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Posts Tagged ‘ramadan’


Photo: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
Lining up for tacos outside the Islamic Center of Santa Ana.  The ‘Taco Truck at Every Mosque’ event for iftar (evening meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan) promotes solidarity and understanding.

Community organizers are getting creative with ways to pull different groups together. Consider this California example.

Anh Do writes at the Los Angeles Times: “Activists Rida Hamida and Ben Vazquez wanted to find a way to promote unity among the region’s Muslim and Latino communities, so they came up with a novel idea.

“After daily fasting as part of the holy month of Ramadan, dozens of local Muslims joined their Latino neighbors Saturday night in the parking lot of the new Islamic Center of Santa Ana, taking part in the inaugural event of the campaign dubbed Taco Trucks at Every Mosque.

“Organizers said the idea is to demystify Islam through the sharing of food and to unite two groups, Muslims and Latinos, facing increasing discrimination. …

” ‘This is perfect timing. The purpose of this month is to give charity, to grow our character and our inner lives and to nourish our soul through service. What better way to do that than by learning from one another?’ asked coordinator Hamida, whose goal is to host food trucks that will serve halal tacos at every mosque in Orange County. …

“Even young participants such as Idrees Alomari, 13, were encouraged by Saturday’s event, which he said was a good way to show how people can appreciate their differences and similarities. …

” ‘All the way from the parking entrance to inside, everyone’s been like, “Welcome, welcome, we’re so glad to have you here,” ‘ said Dulce Saavedra, 24, [a] youth organizer for Resilience OC, a nonprofit created from the merging of Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color and Raiz, a group pushing for partnerships between law enforcement and immigrants.” More at the Los Angeles Times, here.

This initiative reminds me of an annual event that took place in Lowell, Mass. It was a gigantic soccer tournament with teams from the scores of immigrant groups in the city. I always admired the ONELowell initiative because it can be hard to get minorities to band together and realize they can collaborate to promote common needs. Sharing a sport loved by many nationalities seemed like a good place to start.

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Public Radio International’s “The World” had a delightful story today on a young Egyptian who looks like he might be a real “contenda” for a sumo wrestling title.

Clark Boyd reports, “His real name is Abdel Rahman Ahmed Shaalan. But in Japan, they call him Osunaarashi, or ‘Great Sandstorm.’

“Shaalan is 21-year-old professional sumo wrestler who hails from Giza in Egypt. After a few years of training at the club level in Egypt, Shaalan left Egypt to try to break into the Japanese professional ranks. …

“Osunaarashi is currently fighting in a tournament in Tokyo, but here’s the thing: He is also a devout Muslim, and this is the holy month of Ramadan. And that means Osunaarashi is fasting.”

The radio report goes on to say that although sumo has always been an intensely tradition-bound sport, the people at the residence where Osunaarashi is living with other wrestlers have made accommodations in deference to his religion. For example, a typical stew that sumo wrestlers are served to bulk them up is chock full of pork, but the chefs now make it with chicken and fish.

More.

Photo: Phlyz/Wiki Commons
Osunaarashi, the Egyptian sumo wrestler, after a Tokyo tournament in May

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Last year my friend Asakiyume, whose family is Catholic but who admires Ramadan, decided to fast for Lent the way people do for Ramadan — all day until sunset. She saw the fasting as a way to connect to people who have no choice about hunger.

Some members of my extended family observe Ramadan, but it’s their religion. And I knew a Somalian in Minneapolis to whom I once, in my ignorance, said, “Happy Ramadan.” He laughed and told me patiently that Ramadan wasn’t about “happy,” rather it was a time of reflection and sacrifice. I realized my blooper was a bit like saying “Happy Good Friday” or “Happy Yom Kippur.” One doesn’t say “Happy Lent” either. “Happy” is for the day before Lent and Mardi Gras.

Read about Asakiyume’s thought process and why she once borrowed another religion’s custom here. She writes a wonderfully eclectic blog full of deep thoughts and photos from her walks that suggest mythical vistas and fantasy characters to her.

light and shadow

(Today, of course, it is perfectly fine to say Happy Valentine’s Day! And if you missed getting birthstone-jewelry hearts for your Valentine at Luna & Stella, here, fear not! Mother’s Day is just around the corner, May 12.)

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