Celebrating Ramadan in the Deep South

October 16, 2006

Author: Maggie Lee

Source: World Politics Watch


Somewhere in the world, the sun is setting and its time to break fast. The world's Muslims are in the middle of Ramadan, a month of daytime fasting, followed by evening communal meals and prayer. It will end with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, a morning of prayer capped by days of celebration, eating and visiting.

Three hundred nightly regulars at Masjid al-Farooq follow the same schedule as every other Muslim in the world. But al-Farooq's location is a little different. It is in Atlanta, Ga.,the chief city of the American Southeast, located in the middle of the Bible Belt.

Much of the U.S. Southeast is known as the Bible Belt -- a region strongly attuned to Evangelical Christianity and a place where many of the natives vote and live with religion in their hearts. But in this region, especially in Atlanta, Ramadan is becoming part of the religious calendar.

Muslims in the Southeast are starting to stage celebrations comparable to those in larger American Muslim communities. Atlantans have seen at least one family repurpose "Christmas" lights -- shaping a sparkling crescent and star on their roof during the month of Ramadan. Izdihar, an artist, is creating Eid-al-Fitr cards adorned with Arabic calligraphy to give to her friends. She has also started designing original gift boxes for the money and candy favors that kids receive on the holiday.