CAIRO - As the clock ticks towards the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, a US advocacy group has called on Muslim communities nationwide to enhance interfaith relations by sharing iftars with their neighbors of all beliefs and backgrounds.
"The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said Ramadan 'is the month of sharing with others,'" Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
"All our research has shown that prejudice and stereotyping decrease when people of other faiths know more about Islam and interact with ordinary Muslims."
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
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.
Using the holy month to bring US faiths closer, the Washington-based group issued a "Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide 2013" that offers step-by-step advice on hosting an interfaith iftar.
The guide includes instructions on forming a "Sharing Ramadan" committee, a sample media advisory for an iftar and advice on reaching out to local media.
It also offers 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.
Sharing Ramadan is an annual campaign started by CAIR to encourage local communities to host iftar dinner receptions and open houses for our neighbors of other traditions, Nihad Awad said in the Sharing Ramadan guide.
Since sharing and appreciation are essential components of Ramadan, we hope local mosques, community centers and Muslim schools will take this opportunity to invite their neighbors to join them for an iftar meal.
According to astronomical calculations, the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start on Tuesday, July 9.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
A US survey had revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup World Religion Survey found that 53% of Americans see Islam "not too favorable" or worse; a much higher percentage than expressed negative feelings about other major religions.