CAIRO - American Muslims in the city of Tusla, in the US state of Oklahoma, have opened their doors and hearts to share the spirits of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with their community, bridging differences and spreading the true nature of the Islamic culture and religion.
If we share what we believe ... we are open to the community, Lamiaa Ali, Islamic Society of Tulsa community relations director, told Tusla World on Saturday, August 4.
We want everyone to come see what (Islam) is all about.
The Muslim community in Tusla celebrated the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, 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.
"When you are restraining your desires, you are focusing on your spirit," Ali said.
"It makes us appreciate the blessings we have that we take for granted."
At sunset, Muslims break about 17-hour-fast in events meant to share the Islamic culture and religion with others in the community.
Welcoming non-Muslim members of the Tusla society, the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque served a special a Middle Eastern iftar to a crowd of about 70 people at an event titled "Look-in on Ramadan".
Attendants were also offered tours at prayer room before iftar was served.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
Attending the iftar, Kenneth Joslin, Mayo Demonstration School principal, found the event an opportunity to learn more about Islam.
"It's a great opportunity to learn about the culture of one of my students," Joslin said.
"It wasn't so much learning about Ramadan as it was experiencing it."
The interfaith iftar served by Tusla community followed calls by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for local communities to host iftar dinner receptions and open houses for our neighbors of other traditions.
Announced for the second consecutive year, CAIR's campaign include helping local Muslim communities organize "Sharing Ramadan" iftars by providing step-by-step instructions for hosting the events titled "Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide 2012.
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.
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.