Washington Post: “As American Muslims fast this Ramadan, maybe the rest of America should consider joining in”

Life during lockdown might be much better if technophobia hadn't ...
The Washington Post announces: “The Opinions section is looking for stories of how the coronavirus has affected people of all walks of life. Write to us.” The imam Omar Suleiman, “the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and an Islamic studies professor at Southern Methodist University,” saw an opportunity for dawah, and seized it.
The Washington Post, of course, had to be a willing partner. If someone had sent in a story about how Americans should join in the Lenten fast, or the Yom Kippur fast, would the Post have published it? What do you think?
“As American Muslims fast this Ramadan, maybe the rest of America should consider joining in,” by Omar Suleiman, Washington Post, April 30, 2020:
For Muslims, Ramadan is a time in which we fast from God’s blessings that are readily available to us and that we often take for granted.
Among the wisdoms of fasting is that if we voluntarily abstain from food and drink, we will be able to better empathize with those who are facing hardships due to poverty.
But it is not enough to merely experience hunger for the sake of your own spiritual discipline. One must also be activated toward fighting collective hunger. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “He is not a believer who sleeps with his stomach filled while his neighbor goes to bed hungry.” If a person cannot fast due to a permanent medical condition, they are to feed a poor person for every day they miss. And before the community gathers at the end of the month to feast on the day of Eid, each able person is obligated to provide what is called Zakat al-Fitr, a small charitable donation that is taken a few days before the Eid to ensure that the poor are able to feast as well.

Every night in Ramadan, in normal times, mosques around the world host charity representatives who fundraise between prayers. In 2004, I was sitting in my mosque in New Orleans and the representative that night was raising funds to build water wells in Somalia. He broke down in tears as he recalled the story of a woman he had met. In Islam, a person should break their fast even with a sip of water as soon as the sun sets. She asked him whether God would forgive her for not having anything to break her fast with during Ramadan. Moved by the woman’s concern to maintain faith as she fought off hunger, the speaker implored us to imagine being in her shoes. Though his emotion touched the audience, none of us could really relate to the experience.
A year later, Hurricane Katrina hit our community in New Orleans. A 61-year-old convert to Islam who lost everything that year confessed to me in a shelter with tears in his eyes that he got so hungry one night that he dug through his suitcase only to find a container of years-old lard from his cupboard to break his fast with. He laughed and recalled the Somali woman. He never thought he would be in a situation like hers…

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