American Muslims make most of the holy month

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COLUMBUS, OHIO: With sixteen and a half hours of fasting during hot summer days, Ramadan can be tough. How are Muslims faring in a country with no shortened work days, few concessions, and at times a lack of understanding or appreciation for the deed? As Ramadan 2016 draws to an end, American Muslims of all backgrounds are keeping their spirits up.
At the local mosques, the joyous atmosphere would never hint that Isha prayer starts at 10:45 pm, or that Taraweeh runs till 1 a.m. Smiling faces greet each other, while teenagers and children spend their summer vacation evenings chatting, playing and praying. This year, in the wake of concerning incidents, mosques have upped their security measures. A police car patrols the area and a policeman walks around, keeping a sharp vigil. (Mosques around this time receive threats. A mosque in Toronto had to be evacuated in the middle of Taraweeh as they received a bomb threat which turned out to be a hoax).
Speaking to Arab News, Falak Pasha, a mother of three, said, “We try to get the children excited about Ramadan so we bring them to the mosque three to four times a week. Our mosque is very children friendly. I want them to experience the flavor of a Muslim community.” The kids pray Isha and then go into the babysitting area and play with other kids. Her oldest, 8-year-old Hadia, has fasted for a few days. “I let the younger ones fast for a few hours to get them into the spirit. At Iftar time we give the children a small toy or a treat. They also have a countdown-to-Eid calendar which they very enthusiastically mark off each day,” Pasha explained. “I like to cook traditional food in Ramadan so the children can enjoy a part of the tradition as well. I tend to put on weight in Ramadan,” she chuckled. “My husband is the opposite. He eats very light and believes Ramadan shouldn’t be about eating, it should be about spirituality.”
Michelle, who became a Muslim few years back, really loves Ramadan. Most people leave the mosque after eight rakas of Taraweeh, but she likes to do twenty. “Only thing I lack is sleep. I am taking summer classes and have a full time job. I am getting between three to four hours of sleep a night. I will be honest, Ramadan is hard. But so what! I push myself, the rewards are so great. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Rahmati Tahir, 92-year-old lady, is also fasting this Ramadan. She reports, “I am doing fine. Some days I feel very sleepy. My son always tells me, you don’t have to fast, you can give fidya. I already know that. Why shouldn’t I fast when I can? This maybe my last Ramadan.” She has lived in the US for the past 29 years, and had never seen the inside of a mosque prior to coming here, she said. Until a few years back, she would routinely go for Taraweeh prayers. “Now I go for Jumah prayers with my granddaughter and great grandkids.” This year there has been an addition to her usual sahoor; with oatmeal, she also has to take blood pressure medication.
The scenes at halal restaurants are no different than the mosques in terms of excitement and enthusiasm. Ten minutes before Iftar time, Abdullah opens the lids of serving dishes on the buffet table. Immediately a queue forms, and thirty, forty men start filling up their plates. As 3 women approach, the men quickly let them pass ahead, displaying the best of manners. This is Hoyo’s Kitchen, a Somali food joint which is very popular in Ramadan. For $15 per head, there are plenty of Somali delicacies from three types of samosas, to many types of meat. Samar and her family have already been to Hoyo’s three times this Ramadan. “It is a good change from eating Pakistani food. Although, it feels a little odd to be the only non-Somalis there! We come because my five and a half year old son, Yusuf, just loves the food, and loves praying with the big guys.” Samar shared, “as kids grow older, it becomes more challenging to instill Islamic values in them. We try hard to make it fun and educational. I made a good deeds calendar for Ramadan. It has simple tasks like call your grandparents, smile at someone, donate ten dollars to the masjid. This gets Yusuf very excited. Upon waking, he rushes to pick out a good deed. Some days he even wants to do two!” she beamed.
Twenty-year-old Aden is a student who works part time as a security guard in a call center. He gets off work half an hour after Iftar. “I open my fast with a small snack, pray Maghrib and wait for my shift to be over. Then I rush home, eat fast, and go for Taraweeh.” He said his non-Muslim friends can’t believe he can’t even drink water. “I feel very good and light in Ramadan. Its not about food for me, it is about increasing your good deeds and getting close to Allah.”
Despite Islamophobia and anti-Islamic rhetoric, the American Muslims are doing their best to have a spiritually satisfying Ramadan for themselves and their children.

Source:Arab News