KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In a time when passenger airlines are being shot out of the sky, Palestinians are being invaded and Israelis are dodging missiles, Muslim communities from across the Kansas City metropolitan area gathered to promote peace and understanding during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
The month is considered the most spiritual of the Islamic calendar, for Muslims believe this is the month when God revealed the Quran, the religion’s holy book, to Prophet Mohammed.
During Ramadan, Muslims recognize those less fortunate by making charitable contributions. They re-establish their relationship with God and rid themselves of distractions by not eating or drinking any food or water during the daylight hours. At sunset, Muslims break the fast with a traditional dinner known as iftar.
On Friday, The American Coalition for Good Government invited Kansas City Mayor Sly James to an iftar at the Robert Mohart Multi-Purpose Center.
Several Muslim communities - including Al-Inshriah Islamic Center, Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, Masjid Omar, Midland Islamic Council and Crescent Peace Society - welcomed the mayor to share in the Ramadan experience.
“There is a strong Muslim community here in Kansas City, and we participate as citizens of the city,” Crescent Peace Society President Ahsan Latif said. “We really want to share the experience of Ramadan and opening fast with the mayor and the community.”
James said he felt honored to be invited back to the iftar for the third year in a row.
“I think it’s important for us to always remember that we’re one city, and that we always need to show respect for others, but also I strongly believe in the power of diversity,” James said. “Recognizing diversity is one of those things that we can build on that will allow us to collaborate and to get things done.“
Imam Bilal Hazziez of Al-Inshirah Islamic Center spoke to the gathering about how Ramadan is a time to give charity and think of those who are less fortunate.
“We all know that here in a few minutes we have a nice meal that we are all going to enjoy,” Hazziez said as he gestured towards the buffet on the side of the room. “But there are a lot of people in the world who don’t know when their next meal will be.”
On the heels of Hazziez’s presentation, James opened his speech with a moment of silence for those suffering from the conflict in Gaza as well as the passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
“When things are going wrong in the world is the best time for people of all faiths, all religions, all socio-economic groups to stand up and fight against that,” James said. “When you stand alone, those rages will take you away. If you stand together, you can be strong and build a foundation and stand against it.”
That spirit of unity is one of the central focuses of the Crescent Peace Society’s upcoming annual regional conference on Aug. 16 at the Overland Park Marriott.
“This is another opportunity to bring together Muslims and non-Muslims to recognize some of the working being done in our community,” Latif said. “We’ll be giving out some awards, but we’re also hosting a workshop on leadership and negotiation.”
The workshop will be held from noon to 3:30 p.m. and will feature Haroon Ullah who works on public diplomacy and countering violent extremism with the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff.
The banquet will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will feature Hollywood actor Farhan Tahir, who will deliver the keynote speech.
For more information, visit the Crescent Peace Facebook page .