The holiest month on the Islamic calendar begins today for most area Muslims. The faithful mark Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours, giving to charity and assisting the poor.
Larger mosques conduct daily services and host iftars, or the meal to break the fast at sunset.
Since 9/11, more mosques have been hosting open houses and interfaith iftars, Afsheen Shamsi of the New Jersey Council on American-Islamic Relations said. Muslims realized they needed to tell others that "our religion is a religion of peace," she said.
Several interfaith iftars are planned in northern and central New Jersey where there is a larger Muslim population. Shamsi expects some mosques in South Jersey will start to do so, too, calling it "the next logical step" in local efforts to increase interfaith understanding.
"We think that it is really encouraging that Muslims are doing this outreach," Shamsi said. "We'd certainly like to see more mosques engage in similar activities." (MORE)