On June 12, 2017, KARAMAH attended “Ramadan in America: An Iftar Celebrating Muslims, Refugees, and Welcoming Communities.” This iftar was organized by the interfaith organization Shoulder to Shoulder, a coalition dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment.
KARAMAH’s Executive Director, Aisha Rahman served as a member of the discussion panel. She was joined by Mohammad Zafar, an Afghani refugee, Makkah Ali, Programs & Grants Manager at the El-Hibri Foundation, and Osama Abdul-Salaam. The panel was moderated by Wajahat Ali. The panel reflected on what it means to celebrate Ramadan in America, offering an opportunity to share experiences and offer insight into the Muslim-American experience to the interfaith group gathered at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The panelists discussed a variety of topics, reflecting the multi-faceted experience of Muslim Americans. Ms. Ali shared how fasting during Ramadan, or barring herself from what is normally permissible, allows her to realize her own strength to do what is difficult during the rest of the year. Mr. Zafar discussed how Ramadan awakens a deep sense of charity, reminding him how many people cannot afford more than water to break their fast. Ms. Rahman discussed the sense of community that Ramadan brings and the constant closeness to God it inspires. In debunking myths about Ramadan, she explained that during Ramadan and during all times, Muslims should refrain from more than just food and drink. Particularly, fasting is an exercise in self control, even in one’s emotions especially anger. Ms. Rahman shared that many focus on the day time hours of Ramadan. Ms. Rahman reflected that the nights of Ramadan – when you are not fasting — are special. It is during the nights that the angels descend to hear your prayers.
Finally, Imam Magid opened and closed the panel, reflecting on the importance and symbolism of Shoulder to Shoulder. When praying, especially during Ramadan, we stand shoulder to shoulder, facing the same direction in solidarity. This event was a successful way to bring the interfaith community together to celebrate and reflect during Ramadan.