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Sharing Ramadhaan with your neighbors

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Sharing Ramadhaan with your neighbors

Post by Ithar Ghada Faied on Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:41 pm


The Archangel Gabriel so emphasized the rights of neigh­bors on Muslims and their duty to be good to them with such urgency that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, thought Allah would next command that—Muslim or non-Muslim—they be made beneficiaries in the wills of the Muslims they lived near.

Caring for, calling upon, and doing good unto neighbors is as vital and mammoth a social obligation in Islam as there is, save tending, supporting, and showing loving kindness to parents. And there can be no better time to institute or enhance this noble and wonderful Sunnah of neighborliness than in Ramadan.

Here are 10 practical steps you can take to share the blessings of Ramadan with your neighbors in order to clue them in to its true meaning. No other outreach, incidentally, will provide a finer way to invite them to understand and consider Islam as the true religion of Allah.

1. Make flyers: Create a fun flyer that says something like: “Ramadan Open House! Come Break the Fast With Us!” Make multiple copies and put them on the doorsteps, or in the railings or mailboxes of your neighbors as an invitation for an Iftaar dinner. Do this at least a week in advance in order to get their attention and give them time to shuffle schedules. Invite as many as you think appropriate. It need not be a block party, incidentally.

2. Make a special, fun Ramadan: Hand-make it,or print it up formal, but be sure to be creative. Make it "marketable." Remember you want to inspire people to be curious about Ramadan and Islam. Make it flamboyant enough to pique the interest of passersby that will cause them to ask questions about Ramadan. Put an interesting fact sheet up about this blessed month, and start off the list with a phrase like "Did you know that...." Help the readers understand what Ramadan is and what it means to Muslims.

3. Send neighbors Iftaar snacks: Include little notes with the food that say the month of Ramadan is here and you are simply sharing its blessing and your joy with them. Try offering snacks that are not just "America,” but also "ethnic" such as African Middle Eastern, Indo-Pakistani, etc. Include printed or handwritten index cards with the snacks, as well, listing all of the ingredients. This will help your neighbors avoid foods that set off allergies or that interfere with dietary restrictions.

4. Give out Ramadan balloons and candy: Let the neighbor's kids feel the excitement of Ramadan by giving out chocolate and candy. Balloons are even a nicer touch, especially those with Ramadan Mubarak printed on them. This will help them to remember this blessed month long after it has passed ...and to look forward to its next appearance.

5. Publish Ramadan information in your neighborhood newsletter: If you are part of a tenants association, a group within your housing complex or your neighborhood block parents' association, and they happen to publish a newsletter, inform them about Ramadan and try to prepare a short article about this holy month. This is a great way of informing the neighborhood about Ramadan.

6. Organize and host a neighborhood Iftaar gathering: Here's an even greater way to clue the neighborhood in to the advent of Ramadan. Send fun, colorful, handmade invitations with something like: "Come to our home for a family Iftaar gathering this Friday at 7:30 pm at the Ahmad Family in Apartment 2081” Do this a few days in advance, just in case they did not get the flyers you made a week earlier.

Fold them neatly and tape them on the doors of those you want to invite. Try to avoid words like “party,” as it could be misunderstood to mean a gathering including alcohol and loud music. Include popular and “ethnic” food. Make sure you write in your phone number on the invitation. Be sure to invite Muslim family and friends who are comfortable interacting with non-Muslims. Brief them about how they should share Ramadhaan with your neighbors properly and effectively.

Make sure you have some articles or pamphlets about Ramadan, and keep pamphlets about Islam on hand, as well, for those who might have more questions. You can also make a large poster-board-size fact sheet and put glue sparkles and decorations on it. Pin it u next to the table where al the pamphlets and booklets are. This will give a sort of festive air to the evening. You can even go as far as pinning up lights to make it even more exciting.

Remember to be courteous at this gathering. Make good manners the adornment of the evening, and let the neighbors feel welcome like family. Serve them like honored guests with your personal choices, such as Arabic coffee, or tea, and fresh juice, for example. Be generous and friendly, but maintain modesty and Islamic rules of behavior. This should not be a "party," but rather a religious celebration that is a part of your faith, a spiritual time according respect to all. Don't impose information on people. Let the guests ask questions if they wish. Also, be ready to answer questions about Islam, violence, terrorism, and oppression of women. Give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt, and be calm when clarifying their misunderstandings. Remember that nothing but good comes from gentleness, while harshness engenders only bad feelings and worse reactions.

7. Get your kids in on it: Talk with your kids about informing your neighbors' kids as to what Ramadan means and what happens in it. Have them invite their classmates to your Iftaar gatherings, as well.

8. Talk about what Ramadan is like for you: What is it like to fast from the early morning to the evening? How do you work, go to school, do your normal activities and still fast? What is it like to abstain from food and drink? Be prepared to answer questions like these. Don't just point your guests to the pamphlets. Speak with them and use personal examples they can relate to. Also, tell them that fasting is a form of purifying oneself from bad deeds. Talk to them on a personal level to help them better understand.

9. Give gifts: Don’t let your neighbors leave empty handed. Prepare small presents for them. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "Give gifts to each other and you will love one another."

Let it be something simple and nice. I like to give out essential perfume oils and incense wrapped in nice netting, which I get from a craft store. You don't have to empty your wallet, but make it special.

Remember that giving gifts to non-Muslims is a practice of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to win their hearts, for the sake of Allah, and for the noble purpose of inviting them to Islam. A little goes a long way, and this will not only gain their affection, but when done sincerely, will create mutual admiration and respect for one another as neighbors. And remember, all good deeds are infinitely multiplied in Ramadan. So take advantage while you are able and share Islam with your neighbors during this blessed month, in hopes of gaining the pleasure of Allah, Most High.

10. Write down phone numbers: Make sure you write down everyone's phone numbers, mailing, and email addresses and keep their numbers organized in a easy-to-find place so that you have them readily at hand for future Da'wah gatherings. For in the end, our primary social purpose as Muslims is to uphold the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and to clearly bear witness and convey these treasures to those who have not had the good fortune to know and understand them.
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