Ramadan is spiritual journey for a month, ranging between 29 or 30 days according to the Hijri calendar.. During the whole month, we fast from sunrise (fajr time) to sunset (Maghrib time). I was hundreds of miles away from my family and friends this year. It was so different and full of activities. I will capture every ten days together as we did in Ramadan month.
For the first ten days of Ramadan, I was in California on the ocean shore with two of my Humphrey colleagues, Milana from Russia and Johnson from Uganda. This trip was one of my dream moments: to visit California and listen to the Eagles’ song from the 60s ‘hotel California.’
By mentioning this dream in front of our Program Coordinator Adrienne Spencer, she started her “Hmmm,” then said, “let’s do it.” Then she set the trip program, and offered another generous suggestion that her family would like to host us all in their beautiful house. A dream not just achieved but also the extra benefit that we had by saving money. Who could refuse that?
For the next ten days we as Humphrey fellows traveled to southern Arizona. We spent a great time exploring Nogales and the border wall with Mexico. I bought some cactus sweets from the authentic shop. When got back to the hotel, I decided to go to join the Muslim community in Islamic Center of Tuscon with my colleague Mohamed from Sierra Leone for Iftar and Taraweeh prayers. I was welcomed by Muslim women. They offered break-fast meals and a lot of homemade sweets. I met women from Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Somalia. It was a great community gathering for a day.
Back to phoenix after four days, now I want my family to experience these moments with the Muslim community in phoenix, so we went to Tempe Mosque Islamic community Center, and again it was a great moment for my daughters to share the Ramadan ceremony with Muslims from all around the world we had Iftar as well, and for the first time, women with special needs brought two well-trained dogs inside the mosque, for me, it is forbidden being in the mosque with any animals or pets but the Imam explained that happened in the prophet Mohammed time and all misunderstanding about that was explained very well for prayers.
Also, we join the Islamic community center in Glendale. The most special thing at that center is that they have a kid’s zone for activities. My two youngest kids spent a great time playing and coloring with other kids.
On the third Ten days of Ramadan I will the Broadcast Education Association BEA show in Las Vegas. Yes, I will practice Ramadan in Vegas. It will be one of the most unique experiences ever in that part of the world, particularly for gambling and shows. I am so excited about that moment and ready to explore new Muslim community centers. I hope to find some.
In general, Ramadan is about goodwill and giving, family and friends, forgiveness and sharing. I miss being among my family but now I am so happy to have this opportunity to meet new Muslim nationalities who came to the USA, practicing their culture and thoughts freely.
After 29 or 30 days of fasting, we celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Some states such as New York considered this day a public holiday but others did not. Arizona does not consider the al Iftar Eid as a holiday and I wish one day that will be changed. Especially so that they have a good Muslim population in Arizona and around 3.4 million Muslims in the USA.