Breaking Ramadan fast

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

She is one of the most organized women I know. She calls a meeting at 10 a.m. and it starts at 10 a.m. She may stop and repeat all the points already discussed to a latecomer, but she never gets ruffled when a meeting goes off course. She brings it back on-track in no time, and finishes exactly at the moment she said we’d be finished.

My friend is Soumaya Khalifa, founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (headquartered in Peachtree City) and a member of the Muslim Community Center in Fayetteville. I want to write her story – just haven’t found the right spot yet – because I admire her so much. For now, an invitation.

We’ve become friends because we both believe with all our hearts that the key to opening the doors between communities can be as simple as sharing a pot of tea or a plate of food.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Fayette Interfaith initiative. I think it got underway when some women got together to share recipes. Those early gatherings were held at Nativity Episcopal Church in south Fayette County, and one person told another, and a church and a synagogue joined in until we participate in two or three events a year.

A number of congregations have joined in, and I’m proud to say that my faith family at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church has taken a leadership role. Our current project is an interfaith Thanksgiving celebration to take place in November. Besides Soumaya, the committee is comprised of members and leaders of the Jewish synagogue, Nativity Episcopal, First United Methodist in Fayetteville, and our church. Details will be released soon.

This is also (more or less) the group that memorializes Yom Hashoah, the Jewish Holocaust. Aware that, as one generation after another carries that awful remembrance to the grave, one day there will be none left who were eye witnesses to that horror, and the story must be remembered.

Events like Thanksgiving and Yom Hashoah are not limited to this faith or that, but are shared among all religious groups. Thanksgiving was not invented by Americans, but is celebrated almost universally. Similarly, Yom Hashoah is shared among reasonable people worldwide. We rarely run into conflict as we plan these celebrations, and when we do, we work it out with compromise and good will.

In case you haven’t participated in one of these events, let me share with you another way of celebrating: Food. Can’t have a good cross-cultural celebration without food.

Soumaya sent out a note the other day to remind us of the fact that Ramadan, the Muslims’ month of fasting and introspection, was ending at the end of September. It is customary for the faithful to celebrate the end of fasting by inviting non-Muslim members of the community to join in the feast.

She wrote: “This is a reminder that you all are invited to join us for breaking the fast on Sunday, September 21 at 7:15 pm. This will be part of the ‘getting to know’ about the different faith traditions, and will be an opportunity to observe the Sunset prayer along with sampling food from all over the world. We hope to see you and your families with us on 9/11.”

She means it. And she won’t allow us pay for the food or to bring a dish – we are guests. All she asks is that we call or email to let her know how many are coming.

RSVP to, or call 404-377-8380.

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alittlebirdietoldme's picture
Submitted by alittlebirdietoldme on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 8:30pm.

Submitted by jackyldo on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 7:09am.

That women have evolved more than men.

Great piece Sallie..

Submitted by Nitpickers on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 5:57am.

Muslims have their "classes" of people, just as do other races.
That is true especially in India.

My question is this: Is this Muslim group, who are inviting other religions to eat with them, made up of only doctors and other upper class Muslims, or are there some involved who teach their children to hate Americans?

Also, might there be some who dress traditionally, "towel-head, fan belt" and all, who attend?
I don't mean for that statement to be mean, but I think it will better explain my question.

Selectivity is what causes more trouble than it cures!

Submitted by rwoodhead on Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:56pm.

Contrary to the previous two posters, Sallie, I appreciate your column as an acknowledgement that not all of Islam is radical as not all of Christianity is intolerant.

I mean, how cynical does one have to be to view this as anything less than a gesture of goodwill and understanding?

I don't believe you said that international foreign relations conflicts would be resolved through these confabs. However, at a local level, maybe some will learn to tolerate, if not celebrate, cultural differences.

For the two previous posters and those who would agree with that viewpoint, spend 30 minutes listening to this ex-soldier explain his journey in Act One and perhaps you will gain some perspective:

This American Life - The Devil In Me

Then again, intellectual curiosity and ignorance are kind of mutually exclusive, so I expect you won't go there.

DragNet's picture
Submitted by DragNet on Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:22pm.

I follow Dracula and the Transilvanian faith. Can bring goulash to the intercultural meeting.

Seriously, do we think we can reconcile radical Islam with our Christian communions which base our practices on freedom?

Making you think twice......

Submitted by Nitpickers on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 6:00am.

Don't brang no pork!!

diva's picture
Submitted by diva on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 3:51am.

"It is customary for the faithful to celebrate the end of fasting by inviting non-Muslim members of the community to join in the feast."

Now that is truly radical right there! Fox News tells me they all want to kill us. That must be true. Right? I mean, the people I listen to tell me that.... we are at war.... right? It's US against them.... and these people are them... right?

How in the world do you guys think unity and understanding happen? Do we bomb them all till they love us?

Side note.. which are the "acceptable" religions to you fringe folks? Jews okay? Hindus? Buddists? Catholics too edgy? Its hard getting use to the intolerance that exists round here.

Oh, and lilbirdie....If your avatar was Miss Palin, it'd have an empty thought bubble above the open skull.

alittlebirdietoldme's picture
Submitted by alittlebirdietoldme on Wed, 09/17/2008 - 8:36pm.


Pleeeaazzzeeeeeeeeeeeeee......spare us the politically correct verbage and columns in the future. Your paper is above that.

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