As Published In Daily Times
To the Times:
Right now Muslims around the world are observing Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer that began on May 27 and ends in late June.
The national rhetoric concerning people who are Muslim has been heated and too often hateful. There is always a danger of stereotyping people, especially those we don’t know much about.
In an effort to dispel potential hatred and misinformation, members of the People Power Yeadon group reached out to the Masjid Al-Madinah Islamic Center at 201 S. 69th Street, Upper Darby, to hear from our Muslim neighbors and to learn about their beliefs and practices.
Mr. Kamal Rahman, president of the mosque, graciously invited us to sit down with some members of the mosque last Saturday.
We were five non-Muslims who were warmly welcomed by about 15 mosque members and some of their children.
We learned that Ramadan commemorates Muhammad’s receiving the revelation of the Quran from the angel Gabriel. During Ramadan, Muslims fast (taking in no food or drink) from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day. Muslims often break their fast together at a mosque. During Ramadan, Muslims ask Allah/God for forgiveness and challenge themselves to have a deeper and closer relationship with Allah/God through fasting, prayers, and good works, such as saving money they’d spend on meals and giving it to the poor.
We learned that our hosts love America. One called it “the greatest country in the world.” Another praised the checks and balances of the American system and America’s respect for human rights. They wanted us to know that terrorism is not representative of the Muslim faith.
The mosque has members from about 50 different countries. Our hosts came from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Dubai, and India. They now live in Drexel Hill, Upper Darby, Clifton Heights, Collingdale and Newtown Square. Some have lived here only a few years, others more than 30 years. They described their Delaware Valley neighbors as friendly and accepting. Mr. Rahman said the mayor and police superintendent of Upper Darby were welcoming to the mosque and provided great support for their activities.
We encourage everyone to take the time to meet their Muslim neighbors and to learn the reality of their lives rather than jumping to conclusions based on fear or misunderstanding. Mr. Rahman invites you to visit Masjid Al-Madinah any time. You may call him at 484-557-1456 to learn more.
People Power Yeadon Members: Liz and Charlie Dunford, Collingdale; Susan Keller, East Lansdowne; Nancy Hatfield, Philadelphia; Jacquelynn Puriefoy-Brinkley, Yeadon. People Power is a member-mobilization project of the ACLU.
Why we fast
To the Times:
One of the purposes for fasting during Ramadan, the Holy month for Muslims, is encapsulated by its conclusion: the celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr, which will take place on June 26th. During the month, Muslims are urged to increase our charitable efforts, but it doesn’t stop when the month is over. On Eid, it is a tradition to share gifts among one another. So if you happen to see me carrying bags and bags of gifts on Monday, you’ll know the reason why.
Madeel Abdullah, MD