Community comes together to celebrate Ramadan

Ramadan meant to improve character, purify soul says Pullman Muslim center imam



Muslim and non-Muslim community members in Pullman gather for the Evening Prayer, known as the Maghrib prayer, at the Pullman Islamic Center on Saturday. The event included a dinner where Ramadan participants broke their fast at sundown in celebration.

GEORGE ERALIL, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman Islamic Center welcomed community members for a night of prayer and celebration of Ramadan on Saturday.

The center held an open house to give community members an opportunity to learn more about Ramadan fasting and the Islamic community in Pullman.

“When you are hungry, you can connect with the people who are starving or don’t have food,” the center’s imam Raed Alsawaier said. “So, you have more empathy for other people.”

The event featured speeches and presentations by members of the Pullman community, like Alsawaier and Rev. Steve Van Kuiken of the Community Congregational United Church of Christ. The speeches explained the significance of Ramadan and the value of coming together to celebrate.

Attendees ate dates and water, as is tradition, followed by dinner, while members of the center broke their fast at sundown.

Othman AlShareedah, a WSU PhD student, said Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is marked by fasting. Fasting serves as one of the five pillars of Ramadan, alongside a declaration of faith, obligatory prayers, charity and pilgrimage to Mecca, AlShareedah said.

He said fasting in Islam can take many different meanings apart from giving up food and drinks. A person who fasts must not lie or cheat, AlShareedah said.

Mohammed Riajul, president of the Pullman Islamic Center, said the key reason behind organizing the open house was to have a sense of togetherness, which is a foundation of Ramadan. Involving the community in sharing the culture and festivities of Ramadan is an important part of the month, he said.

Alsawaier talked about the fundamental principles of Islam. Although sometimes corrupted and misinterpreted by extremists, Islam is built on the principles of peace and justice, he said. He said Ramadan is a time to improve one’s character and purify one’s soul.

Van Kuiken, Minister of the Community Congregational United Church of Christ, spoke about the importance of different people coming together to celebrate each other’s cultures.

“Religion has been used in many ways to promote bigotry and to promote hatred and fear of the other,” Van Kuiken said. “That’s why moments like these are so important.”

Asif Chaudhry, vice president of WSU International Programs, said the open house is a step toward creating a better understanding between people of different faiths. He said this would hopefully help propagate it through the rest of the world as well.

“We are all ultimately one,” Chaudhry said. “There is no religion that condones extremism or fighting against each other and so we have to develop a better understanding.”