treatment—extra cookies and bites—everyone is served, unlike when I would snack back home. Then, I ate whenever I felt like it. And often wouldn’t consider if someone else wanted a cup of tea or whatever else I was having. I lived according to my desires.
Certainly knowing that there are people in extreme poverty close by helps me to ignore the grumbling in my tummy. And as I wait for my stomach to shrink back to its normal size, I acknowledge that what is good enough for most Moroccans—and nearly the rest of the world—is good enough for me.