Iftar provides community connection

By Shawn DavisApril 11, 2024

Members of the Fort Cavazos community line up for the Iftar evening meal, provided at the main chapel on the installation. This is the third annual Iftar event held on Fort Cavazos to connect practicing Muslims with their local community in celebration of Ramadan. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the Fort Cavazos community line up for the Iftar evening meal, provided at the main chapel on the installation. This is the third annual Iftar event held on Fort Cavazos to connect practicing Muslims with their local community in celebration of Ramadan. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Members of the crowd at the Iftar event eye sweets, such as cupcakes. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the crowd at the Iftar event eye sweets, such as cupcakes. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Community members share a laugh as food is served during the evening meal. Iftar is an Islamic tradition of breaking the fast together during Ramadan. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs.)
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Community members share a laugh as food is served during the evening meal. Iftar is an Islamic tradition of breaking the fast together during Ramadan. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs.) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas -- Friends and families broke their Ramadan fast together Friday evening at the main chapel for the religious observance of Iftar, coming together to connect, pray and observe before the conclusion of Ramadan at Eid-al-Fitr, which took place Tuesday.

“We are excited and honored to share an important aspect of the holiest month in Islam with friends, family and our leaders from across the installation and surrounding community,” said event host Sgt. 1st Class Muna Hassan. “We stand here tonight not only as a people of faith but also as those who remain committed to our nation’s defense.”

Remarks, as well as prayers, were delivered and lead by practicing service members of Islam, along with guest speaker Col. Khallid Shabazz, United States Central Command chaplain, who attended the ceremony alongside his wife Rhonda.

“I’m so happy to be here. My schedule always has me in a chokehold. I’m traveling internationally all around the world, but you always have somebody to keep you in balance,” he said, referring to Rhonda, who works as a victim advocate program manager on Fort Cavazos.

The event was a special occasion, the third observance at Fort Cavazos, and brought together community members who have been steadfast in their tenacity in building the Muslim community around Fort Cavazos.

“We built it from the ground up,” said Omar Sey, 1st Cavalry Division veteran, who attended the ceremony with his wife and his two children. “It means a lot to me. … It’s like watching my baby grow.”

The ceremony included breaking the fast with dates, done to emulate the Islamic prophet Muhammad, before partaking in the sunset prayer, also known as the “Maghrib” prayer, which is then followed by an evening meal.

The meal included crowd favorites such as jollof rice, kebabs and fufu, which is traditionally swallowed whole and made from cassava — a starchy root tuber popular in West African cuisine. The meal was catered by So Natural Catering, owned by Army veteran Luvina Sabree, who is an active community leader in the Fort Cavazos area. Speaking to the importance of the event, Capt. Muhammad Soumaoro, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div., reflected on what the event meant to him as a self-described Soldier who happened to be a Muslim in the U.S. Army.

“For Muslim Soldiers who often face identity challenges and may feel compelled to conceal their faith, this event is crucial,” he said. “By bringing everyone together, it emphasizes inclusivity and promotes a deeper understanding of diverse beliefs to enhance mutual respect and camaraderie.

“This organized interfaith gathering not only strengthens the bonds within the Muslim community but also bridges gaps between different faiths, fostering a more cohesive and supportive environment,” Soumaoro added.

For more information on the Muslim community on Fort Cavazos, visit the religious support website at home.army.mil/cavazos/units-tenants/Garrison/religious-support.