Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Celebrating Ramadan is The Most American Thing We Can Do


Over 1000 people attended the Ramadan Tent Project PDX Open Iftar 2017 at the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard over the Memorial Day Weekend.    I was able to attend the first night and hear the liberating speech of Aneelah Afzali as she dismantled stereotypes of women in Islam and provided the factual history of the liberating work of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on behalf of women.    She and the university students who organized this event are true American patriots.   They represent a voice of America and Islam that is courageous, compassionate, collaborative, and strong.    I could have listened to her speak all night.

Aneelah Afzali

This first night of Ramadan began with grief and shock as throughout the day we heard the news of the fatal stabbing on the MAX in Northeast Portland.   Two men had their throats slashed as they attempted to defend two young women who were being harassed.   A third man was sent to the hospital with injuries.  The reports were that the assailant had been saying anti-Muslim sentiments at the young women that accompanied a barrage of hateful comments in general.   The men stepped in to protect them and were attacked.

The Muslim community responded by raising funds for the families of these men, and as of this blog post over $450,000 has been raised under the banner "Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes."   The Portland Mercury has a list of other places raising funds for the surviving hero and the for the teenage girls who have been traumatized.


In addition to grief and shock I saw determination and hope at the Open Iftar.   Various politicians were there and some spoke and that is a good thing.   But the revolution needed in our country that will overcome hatred and bullying will be led by the young women and men who organized this event and the rest of us who follow their example.

The Ramadan Tent Project 2017 Team

They gave us a glimpse of what America is becoming by generously offering their beautiful tradition of fasting and service and an open table to everyone.    While I am a strong supporter of the separation of religion and state, still I would like Ramadan to be celebrated and acknowledged by our nation.   It is a celebration that embodies the best of our American values.


The Crescent Moon at Sunset 
I despair daily over America with its legacy of slavery, racism, genocide, imperialism, xenophobia, and selfishness.   This Open Iftar showed me that there is another star rising in our nation.   It is led by the radical hospitality that is embodied in the spirit of Ramadan and in these youth who are inviting us to be human beings.  
   

Hanan Al-Zubaidy Announcing the Call to Prayer

Hear interviews with organizers, Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Al-Zubaidy:

OPB Think Out Loud
Progressive Spirit (34:48)
Sprouts on Pacifica Radio Network
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