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Khadija Evans

This is the link to the story at my site.
This is the link to the newspaper the story was in. I don't know how long it will be available at this link.
It's a newspaper article that was in today's Dispatch. It's about Ramadan but shows a picture of my husband and me, which will enable American non-Muslims to see that Islam isn't just a religion for Arabs. It also tells about why I reverted to Islam, and shows that Islam isn't the strict and unbending religion that some non-Muslims think it is.

The Dispatch
December 7, 2002
Ramadan Teaches Restraint, Patience
By Leon Lagerstam, Staff writer

Ramadan, a month-long Islamic fast, ends with a new moon, and hopefully a new understanding.

A lot of rage, anger, oppression and talk of war is heard around the world, but Ramadan seeks to replace aggressive thoughts and behaviors with ideals of peace and charity, according to Imad Benjelloun, prayer leader and chairman of the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities.

"Ramadan is all about abstaining from doing what is wrong, and training oneself to do what is righteous," he said.
Ramadan is the month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from dawn to sunset, according to materials provided by the center. It ended with the sight of a new moon earlier this week.

Members of the Quad-Cities Muslim community gathered Friday night at the Clarion Hotel in Davenport for an "Eid ul-Fitr" fast-breaking feast. Muslims worldwide observe Ramadan and its concluding feast.

Demographers say Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions, estimating about 1.2 billion Muslims exist in the world, including seven million in America. The Quad-Cities Muslim community totals several hundred people, but less than 1,000, Mr. Benjelloun said.

Some people were worried about how Ramadan would fit into the picture of instability and insecurity in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and the turmoil and unrest seen around the world, he said.

However, no negative impact was seen locally, Mr. Benjelloun said. In fact, people from the community have asked many more questions about Ramadan and Islam since the terrorist tragedies, "and we're reaching out more and making many bridges," he said.

"The numbers of people converting to Islam have skyrocketed since 9/11," said Khadija Evans of East Moline. She and her husband, Muhammad Evans, were among them.

"I converted Dec. 11 last year, which was about halfway through Ramadan, so I didn't fulfill the obligations, and didn't understand it yet," Mrs. Evans said. Since then, she's learned to read the Quran and prayers in Arabic and studied her new faith, saying it has answered many more questions she had in her life, making it fuller, and giving her a clearer understanding of the purpose of her existence.
"After 9/11, the media were saying a lot of things portraying Islam in a negative light," she said. "After reading many different things and looking it up on the Internet, I came to the conclusion the media were wrong, and I came to realize Islam was the true religion, and, in my heart, I knew I had to convert."

Medical conditions, however, prevented her from observing Ramadan fasting requirements this month. Exemptions are granted for a variety of reasons, including medical ones. Other exemptions are given to children, menstruating or pregnant women, nursing mothers, mentally incapacitated people, elderly folks and travelers journeying more than 50 miles.

Those people have to either make up the fast on other dates or donate money to feed the hungry, Mrs. Evans said. She and her husband previously worked at the River Bend Food Bank, so they chose to donate to local hunger efforts.
"Ramadan helps you care about people," Mr. Benjelloun said. "It reminds you that other people are hungry and are suffering, and it pushes you to contribute more. It really contributes to solving a big problem in society -- narrowing the gap between the poor and healthy."

A lot of fundraising takes place during Ramadan, he said, and "Muslims tend to give money from the bottom of their heart."

Mr. Benjelloun compared Ramadan to a "training station."
"It trains a person to be patient and righteous,'' he said. ``It trains you to be a better person in your family and in your community, and to be a better servant to God the Almighty."

He summarized Ramadan's importance by using the term "taqua," which he says means to be "on guard."
"Basically, you must be on guard in every action you perform in your life," Mr. Benjelloun said. "Before you do anything, you need to make sure it pleases God the Almighty, and if it pleases God, it won't hurt anyone."
Ramadan focuses on individual human beings, he said. If a human being learns to restrain himself from making wrong decisions, it carries on through his family, community and country, and could make the planet Earth entirely peaceful, he said.

World peace, however, is unlikely, when 100 people try to destroy what one person is trying to build, Mr. Benjelloun said.

"Our world lacks justice everywhere, especially at the international level,'' said Moutaz Kotob of Bettendorf. Many people don't realize that Muslims actually believe in "justice for all," he said.

Giving presentations at schools, churches and organizations help reduce such misunderstandings, making it easier to know and live with each other, Mr. Kotob said.
Living in the Quad-Cities makes it easier to practice her faith, Mrs. Evans said.

"In other parts of the country, there have been attacks on people," she said. "I'm lucky to live in this area. I'm not sure whether it's a case of tolerance, but I think it's actually more of a case of acceptance."

The worst she's heard from people are comments under their breath, but said she felt sorry for them, not angry.
Mr. Benjelloun admits some Muslims may have forgotten what Ramadan is really about, saying "you'll always find people who are not going to do what they are supposed to be doing, but generally, people do know what it is and act accordingly."

Ramadan, he said, is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. Not eating or drinking is not the goal of Ramadan, Mr. Benjelloun said. "It's just a means. If you can train yourself not to eat or drink, you can train yourself some patience. If you have patience, you have power to be a better person in the community and to God the Almighty."
Friday's fast-breaking feast "celebrates all the righteous acts and good behaviors we have been able to train ourselves during the month of Ramadan," he said.

It's one of two big feasts for Muslims, Mr. Benjelloun said. The other one "Eid Adha" celebrates the pilgrimage to Mecca, scheduled two months and 10 days after Eid ul-Fitr.

Taken from QCOnline.com

Corrections to this article. I embraced Islam on December 1, 2001, and not on December 11, 2001. I do not at this time read the Qur'an in Arabic.


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