Friday, September 10, 2010

The Traditions of Ramadan

The Traditions of Ramadan
Mike Ghouse

It’s celebration time when Muslims around the world anxiously wait for the first moon of the ninth Lunar month to appear on the sky. The families gather in their backyards, or get on the nearest hillock or climb on the top of their homes and wait for the pencil thin moon to appear on the horizon, and when it does, jubilation begins.

It is Chandni Raat or the moonlit festivities, even though the moon disappears within an hour; it is still the moonlit night and the spirit of celebrations continue.

As the Christians do the count down from the first day of Christmas or Hindus express devotion for each one of the nine days through Vijay Dashami or the Jews follow eight days of Chanukah, Jains observe eight days of Paryushan, and others follow similar path, the Muslims count the next 29 to 30 days with a sense of piety.

With small variations in practices, families rise up early around 4:00 AM and gather in the kitchen to participate in cooking, sharing the meal and being together as a family unit. Every one has to finish off the food and water intake five minutes prior to sunrise or the morning call for prayers. The youngest one in my family waited for the last second with a glass of water ready to gulp down before the first call for prayers, followed by morning prayers at home or Mosque, and then everyone was free for rest of the day.

Throughout the day a conscious effort is made to abstain from food, water or temptations that are detrimental to self-discipline. Those who do not observe fasting, honor the ones who do, by not eating or drinking in their presence.

One should remain steadfast despite temptations, many a fast observing Muslims are open to their friends eating, indeed it adds to one’s will power to resist the temptation to eat, thus enriching ones’ faith and discipline.

It is customary for a Muslim to ask the other if he were observing the fast, perhaps it may be the desire to be sensitive to the other. However, I would urge one to live his or her own life and not even ask the other and cause discomfort, after all no one but you is responsible for your actions.

One of the most beautiful aspect of Ramadan is the domino effect other Muslims have on you to guard yourselves from greed, anger, ill-will, malice, hate, jealousy and other ills of the society. One feels pious during the month. Of course, there would always a small percentage in a group, who do not receive that wisdom.

Most Muslims pray five times a day and a few do three or two and some none. Prayers are congregational or individual and are performed in the morning, noon, afternoon, evening and the night, bracketing one from getting off the track.

When the time to break the fast approaches towards the sun down, anxiety builds up, it is almost like the count down of seconds when the space shuttle takes off. Muslims make an attempt to be in the congregation or team up with some. A prayer call signifies time to break the fast.

Prophet Muhammad had initiated a healthy way of breaking the fast; it was graduating the empty stomach with munchies like dates, fruits and veggies to prepare the digestive system for a full meal after the prayer break. Dates are the most popular item around the world, they are chewy, meaty and tasty after a long day of fasting, and dates are also a preferred item as it was for the Prophet.

The breaking of fast, also known as “Iftaar” has become a community event, where Muslims invite their non-Muslim friends to join in their celebration of the day. President Clinton started the tradition of holding an Iftaar party carried forward by President Bush and now President Obama. It is a major social event for the politicians, just as it is with Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali and other festivities.

The night prayers during Ramadan are called Taraweeh, the prayers are much longer than the other times, typically twenty two units of prayers as opposed to four units during the regular nights. All the thirty Chapters of Qur’aan are recited from the Imam’s memory (Hifz) during this month.

At the end of 29th or 30th day, depending on the moon sighting, NASA or other traditions, the fasting would come to an end with the celebration. It is a major event and Muslims gather in a large space and perform their thanksgiving prayer. The traditional greetings are “Eid Mubarak” (Eid is pronounced as in eel but with a d – it is eed), a near equivalent of Merry Ramadan.

On this day one formally forgives and gets forgiven and starts the year with good will. Every one hugs three times; I am your friend, you are my friend and together we are friends.

Traditionally every one in the family wears new clothing, a symbol of starting over with a clean slate. The oldest one in the family passes on gifts and cash to younger members of the family to spend as they wish and to teach responsibility with freedom.

It is also a time to share one’s wealth with the needy; it is like the tithe and is called Zakat. Every family takes out 2.5% of the value of their assets and passes on to the destitute usually through institutions such as a mosque. It is considered an investment in human capital, to help uplift every one on a level playing field to maintain a sustainable good in the society.

On the culinary side, it is a feast! A variety of dishes are prepared, over the years I have discovered that the most common item around the globe is a dessert made out of vermicelli’s, i.e., hair thin noodles cooked in Milk with nuts, dates, honey and other goodies, it is both in liquid and solid formats.

Though the annual ritual of fasting takes thirty days its true destination is endless. May we always hunger to discover our heart. May we always aspire to find our balance, connect with each other, open our hearts and minds to fellow beings; the joy that comes with it is ours to keep.

For fasting to be truly universal, its benefits must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims and must extend to forging a common humanity with others. Fasting is meant to impart a sense of what it means to be truly human, and its universality is reflected by its observance in Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Zoroastrian and other faiths.

This is two of the three articles on Ramadan. The first one was published in Washington post -

Happy Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah and Navaratri.
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Islam and Pluralism and is a frequent guest at Media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. His work is listed on 22 of his blogs and two websites listed at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

28th day of Ramadan

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Draft points to write later

The Bohra Masjid in Irving.
This was quite an enriching experience...

