Muslim Voices — Hassan Ramadan
0:00:12:>>MANAF BASHIR: Welcome to MUSLIM VOICES. I'm your host Manaf Bashir. Muslims around the world observe Ramadan in September. It is a month of fasting. Most Muslims, during Ramadan, eat or drink nothing from sunrise to sunset. Much like Lent for Christians, the month is a time for inner reflection, designed to teach patience, sacrifice and humility. While the custom may seem demanding to outsiders, Chicago-based philanthropist and film producer Shakeela Hassan doesn't see it that way. For her, Ramadan is a time of great joy. In fact, it's one of her favorite times of the year.
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0:00:59:>>SHAKEELA HASSAN: It brings me comfort, joy, and all the positives in thought, speech and action. You're supposed to have good thoughts, you're supposed to have focus on faith, and you're supposed to be good to your neighbors, your family, your friends, and doing it consciously. It just is a very joyous thing.
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0:01:32:>>SHAKEELA HASSAN: The true meaning of hunger, thirst and poverty comes alive in Ramadan because we really do not exercise patience. You have to get to the water fountain. We have water fountains in the schools, community centers, shopping centers. And just a flicker of thirst feeling, you go and grab the bottle. But you don't have to. It teaches you self-control and it teaches you how others might be feeling who do not have access to water.
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0:02:14:>>SHAKEELA HASSAN: Charity is a fundamental thing during Ramadan. So giving food, sharing what you have and from your substance and not your excess makes a decent sense. So you almost feel like you are really living a good life, and that consciousness makes you happy.
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0:02:43:>>SHAKEELA HASSAN: My younger daughter's twins - they have, every year in the early grades, a grandparents' day. And my husband and I went there and we didn't eat anything because it was Ramadan. I found the twins walking around and telling people that my grandparents are fasting, it's the month of Ramadan. And the kids were amused and amazed and curious - what's that? So that teacher invited me to come and talk to them. So it was second grade - eight year olds. And so I prepared the PowerPoint and shared with them.
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0:03:32:>>SHAKEELA HASSAN: All the children were so fascinated of knowing what fast means. You can't eat anything, not even candy? No water? How can you do that? And then when I tried to take away the focus from the food to say how most important part is also not to be doing bad things - how important it is to be good to your family and friends.
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0:04:13:>>SHAKEELA HASSAN: So I found this very interesting, very peaceful, very calming. And when I come across these kids three years from that time that I spoke to them in the shopping center, they're calling me nanny - that is the grandmother. So it's a joy. I mean, how else can I describe it?
0:04:34:>>MANAF BASHIR: Chicago-based philanthropist Shakeela Hassan talking about Ramadan. Hassan is a film producer whose newest film, "Sounds Of Faith," will be released sometime next year.
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0:04:49:>>MANAF BASHIR: This has been, MUSLIM VOICES, a production of Voices and Visions in partnership with WFIU Public Media from Indiana University. Support for MUSLIM VOICES comes from the Social Science Research Council. You can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or join the discussion on our website. Find us online at muslimvoices.org.