Local Muslims Celebrate Holy Season of Fasting & Good Deeds
Ramadan is a season of fasting and good deeds, but to local Muslims, it’s a challenging time in many ways.
When it comes to celebrating their faith, Muslims have faced many challenges here in Spokane. Ramadan is a season that brings them together through age old traditions.
The Spokane Islamic Center serves the Muslim community of Spokane, including some from Europe, South-East Asia and the Middle East. The President of the Spokane Islamic Center, Mahmoud El Aarag counters misguided views of Islam and Ramadan with an invitation.
“Get to know a Muslim person at least. I know there’s not that many in Spokane but you can find them here and connect with them on a people to people basis. See what real Islam is about, not what you hear in the media,” said El Aarag. “They focus on the bad things and there’s really a minute number of Muslims that do bad things just like there are bad Christians and bad Jews.”
According to Muslims, Ramadan is one of the five tenets of their faith. It celebrates when the archangel Gabriel revealed their holy book, the Quran, to the Prophet Muhammad in the year 609. Muslims observe Ramadan with various traditions, some started by Muhammad himself.
“It’s not mandatory but if we follow the footsteps of the Prophet, we get good deeds” said Zayed Mohideen, a Sunni Muslim, one of the two main denominations of Islam, who attends the Falls.
Mohideen is also the ASG Food Bank Manager who is observing Ramadan by not only fasting, but also by donating a portion of his income to the Spokane Islamic Center and carrying a pack of date fruits with a bottle of water in his backpack. The latter is one of the traditions that the Prophet Muhammad started.
“It is a very nutritious fruit from a biological standpoint” said Mohideen.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from all food and drink, including water. Their fast starts at sunrise and ends at sunset based on their cycle of five daily prayers. Mohideen and other Muslims in Spokane face a challenge unique to our part of the world.
“I sometimes fast for over nineteen hours because from sunrise to sunset is pretty long here because of how far North we are” said Mohideen.
During Ramadan, devout Muslims like Mohideen give to charity and this has helped build the Spokane Islamic Center in Spokane Valley. They will be celebrating it’s 10th anniversary in 2018. Before moving to the Valley, Muslims gathered at a small house on the Northside for decades until the community grew too large for the place.
“People were doubting we could build it and when you do something with the intention to please God, God makes things happen,” said El Aarag. “This place runs on volunteers, the only paid member is the Imam and he doesn’t really get paid that much.”
In addition to events related to the Islamic calendar, the Spokane Islamic Center hosts interfaith and community events like Meet Your Neighbors, which shares Muslim culture with non-Muslims who are curious about their neighbors.
“We’re open to everybody, you’re welcome anytime” said El Aarag.
To learn more about the Spokane Islamic Center and Ramadan, please visit http://spokaneislamiccenter.org or call (509) 482-2608.