Beautiful Mosque,
Verses from Quraan written on the crown of the walls

All men wore white kurta pajama and a gold laced cap,
I have never seen such a uniformity and admire them for doing that, reminded me of a Ramadan picture from Indonesia where thousands of women were shown wearing white hijab and white clothes and wondered if it was real.. well here it was real. The Jain community does the same, at the Parliament in Melbourne, they all had donned white clothes, same goes with the Brahmakumaris..

Imam Asghar Ali represented Muslims in the 3rd Annual Unity day
Taher Bhai and friends were kind to me in introducing and
speaking to the members of the masjid and inviting them to the unity day
I surprised myself that I gave a speech in Urdu without thinking about it..

There is a cohesivness in the community

there was a strong sense of community, the sense of belonging to each other
just about every one is a doctor, engineer, entreprenuer or an IT person.
this is something I miss acutely in the Sunni tradition... in general.

great food,
and was such a delight to see Malida - a mixture of wheat grains, brown sugar and nuts.. that my mother and grand mother used to make and I enjoyed it... I would say it was some thirty years ago I had the Malida.

It felt like home.. Taher Bhai, Mustafa and Mr. Ford walked me to the car... that was super nice of them.

Tonite is a special nite for them, it was their 30th day and they will be up all night praying.

This community is very service oriented and it was a delight to see them serve and build at the habitat for humanity, at Schools and other places.

Wearing a beard and or wearing a Hijab and serving others truly builds a postive identifiable image for Muslims.

One was talking about President Bush, recognizing him for his beard and cap and asking him how is his highness - reocognizing Syedena Burhanuddin, the spiritual leader for the Bohra community.

It was so good to hear them talking about serving others, that invariably will build a positive image for Muslims as contributing members of the society towards peace and growth of America.

Much More later..

Just about all men wore long beard and the caps, indeed the Imam asked me the three thing I noticed... and beard was one, the clothing and the cohesivness and the respect they give to their imam and the leaders

Washing the hands in a bowl, that I remember from my childhood, then sitting around a large plate and sharing the meal... something I remember when I was 6-7 years old we did in our family.. remember it vividly.

27th Day of Ramadan

Monday, September 6, 2010

26th day of Ramadan

Sunday, september 5, 2010

25th Day of Ramadan

Saturday, September 4, 2010

24th day of Ramadan

Friday, september 3, 2010

23rd day of Ramadan

Thursday, September 2, 2010

22nd Day of Ramadan

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

21st day of Ramadan

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

20th Day of Ramadan

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

19th Day of Ramadan Masjid Al-Qur'an

19th Day of Ramadan, Masjid Al-Qur'an
Sunday, August 29, 2010

My visit to the Warith Deen Muhammad Mosque Masjid Al-Qur'an in South Dallas was eventful.

I was an hour early and unlike all other Mosques, the Qur'aan lessons were on. Imam Muhammad Shakoor was speaking and asking the men and women sitting around the tables to read verses from Sura 22 titled Hajj and then he would ask questions and would answer them. It was quite an interactive session.

Imam Shakoor is easy relaxed and humorous in his conversation. I enjoyed the way he was talking about how the Shaitaan attacks ... from the front, back, left and right... and from every where... he was literally doing the chicken dance and it sure was fun to see the Imam with life.

He talked about the Ground Zero Mosque and suggested patience is the virtue, and believed that when facts emerge, things will fade. He referred to 9:32, 6;122-125 and several other verses. He also shared the story of Samson and Delilah and Adam in this context. Where they were given bountiful and were asked to stay away from one item... and they did not, like wise God asks us not to rush to conclusions until all facts are in; patience is the virtue.

Right at 7:56 we broke the fast and the dates and snacks were all set on the kitchen table that men and women took along with water.

You may find in tune with my observation here, at the position h (in the figure) of the Salat, most of us recite Attahiyat followed by two daroods and a Duwa and then Salaam to the right and then to the left.

Imam Shakoor takes the same time as the people behind him, however, I have been to places and wondered what the Imams recite? I could do the recitation twice, and they are still sitting around... next time I will ask the Imams what takes them so long? or What do they recite that I am not familiar with!

From what I have learned, especially during the Ramadan, the evening (Maghrib) prayers are to be prayed with short Chapters (suras) and complete the Salat to make it easy for the person fasting... where do most of them miss it? Particularly when a guest leads the prayers, he takes it forever, what for?

After the prayers we all gathered around the table and ate our meals and several interfaith Jokes were shared it was an easy friendly atmosphere. There was that sense of the community in that Mosque.

Visiting churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, I accutely notice the sense of community, where as most of the mosques I have been to - a majority of them dash in a minute before the time to break the fast and out again after the prayer. There is a lack of sense of community in some places. Not a bad idea to at least take 30 mintues before breaking the fast to touch upon the current isssue.

The pictures in the link follow my route to the Mosque.

Mike Ghouse is speaker and thinker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day. His work is captured in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at

18th Day of Ramadan - Carrollton Mosque

18th Day of Ramadan - Carrollton Mosque
Saturday, August 29, 2010

Behind on writing....

I am glad Azhar Aziz walked up and shared that there over 100 people on that Iftaar where as I had written 7-8 people at the Carrollton Mosque.

It was the 2nd day of Ramadan, where only 7 or 8 people attended the Mosque for Iftaar, he and I saw each other on Friday or Saturday, when there were over 100 people. I glad we spoke before he said that to others, as it was based on a different day.

