Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
December 17, 2000 | Greco, Carmen, Jr.
Byline: Carmen Greco Jr. Daily Herald Staff Writer
Lombard Village President William Mueller was impressed after learning that area Muslims fast every day for a month during Ramadan.
Catholics, he said, also have a fasting ritual during the Lenten season in the spring, but for many it involves abstaining only from meat on Friday.
“I get upset that I can’t eat meat for a day,” Mueller joked during a Ramadan party Saturday in the Community Building at Lombard Common park.
The event, organized by the Chicago-area chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, was meant to teach non-Muslims about Ramadan, the most important religious observance in the Islamic world.
Muslim leaders say this year’s Ramadan, which follows the cycle of the new moon and ends Dec. 27, is especially important because it falls during Christmas and Hanukkah, allowing Muslims, Christians and Jews to celebrate the holidays together.
And that’s what happened in Lombard Saturday as Muslims and non- Muslims broke the daily fast of Ramadan, which begins at sunrise each day and ends at sunset.
“Fasting is in no way a penance or a punishment,” said Nancy Ali. “It’s the single most-important device to test the faith of a believer.”
Ramadan is a special time for Muslims because the Koran, the Islamic holy book, was revealed during the month.
Besides abstaining from food and water during the prescribed times, Muslims also abstain from sexual relations.
The daily denial allows Muslims to develop self-restraint, to learn how to control their desires and to empathize with the poor.
The Islamic Circle of North America has been holding similar events throughout the area to bring more cultural awareness about Islam.
Sabeel Ahmed said many Americans stereotype Muslims as a violent people, but just the opposite is true.
“There are a lot of misconceptions that need to be cleared up,” he said. “It’s a peaceful religion that promotes brotherhood and commonalty.”
Randall Kriner of Bloomingdale came to the Ramadan event at the behest of bank co-worker Afzal Faruqui.
Kriner listened to prayers to Allah, ate Pakistani and Indian food and learned more about Islamic customs.
“It’s important to know other cultures and other religions and to get to know all our neighbors,” Kriner said.
Ahmed said the event was important in Lombard because of the area’s high concentration of Muslim residents.
Mueller called for people of all faiths to celebrate the holiday season together.
“This is an important time of year for all of us, regardless of our beliefs,” he said.
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