By Karen Kennedy
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and his wife, Liz, recently hosted a group of nearly 200 people at their home for an “iftar,” which is the term used to describe the nightly breaking of the Ramadan fast in the Muslim religion. The event was organized by the Al Salam Foundation, Inc. and the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. Indiana’s Fifth District Congresswoman Susan Brooks was also in attendance.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During Ramadan, all Muslims who are physically able to do so are obligated to fast from sunup to sundown every day for the entire month. They will have a small meal just before sunrise, known as “suhoor,” but they do not consume even a drop of water during the course of the day until sunset, at which time the fast is broken after prayer, and they consume their evening iftar (meal).
Ramadan is not just a fasting period for devout Muslims. There is a strong spiritual element to the month as well, in which followers abstain not only from food and drink, (which they believe brings them closer to their God, Allah,) but also attempt to improve themselves by abstaining from any other impure or dishonest acts. They refrain from speaking ill of others, telling even the smallest untruth, profanity, gossip and any sexual contact.
Representatives of the Muslim Community
Dr. Nadeem Ikhlaque, president of the Al Salam Foundation, spoke at the event, referring to Ramadan as a “month of blessing” and noting that experiencing hunger and thirst throughout the month allows Muslims to “develop sympathy and empathy for those who experience hunger not by choice, but by circumstance.”
Ashhar Madni, vice president and secretary of the Al Salam Foundation of Indianapolis, spoke of the Muslim community here as a diverse group of nationalities who embrace peace and universally condemn 9-11 and all acts of terrorism.
“We are doctors, lawyers, conservatives, liberals, white, brown – we are as diverse a group as you can imagine,” he said.
Other Honored Guests
“I so admire what you’re doing,” Brooks said, “and this is an opportunity to strengthen ties to family and to the community. Ramadan should not be the only time we interact with people from other faiths, and the American dream isn’t owned by one class.”
Brooks said that she believed that the Muslim community in Indiana numbered at least 14,000 people.
In closing, Brainard thanked the evening’s presenters and said, “When I study the history of our cities, I see that the most important advances take place when people of diverse backgrounds meet. Carmel’s diversity brings a richness to the fabric of our community, and our freedom of religion should be celebrated.”
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