Fort Hood Muslims break Ramadan fast with service, breakfast
September 13, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas -- On Monday, Members of the Fort Hood Muslim community came together for a prayer breakfast to mark the end of the month-long Ramadan fast.
About 20 Muslims joined Fort Hood leaders and chaplains for a morning service and breakfast to celebrate the end of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and its associated fasting for Muslims.
Ramadan traditionally is marked by Iftar, a large meal and extensive prayer service held following the last day of the fast, Fort Hood marked the occasion on Monday morning with a smaller gathering that focused on Fort Hood.
Area Muslims from Killeen, Waco and Temple held a large Iftar Friday morning to celebrate the end of their fast. Ramadan officially ended Sept. 9 in most parts of the world. A holiday marked by voluntary self-sacrifice and a focus on God and charity, Muslims throughout the world celebrate Ramadan.
"Ramadan teaches self-restraint and keeps remembrance of what we have," Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Wagdi Mabrouk, Distinctive Faith Group Leader for the Religion of Islam at Fort Hood, said. "(Marking Ramadan) makes us better people."
For Muslims, Ramadan is a time of voluntary sacrifice by foregoing all food, water and pursuits of pleasure from dawn until sunset for a month. During that month, prayers are given more frequently and Muslims work to mend relationships.
"It's a beautiful time and we need to keep it going beyond Ramadan," Mabrouk said.
In the Fort Hood area, the Muslim community is a small, tight-knit one. Islam is not only their faith, but their way of life. They follow the rules and words laid out for them in the Koran.
"The Koran is the way of life for Muslims," Mabrouk said.
When Mabrouk speaks about Islam, the words respect, tolerance and peace pepper the conversation.
"It is a peaceful religion," he said.
Mabrouk is well aware of the opinion held by many Americans, especially in light of Sept. 11, 2001, and the Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5.
His family immigrated to America from Egypt in 1954. His brother was in the World Trade Center when the towers were struck. His brother survived, but Mabrouk grieved with other Americans on that day.
He and other Muslims are saddened by the actions and attention gained by the actions of the radical few.
Mabrouk wants to reach out and share the religion of Islam and the message it brings.
Khristopher James, a former Soldier, converted to Islam 16 years ago. He was drawn to the faith because of its messages of honor, faith and compassion.
"There are so many beautiful stories," James said.
Although Muslims would like to bring everyone to know their faith, they do not try to force anyone to convert.
"Every person who is not a Muslim is a potential Muslim, but you cannot force anyone," James said. "There is no compulsion in religion."
Mabrouk said he welcomes questions and open dialog about his faith.
"I invite questions but do not try to convert," he said.
Imam Syed Ahmed Ali, Islamic Center of Killeen, joined Fort Hood Muslims on Monday morning to break the fast. A native of India, Ali has been the Imam in Killen for four years.
He holds weekly services in his center on Highway 195 and said the greater Killeen community is a tolerant one.
This was the first year that Fort Hood marked the end of Ramadan with a breaking of the fast prayer breakfast, but Mabroouk is hoping it becomes an annual event on the post.
Muslim services are held at 12:30 p.m. every Friday in the 19th Street Chapel on Fort Hood. All are welcome and invited to attend."