US Muslims Urged to Host “Fast Forward” Iftar

WASHINGTON – As the clock ticks towards the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, a US advocacy group is calling on mosques across the United States to host “Fast Forward” interfaith “iftars,” or fast-breaking meals in support of traditional American values of inclusion and respect for diversity.

“Along with the recent rise of Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry nationwide, we have seen a similar increase in support for the American Muslim community and for other targeted communities,” Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement published on Friday, May 19.

“By hosting ‘Fast Forward’ iftars, Muslim communities have the opportunity to help unify our nation and move it forward on a path that respects long-standing American values, not the distortions of those values we see so often today.”

The “Fast Forward” theme for the iftars reflects the need for all Americans to go forward united in support of traditional American values of inclusion and respect for diversity during a time of increasing political division and rising bigotry targeting minority groups, CAIR said.

To assist local Muslim community leaders in planning Ramadan events, CAIR will host a webinar on May 24 offering step-by-step advice on hosting an “Fast Forward” interfaith iftar.

Webinar speakers include CAIR-Missouri Executive Director Faizan Syed, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, and CAIR National Chapter Director Lori Saroya.

The webinar will offer advice on forming a “Fast Forward” committee, a template for an iftar media advisory, advice on reaching out to local media, a sample advertisement for the event, text for a “Welcome to Our Ramadan Fast Forward Interfaith Iftar” brochure, frequently-asked questions about Ramadan, and a sample event program.

Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.

Muslims in North America are expected to start fasting on Saturday, May 27.