OKLAHOMA – As Ramadan approaches, Oklahoma Muslims are busy putting final touches on several interfaith events, open mosque days, shared iftars, and speeches which they will host during the holy fasting month.
“We always want to offer opportunities for people to come and learn about our faith. Plus, we’ll treat them to good food,” Adam Soltani, executive director of the Islamic Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma chapter (CAIR-OK), told News Oklahoma.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar. It is expected to start this year on Wednesday, May 16.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to getting closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint, and good deeds.
Imad Enchassi, senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said he and many other Muslims are concerned they will actually fast for longer periods of time when Ramadan falls during spring and summer because the days are longer.
But, Enchassi looks at Ramadan as a source of opportunities to reflect on God.
“I say think of it as spending time with the beloved — the longer the better,” he said.
Enchassi said he and several metro-area Muslim leaders will be spending time at events designed to share the holy days with the community-at-large and to educate non-Muslims about Ramadan.
CAIR-OK has also planned several outreach activities that will include fellowship, education, and food.
Both organizations will partner to host an event entitled “Revealing Ramadan: A Look-in on the Muslim Month of Fasting” on May 22 at the Islamic Society’s Mercy Mission Center, adjacent to the society’s mosque.
The free event will feature a discussion about Islam and Ramadan as visitors will join Muslims for iftar.
“It’s a great event for them to come to if they have never been to a mosque,” Enchassi said.
In addition to reaching out to the community, Oklahoma Muslims will also sponsor an annual Ramadan Day of Service at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma on June 2.
On June 8, CAIR-OK also will host its annual “Iftar With Legislators” event, which brings the metro-area Muslim faith community and interfaith partners together with state lawmakers for an evening of dialogue.
The Dialogue Institute will host an “Interfaith Iftar Dinner” on May 26 featuring Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt as the guest of honor speaker.
The event will include a presentation entitled “Ramadan, Fasting and Beyond” presentation and a question-and-answer session.
Enchassi said the Dialogue Institute sponsored several of the events in partnership with several metro-area churches and one Jewish house of worship, Temple B’nai Israel.
“I do appreciate that they are allowing us into their holy place to share not only a meal with them but to share our faith,” Enchassi said.
Soltani anticipated the interactions during Ramadan events, seeing it as building bridges in the society.
“It’s wonderful to see that not only as a Muslim community, we’re able to invite people of other faiths in to share our experiences, but it’s great to see others — Jewish and Christian faith communities and academic institutions willing to host the Muslim community,” he said.
“It reminds us that we belong in the state we live in.”