Minnesota Muslims prepare for Ramadan during tense, emotional time

a man leads prayer
Imam Abdirahman Kariye leads Ramadan prayer.
Courtesy of Imam Abdirahman Kariye

Ramadan will begin Sunday night, and start a month of strict fasting from early morning till evening. The holiday is a pillar in the Muslim religion but may be more somber this year than others.

Typically, the time during each day’s fast is used for prayer and reflection. While many will be able to break their fast at the end of each night — for those in Gaza, many are without food, water, shelter to pray, and have been for months.

Faith leaders in Minnesota are preparing with their community during this tense time. Imam Abdirahman Kariye of Dar Al Farooq Center in Bloomington and joined All Things Considered Host Tom Crann to speak about the holiday in his community.

The following is a transcription of the audio heard using the player above, lightly edited for clarity.

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a group of congregants pray
Congregants participate in a communal prayer for Ramadan services.
Courtesy of Imam Abdirahman Kariye

How are you feeling as Ramadan approaches this year?

Ramadan is an important and foundational pillar of practicing our faith. It's a month of devotion observed by millions of Muslims worldwide. By this act of fasting the entire month in gratitude to god, we rejuvenate our spirituality, we pay our religious consciousness and cultivate devotion to God.

And while you know we are excited for the arrival of the month of Ramadan, while we are, you know, voluntarily fasting and giving food and drink and desires, those who are in Gaza do not have that luxury. They are forcefully starving.

And so what impact does that have for you during this Ramadan here in Minnesota? 

This month has been very difficult for our community. Many are grieving, mourning, frustrated that their elected officials have not given them a chance for their voices to be heard. They have called for a cease-fire, they have called for the ending of, you know, unconditional funding, this funding that is funding the occupation inside of Palestine. Spiritually, we are connected to each other.

The pain and suffering of another person is my pain and suffering. So we're seeing this constant, you know, our community organizing, coming out to vote, uncommitted, protesting, showing that this matter and our government and our tax dollars cannot be funding what's going on in Gaza right now.

What are you offering this year as a leader in your faith community? 

Well, I am offering the hope that we can see the end to the suffering, and that the month of Ramadan is a month of giving, of being charitable, generous and understanding the vast mercy and generosity inherent in the nature of God.

So this Ramadan is a moment of unity, our community coming together. And hopefully, during this moment of grief and mourning, our community will be able to reconnect again. And find a sense of comfort in the aspect of being a community. There’s just this excitement and hope in all the good things that come with the month of Ramadan.