Break fast, love all

The Pullman Islamic Association hosted Open House and Ramadan night on April 8



Attendees breaking fast together, April 8.

NIKHIL GANTA, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman Islamic Association welcomed nearly 200 people of all faiths and backgrounds to foster communion by breaking fast on April 8, observing the holy month of Ramadan. The event featured speakers from the association, guest speakers, a question-and-answer session, prayer and food.

Muslims are required to fast, or abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Fasting is a reminder of those who are without food and the need to be grateful.

The Muslim Community Association of Pullman, Muslim Women Association of Pullman and Islamic Students Association collaborated to make the event possible, said Asif Chaudhry, PIA board of trustees president.

“This is how people get to know each other, that is when the Muslim and the non-Muslim interact, they understand more about the religion of others,” said Babar Farooq, an attendee who traveled from Spokane with his family to attend the event.

Gary Jenkins, former Pullman Police Department police chief, also attended the event.  The PIA invited mayor Glenn Johnson to the event, but he could not attend due to health-related issues, Chaudhry said.

MCAP president Sohan Ahmed welcomed the attending guests and spoke on the importance of the Quran and its association with the month of Ramadan.

Ahmed next invited PIA member Mohammed Al Ahbabi to the podium for a recitation of the Quran. The words of this recitation were translated to English for those who did not know Arabic.

After Ahbabi, Ahmed invited Chaudhry to the podium to speak. Chaudhry gave a welcoming speech to the audience, expressing his appreciation for the Pullman community’s welcoming nature, as well as the purpose of the event: for people of diverse backgrounds to become acquainted with each other and the Muslim faith.

Alsawaier speaking behind the podium, April 8.

Chaudhry then introduced the next speaker, Raed Alsawaier, Pullman Islamic Center Imam. Alsawaier spoke on the reasons behind fasting in the Muslim faith, giving context from the Quran for the practice and elaborating on the history of fasting.

“Fasting teaches us to, like I said earlier, to develop a sense of community … there is a very strong sense of unity,” Alsawaier said.

Following Alsawaier, the PIA played the YouTube video “Introduction to Islam | Belief | Oprah Winfrey Network,” on a screen behind the podium.

Next, Chaudhry invited Gary Jewell, Community Congregational United Church of Christ pastor, to the podium, who spoke on the hospitality of Muslim people and expressed his appreciation for the event.

After thanking Jewell for his words, Chaudhry then opened the room to a question-and-answer session facilitated by Alsawaier, where Civic and Interfaith Community speakers asked Alsawaier questions about the Muslim faith.

Chaudhry thanked Jenkins and Phil Weiler, WSU marketing and communications vice president, for their presence at the event.

Alswaier then announced a call for prayer. A PIA member gave attendees dates and water bottles for breaking fast. Other PIA members moved the podium, tables and chairs around to make room for those kneeling for the prayer.

The night ended with a dinner organized by the MWAP, featuring homemade foods from Pullman’s Muslim community.

“I think it’s welcoming, I like that they’re willing to do this and talk with us about what they think,” said attendee Heather Moon (they/them), who attended the event with their husband. “It just feels like we can be a part of the same community when we know more about each other.”

Pullman’s Muslim community starts planning the event a few months prior to the event date, Chaudry said. All of the food is contributed and prepared in-house by the community and PIA members, Chaudhry said.

The community is actively involved in charity work, Chaudhry said, collecting donations food and providing food and resources to unhoused people.

“The mosque is open for everybody, so if they ever want to stop by, or if they’re curious about like any questions they have or they just wanna see what goes on, our doors are always open,” MWAP member Nuha Haque said.

The PIA afforded the event without any external sponsors with donations from community members, WSU faculty members and students, Chaudhry said.

The Open House and Ramadan night is not the end for the PIA, as there are two more upcoming Islamic celebrations: Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha.

Though the celebrations are hosted by the Muslim community, all Pullman community members are welcome, Chaudhry said.

“I am personally, and the Muslim community in general, are very grateful that we are living in a place like Pullman … the university and town provide an outstanding atmosphere which is welcoming, open to diversity, and welcoming of diversity. We live in one of the best places in the United States, where people feel welcome,” Chaudhry said.