HomeMoorestown NewsTying 'facets' of the community together

Tying ‘facets’ of the community together

Moorestown Muslims observe Ramadan with community-wide events

Special to The Sun
“It was a great event, because it allowed the many facets of the community to come together,” said Shahrukh Mirza, president of Moorestown Muslims, about its Iftar meal.

Moorestown Muslims held a Bring Your Friend to Iftar meal on March 21 and the turnout didn’t disappoint.

“It was a great event, because it allowed the many facets of the community to come together,” said Shahrukh Mirza, president of Moorestown Muslims. “We had members of the Moorestown Jewish Association come. Members of town council were able to attend – Deputy Mayor Quinton Law was able to attend – along with other non-Muslim residents.”

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Fasting is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith and during its holy month of Ramadan (from evening on March 10 to April 9), Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset, according to the website of Peace Catalyst International. The fast-breaking meal eaten after sunset is called Iftar, and the pre-dawn meal is known as Suhoor.

“The youth, I felt, really benefited from this event because it allowed them to take part with their friends, but also allowed them to see the extended engagement and interest of non-Muslims to come in and learn and enjoy and take part in something that is a normal part of their lives,” Mirza noted of the Moorestown Muslims Iftar meal.

John Starling, executive director of nonprofit Gracious Center of Learning and Enrichment Activities (GCLEA) in Cherry Hill, led a prayer and talked about what it means to come together for meals, especially during Ramadan, at this year’s second annual Moorestown Muslims meal.

“This year, we thought to go bigger and there was still a demand for attendance, so we’re grateful and hopefully more and more interest and participation from the larger Moorestown community would really best align with the goal of Moorestown Muslims,” Mirza said.

Moorestown Muslims also hosted a crescent moon-sighting event at Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown last month, and that gathering also saw a lot of people.

“It’s really reassuring because so often, especially in mainstream media, Muslims are portrayed a certain way and it takes a great amount of effort to want to unlearn something,” Mirza explained.

“There’s a poet – Rumi – and one of his quotes that I thought was most inspiring was, ‘Recognize that unlearning is the highest form of learning.’”

When it came to the success of the Bring Your Friend to Iftar meal and the crescent moon- sighting event, Mirza circled back to that “reassuring” feeling.

“To see so many people there that this was a new experience for them was reassuring because, again, the effort involved unlearning something and learning something in a different light or in a different perspective. Or it just helps gain a better understanding, and for us being in a negative light for so long, to see people wanting to learn …

“What they take away from it hopefully is good, but at the very least, just seeing that interest was an amazing feeling.”

Eid al-Fitr (from evening on April 9 to 10) is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan and is also known as the Festival of Breaking Fast, according to calendarr.com. For the first time this year, students in the Moorestown school district will be off from school in recognition of Eid.

“The thought of normalizing being Muslim, whether it’s in Moorestown, in New Jersey or in the United States, that’s really the ultimate goal, because we all want the same things for our kids, for ourselves, for our futures,” Mirza related.

“Just to extend that level of relatability in that we can be Muslim and want the same thing and that we’re no different, that’s really the purpose.”


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