CAIRO – Residents of Maryland’s Harford County have been granted a special opportunity to meet members of the local Muslim community and learn more about Muslim culture and traditions during a special iftar in the holy month of Ramadan.
"I believe that education is the way that we will bring our community closer," Harford County Board of Education member Cassandra Beverley told visitors and members of the Harford County Education Society's Masjid Al Falaah who gathered before a prayer service.
Beverley was talking at a special iftar held by leaders of the Abingdon mosque.
"This is part and parcel of American culture," Dr. Rehan Khan, president of the Harford County Education Society and an Abingdon physician, said.
"These are the productive citizens; these are the contributing people of the society."
Mosque members and guests enjoyed Indian and Pakistani-style dishes, such as chicken and lamb curry, biryani, which is a spicy meat-and-rice dish, shish kebabs, nan flatbread, fruit and vegetables and sweet pastries for dessert.
"I think this is a wonderful opportunity for people who don't know [about Islam]," Beverly, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, said. "Ignorance is the worst thing that we can keep."
"No matter what, food unites us all," she added.
Hassan Javed, 29, of Baltimore County, who works as a police officer in Baltimore City, made his first visit for an iftar at the Abingdon mosque Saturday.
"For me to see a smaller community come together and have an event like that and open up an opportunity for other ethnic backgrounds to come out here and learn the culture, I think it should be a great experience for them," he said.
Harford Sheriff Jesse Bane, who is seeking re-election, also spoke to worshippers.
"There is a need in this county for everybody to be educated in your customs," Bane said.
Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, started last June 28 in North America.
In addition to fasting, Ramadan is also a month of increased worship, special prayers, and recitation of the Qur’an.
While Ramadan is generally known as the month for personal restraint, worship and reflection, it is also the month of giving for Muslims as they support the needy and engage in charitable acts.