SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — Awaiting a season of spiritual renewal in Ramadan, an American Muslim advocacy group called on Muslim communities nationwide to open doors to non-Muslims during iftar to share the spirituality of the holy month and enhance Islam understanding in the country.
"In order to enhance interfaith relations, it is imperative that American Muslims reach out to their neighbors of all beliefs to offer balanced and accurate information about Islam and the Muslim community," Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a press release.
Repeating last year’s successful experience, CAIR issued its annual campaign for local communities to host iftar dinner receptions and open houses for our neighbors of other traditions.
During this year’s campaign, CAIR would be helping local Muslim communities organize "Sharing Ramadan" iftars by providing step-by-step instructions for hosting the events titled "Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide 2012”.
In this campaign, CAIR would also present resource guide including instructions on forming a "Sharing Ramadan" committee, a sample media advisory for an iftar and advice on reaching out to local media.
It also includes an advertisement for the event, text for a "Welcome to Our Ramadan Fast-Breaking" brochure, frequently-asked questions about Ramadan, and a sample event program and newspaper advertisement.
A video promoting the campaign also notes that education and outreach help decrease anti-Muslim prejudice in American society.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
According to astronomical calculations, the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start on Friday, July 20.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
The share Ramadan 'iftar' campaign was designed to enhance interfaith understanding in the American community.
“CAIR is calling on American Muslim communities to take time in the month of Ramadan to reach out to their neighbors of other faiths and traditions in a wonderful nationwide initiative titled ‘Sharing Ramadan.’” the ‘Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide 2012’ says.
The idea of the campaign followed a poll commissioned by CAIR which found that 1-in-4 Americans had a negative perception about Islam.
However, the survey also indicated that most of those who held positive views about Islam had some sort of interaction in the past with Muslims.
Awad also cited a 2009 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which stated that those who know a Muslim or are familiar with Islam and Muslims are "most likely to express favorable views of Muslims and to see similarities between Islam and their own religion."
The guide also contains items such as a sample media advisory for an iftar, an advertisement for the event and a "Welcome to Our Ramadan Fast-Breaking" brochure designed to be copied and distributed to iftar participants.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender said that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey has also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.— www.shafaqna.com/english/