Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dallas Pastor Observing Ramadan

UMCPastor.Reverend Magruder.ImamYasin.RamadanDaily

When Reverend Wess Magruder, Senior Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Rowlett, told his friend and neighbor Imam Yaseen Shaikh, Imam of the Islamic Association of Collin County, that he was going to observe the Muslim fast of Ramadan with his Muslim friends, Yaseen Shaikh replied in his British accent: “It’s intense.” Surely the experience has been intense, not only because the pastor is not used to a 30 day long fast, abstaining from food and drinks for 15 hours a day, but because thousands of readers have been following the pastor’s story through his daily blog and through a previous examiner article as well. Moreover, the experience turned into an interfaith exchange where Muslims received a fresh perspective of fasting and the pastor found new friends and new spiritual discipline.
KERA’s “Think” interviewed yesterday the two Texan “amicos,” the Muslim imam and the Christian pastor. Krys Boyd presented her two guests who talked about their Ramadan-fasting experiences albeit coming from two different faith traditions. Rev. Magruder said that he decided to fast in order to show solidarity with his Muslim friends, like Imam Yaseen, who are observing a month-long fast. Having been looking for ways to deepen his own spiritual life, he noticed the deep truth to Muslim fasting. But while he thought he would be fasting alone in his Christian environment, focusing on his spiritual development, he found out that in order to get the most of the experience he had to break his fast in community, with his Muslim friends. “Everyone treated me as if I were a member of the community,” he said. Thus, he started accepting invitations for the break-fast meals, “iftars,” from different communities throughout the DFW metroplex. Last night, he broke his fast at the Islamic Center of Irving’s civic iftar, and Friday, he is invited to an iftar at the Al-Hedayah Islamic Center in Fort Worth.
Magruder said he was surprised at the response of his fasting experience, which he blogs about. He gladly received the support from his Methodist and Christian friends, who, he said, probably laugh at him for being so much calmer during his fast. His congregation is very interested, he said, in opening discussions and asking questions about Islam. However, he did not anticipate the Muslim response which started after Imam Yaseen shared the pastor’s blog with his congregation. The blog further spread beyond the metroplex, all over the country, and crossed the oceans. Muslims from all over the world are commenting on the pastor’s blog with words of encouragement, support, and advice to manage his fast. Watch WFAA-TV exclusive.
So how does Rev. Magruder act like a Muslim during Ramadan? From his Christian experience with fasting, Magruder knows how to focus on the moment when he feels the hunger; it’s the moment when he becomes aware of God. But with the Muslim fast, he’s always hungry and always conscious of God. Furthermore, besides studying his Christian tradition, the pastor has been reading some verses in the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book. He has even participated in the Muslim prayer last weekend when he prayed next to his friend, Imam Yaseen. “And when my forehead touched the carpet on the ground, I found myself deeply awed. I was struck by my vulnerability. I was kneeling forward, head down, neck bared. There is no more vulnerable position than that.” Magruder wrote on his blog on August 1st. “What I experienced in that posture was ‘the fear of the Lord,’ which is a Jewish phrase that doesn’t mean ‘fear’ in the sense of the human emotion of horror or dread, but an overwhelming feeling of awe, the kind that takes your breath and speech away.”
Rev. Magruder told KERA’s Boyd that he was planning to integrate Muslim fasting in his spiritual life beyond Ramadan, and when asked whether he would advise his congregation to try the fast, he replied that many people might be willing to follow his example. He also discussed how fasting made him calmer and more serious and reflecting. And as a Christian, he said, he would continue building bridges and meditating on fasting.
Muslims, including Imam Yaseen, feel inspired by Magruder’s experience, which provides Muslims with a fresh perspective about fasting. Yaseen didn’t think that his friend would last that long. Describing the spirituality of fasting, he said: “Beyond the flesh and bone, we have a spiritual aspect that needs to be fed.” Thus, the fast is a detox for the body and the spirit. “Ramadan is a training ground to build a connection with God and continuity within community.”Magruder explained how Jesus fasted for forty days and ignored Satan’s temptation by saying “Man shall not live by bread alone but by the every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” He said: “When we fast we are focusing on our true identity; we are not just physical beings.”
The Dallas tale of the Muslim imam and the Christian pastor is gaining national coverage, sending signs of hope for our national unity. An example of interfaith compassion and not just tolerance, this story is food for the soul. “America is full of truth seekers,” Imam Yaseen said about Americans who love to open their hearts and minds and ignore media stereotypes. Most importantly, this story is a Ramadan blessing for all the Muslims fasting this month, and for many people like Reverend Magruder.

1 comment:

  1. As a Muslim believer Hajj is a great experience a human can ever experience . It is one of the pillars of Islam and a duty that all Muslims are required to fulfil if they have have means and wealth it is compulsory upon them.
    Hajj is an journey of a lifetime nothing compares to it in this world.Its totally different for everyone but I can say personally its the best thing that happened in my life. Its such a great feeling once you go there if you feel so close to Allah swt and feel so emotionally and spiritually complete
    Umrah 2013



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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.