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US Muslims in Pennsylvania invite community to daily iftars

US Muslims in Pennsylvania invite community to daily iftars

Ramadan is a special time for us, and we want to make it a special time for the community,” Elsayed Elmarzouky, president of the Islamic Center and a longtime spokesman for the Islamic community, told Reading Eagle on Saturday, May 20.

“It’s very hard not to touch any food or drink, but practicing this tradition honors God,” Elmarzouky explained.

“It’s a test of faith. We are not forced to do so, but we choose to test our faith because it brings us closer to God.”

According to astronomical calculations, the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) announced that Ramadan fasting will start in Europe and US on Saturday, May 27, 2017.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.

It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

During Ramadan, Muslim in the US are expected to fast nearly 15 hours at this time of the year.

At sunset, members of the Islamic Center and others gather to break the daily fast and share food with the community, a wonderful tool for bringing people together, according to Elmarzouky.

“I’ve worked in the interfaith community for a long time, and I’ve seen the power of people sharing a meal,” he said.

“Sharing food brings people together.”

Ramadan is not the only occasion Elmarzouky uses to serve his community.

Each year around Thanksgiving, he closes his Queen City Family Restaurant, and invites member of the community to come for a free meal.

In addition to the meal, guests receive blankets and other donated items.

“I see my job as that of a bridge builder amongst all the different components of the community,” Elmarzouky said.

All members of the community, regardless of their faith or ethnicity, are invited to the free daily Ramadan iftar meals.

“We make it a point to extend the invitation to everyone, and each year, more and more people are coming,” Elmarzouky said. “People love to come on board and be part of it.”

“We have people who come several times every year during Ramadan,” Elmarzouky said. “People come and they share a lot of common ground.”

Meeting and sharing a meal with members of the Muslim faith goes a long way toward righting misconceptions and breaking down barriers to friendship.

“We know that we all have much more in common than anything that divides us,” Elmarzouky said. “Come and get to know us. I think you’ll be surprised.”

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