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Reaching out for Ramadan

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Rehan Zafar distributes dates to guests at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission  Building in Oklahoma City.  [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives]
Rehan Zafar distributes dates to guests at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives]

Metro area Muslims hope to share the traditions surrounding Ramadan through a series of community events planned for the coming weeks.

Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, will begin for many Muslims at sunset on Sunday and end at sunset June 3, followed by the annual end-of-Ramadan Eid ul-Fitr festival on June 4.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma (CAIR-OK), Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City and the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City have partnered with several community organizations to host gatherings that will offer non-Muslims opportunities to learn about the holy month and the Islamic faith. And Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity has raised funds for meals that volunteers will serve to the homeless beginning in mid-May as part of the group's "Meals by Muslims" Ramadan initiative.

Ramadan is one of the five pillars, or obligations, of Islam. Observant Muslims around the world abstain from food, drink and sensual pleasures from dawn to sunset during the month, which commemorates the divine revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.Adam Soltani, executive director of CAIR-OK, said recent shootings at houses of worship in the U.S. and around the globe might have some Muslims concerned that they may be targeted as they participate in the communal prayers that will take place each night of Ramadan at local mosques. He referred to the massacre at two New Zealand mosques in March, Easter Sunday shootings at Christian churches in Sri Lanka, a gunman's attack on a California synagogue during Passover in April and another shooting spree at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue in October 2018.

However, Soltani said he plans to continue the holy month traditions and he knows other Muslims will do the same. He said the recent attacks on faith communities makes it more important than ever for people of faith to join together to learn more about each other and support one another.

"This Ramadan, more than any I can ever recall in the past, I think Muslims are concerned for communal and individual safety more than ever before. I wonder will I lose my life just for practicing my faith, which is unfortunate," Soltani said.

"But I think this is an opportunity for outreach. For those that care about the future of our world and making it a better place, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about each other."

Soltani said CAIR-OK is partnering with the Islamic Society-OKC, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches' Religions United Committee, Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City and the Surraya Anne Foundation-Oklahoma City to host "Revealing Ramadan: A Look-in at the Muslim Month of Fasting" on Tuesday at the Islamic Society's Mercy Mission Building. Attendees at the free event will receive information about Ramadan, Islam and be treated to a Ramadan-inspired meal.

CAIR-OK also will host its annual Ramadan Iftar event for elected leaders and other community members. Soltani said U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma City; and Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper are scheduled to attend that event set for May 11 at Noah's Event Center. Iftar is the sundown meal that breaks the Ramadan fast.

Soltani said he's been pleased to see that more organizations are hosting Ramadan/Iftar events designed to bring the community together for a meal and interfaith education and conversation.

"In the last few years, there are so many (violent acts) popping up," he said. "There is very little we can do as communities of faith to stop the craziness in the world, but I think carrying on the tradition of respect for things we have in common. That is what makes Oklahoma City a great place to raise their family."

The Rev. Shannon Fleck, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, said her collaborative group thinks such interfaith events like "Revealing Ramadan" play a key role in encouraging dialogue and understanding among diverse people of faith.

"This is the third year that CAIR has done this (Revealing Ramadan) and it's so beneficial just to throw open the doors so the whole community can be together to share food together and to learn about this beautiful religion and what Ramadan is all about," Fleck said.

Along with the Revealing Ramadan event, the Conference of Churches is partnering with Dialogue Institute-OKC to host community Ramadan dinners in different places such as St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Temple B'nai Israel and the Dialogue Institute's headquarters at Raindrop Turkish House.

"Any time we have an opportunity to learn more about one another, it dispels any unawareness that could lead to hate and we want to be a part of that," Fleck said.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Vered Harris at Temple B'nai Israel said she is excited about the coming Ramadan event at the Jewish house of worship where she is spiritual leader.

Harris said the event will include the temple's regular Shabbat (which means "Sabbath" in Hebrew) service in the sanctuary with a speaker from the Dialogue Institute/Raindrop Turkish House giving a presentation about Ramadan. She said guest will then pray in the chapel and dinner will be served about 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Dr. Asiya Shakir, a metro medical doctor who is a member of Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity, said it only took the group three days to raise funds for its third annual "Meals by Muslims" outreach. Shakir, who has spearheaded the initiative each year, said volunteers will provide more than 350 meals daily at the homeless alliance during Ramadan.

Going on

Ramadan community events

Revealing Ramadan, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Mercy Mission Building, 3840 N St. Clair. Information: https://www.cairoklahoma.com.

2019 Ramadan Iftar with Elected Leaders, 7 to 10 p.m. May 11, Noah's Event Center, 14017 Quail Springs Parkway, $50. Information: https://www.cairoklahoma.com.

Ramadan Iftar Dinner, May 14, Islamic Society of Norman's mosque, 420 E Lindsey, Norman. Information: 360-5000.

Ramadan Fast-breaking Dinner, 7 p.m. May 16, Raindrop Turkish House, 4444 N Classen. Information: 525-2928.

Shabbat & Ramadan Iftar, 7 p.m. May 24, Temple B'nai Israel, 4901 N Pennsylvania Ave. Information: 702-0222.

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, May 25, 5024 N Grove Ave., Warr Acres. Information: 702-0222.

Related Photos
<strong>A panel of metro-area Muslims discusses their faith and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives]</strong>

A panel of metro-area Muslims discusses their faith and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4e25f8cde5f7176b3abac6325562a0c2.jpg" alt="Photo - A panel of metro-area Muslims discusses their faith and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives] " title=" A panel of metro-area Muslims discusses their faith and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives] "><figcaption> A panel of metro-area Muslims discusses their faith and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ec4d2aa6c7698e2bc7c4390dbb14f589.jpg" alt="Photo - Nadira Choudry, founder of Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity, prepares plates of food along with Saira Saleemi and Afia Tariq during the 2018 "Meals by Muslims" outreach at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City's day shelter. [Oklahoman Archives] " title=" Nadira Choudry, founder of Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity, prepares plates of food along with Saira Saleemi and Afia Tariq during the 2018 "Meals by Muslims" outreach at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City's day shelter. [Oklahoman Archives] "><figcaption> Nadira Choudry, founder of Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity, prepares plates of food along with Saira Saleemi and Afia Tariq during the 2018 "Meals by Muslims" outreach at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City's day shelter. [Oklahoman Archives] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-293fc8e130458e6cab612fcb2ee507a3.jpg" alt="Photo - In this 2018 photo, a sign promoting the "Meals by Muslims" Ramadan outreach is placed on a counter while Muslim women serve meals at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City's day shelter. [Oklahoman Archives] " title=" In this 2018 photo, a sign promoting the "Meals by Muslims" Ramadan outreach is placed on a counter while Muslim women serve meals at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City's day shelter. [Oklahoman Archives] "><figcaption> In this 2018 photo, a sign promoting the "Meals by Muslims" Ramadan outreach is placed on a counter while Muslim women serve meals at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City's day shelter. [Oklahoman Archives] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3b9b8b1dea9565a97f8f56dcd86705f7.jpg" alt="Photo - Rehan Zafar distributes dates to guests at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives] " title=" Rehan Zafar distributes dates to guests at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives] "><figcaption> Rehan Zafar distributes dates to guests at the 2018 "Revealing Ramadan" event at the Mercy Mission Building in Oklahoma City. [Carla Hinton/The Oklahoman Archives] </figcaption></figure>
Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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