1:26pm

Mon August 29, 2011
Faith and Values

Kentucky Muslims Prepare to End Ramadan Fast

Muslims of all ages across Kentucky and around the world today mark the end of Ramadan and celebrating Eid.  The Eid festival ends 30 days of dawn to sunset fasting.  It’s also a time to reflect on the last month, a period many Muslims say is the most moving of the year. The timing of Ramadan shifts each year, but its purpose remains constant.  It allows Muslims to commemorate the first verses of the Qur’an, which were revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.  Muslims not only fast from dawn to sunset.  They offer up prayers and share their wealth with people who are less fortunate.

The daily fast was broken recently at the Richmond mosque.  Among those believers present was Amin Sheik Muhammad, who came to American from Sudan.  Mohammed says Ramadan is a time to better one’s self in body and spirit…

 “Eating three meals a day or four meals a day, We accumulate a lot of fats and a lot of junk food for our body, but when we are fasting, we get rid of all these things really feel more healthy than during non fasting days,” said Mohammad.

Salah El Bakoush agrees that fasting during this month impacts both mind and body, and allows Muslims to focus on the needs of the poor.

“Allow you to be patient.  To think about things, plus the less food you take, allow your brain to be a lot clearer,” said El Bakoush.

A group of men, many of them students at Eastern Kentucky University, sat on the floor as they prepare to break the fast.  On this evening, the first course is a date.

Sami Alutaivi,   who’s from Saudi Arabia, senses support from the central Kentucky community and understanding about the importance of Ramadan to Muslims..

“We feel peace.  We feel gathering and happiness here.  People here are also very nice people in Richmond, either Muslim or non Muslim.  We feel no different from our country,” added Alutaivi.

More than one of those people marking Ramadan said co-workers and friends support them, with some even joining in the fasting, be it on a short term basis. 

Their daily hunger also reminds Muslims of the poverty that plagues many people.  Mustapha Jourdini, who’s with E-K-U’s scholars program, has discovered such poverty is not just found in under-developed countries.

“There’s so many poverty stricken Kentucky families and I think for Muslims in this community, this small community of Richmond, it’s a time for them to help as much as they can,” said Jourdini.

Young Muslims learn about fasting early.  At first, they may only fast for half a day, but, by age ten, many join the rest of the adult community in the day-long fast.  E-K-U junior Yahzen Al Atyfah of Jordan says Ramadan forces him to slow his pace and makes him more considerate...

“I live in Lexington. I drive back and forth every days.  I’m always like speeding and rushing and hurrying.  Since the month started, I don’t feel the need to speed anymore.  I’ve haven’t sped at all,” added AL Atyfah.

University of Kentucky grad student Dina Rashid doesn’t listen to as much music.  Although her hunger might be a factor in the classroom, Rashid says it makes her more disciplined.

“For college students, a little hard at school with classes and exams, but the struggle is what’s beautiful about it cause with struggle comes it helps you become closer with God and even with  each other.” explained Rashid.

Dina’s mother Nadia Rashid joined her in Lexington for a midday prayer.  She believes young people hunger for spirituality and, despite their different religions, that hunger can draw them together and strengthen their faith.

Still, such tolerance is increasingly hard to find.  30 years ago, Rashid says Americans were more accepting on non-Christian religions.

“In those days, in the 70’s people, Muslims and non-Muslims, everybody celebrated everybody’s diversity.  I think know I think now there’s a lot more promotion of hate.  Sometimes we forget that Jesus taught all of us to love,” said Rashid.

So, with Ramadan ending and the Eid celebration beginning, many Muslims are left with the challenge of taking what they’ve experienced during the month-long fast and applying those lessons in their day-to-day lives during the rest of the year.