Jazak Allah Khair

Friday, August 27, 2010

17th day of Ramadan – Shia Mosque in Irving

Friday, August 27, 2010
17th day of Ramadan - Shia Mosque in Irving
Momin Center

Momin Center of Irving was my Iftaar destination today, Shia Muslims pray here.

My daughter Mina’s words reverberate in my years, “gee dad, god can be worshipped in so many different ways,” Indeed the creator remains a mystery to most of us, but he created enough symbolism for people to latch on to.

The prayers were uniquely Shia, the typical Duwa (supplication) is done at the end of the prayers in most Mosques I have been to except the Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, in both places the supplication was done at the end of the 2nd unit of prayer and ended the prayers at the third unit (Evening prayer is three units).

It was also a new experience to me that the Imam was reciting the phrases that individuals recite quietly in most other mosques like the phrases while kneeling and prostrating. I have been to Shia Mosques before, but this is a new experience indeed. Additionally they combine Noon and a afternoon prayers and again evening and nightly prayes together.

I took about three pictures and one of the men walked up and said we cannot take the pictures of the Mosque; I understood their rules and stopped it. Then the President of the center Mukthar Dhanji said that he will email me the pictures and as soon as I get them, I will upload it.

The food was good and got to chat with several people that I have known over the years including Reza Ali, the Naat Khwaan (reciter of poems praising the prophet) and Amin Ali who was the photographer for on of the Banquets for Cricket I had arranged years ago.

After the prayers dinner buffet was open and it was typical Indian (or Pakistani) food, Chicken Biryani (chicken fried rice), great tasting lentil and lamb and the desserts which I resisted.

Mike Ghouse

Iftaar food

Most of us go to the Mosques for iftaar (for breaking the fast) out of sheer feeling of a sense of community, food is secondary.

Most of this Ramadan, I have been visiting one mosque or the other, the food was great in general with a few exceptions; the food served seems to be something one dumps on the needy and not feed personal friends.

What is the need to serve food? If you are going to serve, serve it right, let it be out of love rather than for earning the elusive brownie points. In reality the love smothered food actually buoys one up than the dumped food. God knows and God sees it all, more than God you are accepting less than the deserved joy.

The best alternative is to serve dates, fruits and water. I would rather go and eat out as I have done frequently than share the meal that is less than good.

Mike Ghouse

Thursday, August 26, 2010

16th day of Ramadan Richardson Mosque

16th day of Ramadan Richardson Mosque Thursday, August 26, 2010

I went to Richardson Mosque to break the fast there were about 100 people for the Iftaar.
Met with Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci and shared with him the Aqsa experience.

15th day of Ramadan at Office

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
15th day of Ramadan at Office

Catching up writing

Sahri in the plane over New England around 4:45 AM
Landed in Dallas at 9:45 AM

14th day of Ramadan missed fasting

14th day of Ramadan missed fasting
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I had not slept for more than 4 hours a day for the last full week
went to sleep at 4:00 AM and did not get up until 8:30 AM.

Today's schedule called for doing things we wanted to do and a few of us chose to go to Haifa, and we are hoping to go back there and see Bethlehem, Masada and Yad Vashem.

Pictures at:

13th day of Ramadan around Israel

Monday, August 23, 2010
13th day of Ramadan around Israel

Amazing food for Sehri at the Hotel Dan Jerusalem; fresh vegetables and fish... that fish was so good. It was indeed a very long day going up from Jerusalem to Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee and the Mount of the beatitudes and other places.

We went to Jericho, proclaimed by them to be the oldest city in the world and passed by the Mount temptation where Jesus was tempted by the devil to give up meditation but failed.

Stopped by Jordan River at the very spot Jesus was baptized, and I walked right in along with several others. I was the second in line and asked the Pastor to dunk me in the name of Allah and without blinking an eye he did, Imam Jensen followed the suit along with Karen and others. It was quite an awesome feeling to be purified where Prophet (to me) Jesus was Baptized.

Tiberias is a historical place where historical Jewish people have lived and have been buried, it is the place where the Mishnah (Talmud) was born, thus the Jewish oral religious tradition began.

We did not get to go on the replica boat believed to have been the boat used by Jesus, found a few years ago at the bottom of the sea of Galilee.

Mount Beatitudes was awesome with a huge valley and the sea of Galilee on the south. Apparently Jesus saw the beauty of looking towards the sea through the valley, and an Italian Architect is redesigning the churches with that point of view; a window to see the outside. Here is where Jesus delivered his famous sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-3) blessed are the peace makers.

The six of us prayed on the grass knoll outside a Restaurant while the other members had a wonderful sea food luncheon there.

Nazreth was just incredible where Jesus was born.

The whole valley around the Sea of Galilee is beautiful and Jesus taught along this valley. It is lush green with mango and banana groves. We missed Yad Vashem and Masada.

We were running late to do the Iftaar (breaking the fast) at the hotel and the six of us on the bus were trying to figure out how to handle it. Imam Abdullah Hasselhoff went to the microphone on the bus and explained the Adan, the Muezzin's call to prayers and shared the essence of fasting.

Mufeed, the Palestinian driver offered water and dates to break the fast. Later on at the dinner event (I think it was the next day).

Iftaar became a part of the meeting. Here is a good story to share; the speeches were going beyond the Iftaar time and we had to break the fast. A Rabbi sitting on a table two tables down along with other Muslims text messages his wife to find the sunset, and then relays that to the people on his table. He also took the initiative to call on the wait staff to bring the water for breaking the fast. That is the spirit we all need to develop.

