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21 July 2012

Experiencing Ramadan

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By Mike Ghouse

It is an effort to document and record Iftaar with every Muslim denomination, it is a journal of how each denomination of Islam, and a sub sect within each experiences Ramadan.

Much is written in this blog, but the focus will be today’s experience (July 20, 2012). Over the years, I have been visiting different Mosques for Friday prayers, and today, it was the Frisco Mosque a temporary Mosque in down town Frisco, as the construction for the new Mosque is about to start (Carrollton Islamic Center, 1901 Kelly Blvd, Carrollton, TX 75006).

Nearly 150 people attended the Iftaar, possibly because of the invitation to witness the ground breaking ceremony to expand the Mosque. www.carrolltonmasjid.org
There is one thing that I miss in mosques; fellowship.

However, it was a beautiful experience tonight at the Carrollton Mosque. The weather was remarkably pleasant and the fellowship was perfect. Usually people dash in and out, but this evening all of us had an opportunity to sit down and socialize and wait for the sunset. Every time I speak at a church, we usually gather in the fellowship hall for snacks and visit with each other. I had always longed for that environment in a Mosque, it is not common, nor is it conducive; people have to go back to work after the Friday congregational prayers.

I really enjoyed the Iftaar, everyone got to sit down and chat up with each other, and one Sheikh was asked to give a short talk, he was good, apparently he is from Morocco.
So when the sun’s last ray was gone, we started breaking the fast with dates. Can you imagine the consumption of nearly 5 billion dates tonight across the world to break the fast?

Each mosque has a little different tradition, for instance, in Madinah Masjid (Carrollton) the Imam recites a prayer to break the fast, and all recite with him before they break the fast, however, it is little different in Shia tradition, and precisely same in Ahmadiyya tradition.
Iftaar was followed by the Maghrib prayers, the dusk prayers.

The next thing was the ground breaking ceremony, the leadership got the shovel and a hard hat, and started filling in the hole with the dugged out dirt. It should have been the other way around. They even got a silver shovel for the Amir - the leader: Dr. Amir Shakil. Glad to see the women taking their turn and even the kids got to throw up dirt.

Dinner was healthy and good, the Arabic puffed up bread was fantastic. I enjoy that a Faadi’s restaurant. It was a pleasure to meet some of the friends after a long time. I remembered 20+ names but there were several more, I just cannot get the name out, so I will not list any. I don’t want to hurt the feelings of those whose name is blocked in my mind. Help me God with the names!

It was a beautiful Iftaar and the evening.

Mosque in Frisco, one of the fastest growing cities in America.

Two years ago, I was intrigued by a tafseer/ exegesis that I read in this Mosque, the book was printed in Madinah, about what Idolatry meant. It was a beautiful writing and I wanted to read that again and perhaps copy (iphone pic), but have not found the book again. It had the broadest meaning and would have been perfect to talk about in the interfaith gatherings. I will have to go back and check again.

I was early, so I read Sura Baqra- the second chapter in Urdu, the translation was done by Dr. Tahir-ul Qadiri. The flow was much better than some of the other translations. I did not get to read the whole chapter, but a few verses made me stop and think about them.
2:212, (Qadiri translation) starts with, "life for the Kafirs was set up for the worldly pleasures." The word Kafir is used as though there is community of people out there, who are called Kafirs. Kafirs is a generic word for those who hide the truth, deny the truth or pretend the truth to be different, and it is an individual attribute rather than a group. I will have to study and read Asad’s translation. Although it has the simplest meaning, it has acquired a derogatory status to ridicule other people.

2:222 (Qadiri Translation) - talks about avoiding intimacy with wife until she is pure or clean again. I have severe difficulty with that word. It gives the impression that a woman is unclean or impure. Instead, if the translation had said, “avoid intimacy until the lady is through with the menstruation,” it would have meant a natural process. Dr. Qadiris’s translation falls in the same pit as the other ones before. I will have to check Dr. Laila Bakhtiar’s or Edip Yuskel's translation on that. Even the translation of 2:223 does not meet the civility prophet Muhammad taught.

An individual asked me to come back tomorrow for Iftaar, and I said probably two weeks from now. As a reason, I explained to him that I visit a mosque a day of different denominations during Ramadan. He asked me, if I went to the Shia Mosque, which is an yes. He said they were wrong. He told me that the Prophet in his last sermon was clear; he was leaving his Sunna and the book, but they add his family to it. I said, that is correct, those are the two different versions, he said, but they are wrong - I said, they are wrong to you, but not to them. He was silently staring at me to understand that, which I appreciated.

I continued, they think the Sunnis are wrong. The best thing is to accept the different interpretations… he said it is the same Hadith, how can they say otherwise. It took me a while to keep his innocence intact, yet make the point. I said I have no problem with what they believe; I don’t believe what they believe, and they don’t believe what I believe… I am not superior to them, nor they are superior to me. I am right in my way, and they are right in their way....I asked him if he can guess where my analogy comes from? He guessed it right and I hope you do too.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to doing his individual share of building cohesive societies and invites you to the 8th Annual Unity Day USA on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Details at www.UnitydayUSA.com, its an event that builds bridges and uplifts every American. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

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