|code: 201504||Date: 2010/08/29||source: heraldtribune|
Joyful, humble days of Ramadan
Ahlul Bayt News Agency, Florida, America -- From dawn to sunset each day since the new moon, Muslims are fasting now for Ramadan, seeking humbleness through the grace of Allah.
Sarasota resident Ruta Jouniari is among 40 to 60 people who visit the Islamic Center of Sarasota-Bradenton each day to take part in a series of prayers that concludes with ishaa, the last obligatory prayer of the day.
The 15-plus hours without food and water are a routine for her now, but it once was an adjustment. About 12 years ago, she concluded a two-year study of world religions and opted to convert from Catholicism, the religion of her youth, to Islam.
"I still wanted the tenets of the one God, I just needed to find him more," Jouniari, 42, said. "After looking into Islam, I found it was the right decision."
During the 30 days of Ramadan, which began Aug. 11, she is up cooking eggs for herself and husband Noureddine by 4:30 a.m. and then ready for a day of fasting. Following prayers at mosque, the fast is broken hours later with dates and water.
"That's how you break your fast and maybe a cup of soup," said Hytham Bakr, an Egyptian who has lived here for 31 years. "You introduce some food to your stomach to get it digesting again."
The food ingested at sunset is a sidelight to the purification of the soul that Ramadan represents, and it does point to the multicultural aspect of the celebration. Bakr said he and his family look forward to the feast following the sunset prayer that is offered each day, both to Muslims and any in the community.
Muslim families of different ethnicities who attend the center volunteer to cook each day, so dishes range from Middle Eastern to Chinese to South American and Caribbean. The variety of lamb and rice, chicken and fish precedes savory desserts.
As Adris Khan, the president of the Society, sees it, the diverse flavors contribute more than nutrition to the fabric of society.
Khan, who is from Trinidad but of Indian descent, said he is focusing on the joy of the holiday this year rather than the evolving viewpoints regarding the potential mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.
"Go back to the Quran when God says he created different races so that they may get to know one another," he said. "It really adds to the flavor and the richness and the culture of our community."
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