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Author Topic: Invite a revert over for iftar this ramadan!  (Read 229 times)
jannah
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« on: Jul 12, 2013 03:23 PM »

Very sad video and article... soo important to invite one revert over this ramadan for iftar!! do it ppls!!

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For some converts, Ramadan is the loneliest time of year


By Omar Sacirbey| Religion News Service, Published: July 8

Since converting to Islam more than five years ago, Paul K. DeMelto of Cleveland has done all he could to become a more knowledgeable Muslim, attending a new converts class and hiring Arabic tutors to help him learn to read the Quran.

But despite his efforts, DeMelto found himself alone last Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year, when adherents fast from sunrise to sunset and eat a communal meal at night.

As he looks to another Ramadan beginning Tuesday (July 9), DeMelto wonders if this might be the year when he finally lands an invitation to a fellow Muslim’s home for the iftar, the fast-breaking meal.

“The one thing that I expected to experience more fully in turning to Islam was engagement in a community,” said DeMelto, a 40-year-old baker.

Like many American converts to Islam, DeMelto changed his lifestyle, quit drinking alcohol, scaled back social ties with his drinking buddies, but still struggles to cultivate new Muslim friends. His isolation is particularly acute during Ramadan, when he feels like a Christian alone on Christmas.

Ramadan is the most social month of the Muslim year, a period of fellowship with family and friends over sometimes lavish evening meals. But many American converts to Islam break the daily fast alone, often in front of the TV set.

There can be consequences when “born” Muslims don’t reach out to new converts.

“I see how the new Muslims are kind of ignored,” said Vaqar Sharief, a former new Muslims coordinator for the Islamic Society of Delaware. “Many of them stop coming and they leave the religion.”

To be sure, Muslims are urged to focus on reading the Quran and reflecting on God during the monthlong fast, but even the most pious Muslims acknowledge the socializing that happens nightly strengthens bonds among Muslims and contributes to social cohesion.

“The concept of being together and uniting is something very important,” said Imam Talal Eid of Quincy, Mass. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that any person who hosts an iftar for someone who has fasted will be forgiven his sins and blessed with other rewards.

Caroline Williams said her first impression of Islam was that it was a friendly and social religious faith.

“Part of what drew me in was how welcoming everybody was at the mosque,” said Williams, a 32-year-old New Orleans resident who converted in 2010.

Yet new and old converts said they lack a sense of belonging, and are left out at major holidays. The exclusion happens for many reasons. Sometimes it’s an oversight or a lack of knowledge about co-religionists who are lonely. Other times, ethnic cliques play a role.

“Being invited to private homes isn’t common, and can be the loneliest experience of all when people speak their native language, leaving us to read or stare at the ceiling,” said Nadja Adolf of Newark, Calif., who converted in 2001.

For Kelly Kaufman, the loneliness of her first Ramadan was driven home whenever she was asked by a fellow Muslim how she broke her fast the night before, and answered “Cocoa Puffs while watching ‘Seinfeld,’” or “chocolate cake and ice cream while playing with my cat.”

“It’s an incredibly lonely experience that I don’t think many people know about,” said Kaufman, who converted in 2010.

To help, she set up a website where Chicago-area converts and other Muslims can contact each other and post helpful articles about prayer, Arabic lessons, or Islamic dos and don’ts.

Some Muslims suggest that converts should go to mosques that hold communal iftar dinners and try to make friends there. In fact, many converts do attend mosque iftars, but still find it hard to form closer bonds.

“People are friendly, but I don’t feel like I’m family,” said Williams, who worships at Masjid Abu Bakr Al Siddique in New Orleans. She said she misses having the kind of close relationship that involves dinner invitations and long, deep talks.

A few mosques around the country have started to recognize the problem of convert isolation. The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in New England, holds monthly “Convert-sations” meetings.

Sharief and his wife hold classes at their Delaware mosque that teach new converts how to pray and other Islamic fundamentals. They are also conscientious enough to invite new Muslims to potlucks, volunteer and interfaith activities, and other mosque-related events. And once the couple moves into a new house, Sharief said they will hold the convert classes and other activities there.

“You have to make these people feel part of the family,” said Sharief. “Ramadan is a great opportunity. You have to make them feel special.”
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 12, 2013 03:33 PM »

That is sad, but I dunno about the States, here everyone sort of become more introvert, concentrating on those close.

Years ago, when newly on my own I used to take around food to a neighbour, she was newly moved to my neghbourhood and there weren't many (or any) other Muslim neighbours then.

We do need to start talking to people more I think and make them feel welcome and part of celebrations inshallah.

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And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186

jannah
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 20, 2013 11:39 AM »

Nice article about converts in Imam Suhaib's community....

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Brian Buzby had a splitting headache the first day of Ramadan from caffeine withdrawal and mild dehydration. He loved the late night Taraweeh prayers at the mosque, when a portion of the Koran is recited each night, and stayed long afterward talking with friends. Then he returned home to his apartment in South Boston and opened the refrigerator again.

