Thousands of postcards and gift bags with treats, a large billboard and ongoing acts of service comprise a Ramadan campaign to connect non-Muslims to Muslim communities and educate them about Islam.
“Ramadan — A Month of Healing & Hope for Humanity” was created by GainPeace, an outreach project of the Islamic Circle of North America and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago to address misconceptions about Islam, help fellow community members and encourage gift giving.
Gregory Abdullah Mitchell, executive director of CIOGC, said the holy month of Ramadan, which ends this years ends next week, does not only consist of fasting and prayer for followers of Islam.
“It also is a call for us to be of service to humanity,” Mitchell said. “We believe an important form of service is to raise awareness of the commonality among all mankind.”
Suzanne Akhras Sahoul, founder and executive director of the Syrian Community Network, said the campaign is especially important under a new presidential administration with travel bans on Muslim-majority populations being lifted.
She said while previous policies were hurtful, it has been a relief to see people rallying behind Muslim communities.
“The type of solidarity that we saw from our fellow Americans, whether they were Christians or Jews or Hindus or Sikhs or any other faith — or no faith — was really inspiring and moving to us,” Akhras Sahoul said. “We’re hoping that we can come together in this campaign to continue building the relationships that have been formed in the last four years because we don’t want to lose those allies.”
Mitchell said the campaign in Chicago and other cities nationwide is set to last four weeks and outreach efforts will extend “well beyond the month of Ramadan.”
In Chicago, the grassroots campaign cost about $25,000 and was paid for with donations from individuals and different mosques around the city.
The campaign’s billboard on I-294 by O’Hare Airport features a dinner plate fashioned as an alarm clock and reads, “A month of more than just fasting.”
GainPeace Director Sabeel Ahmed said a large part of “Ramadan — A Month of Healing & Hope for Humanity” is sending postcards and gift bags to connect with neighbors and raise awareness about Ramadan.
Ahmed said GainPeace is encouraging Muslim families and children to create and distribute customized gift bags with sweet treats, a coffee mug and informational pamphlets about the holy month to neighbors. Ahmed said his sixth-grade daughter created GainPeace’s official Ramadan blessings card.
“At the end of the day, we want to show to our fellow Americans that Islam is not a threat but a blessing for humanity,” Ahmed said.
By the end of Ramadan, he said the Muslim community will have given out more than 2,000 gift bags in the Chicago area and sent 50,000 postcards to people across the U.S.
Akhras Sahoul said to fulfill the service aspect of Ramadan, she has helped CIOGC organize food and COVID-19 vaccine drives at various mosques for people of all faith backgrounds and create educational initiatives surrounding the virus.
Mitchell said the council has also assisted community members with filing unemployment claims during the pandemic as well as distributed food and emergency cash.
Article Courtesy By: Chicago SunTimes