12th day of Ramadan at Bukhari house

12th day of Ramadan at Bukhari house
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sheikh Aziz Bukhari passed away in May 2010, he was an Ambassador for Peace and became my friend at the Parliament of world’s religions in Melbourne, Australia in December 2009.

Aziz Bukhari is the great, great great grand son of Imam Bukhari, the compiler of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) called Hadiths.

He is buried along with his father and his father...going back to 900 years of heritage, his house is about 1200 years old house with the Masoleum next door.

She fixed the traditional "sehri meal" and the bread was smothered with olive oil and nuts browned over the hot plate. It reminded me of my Sehri at my Mom's house. The lentil soup was delicious, it reminded me of the best lentil soup at Fair Park in Dallas and Mavalli Tiffin Room in Bangalore.

I had quite an interaction with him at the Flag ceremony in Melbourne. His wife had arranged for Suhoor (pre-dawn food intake for fasting) at her house, nearly 1200 year old house on Via Dolorosa.

He had told me about the original manuscripts he had, and lo and behold, some of it was on display at his house. Aziz belongs to the Nakshbandi order of Sufi tradition of Islam.

Their daughter Danial was just a pretty girl and affecationate, calling every one Uncle like they do it among Desi kids.

I was saddened thinking about her future in Palestine/ Israel, though she is a citizen of Israel, the discrimintory practices of Israeli government are shameful, it is almost like the way African Americans were treated in the US in the fifties. They are pushed around and humiliated and degraded in their own land, like the native Americans were treated in their own land. May God give give guts to the moderate Israelis to bring justice to all, for justice is the only thing that brings peace and security to every one in the region.

More pictures:

11th day of Ramadan in Jerusalem

Saturday, August 21, 2010
11th day of Ramadan in Jerusalem
There were about eight Muslims in the conference and we got together the night before and decided to have the Sahri (suhoor) pre-dawn meal at the dining room.

The Chef arranged for the meal at 3:30 Am and the following members joined in; Imam Abdullah Hasselhoff, Dawood Asad, Myself, Imam Jensen and Claudia, the Chef was delighted to fix the meal and he joined in for the fast and arranged the prayer rug at the dining room. He was really excited.

Iftaar was again at the same dining room with great food to relish. The Mediterrenean/ Palistinian foods and veggies are a treat coupled with fresh fruits.

Imam Hasselhoff warned me not to eat the fish as I would get thirsty, and he was darn right, it was a tough day, very tough day as we travelled over to Jerusalem, climbing the hills and walking the town... around 4:00 PM my lips literraly closed and could not open my mouth and started counting the minutes for the next 150 Minutes... Heck, the taste of the fish was worth putting up with thirst.

10th day of Ramadan over the Atlantic

10th day of Ramadan over the Atlantic
Friday, August 20, 2010

Did not observe the fasting today.
Could not figure out the end time for the Sehri (morning meal). The shutters were down in the plane over the Atlantic ocean and when I ate the breakfast it was about 8:30 AM, too late to continue with the breakfast

Landed in Tel Avia at 3:00 PM local time.

9th day of Ramadan on the Plane

Thursday, August 19, 2010
9th Day of Ramadan on the Plane

Departed Dallas at 4:20 PM bound to Tel Aviv through Frankfurt in Lufthansa Airlines.

I was trying to figure out the time to break the fast, calculated Eastern time, I was figuring the velocity of the plane around 592 MPH, then added that time to CST... and came up with something like 7:00 PM... but the Sun was still up. So I followed the Sun, the rays and the light was filtering into the plane from the back side as the plane was on the North East flight path and about 6:45 Dallas Time, the sun was sinking somewhere in the west and that was the time to break the fast.

The Flight attendants were serving the food around 5:30 and I asked them to hold it for another hour, and she knew instantly that I was fasting. When the time came for breaking the fast, I asked for the meal and she was saying another 6 hours or so. I reminded here that I had asked them to hold the meal... meanwhile, a German young boy sitting next to me told her something in German that sounded like “bring the food now” and she did.

The tray was marked "Hindu" and I was wondering why did they mark religion, usually it would be vegetarian, Kosher or Halal. The food was good though, I have always enjoyed it at Lufthansa and I have flown on it several times over the years.

The kid next to me was amazing; he was super pleasant; put my bag up in the rack, brought me a diet coke for breaking the fast and was continuously willing to assist me. I could not change the language on the TV, so he pushes a few buttons and gets me English. He was curios about Pluralism and oddly he knew a lot about Islam.

This is the first time I did not read or write in the plane, instead I watched three movies. Bounty Hunter, Date Night and ....?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

8th day of Ramadan at Office

8th day of Ramadan,
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Although I did not schedule to go any where today, I was thinking of going to the Richardson Mosque for Iftaar, I didn't, I stayed in the office and did the work to get ready to go.

Tomorrow, I will not be able to write as I will be on the plane towards Tel Aviv via Frankfurt, will do the Iftaar in the plane, I will have to calculate the sunset, it my be even visible from the plane.

God willing, I would break my fast at the AlAqsa Mosque on Saturday or Sunday, will update from Israel and Palestine.

