The Islamic Center of Waco on Tuesday said it received hate mail accusing Muslims of preying on and killing people after the organization hosted an interfaith dinner to celebrate the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
The mosque posted a photo of the letter, complete with a “love” stamp on the front, on Facebook and countered its accusations.
“We pray for this individual to cleanse the hatred in their heart for a people whom they refuse to even meet with,” the Islamic center said in the post. “What an eternal suffering it must be to live your life in fear and hate of a group of people you don’t even know.”
The sender tore a brief article from the Waco Tribune-Herald about an upcoming interfaith dinner at the mosque, where anyone from the community could join Muslims as they broke their fast during Ramadan, the sacred month of self-improvement.
So why are we, a predominantly Christian nation where 86 percent of the population professes to be Catholic, celebrating a Muslim holiday today?
Last week, President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 729 declaring Eid al-Fitr a national holiday, to give “the entire Filipino nation… the full opportunity to join their Muslim brothers and sisters in peace and harmony in the observance and celebration of Eid al-Fitr… and bring [its] religious and cultural significance to the fore of national consciousness.”
Beyond enjoying this school-free and nonworking holiday, what is there to celebrate about Eid al-Fitr? Why join the 10.7 million Muslim Filipinos in our midst in making the most of it?
Eid al-Fitr means the “festival of breaking the fast,” a Muslim holiday that marks the end of the month of Ramadan when believers of the faith refrain from eating, drinking and intimacy with their spouses from sunrise to sunset. The evening, when fasting gives way to enjoying a communal repast, is also reserved for prayers in the mosque.
Muslims believe that, having felt what it was like to go without food or drink for 12 hours, people who fast are bound to become more sympathetic to those less fortunate than them. Such voluntary deprivation, in turn, should cause people to be more generous to help end hunger among the poor.
Aside from fasting, many Muslims spend Ramadan in sincere devotion—giving to charity, refraining from evil thoughts and performing good deeds as a way to draw themselves closer to Allah. As these acts of devotion are done collectively for a whole month, Ramadan is often considered a high-intensity period of expressing the faith, much like the Christian Lenten week when sacrifice and prayers concentrated within a few days are expected of the faithful.
Completing a grueling summer month of not eating and drinking during daylight hours for most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims is cause for celebration and feasting for Muslims as they soon mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan with Eid al-Fitr.
What is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr means “festival of breaking the fast” and is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims the world over. It’s a day of observance, but also an occasion for Muslims to show their gratitude to God, as well as give alms to the poor. It commemorates the end of Islam‘s holiest month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar in which Muslims adhere to a strict fast observed from sunrise to sunset.
Fasting is viewed as a time to exercise self-control, and as a cleanse for the mind, body and spirit. Many Muslims liken the fasting to a spiritual detox, a way to bring themselves closer to God. The fasting is also intended to act as a reminder of the suffering of those less fortunate, who often don’t have access to food and water.
Ramadan is considered a sacred month in Islam because it’s when Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.
it is not uncommon for Muslims to break their daily Ramadan fast at a mosque.
But at sundown Wednesday in Nashville, dozens of the city’s faithful did so in a synagogue.
At the invitation of Rabbi Joshua Kullock, they sat beside members of his congregation at West End Synagogue as they bit into dates and sipped from bottles of water. It was just one moment of an evening of shared prayers, religious rituals and finding what unites them while respecting their differences.
“We are very good at reacting when something bad happens,” Kullock said.
In the aftermath of recent attacks on places of worship near and far, the Muslim and Jewish communities in Nashville have come together to stand united against hate.
Kullock wanted to take that shared support further by hosting an iftar, an evening meal that breaks the daily fast during the Islamic holy month. The 30 days of prayer and fasting wraps up next week.
The third annual event was hosted by the Muslims on Screen & Television Resource Center, Unity Productions Foundation and the Writers Guild Foundation.
On Wednesday night the Writers Guild Foundation and Muslims on Screen & Television Resource Center (MOST) welcomed influential film and television creators to the third annual Hollywood Iftar.
The London Hotel in West Hollywood played host to the event, a collaboration between the Writers Guild Foundation, MOST and Unity Productions Foundation.
An iftar is a sacred sunset meal Muslims use to break the daily fast of Ramadan.
Wednesday’s iftar was open to both Muslim and non-Muslim members of Hollywood in the hopes of fostering a better understanding of Islam by those who create film and television. Writers and producers like Greg Daniels (The Office), Joy Gregory (Madam Secretary) and Chip Johannessen (Homeland) mixed and mingled with members of the Islamic community to learn about the nuances of Islamic culture and traditional Muslim practices.
Daniels, showrunner of The Office and Parks and Recreation, says he first experienced the Hollywood Iftar a couple of years ago, after attending a master class with Arab TV writers in Abu Dhabi.
He says he strongly believes in the need for television writers to familiarize themselves with different cultures. “I think it’s important for all writers to learn about as much as they can just to have their writing reflect the world accurately,” Daniels told The Hollywood Reporter before alluding to the current political climate. “I also think it’s important to show solidarity with minority communities, especially now.”
While Rep. Ilhan Omar fasts during Ramadan from food and water — and even, she is quick to point out, from coffee — her responsibilities as a congresswoman often keep her from breaking her daily fast at a celebratory iftar meal. Sometimes, she said, it’s a quick bite to eat after the sun sets and then back to the House floor for a vote or to a committee meeting.
But not on Monday. On this night, halfway through the month-long holiday of Ramadan, Omar enjoyed a buffet of food as she and two other Muslim members of Congress hosted some fellow members for a traditional Ramadan meal.
The congressional iftar, hosted at the Capitol, was a night for Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) to explain their faith to their colleagues. Of course a break-the-fast meal in the halls of Congress included a hefty serving of politics alongside the naan and kebabs.