• #BringBackOurGirls

    “Bring Back Our Girls” Rally held at Centennial Green

    ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ rally held at Centennial Green

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    Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 2:00 am

    PHOTO GALLERY: Tulsans rally for kidnapped Nigerians

    She claims not to have any of the big answers, but for Lori Guevara, answers aren’t necessary to understand the feelings of fear and outrage.

    Guevara, who coordinated the #BringBackOurGirls rally in Tulsa on Wednesday in response to the Islamist militant group Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria, said she is simply trying to educate others and get the voice of the movement heard.

    “You just picture your own child being at school trying to learn and being kidnapped,” Guevara said.

    “And I think, as parents, we all have somebody in our lives who we can just envision sitting at school — just learning — and being kidnapped by terrorists, and how frightening and horrible that would be.”

    Through social media, Guevara was able to attract a handful of Tulsans to the Chapman Centennial Green to raise awareness of the plight of the kidnapped schoolchildren.

    “I really didn’t know how to get the word out locally, because I haven’t done a lot of activism here in Tulsa. But with social media, I had everything done in 10 minutes,” she said. “I’m just trying to get these girls back home safe and sound and do anything we can to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”

    Sheryl Siddiqui, spokeswoman for the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, said she hopes events such as the on Wednesday continue to put pressure on governments across the world to bring the situation to an end.

    “My feeling is, if these guys read their Quran and lived by it, they would feel such sympathy for the families that they wouldn’t have taken the girls to begin with and they would find some other way to solve their problem,” Siddiqui said. “When people are feeling empowered, they don’t do these things unless they’re sheer, maniacal criminals. These men are criminals.”

    Siddiqui said she has been watching the situation evolve and hoping there was something people could attach to at the national level to encourage the release of the schoolgirls.

    “I think to have something in Tulsa right now is really appropriate,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what their religion is; it doesn’t matter what our religion is. It’s person to person; we support you and are praying with you for your daughters’ safe return.”

    Mari Masterson, an Episcopalian at the rally, said she wanted to show her support for women throughout the world.

    “I’m here today to stand for girls all over the world, because I feel like we have a world problem of women being thought of as second-class citizens,” Masterson said. “I have two daughters and a granddaughter, and I want to make a difference today.

    “I hope they do the right thing and show some real courage by letting these girls go.”

  • Ramadan Begins!

    Oklahoma Muslims Welcome Ramadan

    The Fiqh Council of North America Says Saturday June 28th is the First Fast

    (Tulsa, 6-26-14) The Islamic Council of Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s statewide council of mosques, announces the beginning of Ramadan this weekend. Most mosques in Oklahoma follow holiday announcements from the Fiqh Council of North America (a scholarly council for Islamic jurisprudence that advises Muslims about how to live as Muslims in the West.) They have declared that Ramadan will start Friday at sunset and the first fasting day will be Saturday. For Muslims who follow tradition rather than technology, they will have spotters out at sunset looking for the faint crescent moon the next two nights and they will start fasting the morning after the moon is seen. The month will end July 27th for most Muslims and the Eid Al-Fitr celebration will begin on July 28th.

    Ramadan is a month of learning self- discipline and growing closer to our Creator. Muslims will read their holy scripture, the Quran, from cover to cover this month in addition to the reading done the rest of the year; they will pray more prayers, reflect on their actions and make plans to do better; they will give more in charity, focusing on doing more good for others; and they should abstain from physical desires from dawn to dusk- no food or liquids, no marital intimacy, no harsh language. The Holy Quran says (Yusuf Ali translation) “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you might learn self-restraint.”

    According to Sheryl Siddiqui, Spokesperson for the Council, this year is the first time in almost 30 years that all the kids are on vacation throughout Ramadan. So the early morning breakfasts (before 5:00am) and late suppers (iftars at almost 9:00pm) will require them to eat and sleep at night and take a long siesta to catch up on the lost sleep and to conserve energy. Working adults will also be trying to squeeze in some daytime zzzz’s.

    The 9 active mosques within the Council are reporting that they are looking forward to the sense of spiritual renewal and community that Ramadan brings. Most will offer appetizers at sunset every day for the communal “breaking” of the fast. In some, families sponsor dinners and some have potlucks on weekends. Mosque members savor the opportunity to share- some will bring treats from home, others will provide ethnic beverages, still others will commit to providing water or other essentials daily.

    One of the traditions of Ramadan is to recite the whole Quran in the mosque over the 29-30 nights of the month. Oklahoma has many “hafiz”- people who have memorized the entire Quran. These hafiz are often enlisted to help with the Ramadan prayer of recitation called “Tawaeeh”; some mosques prefer to bring in a guest hafiz from out of town.

    Children have their own programs of arts, sports and spiritual studies while their parents are at Taraweeh. Teens will have their own study circles, programs on hot topics, community service projects, youth dinners and 3:30am breakfasts at 24-hour restaurants. This year they don’t need to stress over cafeteria time or high energy gym classes that are challenging for some students when Ramadan is during the academic year.

    Many Oklahoma mosques and Muslims reach out to their neighbors and co-workers in this holy month. Their focus is more on building bridges than converting folks.

    The Islamic Society of Tulsa is hosting their popular annual free dinner and program called a “Look-in on Ramadan” on July 8 at 6:30pm.  Info at ISTevents@gmail.com .

    Oklahoma City’s Masjid Mu’min plans to host dinner programs for their Focolare Christian friends and another for interfaith leaders. More info: Mr. Michael Gipson (405)819-6349.

    The Islamic Society of Edmond expects to be at capacity this Ramadan. They are planning dinners that will include invitations to the public. More info: Mr. Shafi Chaudry (405)812-0970.

    The Islamic Society of Norman is planning a July 5th Open House for the public from 2:00-5:00 pm. The mosque number is (405)360-5000.

    The Islamic Society of Stillwater notes that most students go home for the summer but local families will still be active and plan to invite members of the public to try fasting for a day, then join them for the breaking of the fast at sunset. More info: Mr. Ahmed Abo Basha (405)612-4618.

    Other mosques plan to host events for the public as well this month, so watch your local mosque’s website and Facebook page.

    About the Islamic Council of Oklahoma

    The Islamic Council of Oklahoma (ICO) is a council of Oklahoma mosques and Islamic schools, serving more than 35,000 Muslims in Oklahoma. The council works to promote improved communication, cooperation and best practices among Islamic organizations to improve the everyday lives of Muslims and all Oklahomans.