Mike Ghouse

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

7th Day of Ramadan at Madina Masjid

7th Day of Ramadan at Madina Masjid
Tuesday, August 17, 2010, Carrollton

Other pictures at:

I had an open schedule for Iftaar tonight, lo and behold; I get the call from Fox TV to join them tonight at the Hannity show. Unlike the previous programs that were live, this one was taped due to tight schedules and getting three guests together with Sean Hannity; Dr. Wafa Sultan, Frank Cagney and myself. The topic was Sharia Laws and Ground Zero Mosque (a misnomer), the rest of the story is at:

The taping was done by 7:00 PM to be aired at 8:30 PM and I decided to go to Madinah Masjid in Carrollton. It is like coming home in so many ways, most every one at the Mosque is from the Subcontinent and most of them are Urdu Speaking; my mother tongue.

Javed Hyder has been a strong supporter of this Mosque and is always out there serving the needs of Mosque, a fellow Bangalorean and we chat often. Naushad is another one. We briefly talked about the Quraan burning event coming up in Florida on 9/11, I told him if I get the funds or the tickets, I will go there and pray for the well being of the pastor, just as Prophet Muhammad set the example of praying for miscreants to have God’s blessings of good will. An article is coming up jointly written by Imam Zia Shaikh and me this week.

Things that are unique to this Mosque (I’m yet to visit 23 More Mosques this Ramadan);

Unlike other Mosques, (I have not been to all of them yet, but so far) Madinah Masjid serves Iftaar dinner every night. I mean full service, that is what the man at the counter told us to sit back and relax and they will bring the plated food and they did. The plate was filled with Chick Peas, Mutton Biryani (goat fried rice), Raita (yogurt puree) veggies and fruit salad.

At the end of the recitation of Sura Fateha, usually the worshippers say in chorus “Amen” fairly loudly and beautifully. It was not the same here and this is how it was done back home.

Most mosques do not render supplicative prayers, after the main prayers, but they do it here.

Before breaking the fast, the Imam actually recited the short prayer for breaking the fast, unusual as individuals recite within their hearts, but I had experienced the same last year in this Mosque.

I was a part of three different conversations and literally every one was aghast that the media has slapped the wrong meaning of Jihad on all of us, which is striving to be a better human to oneself and others. A few scholars, who were perhaps politically oriented, like the European kings, have misinterpreted the word to mean armed struggle. In Islam there is no such thing as offensive or aggressive war, it is always to defend oneself, however a few right wing Muslims scholars have gone against the spirit of Quraan, just like the right wing Christians, Jews and Hindus have done with their respective traditions.

Insha Allah, I will do my fitaar at each one of the mosques of Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Warith Deen Muhammad and other Mosques in Dallas; including the Mosque at Al-Aqsa this weekend. My theme is Mosque a day - Here is my schedule. This blog will carry full stories for 29/30 days of Ramadan.

This is my 7th day of fasting, the 1st day was easy but sleepy, and the 2nd day produced light headaches, otherwise, it is smooth sail. Praise the Lord. Alhamdu Lillah.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer and speaker on Islam, Pluralism and offers pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day. His work is reflected in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at

Monday, August 16, 2010

6th Day of Ramadan at Irving Mosque

Monday, August 16, 2010
6th Day of Ramadan, Irving Mosque

My Iftaar destination was the Irving Mosque, largest Mosque in Texas headed by Imam Zia Shaikh, a friend and a scholar. He has been a part of at least three of the 5 Unity day celebrations, two of the three Holocaust and Genocides commemorations, and one of the twelve Thanksgiving Day celebrations. Events that support Q49:13 to get to know each other.

The arrangement for Iftaar (breaking the fast) reminded me of my home town Yelahanka (Bangalore), where they roll the runners on the floor and set up plates loaded with dates, fruits and finger food. I even recall the reddish clay plates at the Mosque some 45 years ago. People sit on either side of the runner and wait for the right moment to break the fast. Right on Sunset, a brief announcement is made that it is time to break the fast and people take a bite of the date, a sip of water and then back to the dates and other fruits while the Prayer call is made. “Come to the prayers, come to do good” followed by prayers. In the US (perhaps in Canada and UK) dinner is arranged after the prayers usually on the weekends, other days, it is just breaking the fast.

Imam Zia Shaikh joined in a few minutes prior to breaking the fast and we exchanged the item we were talking about on the face book. I have the best fig tree in the world (Bragging?) and Imam Zia loves those figs, and he has brought me Dates from Medina and we are going to exchange them after Ramadan.

Imam Zia and I have co-authored an article “Muslim response to Wilders” and are currently working on another article to be published by Washington Post.

This is a huge Mosque and gets crowded on Friday congregational prayers; they have day school and teach religion to children and adults, they even have a cricket pitch (sport) on their grounds.

After the prayer I headed back to my pad and on the way stopped at Taco Cabana, my favorite place for Salsa, Pica Digallo and a variety of sauces to go with the food.

Insha Allah, I am planning to do my fitaar at each one of the mosques of Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Warith Deen Muhammad and other Mosques in Dallas; including the Mosque at Al-Aqsa this weekend. My theme is Mosque a day - Here is my schedule. This blog will carry full stories for 29/30 days of Ramadan.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Islam and Pluralism and offers pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day. His work is encapsulated in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ramadan Humor

Two Guys were lost in the Sahara desert .
One is David, the other is Michael .

They were dying of hunger and thirst when they suddenly came upon an oasis, with what looked like an emirate with a mosque in the middle .

David said to Michael : "Look,let's pretend we are Muslims, otherwise we'll not get any food or drink. I am going to call myself "Mohammed."

Michael refused to change his name , he said :" My name is Michael , and I will not pretend to be other than but what I am . ...Michael."

