OKLAHOMA – Educating their neighbors on Oklahoma Muslim community and the holy month of Ramadan, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) organized on May 22 an event of “Revealing Ramadan: A Look-in on the Muslim Month of Fasting.”
“My swimming coaches at the high school were understanding of my Ramadan fasting and trying to cope with my sports training,” Zoya Sattari, an American Muslim student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland recalled during the event, News Ok reported.
The event’s evening program included a tour of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC), a special presentation on the Day in the Life of a Fasting Muslim, and a panel of young professionals sharing their experiences of Ramadan.
Guests were also welcomed with a sampling of Ramadan inspired halal meals which were served from local restaurants in Oklahoma like Zam-Zams.
Sattari was one of several metro Muslims who participated in the informative panel discussion about the holy month of fasting.
Julia Ehrhardt, a University of Oklahoma Honors College American studies professor, said “I attended the event to learn more about Muslim faith traditions. I also wanted to learn more about Ramadan etiquette. I decided to come largely to support the Muslim community.”
The professor continued that she “wanted to particularly know how non-Muslims could be more supportive of individuals participating in the Ramadan fasting.”
Thus, Muslim panelists had ready answers when Ehrhardt and others in the crowd asked how Muslims respond when their non-Muslims friends and co-workers eat while they are fasting.
Blessed Days & Nights
One panelist said she “had been at a work meeting at a coffee shop and a co-worker brought cookies for the group. When the co-worker began to apologize profusely for bringing the food to the gathering during Ramadan.”
Dr. Khalid Alzubi, a Muslim dentist, said he typically worked during his lunch period during the day, something that his co-workers seemed to appreciate.
The doctor said knowing that he would be fasting all day, his day generally started early during the holy month because he tries to eat a meal before sunrise and the beginning of the fast.
“I didn’t always beat the sun in order to grab that pre-dawn meal,” he said.
“As you go about your day, you’re constantly remembering God every time you want to eat. We take the month to get closer to the Quran to become more God-conscious,” Alzubi believes.
In describing the day in the life of a Muslim during Ramadan, Imad Enchassi, the Islamic Society’s senior imam, said he “spends many of evenings speaking to different groups about Ramadan and participating in a growing number of community Iftar dinners.”
“My Ramadan days and evenings are long because I have to get back to the mosque to lead the Tarawih and Tahajjud nightly prayers during Ramadan,” the imam happily explained.
Meanwhile, guests watched a humorous video that showed several Oklahoma Muslims interacting with non-Muslims at a mall.
When the Muslims asked passers-by what they knew about Ramadan, a few said they knew it was tied to Islam but the majority of those interviewed couldn’t give any details about the holy month.
Later, during the tour of the mosque, Enchassi gave the visitors an impromptu quiz on the Qur’an as the group stood opposite shelves lines with copies of the Islamic holy book.
Tariq Sattar, chairman of CAIR-Oklahoma, expressed that “The rise in Islamophobic rhetoric doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Similarly, any effort to counter that can’t be in a vacuum.”
“We need to put our humanity first. Build bridges of understanding and look for ways to foster open channels of communication. As Muslims, we appreciate neighbors and fellow community members like yourselves that have the curiosity and the eagerness to learn about our faith,” he concluded.