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Listen: Breaking The Daily Fast During Ramadan in Louisville


Hundreds of people with a wide range of religious faiths gathered in a church gymnasium Wednesday night to break a daylong fast amid the holy month of Ramadan.At exactly 9 p.m., the fast ended with a call to prayer. Next, they drank water, followed by dates, and then pita bread, salad and meat. For Muslims, it was their first bite of food since sunrise.

Ramadan concludes next week. The 30-day period of daytime fasting, study and prayer helps  Muslims appreciate what they have, regardless of how little, and to reap the rewards of peace and interconnectedness for the following year, said Shahid Qamar, a 49-year-old Pakistan native who has lived in Louisville for seven years.

“The main reason behind it is to feel the pain and suffering of those people who don’t have much in their life,” Qamar said.His comments exemplified an exchange of peaceful ideas, belief, and understanding, which comes during an especially tumultuous timein the Middle East.Qamar joined nearly 400 people Wednesday night for a traditional Iftar—an evening meal that breaks the daily fast— hosted by the The Pakistani American Alliance for Compassion and Education and Interfaith Paths to Peace.Listen to what some of the participants had to say about the fast:The Iftar dinner was hosted with a second goal besides breaking the fast, said Terry Taylor, the executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace. It's also to help understand Ramadan and the meaning behind the fast.“It’s really one of the most diverse events that we do,” Taylor said.The attendees, Muslims and people of many other faiths,  listened to presentations from religious leaders and scholars.They also participated in group chants, prayer and a traditional music and dance routine.And at 9 p.m., they together broke the fast with a call to prayer followed by a glass of water and a date, and large portions of pita bread, salad and meat.The Iftar, which concluded with a larger dinner to sate the appetites of the fasting, is costly for the organizers, Taylor said. But he said the cost worthwhile. It brings people multiple faiths creates connections that empower a peaceful, compassionate community.Linda Omer said the 30 day fast is a “beautiful thing.”“I was struggling, before Ramadan, finding my inner peace,” she said.Omer, a Palestinian, said the time has helped her gain some peace and, also, reinforced her appreciation for the finer things in life, like food and water.“You really appreciate it and feel it,” she said.  “Sometimes it makes you cry, because you feel bad that others don’t have it, it makes you grateful.”

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.