The Imam of the mosque received both well and asked about their names .
David said : "My name is Mohammed ."
Michael said : "My name is Michael. "

The Imam turned to the helpers of the mosque and said :
" Please bring some food and water for Michael only ."

Then he turned to the other and said :
Salaams Mohammed , Ramadaan Mubarak.

5th Day of Ramadan at Ahmadiyya Mosque

5th Day of Ramadan
Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Iftaar stop was at Ahmadiyya Mosque in Allen, Texas. I have been to this Mosque about three or four times before. Just about every know me and I knew most of the congregation there. Tariq reminded me about their national leader on my Radio show some 14 years ago when I had launched the first Asian Radio in Dallas.

I was hoping to be acquainted with new rituals and to my surprise; it was no different than going to any one of the Sunni Mosques in Dallas area. The only new thing was the educator was reading and explaining the chapter 95 Al-Teen and did a great job followed by breaking of the fast with dates and the Indian-Pakistani tempuras (Pakoras).

Imam Malik Mohammad led the prayers and prayer ritual was exactly the same as the Sunni tradition. After the prayer they talked about the Floods in Pakistan and their charity that serves out there. I was taken back when Imam Malik introduced me to the congregation and it was good to be with them.

A few Muslim may question following the Imam other than my own tradition, it is not the Imam, it is your own intent, niyyah that counts. It is the same argument I am having with Sean Hannity on Fox TV - the character of Imam does not matter to me, like every one, he will come and go, butit is my niyya that matters to me the visitor.

I asked them to join me going to other Mosques about breaking the fast, and most of them were aware of my schedule published at World Muslim Congress.

The dinner was traditional Indian (my reference, they call it Pakistani) chicken Qurma, Rice and Kheer. Met with Professor Qudsiyah who wants to be involved in interfaith work and Robert Hunt of Perkins school of theology at SMU had mentioned to her about my work in Pluralism as well. She is a professor of Law and speaks on Islam.

On the Dinner table Dr. Jari Khan, Tahir and three other gentlemen and their outreach coordinator carried on the conversation about Prophet Muhammad. I talked about the example set by the prophet of respecting the otherness of other; when he signed the peace treaty with the Meccans in Hudaibiya, his name was signed as Muhammad the messenger of God to which they objected, “your followers may believe that, but to us, you are Muhammad son of Abdullah” – Prophets Associates objected the removal of the phrase messenger of God, but Prophet saw another point of view and respected the otherness of other and had his signature reaffixed as Muhammad son of Abdullah. That is one of the greatest examples of Pluralistic attitudes that the Prophet wanted people to follow.

They presented me with a copy of Qur’aan with translations by Maulawai Sher Ali. The first thing I do is go to the first chapter, verse 7 as that has been one of the mistranslated verses both by a Muslim for his political desires after the fall of the ottoman empire by the European Kings in the 11th Century who deliberately mistranslated Qur’aan to egg their subjects against Muslims.
More about this at:

My Iftaar Schedule -

Mike Ghouse is a speaker thinker and a writer on Pluralism and Islam, a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions for the issues of the day. His work is encapsulated in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at

Saturday, August 14, 2010

4th Day of Ramadan, Richardson

Saturday, August 14, 2010
4th Day of Ramadan

Another beautiful day, though 100F, a record heat in Dallas over 100F for nearly two weeks straight, it was bearable though.

Rashid Dara had invited me to join for the Iftaar at FunAsia, in celebration of Pakistan independence day, several people that I had not seen in a few years were there for the Iftaar. The food at Fun Asia has always been good, and the Chef Alibhai has always respected me and usually chats with me and makes special food. I have known him for nearly 16 years.

Of course, I have always considered Fun Asia as my place, as it reflects the values of inclusion and a community center for the Subcontinentians. Dr. Farrukh Hamid and I have been friends and he likes the Pluralism work I do.

Dr. Amer Suleman jumped at the idea of visiting a mosque a day and I will catch up with him tomorrow as I will be visiting the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Allen for Iftaar. Irfan and Samina Ali are going to be attending the Unity Day on September 12th.


Of course, today is Anand Bazaar, Dallas Indian's celebration of Independence day at Lone Star park in Grand Praire, a mega big huge giant event. Nearly 20,000 People attend the event annualy. I used to be very involved in it, but for the last four years, I have become a mere visitor and I kind of like that. The spirit of freedom sours and all afternoon I have been playing the Patriotic Indian Songs. The Fire works at Anand Bazaar is fantastic.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Third day of Ramadan, Carrollton again

Friday, August 13, 2010
3rd Day of Ramadan.

I decided to visit 29-30 Mosques this month for Iftaar, per my schedule I was to go to the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Allen this evening. While driving to Allen, I spoke with Mohammed Malik, the PR man for the Mosque in Allen, Texas and had an exchange with Dr. Jari Khan, president of the Center and moved the schedule to Sunday to attend their Dars (lecture), iftaar and the prayer.

I called Marzuk Jaami and Imam Shakoor to go to the Warith Deen Mohammad Mosque - they were out of town and the Public Iftaar is set for tomorrow. I guess, I will go there next week.

Then I was going to go to the Momin Center in Irving, the Shia Mosque, my friend told me that they will have the Iftaar after the evening prayer, that is almost an hour later. I thought of going to Madinah Masjid, in Carrollton, but instead due to time constraint, I went back to Carrollton Mosque for the 2nd time for Iftaar, really third time as I was there for the Friday prayers as well. At least 40 people attened the iftaar (breaking of fasting) with Dates, Water Melon and then later on enjoyed the Chicken Biryani (chicken fried rice).

