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Ramadan: A Month of Sharing. ‘Building Bridges of Mutual Understanding’



Muslims Host 1st Annual Ramadan Dinner



Musulmanes Festejan el Ramadán con lideres de SA



Mayor Castro and Chief of Police McManus speak in Ramadan Event





SAN ANTONIO, TX. — This year Ramadan is observed from August 22 until September 19, 2009.  The Islamic community in our city is one composed of around fifteen thousand Muslims that mostly attend six mosques located strategically in the Alamo city.  


Their leaders started a national level organization through MAS — the Muslim American Society; completing one year of organization and began working to communicate with the community in general. The founding president is the businessman Abdulrahman Ayad of Palestinian origin.


MAS Freedom had as guest of honor its national representative who resides in Washington, D.C. — Executive Director Mahdi Bray.  The motto of MAS chapter San Antonio is:  "One step at a time towards a better individual, family, and society.”


Ramadan: A Month of Sharing. ‘Building Bridges of Mutual Understanding’    Building Bridges for Mutual Understanding or would also be able to translate as:  Building Strong Communities by Faith and Service.  


The vision of the Muslim leaders throughout the U.S. is to acculturate with the community through its leaders so that we know its customs, culture, its religion and system of life in general.  


The Moslems appear to be mostly very religious.  This event in fact included several activities of a religious character close to their main religion established in the Qur’an.  


In fact this is our first participation in a Moslem event; in earlier accounts we (our newspaper) misrepresented to whomever read this article on this event because of our ignorance on this subject and on this sector of the human population that is distinctive not only by its language but also by its traditional style of dress and through their customs that here in America have been evolving as those of other religions or cultures.  Each day the new generations are changing their customs, especially here in Northamerica (USA), and the president of MAS-SA, Abdulrahman Ayad, recognizes it also.  


The program was divided in the following form: 

Qur’ an Recitation by Sheikh Atif, translated by Imam O. Adib Shakir, Resident Imam MBIR;  Welcome remarks/ Muslim American Society “MAS” Presentation by Imam Mahdi Bray, MAS Freedom’s Washington D.C. Executive Director; Presentation of the Ramadan by Imam O. Adib Shakir, Resident Imam MBIR;  Speech by the Mayor of the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro and subsequently the speech of the leader of the police of San Antonio SAPD, William McManus; Also speech participate by the Mayor of Balcones Heights, Mayor Suzanne De Leon; subsequently they call for: “Call for Prayer” that was in charge for the ‘priest’ or its equivalent one, of one of the six mosques that are found in our city, his name is Sheikh Atif; ‘Break the Fast Dates/Soup/Water, apparently they carry a fast and because of it was the moment to break with the same one by means of a soup of lentils, and water; Maghreb Prayer, lead by Sheikh Fetouh – Resident Imam of Lackland Air Force Base; Civic Iftar ‘Special Dinner’, (Plate of chicken or salmon) and finally they finished with their event. 

‘MAS Freedom’ Muslim American Society (Moslem American Company) is the largest Moslem organization of America in other words, MAS is America’s largest grassroots Muslim organization with more than 55 chapters in 35 states and his Chapter SA (local) have fifty members compose it for now that represent to fifteen thousand Moslems in San Antonio. 


Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other worldly pleasures from dawn to sunset. Fasting “Sawm” is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it serves as both a spiritual and physical cleansing of the mind and body. 


Ramadan is a special time for Muslims everywhere; a time for reflection and greater spirituality; a time for sacrifice and generosity; and a time for devotion and self-control.

During this month, the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims focus on improving themselves as human beings. And they focus on the less fortunate in society by giving in charity, and helping those in need. As part of President Obama’s United We Serve Campaign, MAS Chapters will distribute beef and lamb purchased through the donations collected in Ramadan to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other institutions that feed the needy.


Various religious and community leaders were present.  Rhett Smith representing  ‘Veterans for Immigrants’ Chapter San Antonio; Lutheran Pastor Ann Helmke; Rev. Jane Lancaster Patterson and her husband of the St. Marks Episcopal Church, Incarnate Word University Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Quakers Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Southwood.

In this article it is not possible for us to write everything that each one of the speakers said, but we will do it in another lead to the Muslim American Society.  


