Drawing a smile on the faces of those in need, Muslims in San Antonio, Texas, are bringing the joy and compassion of Ramadan the homeless, sharing special iftar meals and offering a better understanding of their faith.
“While it may be us that are serving you, it is you that allowed us to come and extended to us the hand of charity, and for that we thank you,” Sakib Shaikh, director of public relations for the Muslim Children Education and Civic Center (MCECC), told San Antonio Express-News on Monday, July 15.
Cooperating with the Muslim Cultural Heritage Society, the MCECC offered a special meal to some 300 members of the city’s homeless center “Haven for Hope”.
The meal, served at Sunday evening, came at the time of Muslims’ iftar meal in Ramadan.
The iftar was served by around 50 volunteers from both Muslim groups in the city who distributed plastic foam cartons filled with food to haven residents, including pastries, chicken kabobs, vegetable dumplings and other delicacies.
The center’s residents praised the initiative for offering them a chance to learn about Islam and its beliefs.
“Why do you celebrate Ramadan?” asked StarLisa Leonard, standing in the interfaith chapel on the main campus grounds before dinner was served.
Nazli Siddiqui, one of the Muslim volunteers, explained that Muslims fast on Ramadan to be mindful of their blessings, such as food to eat and water to drink, and to feel empathy for those who may be suffering.
“Some people in the world only eat one meal a day,” said Siddiqui, a director of the heritage society.
“We try to live that lifestyle for a month to create compassion.”
After the meal, Muslims spread prayer rugs and white blankets inside the chapel for prayer.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in the US on Tuesday, July 9.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
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 majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Bringing true Islam closer to the Haven residents, the initiative made quite an impact about Islam, Ramadan and its tenets.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
A US survey has 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.