Women from Nigeria and Somali wore colorful clothes and the eight of us from yesterday were part of the 40 some people today. Azhar Aziz, president of the Carrollton Islamic Council said Obama was hosting the Iftar at the white house tonite.
I see a lot of commonalities in my writings and Obama's speeches, indeed, prior to the elections and a month after that - I wrote the blog, a few days later he spoke the words, identical to mine. I feel good about it.

Here is the Obama Video and Speech, you appreciate his Pluralism

Second Day of Ramadan, Carrollton Mosque

2nd Day of Ramadan

August 12, 2010

I took this picture for the sake of Dr. Amina Wadud and Mona Eltahawy. Amina is writing a Blog on Ramadan, and she mentioned about a side entrance door for women where she went to pray. In this picture at the Mosque both the doors are at the front. The one on the right is for women. This picture was taken at 8:15 PM Local time just before breaking the fast.

During Ramadan, I make a point to go to just about every mosque in the Dallas/Forth Metroplex. This mosque is located away from everything as a result it remains busy on the weekends and literally a few during the weekdays.

There were about 8 people at the Mosque for Iftaar tonight, Thursday, August 12, 2010 at the Carrollton Mosque. I resisted taking the picture for the diversity it offered; A Bangladeshi, Somali, Pakistani, Mexican, Caucasian and the Indian (me) with two other kids, could not figure where they were from.

First day of Ramadan at Fox Studios

First day of Ramadan - August 11, 2010

I walked into the Fox Studios at 7:30 PM at 1201 Main, Dallas, Texas. It was on the 24th Floor and the Cameraman offered me a glass of cold water, which I kept on the table in the waiting room.

At 8:05 he got me on the seat and did all the audio video checking... powdered the forehead to cut down the shining.

I was carrying the bottle and set it on the table next to me. He kept looking at it, and offered another bottle if the water was not cold. I told him the water was fine but I was going to take a sip around 8:20 PM... I saw the puzzled look on his face, then I explained to him about the month of Ramadan and fasting. He was cool.

At 8:20 I took the sip and broke my fast for the day. Got back home and went straight to Taco Cabana to eat my dinner.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Islam and Pluralism offering pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day. His blogs and sites are listed at

My Ramadan

Please post your story in the comments section below.

My iftaar Schedule


My fasting and my prayers are my personal business, and I am accountable for my own actions and not others', none whosoever.

However, to encourage understanding of others, I am writing this Blog with the intent of developing Intra-faith relationships. Each one of our denomination sticks to his own folks, and that is just fine, but unless we know about each other, we will always live in myths, distrust, and fear of others.

Islamophobia is a great example, Muslims know very well that the Neocon fears have no basis, but they get hyped up, and phobias do exist, and that is what makes them say stupid things. Aren't we guilty of the same? Look at the fear of Iran and Saudi Arabia among themselves.

Knowing each other does not imply that you  jump in and do what others do, or denigrate their others practices, it simply means you learn about others and accept them as they are. 

God has created each one of us and asks us know and learn about each other. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of a different point of view and respecting the otherness of other amounts to honoring God, for it is he who created diversity intentionally. Indeed, knowing each other mitigates conflicts and nurtures goodwill resulting in peaceful societies. (Reference Quraan 49:13).

True fasting is self-purification; and from this, a rich inner life brings about values such as justice, generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and empathy - values that are indispensable for the success of the community.Consciousness of behavior and vigilance over action are the most profound dimensions of fasting: the fasting of the heart focuses on the attachment to the divine.

That is when Ramadan really becomes a source of peace and solace, just as Christmas goes beyond the rituals to bring forth kindness, charity and caring. For fasting to be truly universal, its benefits must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims and must extend to forging a common humanity with others. Fasting is meant to impart a sense of what it means to be truly human, and its universality is reflected by its observance in Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Wiccan, Zoroastrian, other faiths and importantly the native traditions.

Last year, I had invited a people of diverse religions to my house for Iftaar, this year, Insha Allah I will visit diffrent Mosques. I have not sought permission from the Ismaili Jamaat Khana and the Bohra Mosque and I do hope I get the permission to break the fast with them.

Alhamdu Lillah, I have been blessed to pray in all the three holy place of Muslims; Mecca, Medina and Aqsa, as well as the dome of the rock masjid. 

During the weekdays, I will hit most of the same denominations, for example on the weekends, I will visit all the denominational mosques, and during the weekdays, the other Mosques of the same denominations.  You are welcome to join me by texting or talking at (214) 325-1916, at least an hour before iftaar, as I intend to shut down the phone.