1st Annual Ramadan Civic Iftar-2009 Ramadan: A Month of Sharing. His dinner theme is: “Building Strong Communities through Faith and Service or Building Bridges of Mutual Understanding”. 


The event will be attended by municipal and public officials of metropolitan San Antonio Area. Scheduled guests include Mayor Julian Castro, Mayor Suzanne DeLeon (Balcones), Chief of Police, William McManus and Imam Mahdi Bray, MAS Freedom’s Washington D.C. Executive Director. 


Upon finalizing the event a small conference was held with the heads of MAS Freedom national and the Chapter San Antonio and both heads coincided in offering their support at two proposals presented by SAnews in:

What are two proposals approved by MAS with SAnews? 

1. Inviting Congressman Gutierrez to UTSA

2. March for Justice


1. . Support to the offering given by the Doctor Ricardo Romo of UTSA to include the auditorium of the university for an invitation to the Federal Congressman, chiefly Luis Gutierrez of Chicago with his project of "Family Unity" in favor of a Just Immigration Reform, because Congressman Henry Cuellar, District 28, said, “thank you to SanAntonio newspaper for taking this initiative and I will contact my colleagues Charlie Gonzalez (Dist.20), Ciro Rodriguez(Dist.23),  and Lamar Smith(Dist.21), because we all need to check our agenda and support this important event.  Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Perez also endorsed this event.

2. ‘March for Justice’ (Su lema es: “El gobierno habla sobre los inmigrantes, pero no hablan con los inmigrantes”) his motto are: “The government speak about immigrants, but nobody speak with us—individual immigrants” 

Starting the march in the Mexican Consulate at 127 Navaro Street, San Antonio, Texas to Washington, DC. ¿Why start from Mexican Consulate? Because the majority of immigrants come from Mexico.
   The march is a public manifestation and represents a new movement not only to protest for change, but also the remember the presidential promise in San Antonio with his motto: change we can believe in.  But now President Barack Obama has not honored his word in 2009 but has postponed immigration reform to 2010.

  This represents our opportunity for organizing immigrants and asking the citizens of the United States to support us, because we are part of the solution for this economic crisis.  (¡Nosotros los necesitamos y ustedes nos necesitan!) –¡We need you and you need us!

We are seeking support from throughout society,. . .the first response is: 

Pastor German Ballesteros of the church Centro Cristiano Internacional (International Christian Center) Pastor Francisco Casas and Douglas Ossio from Corona de Victoria, Pastror Hector Armando Guel from Tabernaculo Church; as well as of the border Mayors, Chad Foster of Eagle Pass, Raul Salinas from Laredo, Richard F. Cortez of McAllen and Efraín V. Valdez of the city from Del Rio, Texas; Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Congressman Henry Cuellar (Dist. 28) and now MAS Freedom National and MAS San Antonio; Father Ernie Ochoa—St. Agnes Church.


We mention the important message of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in its recent meeting celebrated here in this city of San Antonio*, where they exhort President Barack Obama and all members of the US Congress: that the Immigration Reform should be in the 2009. 



(*) Cardinal Francis George of Chicago called on President Barack Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform before the end of 2009,

He called for this action June 18, at the Spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in San Antonio, Texas. The statement follows.



On behalf of the United States Catholic Bishops, gathered in San Antonio, Texas, at our annual spring meeting, I would ask President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties to work together to fashion and enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the end of the year.


It has been clear for years that the United States immigration system requires repair and that reform legislation should not be delayed.


We urge respect and observance of all just laws, and we do not approve or encourage the illegal entry of anyone into our country.  From a humanitarian perspective, however, our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths.  This suffering should not continue.


Now is the time to address this pressing humanitarian issue that affects so many lives and undermines basic human dignity.  Our society should no longer tolerate a status quo that perpetuates a permanent underclass of persons and benefits from their labor without offering them legal protections.  As a moral matter, we must resolve the legal status of those who are here without proper documentation so that they can fully contribute their talents to our nation’s economic, social and spiritual well being.


Only through comprehensive reform can we restore the rule of law to our nation’s immigration system.


We urge President Obama and congressional leaders to meet as soon as possible to discuss and draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation, with the goal of making it law by the end of 2009.  The Catholic bishops of our country stand ready to assist in this effort.