“Indeed, God commands justice, doing good to others, as well as courtesy to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and aggression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.” (16:90 )            “For every day on which the sun rises, there is a (reward from God) for the one who establishes justice among people.” (al-Bukhari)            “And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you may bear witness to the truth before all humankind. . .” (2:143)            “Dispensers of justice will be seated on pulpits of light beside God.” (Muslim)            “Do not spread corruption in the land after it has been set in order. And call upon Him with hope and fear. Indeed, Allah’s mercy is always close to the good-doers.” (7:56)           “Even an ant in its hole and fish (in the depth of water) invoke blessings on someone who teaches people goodness.” (al-Tirmidhi)            “O believers! Remain conscious of God, and be with those who are truthful in word and deed.” (9:119)           “God does not judge you according to your bodies and appearances, but He looks into your hearts and observes your deeds.” (Muslim)            “The parable of those who spend their possessions for the sake of God is that of a grain out of which grow seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains: for God grants manifold increase unto whom He wills; and God is infinite, all-knowing.” (2:261)           “Charity does not diminish wealth.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Let there be a group among you who call ˹others˺ to goodness, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil-it is they who will be successful.” (3:104)           “Avoid cruelty and injustice...and guard yourselves against miserliness, for this has ruined nations who lived before you.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Do not forget to show kindness to each other. Surely God observes your actions.” (2:237)           “(Allah) has revealed to me that you should adopt humility so that no one oppresses another.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “It is We who sent down this Reminder (al-Quran) and it is We who shall preserve it.” (15:9)           “The best among you are those who learn the Quran and teach it (to others).” (al-Bukhari)            “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (2:152)           “There are two blessings that many people lose -- health and free time for doing good.” (al-Bukhari)            “Say: 'O My servants who have transgressed against your own souls, do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. It is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'“(39:53)           “Happy is the man who avoids dissension, but how fine is the man who is afflicted and shows endurance.” (Abu Dawud)            “And you love wealth with immense love.” (89:20)           “Being rich does not mean having a great amount of property, but (it) is being content (with what one has).” (al-Bukhari)            “Every soul is held in pledge for its deeds.” (74:38)           “Make things easy and convenient and don't make them harsh and difficult. Give cheer and glad tidings and do not create hatred.” (al-Bukhari & Muslim)           

Gaza war weighs heavily as Michigan Muslims prepare to mark Ramadan

Ramadan is usually a fresh start for Sabah Bedoun, a Dearborn resident who said she typically looks forward to the holy month as a time for mindful reflection, deepening her Islamic faith and celebrating with family.

This year feels different, the 51-year-old said.

As Metro Detroiters begin the religious month this week, the upcoming dawn-to-sunset fasts feel particularly poignant to Bedoun and some other Metro Detroit Muslims, bearing in mind the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom are Muslim, who won’t be able to go about their daily routines or observe the holy month the same way.

The United Nations estimates at least 576,000 Palestinians are on the brink of starvation in Gaza. With more than 30,000 Palestinians killed and hundreds of thousands still displaced from their homes since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, Muslim community gatherings are taking on a new meaning, Bedoun said.

The somber tone has extended far into Metro Detroit’s Muslim community. Organizers announced in December that they were canceling Dearborn’s Ramadan Suhoor Festival, an annual event typically attracting 100,000 visitors to the city, out of respect for Palestinians. “Suhoor” is the last meal eaten at night during Ramadan before the sun comes up and fasting resumes.

“In light of the ongoing genocide in Palestine, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s festival,” festival founder Hassan Chami said in an Instagram post. “It feels inappropriate to celebrate at a time of such gravity. Our hearts and thoughts are with those affected in Palestine.”

Chami still stands by the decision, more than two months later with no ceasefire or sure sign of an end to the conflict, as Ramadan begins, he told The Detroit News.

Chami said he felt a personal sense of responsibility to cancel the festival and continue boycotting Israeli products through Ramadan. His parents both escaped war in Lebanon and moved to Metro Detroit alongside other Lebanese expelled from the area when Israel first occupied South Lebanon, he said.

“I don’t want to have the responsibility of having a joyful festival during a time of genocide,” he said, referencing videos from Palestinian journalists documenting Gaza now. “We’re watching our own people being ethnically cleansed on the palm of our hands, right on our phones.”


Ramadan, a holy time marked by a 30-day period of fasting, prayer and reciting the Quran, is a time for Muslims around the world to unite themselves to their faith more deeply, Bedoun said. Some Metro Detroit Muslims are feeling the war weigh heavily on their hearts as the season approaches, she said.

“I know it’s all on everyone’s heart,” Bedoun said. “Some might celebrate outwardly, but I see that everybody has those feelings, and it doesn’t feel the same to everyone. I mean, it’s only human to feel with other humans that are not privileged and are being killed innocently.”