“I don’t even go to sleep before suhoor,” the 30-year-old student told a small group of fellow converts gathered at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center last week, referring to the 3 a.m. predawn meal. “I go home and I keep eating.”

A burst of laughter; their teacher, Hossam AlJabri, smiled.

“We’re still in the beginning,” he said. “But Ramadan will just keep throwing beautiful things at you.”

Ramadan — which occupies the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed — is the holiest time of the year in Islam, a time for fasting, self-improvement, family celebration, and intensive prayer.

For converts, Ramadan, which began the second week of July and continues until early August, can also be lonesome and bewildering. Fasting from food and water from the first light of dawn to sunset is a physical challenge. Family, friends, and colleagues who are not Muslim are not always quick to see its purpose or benefits. And without family to share the predawn suhoor meal and the evening iftar meal — those can be big family meals, or something smaller — some converts miss out on Ramadan’s communal spirit.

But Boston’s largest mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, has been working to help converts enjoy Ramadan and navigate its tougher terrain.

“It’s not totally my first Ramadan, but I wasn’t part of a community last Ramadan — and there’s a big, big difference,” Buzby told his friends at the new converts’ class last week.

Unlike some suburban mosques whose members are mostly families, or mosques whose members are mostly one or two ethnic groups, the cultural center in Roxbury is diverse, urban, and filled with students and other young people who are in Boston temporarily, or just beginning to put down roots.

And the imam, William Suhaib Webb, is particularly attuned to issues facing converts — he is one.
Elizabeth Hughes, a psychology graduate student from Wellesley who converted to Islam, said non-Muslim family members can be supportive but don’t always understand fasting.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Elizabeth Hughes, a psychology graduate student from Wellesley who converted to Islam, said non-Muslim family members can be supportive but don’t always understand fasting.

“Especially for converts who are out of college, not married, and don’t have a strong social support group, I think the mosque becomes a place where they can come and get some family time in,” Webb said in an interview.

He said he once counseled a young woman whose mother was so upset about her conversion that she had to subsist on protein shakes in her bedroom, and sometimes broke her fast because of the immense social pressure. A positive Ramadan experience, he said, can help converts feel more at home in the community and gain confidence as Muslims.

“Twenty-nine or 30 days — you think about it, man, it’s intense,” Webb said. “And you feel so much better spiritually, you are really more sensitive to people around you.”

At AlJabri’s class and a special converts’ iftar meal the mosque sponsors each week, newcomers to the faith get a chance to share their experiences, learn, and bond. A number of those in the class were born into Muslim families but have become more observant only recently.

Some offered tips — for example, at nightly Taraweeh prayers, when the entire Koran is read over the course of the month, Kamran Ahmed said he follows along using the Quran Explorer iPhone app, which provides an English translation.

“When I had the iPhone with the translation, I would actually start crying,” said Ahmed, a medical student who attends the converts’ class because he is hoping to start a similar one in his home state of Texas next year.

After two days of fasting, many reported feeling exhilarated by the intensive observance. “I feel like I had a lot of energy from the excitement,” said Jenna Laib, a math teacher from Somerville. “I felt really uplifted.”

Not that everything had gone perfectly. Getting the hang of fasting — a gesture of solidarity with the poor and a way of focusing on the nonmaterial world — was a challenge for some at first. Leanne Scorzoni, who was raised Catholic and recently converted, fainted at work the second day of Ramadan, despite her carefully planned suhoor of a bowl of oatmeal, water, Gatorade, Pedialyte, a hard-boiled egg, a banana, and a Flintstone vitamin.

Scorzoni has not told most of her family about her conversion, she said. But, surrounded by friends at the iftar, she said she did not feel she lacked community.

“I feel more for my friends from other countries, because their families aren’t here — they’re here because of work or school, and they can’t see them, except for Skyping,” she said.

Jaleela Browder of Dorchester said she has been texting other students to help them wake up at 3 a.m. for suhoor — a bit of virtual community in the wee hours for those who live alone, or whose roommates or spouses are not observant Muslims.

“You feel that camaraderie, because we don’t have a whole Muslim family to wake up with in our homes,” the 23-year-old said.

Others’ families were supportive, if not always helpful. Elizabeth Hughes, a psychology graduate student from Wellesley who formally converted a few weeks ago, said her mother has been “very open, very understanding, very proud” of her newfound religious conviction. But after a short hike together, her mother proffered a water bottle, saying, “Why can’t you just drink water?”

“There’s points where there’s not the same wavelength, even when there are really good intentions,” she said. She added, a bit later, “It’s hard to explain what the blessing is in fasting.”

AlJabri said he advises his students to be patient, especially with their parents, when trying to explain their new religious practice to non-Muslims.

Patience, after all, is one of the most important qualities Muslims try to cultivate during Ramadan, and the subject of a class discussion last week. Once converts get over their initial nervousness and plug into a community, AlJabri said, they can immerse themselves in Ramadan’s larger purpose.

“The most memorable part of Ramadan is not a challenge but rather the spiritual journey,” he said. “The feeling for many of them at the end of the month is, ‘I wish there were two months of Ramadan.’ ”
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