July 20 - Friday, Carrollton Mosque
July 21 - Saturday, Richardson Mosque
July 22 - Sunday, Plano Mosque
July 23 - Monday, 
July 24 - Tuesday, 
July 25 - Wednesday,
July 26 - Thursday,
July 27 - Friday, 
July 28 - Saturday, River Road, Mosque, Louisville
July 29 - Sunday, Mosque in Louisville, 
July 30 - Monday, 
July 31 - Tuesday,
Aug 01 - Wednesday, 
Aug 02 - Thursday, 
Aug 03 - Friday,  Ahmadiyya Mosque, Allen
Aug 04 - Saturday, Bohra Mosque, Irving
Aug 05 - Sunday, Shia Mosque, Irving
Aug 06 - Monday, 
Aug 07 - Tuesday, 
Aug 08 - Wednesday, 
Aug 09 - Thursday, WD Deen Muhammad 
Aug 10 - Friday, Sufi Mosque, Murphy
Aug 11 - Saturday, Tarrant County Mosque
Aug 12 - Sunday, South Lake Mosque
Aug 13 - Monday, 
Aug 14 - Tuesday, 
Aug 15 - Wednesday, 
Aug 16 - Thursday, 
Aug 17 - Friday, Watauga Mosque,
Aug 18 - Saturday, 


Need to copy it from the Archives 



Aug 11 - Fox Studios, Dallas
Aug 12 - Carrollton Mosque, Carrollton
Aug 13 - Ahmadiyya Mosque, Allen,
Aug 14 - FunAsia and friends, Richardson,
Aug 15 - Shia Mosque..., Carrollton,
Aug 16 - Deen Mohammad Mosque, Dallas,
Aug 17 - Irving Mosque, Irving
Aug 18 - Undecided
Aug 19 - Airport/Frankfurt
Aug 20 - Mosque/ Tel Aviv
Aug 21 - Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem
Aug 21 - undecided
Aug 22 - Mosque, Jerusalem
Aug 23 - undecided
Aug 24 - undecided
Aug 25 - New York
Aug 26 - Richardson Mosque
Aug 27 - Ismaili Jamat Khana, Plano
Aug 28 - Bohra Mosque, Irving
Aug 29 - Madina Masjid, Carrollton
Aug 30 - Makkah Masjid, Garland

And on September 11, if Ramadan still continues, Insha Allah, I will break the fast across the Church in Florida, where they are burning the Quraan and pray for Pastor Jones good will. Can some one go there and do the right thing? Or I will be happy to make the pilgrimage, does any one has miles that can buy me the ticket to go to Florida - in the afternoon, and hope to return right back or first things Sunday Morning to do the Unityday progam in Dallas on 12th -

About Quraan Burning:

The politics of Ramadan

Friday, August 13, 2010

The politics of Ramadan
Fasting begins for Muslims; the politics of Ramadan
This article is published at Washington Post Washington Post as, "The essence of Ramadan is to become

Muslims around the world will begin fasting from Wednesday, August 11, 2010 and for a whole month thereafter, however, for some it will begin only if the moon is sighted.

Since the beginning of Islam, there have been debates as to what constitutes moon sighting. Some interpret that there has got to be a minion to declare that they have seen it themselves with their own eyes, where some others do not accept it unless they have seen it themselves. In the United States there is an organization that monitors moon sighting called the Hilal committee. At one time it was acceptable if the moon was sighted elsewhere, but now, each group has to have their own moon sighting.

Politics runs deeply in our communities, be it a Temple, Synagogue or a Church, Mosques are no different. A few scientifically-inclined-Muslims have adopted NASA’s calculation, believed to be precise. However, four different traditions are operative concurrently; i) Strictly Calendar, ii) NASA and iii) Sighting with bare eyes and iv) Sighting by others in the community.

The NASA-oriented and the Calendar-group misses out the fun, joy and exhilaration of waiting and watching the needle thin moon on the horizon. The whole family gets out on the roof tops, or higher grounds, some even climb electric poles, and a few will drive out where they can see the sky without obstacles, kids would climb up on parent’s shoulders, and a few run from place to place shouting in excitement, did you see? It is like the belief in Santa Claus, Angels and other myths, each tradition fulfills one’s emotional needs and every one becomes sentimental. After all, if celebration does not have the excitement, it is less of a celebration.

America’s spirit of freedom touches every soul, no matter what religion or tradition they follow. American Muslims are no different, they prefer to have a pre-set date to start fasting and the celebration called “Eid” pronounced as Eeed as in Eeel. The idea is for them to take a day off from work or get an optional day off for their children from the schools. Always, the joy multiplies when the family and friends celebrate it together. They prefer not wait for the moon to show up to the bare eyes.

The conflict is the same every where on the earth. Each group subscribes to one of the four systems mentioned above. America is no different; you will find celebrations on one or three different days in any given city, the Sunnis, being the largest group has the greater division within, while the Shias, Ismailis, WD Mohammad, Bohra and Ahmadiyya follow the pre-determined dates. The consensus may be attributable to having central spiritual leadership in all groups except the Sunni. However like the American Public wishes to see the Republicans and Democrats drop the party lines and focus on what is good for America, the Muslims also wish they could celebrate the Eid on one single day. It ain’t going to happen, it is human to differ.It is against the spirit of Ramadan to denigrate, diminish and devalue other practices. The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness and hate. Let’s fill our hearts with goodwill and honor Ramadan by saying “Eid Mubarak” or Happy Eid to every one who celebrates on a different day in the same town. The essence of Ramadan is joy and let’s not prick any one’s bubble; God has not signed a pact with any one behind others back, let’s rejoice the differences of interpretations. If you want to celebrate every day, go to every celebration.

In the spirit of Ramadan, I pray that Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and make us embrace all factions of Muslims without undermining their tradition and further pray that we treat every human on the earth with dignity, respect and care.

That is indeed the wisdom expressed in Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware of everything you do."

The Next article is “The Rituals of Ramadan” followed by the “Spirit of Ramadan”.Ramadan Mubarak.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Islam and Pluralism and is a frequent guest at Media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. His work is listed on 22 of his blogs and two websites listed at