Month of Ramadan beginning this week

Published 11:44pm Friday, July 12, 2013

More than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world are observing the month of Ramadan beginning this week, and of that large number a tiny fraction of the Muslim world is practicing in Selma.

Yusuf Salaam leads a masjid, or place of worship, in Selma for believers in the Islam faith. He said Ramadan for Muslims in Selma is not practiced very differently from other Muslims practicing around the world.

“There may be some differences, minor in detail, but the basic practice of Ramadan consists of the same things,” Salaam said.

Salaam helped found the Selma Islamic Center in 1990 and it is currently located on Citizen’s Parkway. He said the observance, which lasts about a month and falls this year from Monday, July 8 to Wednesday, Aug. 7, revolves around the tradition of fasting. Taking part in Ramadan each year is just one of the five pillars of Islam.

“The practitioner arises each day and eats a light meal called ‘Suhoor,’” Salaam explained. “It shouldn’t be a heavy meal and that should be completed at least 20 minutes before the first prayers of the day.”

Throughout the day those practicing will abstain from eating, drinking and engaging in intimacies with their spouses — denying any biological activities. Once the sun sets each day, Muslims will break the fast and eat a meal, sometimes called an “Iftar.”

Salaam said denying these cravings for food and water throughout the day in traditional fasting, combined with studying the Quran each day, brings the practitioner closer to God.

“You will discover what the fasting does is it lowers the pull of the biological makeup in the human being,” Salaam said. “Because the flesh pull is lower, and correspondently while the flesh is being regulated, the influence of the soul and the spirit comes forward. So it then provides a kind of clarity where the spiritual world has greater impact in terms of understanding.”

Salaam said the Islam community in Selma consists of about 200 to 300 people who claim Islam as their faith.

“There are several people in Dallas County from all over the world who claim to be Muslim. Some say there are at least 200 or 300 [Muslims in Selma], but not all of those individuals attend a place of worship,” Salaam explained. But you have a situation due to historical unique variables where African Americans started the first masjid in Selma.”

He said there are two places of worship for Islams in Selma — one on Citizens Parkway and the other on J.L. Chestnut Boulevard.

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