Day 18 of Ramadan 2011

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Day 18 of Ramadan 2011 at Dallas Islamic Center, Richardson

Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Ramadan 18, 1432

Mosque: Richardson Mosque, the first Mosque in Dallas, Texas
Sahri (Pre-dawn meal at home): Oatmeal and Fruits
Iftaar (refreshments): Dates, Fruits, punch and water
Iftaar (Dinner): Salad, Rice, Broiled Fish and Halwa (Sweetened Lentil Paste)
Culture: Interfaith Dinner- Christians, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and others
THE PLAN: Iftaar at a mosque from every denomination including: Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Warith Deen Muhammad, Wahabbi and others. You are welcome to join me or experience it yourselves, we have to learn to respect the differences and appreciate the uniqueness of each tradition. God says the best among you is the one who knows each other for peaceful co-existence.
PURPOSE: To share and appreciate the diversity within Islam.


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Alhamdu Lillah, all praises to the creator for blessing the world with diversity. I am pleased to highlight the uniqueness of each tradition on a daily basis and I hope we can cherish it. If you think of sharing your Ramadan experience, time is to start now.

The Richardson Mosque has been in the forefront of dealing with a majority of issues since bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma. This mosque has been a community center for the people of Dallas/Fort Worth fro nearly thirty years. The community has grown in size and we have nearly 30 Mosques and Mussallas (Temp) in the area.

Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci has been a pillar of this mosque for over 20 years; the mosque opened its door in the early 80’s. We are blessed to have his wisdom; he is recognized as one of the 500 Muslim scholars around the world.
He and I have had several beautiful interfaith moments over the years and I hope to put them all in the upcoming book. He is also one of the first Imams that we have encountered who wore three piece suits, no beard and no head gear. But over the last several years, he has started wearing the cloak, beard and the cap. He has gone through quite a lot of media scrutiny after 9/11 and particularly in 2003. We had organized a group of 30 people into a group called MRRT, Muslim Rapid Response team to deal with the media and we had over 50 letters published that year in the Dallas Morning News. It was a rough time.

After 9/11, with the leadership of Muhammad Suleman, this Mosque had initiated the Open Houses on Sundays. I was able to contribute in the open house by reminding the organization to coach the volunteers not to jump and start talking the differences when people visited. I remember a few of them welcoming the Christians with a note that “We don’t believe that Jesus was a son of a God but a Prophet”. All of that has improved over a period of time and interfaith understanding has matured since then.

It was also the first time in a US Mosque history that Hindu prayers were chanted along with others and thank God, except one or two Muslims most were gracious. The fingers of course were pointing at me. I have been in just about every place of worship including the Native Americans, but frequently in the Hindu Temples and a few had repeatedly said to me that Muslims don’t invite them to the Mosques and few even wrote in one of my groups; Dallas Indians, that they will not be allowed in a Mosque, that is a myth and perhaps is true in a few places in Asia, but it is not common. So I extended the invitation to ten with a personal note to a few, unfortunately they all had commitments. Next time, I had make the time to call.

I believe until we listen to God’s wisdom – where he says his creation is intentionally diverse, and the best among us are the ones who take time to know each other – so that we can mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill and learn to respect the otherness of other for creating peaceful societies.
Brother Muhammad Suleman pulled off a great gathering this evening and it was such a delight to see so many people out there from different faiths. Glad to see a few Hindu friends in particular, we need to pull all of us into the same tent.
Food service by the volunteers was exemplary, they carried huge trays with several plates on it and delivered the food to nearly 300 people in no time. The Boys and the girls, the men and women had a genuine smile on their faces. It was nice, very nice for Dr. Hind Jarrah and Dr. Nia McKay to get down and serve. As an individual and as a member of the community, I want to appreciate the volunteerism of every one whether some one mentions their name or not. Jazak Allah Khair.
One of the nicest things the Islamic Center did was to honor Peter Stewart who is a pioneer in the intercultural movement. His dream to have a cultural center where all people can come together and pray or share a meal came true 50 years ago in the form of Thanksgiving Square. It was good to see Imam Yahya, who was a leader during the 70’s is back in Dallas. Indeed, he led the Friday prayers at Thanksgiving Square some 25 or 30 years ago. Thanksgiving Square is One of our landmarks. I am so happy to see this moment.
Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci did something extraordinary… after breaking the fast, he stayed with the group for dinner and many stayed including me instead of going to the Maghrib (evening) prayers with the intention of praying later. I was giving company to Chris Slater, the Executive Director of Thanksgiving Square, loved his spirit of interfaith. Dr. Kavakci understood the priority of the moment and this is a good step forward.
When we break the fast, it is usually with fruit, in particular a date, if you are driving and got stuck in the traffic, you can sip the water (I keep water in my car all the times).

Like most things of life, we have to verbalize our intentions. God knows it, but verbalizing defines our intentions. It is a common practice in all faiths, God wants you to ask him. and how to frame the asking was a full sermon on the American Family Radio, they were promoting a book on the topic. Those who are skeptics can ask a psychologist, he or she would perhaps say that verbalizing clears the dust and brings clarity to oneself; a big relief indeed.

So when we break the fast we always say the grace, a short prayer. The Shia and Sunni versions (Ahmadiyya is same as Sunni) are very similar with a variation in few words. There is a slight variation within the Shia denominations, the Dawoodi Bohra verses are little different as well. This is a mere statement of Intention in Arabic. I used to do that in Urdu language and now I say that in English.
(APOLOGIES – I gave up adding the Arabic version of the short prayers, here it was just not coming through)
Allahumma! Laka sumtu wa ‘ala rizqiqa aftartu wa a’yalyka wa alayka tawakkaltu. O my Allah, I fasted for You and I believe in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance
Allahumma! Laka sumtu wa ‘ala rizqiqa aftartu.
“O Allah! For you I have fasted, and with what You give me I break my fast.”
Allahumma! Laka sumna wa ‘ala rizqiqa aftarna, fa-taqabbal minna. Innaka antal-sami al-‘alim. “O Allah! For you we have fasted, and with what You give us, we break my fast, so accept it from us. Indeed, You are the one who hears, who knows.”
One of the many purposes for me to visit different Mosques and do my Iftaar is to open up myself and share the experience. We have to learn to accept the diversity, no one worships in a weird way, that language needs to be respectfully replaced with … each one of us has our own unique way and each should be respected. To paraphrase what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would have advised “Respect your brother or sister as you respect yourselves”. That is the key to successful communities.
I pray that in this holy month of Ramadan we Muslim shed our biases and believe that God alone can judge what is in one’s heart; and let’s not burden ourselves with misunderstandings and myths about others. Let everyone live their life as they wish and let’s make an effort to live a regret free life in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer and a thinker nurturing the pluralistic values of Islam. More at:



Coming up – Rituals of Ramadan and Spirit of Ramadan


Sahri – Pre-Dawn meal before early Morning Prayer (fajr).
Iftaar – Sunset Meal as a conclusion of the fast.

Sawm – fasting from sunrise to sunset – No food, no water, no nothing and no intake of any food or water. More critically it is a practice to abstain from ill-will, malice, anger, temptations and human desires. Don’t hear, see, speak or act less than goodness.

Rituals – There are several variations in rituals and they vary from place to place. In Bangalore where I am from, the whole family gets up early around 4:00 AM and together cook extensive meals for Sahri /Suhoor, while others choose to cook earlier night and just warm it up and eat in the morning. The Iftaar is done elaborately at mosques, homes or other gatherings where friends from different faiths are invited to break bread and nurture goodwill.

Prayers – The ritual Muslim prayers involve several postures… I will update the details before the end of Ramadan.

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