My wife and I were flying back from a brief family trip to Chicago where we celebrated the end of Ramadan feast with our son. The flight was cruising steadily at 25000 feet; the calm skies and the layers of clouds below created a serene environment. 

 
 
Three scenes of happiness kindled a light of hope in my mind last weekend. In a land normally filled with fear, strife and violence, there were scenes of joy, jubilation and harmony, if only for a little while. Indeed, Pakistanis are truly resilient. They celebrated the end of Ramadan feast – Eid El Fitr – with high spirits and enthusiasm despite an overall environment of uncertainty and chaos. 

 
 
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So, what is fasting all about? Indeed, fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and a very special form of worship. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk every day for one lunar month; this could be 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon. During their fast, the faithful abstain from food, drink and sexual intimacy. They forgo these legitimate desires and actions in obedience of their Lord. They also practice more vigilance than usual in abstaining from sins.

I have often been asked: ‘So you can’t even drink water or any other liquids?’ When my answer is in the negative, the questioner is usually stunned. Frankly, one cannot remain without food or drink for long durations under normal circumstances but once the concept of religion and spirituality sets in, it becomes not only feasible but also enjoyable and inspirational.  


 
 
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An Excellent Example of Religious Tolerance

In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammad and requested his protection.  He responded by granting them a charter of rights, which is reproduced below in its entirety.  St. Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the world’s oldest monastery.  It possesses a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site.  It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1400 years under Muslim protection.


 
 
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
Dalai Lama - Buddhism

“The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.”
Baha'u'llah - Baha’i Faith

 
 
South Carolina is fortunate to have a growing number of citizens who are Muslims.  They are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, and our providers of professional services.  Their children attend our schools and their mosques grace our communities.  Muslims have become a vital part of our shared common life.

 
 
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Hundreds of visitors to the performance were left spellbound as the Muslim prayer call or ‘Azan’ echoed across the historic Newberry Opera House on Sunday, January 27, 2013.  The program was part of the event called ‘Spiritually Expressed through the Performance Arts’ to celebrate the Interfaith Harmony Month in the state of South Carolina.



 
 
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The historic town of Newberry, SC, witnessed an enthusiastic crowd eager to learn all about Islam and Muslims.  Five Muslim representatives from various walks of life, participated in a panel discussion that revolved around Muslim faith, their practices and experiences.



 
 
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SC Governor Nikki Haley Declares January 2013 as Interfaith Harmony Month

Chaudhry Sadiq, President, PICNA met with Nikki R. Haley, Governor of the State of South Carolina during a proclamation ceremony on Tuesday, January 3, 2013, as the Governor declared January, 2013 as South Carolina Interfaith Harmony Month. Affirming that our commitment to interfaith harmony, religious liberty and tolerance for diverse traditions and beliefs contributes to our continued strength and prosperity, the Governor encouraged all South Carolinians to work together to foster appreciation for the different faiths, beliefs and cultures found in the Palmetto State.



 
 
The management of PICNA, Peace and integration council of Minhaj ul Quran International (MQI), condemns the anti-Islam film that defames Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and as a consequence, deeply hurts the sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe.  Simultaneously, PICNA condemns the violent reaction that has occurred in certain countries resulting in loss of precious lives including those of American diplomats as well as extensive damage to property.