Area Muslims mindful of safety at Ramadan event
BY CHASE COOK World Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is making efforts to remind Muslim communities about how they can stay safe in the wake of a fire that destroyed an Islamic mosque in Joplin, Mo., on Monday and a shooting rampage that killed seven people at a Wisconsin Sikh temple on Sunday.
Muslim communities can protect themselves by working together like any neighborhood watch would, chapter Executive Director Adam Soltani said during his organization’s inaugural Sharing Ramadan dinner, an event focused on teaching people about Islam and its holy month of Ramadan.
“The biggest misconception is that Muslims and terrorists are one and the same, when they couldn’t be further apart,” Soltani said.
The council updated its Community Safety Guide with a section asking Muslims to contact the group’s leaders when taking measures to keep the community safe, he said. The strategies for keeping a local Islamic center safe include participating in neighborhood watch programs, forming a security committee and reporting suspicious activity to local police, according to the safety guide.
The local Ramadan dinner is modeled after the national council’s effort to spread information about Islam and its holiest month of the year, Soltani said. The national organization has a kit that Muslim groups can use to hold events, such as the dinner, which help people understand the Islamic religion, he said.
“We don’t want to share Ramadan with just our own faith. We want to share it with everyone,” he said.
Ramadan is the month when the Quran, Islam’s holy book, was revealed, and it’s a time when Muslims fast from food, drink and intimate relations during daylight hours. Muslims break the fast after sunset, just before evening prayers. After the prayers, Muslims enjoy dinner.
Tulsa City Councilor Karen Gilbert said she attended the event because it’s interesting to see how people of other religions worship.
“You have to consider the diversity in Tulsa,” she said. “It’s just astonishing how so many different beliefs and areas come together for the betterment of the city.”
CAIR-OK Operations Coordinator Jenell Mapp-Maynard said she converted to Islam after a year of “soul-searching” and research. She said events such as Sharing Ramadan gave her a window into the Muslim community and how everyone comes together when needed.
“Everything draws back to the community,” she said.
When responding to incidents targeted at Muslim communities:
Report the incident to local police and the FBI immediately. Ask that the incident be treated as a hate crime.
Inform CAIR-OK, even if you believe it to be a “minor” incident. You can report online at tulsaworld.com/cairok or call 405-415-6851.
Document the incident. Write down exactly what happened, what was said. Save evidence and take photos.
Act quickly. Each incident must be dealt with when it happens.
Source: Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, speaks prior to a Ramadan dinner at the Tulsa Country Club on Wednesday. Soltani encouraged Muslims to take efforts to remain safe in the wake of violence toward minority religious groups in the United States this week. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Visitors listen to speakers before a Ramadan dinner at the Tulsa Country Club on Wednesday evening. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Linda Love (left) of Jenks and Allison Moore of Tulsa listen to speakers before the Sharing Ramadan dinner. A goal of the event was to teach non-Muslim area residents about Ramadan and the Muslim faith. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Muslims pray prior to a Ramadan dinner at the Tulsa Country Club on Wednesday evening. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Oklahoma City residents Jenell and Riyaad Abdul-Quayuum and their daughter, Ziporah Abdul-Quayuum, fill their plates for a Ramadan dinner Wednesday evening at the Tulsa Country Club. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Mona Elzahed (left) and Walid Elsoueissi, 15, both of Tulsa, make their way along a buffet line during the Sharing Ramadan dinner. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World