By Ms. Julia Simpkins (TRADOC)July 16, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (July 17, 2014) -- Jalil Mustafa is a 38-year-old specialist of Iraqi descent who joined the Army to be an interpreter. He is also a Muslim who joins millions of other Muslims in celebrating the holy month of Ramadan. Unlike them, however, Mustafa is in Basic Combat Training.
He and several other Muslim Soldiers in 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment gathered at the Main Post Chapel Saturday evening to learn about Islam and to partake in the fast breaking, or iftar. They all invited non-Muslim friends.
"I'm here to learn," said Pvt. Raven McKlintock, a Houston native who identifies as Christian. "I wanted to know more about my battle buddies, so I've been coming here since Ramadan started."
Pvt. Sabrina Bodie agreed.
"My battle buddy invited me. (The lesson) was nice, and I learned a lot," she said.
The lesson is offered Saturdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and is given by Chaplain (Maj.) Abdullah Hulwe, the post Islamic leader. Hulwe showed the Soldiers several videos of different ethnicities of Muslims and how they celebrate Ramadan around the world. He followed up on an earlier lesson, asking the Soldiers to write down what they remembered about the principles of Islam.
At exactly 8:32 p.m., according to the Hijri (Islamic) calendar, the sun was set and the fast could be broken. Soldiers then ate blessed (halal) food, which included traditional dates and sliced apples.
The meal ended with a prayer for the Muslim attendees before they were picked up and bussed back to their barracks.
At 9 p.m., Staff Sgt. Deondra Carter, a drill sergeant with 2-13th, stood in the doorway, directing Soldiers to the waiting vehicles. He said it was no big deal to accommodate the Muslims and other Soldiers during Ramadan.
"We have to allow them free exercise of religion and this is just part of it," he said. "We offer them the option to fast and we have halal meals ready for them when they can eat."
Mustafa said everyone is welcome at the service.
"The Soldiers asked me about our service," Mustafa said. "I told them that going to service makes me feel closer to my religion. Islam is open to everyone -- to listen, to learn -- they are all welcome to come."