Recent footage from Gaza brings back personal, painful memories, said May Hashwi, a 49-year-old Lebanese Muslim living in Dearborn Heights. Haswhi was eight years old when the Israeli Defense Forces bombed her neighborhood, she said.

“We were running from our house, building to building, and I remember my mom dragging me for my safety,” Hashwi said. “I can understand what they’re going through. That memory sticks to your brain.”

Hashwi said she and her husband, Yasser, bought a trailer to participate again in the annual Suhoor Festival this year before learning it was canceled. The couple said they support the festival’s cancellation and have personal plans to instead donate to humanitarian organizations in Gaza, they said.

The Israel-Hamas war started after Hamas insurgents attacked Israel, killing mostly civilians among the 1,200 dead and kidnapping about 250 Israelis. Israel’s military response has included massive bombing, cutting off supplies and trying to eliminate a Hamas tunnel network that it says threatens its security.

Israeli officials have said they have conducted a legitimate defense of their people and not committed genocide. Israeli legal adviser Tal Becker told the United Nations’ highest court in January that the country is fighting a “war it did not start and did not want” and that it is Hamas militants who are guilty of genocide.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have spent weeks trying to negotiate an agreement in which Hamas would release up to 40 hostages in return for a six-week cease-fire, the release of at least 300 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and a major influx of aid to the isolated territory.

Hamas leaders have sent an unspecified proposal to Israel, but they have said they wouldn’t release the remaining hostages and the remains of around 30 more unless Israel ends its offensive, withdraws from Gaza and releases a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including senior militants serving life sentences, according to the Associated Press.

Applying faith in Ramadan

By faith, Muslims around the world belonging together in community, or “umma,” feel each other’s pain, said Zaynah Jadallah, a 23-year-old Palestinian Muslim living in Dearborn.

The conversation about Gaza has spread to every corner of Jadallah’s life and her plans for Ramadan, she said. Talking about Gaza is a responsibility Jadallah said she feels is important to keep carrying out, thinking often of her own family living in Palestine.

Many people associate Ramadan with the practice of fasting from food and drink from dawn to dusk, said Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Warren-based Islamic Association of North America Masjid.

Adults in good health commit to fasting during this time as an act of worship and obedience to God, he said. Muslims believe the process brings forth a purification of the body, allowing each person to become closer to God, he said.

To apply their renewed sense of faith, Muslims also practice almsgiving to share a meal and their love for community with others, he said. This year, Elturk said the practice is taking on a whole new meaning for him.

The month of Ramadan is partially dedicated to commiseration, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The end of Ramadan, this year in early April, always feels to Walid like leaving behind a good friend, he said.

Practicing mindfulness and appreciation for community is part of what makes Ramadan special, Walid said. With unity in mind, his focus on commiseration will include the people in Gaza and Yemen undergoing humanitarian crises as well, he said.

“Whether we’re born in America or in a country abroad, whether we’re Black or White, what binds us together in this in this month of unity is that we have the same book, we are making the same prayers and we are fasting together in unity,” Walid said.

Solidarity in a holy month

Elturk is encouraging worshippers to participate in consumer boycotts on Israeli products, including dates, a staple food eaten during the iftar, or evening meal, in Ramadan, he said.

“We go through hunger, we go through thirst during the whole day,” Elturk said of the choice to fast throughout Ramadan. “Now imagine the people of Gaza enduring this day after day, day after day, day after day, eating animal food and feed and fodder to survive.”

Many Muslims, including residents in Metro Detroit, have seen rising Islamophobia since the war began, said Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.

The effects have come to Elahi’s own front door, he said, noting increased Dearborn police patrols after a Wall Street Journal commentary called the city “America’s Jihad Capital.”

Antisemitism and Islamophobia both distract from the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and underscore tensions during hallowed times like Ramadan, he said.

More:War looms large over Hanukkah celebrations for Metro Detroit Jews

“It’s not about religion,” Elahi said. “It’s about justice and injustice. We are not blaming Judaism for what Israel does.”

Ramadan is always a time for remembering the role of justice in community, Elahi said.

In keeping with Ramadan themes, the Islamic House of Wisdom also hosts guest speakers to talk about family values, social justice and spiritual security in preparation for and during the holy month, he said.

While Muslims may practice solidarity with their actions in Ramadan this year, the holy month is ultimately a time for undergoing their own spiritual journeys toward awareness, the imam said.

“It’s a journey that is a very touching period of going through this spiritual revolution to kind of be born again,” Elahi said. “Each Ramadan is a spiritual rebirth for the faithful that are going though this process and being a better person, a more moral person, more understanding, more respectful. A person with more empathy and sympathy.”

For Sadya Chowdhury, a 32-year-old Muslim living in Clinton Township, the journey won’t be the same with no change for Palestinians in Gaza, she said.

When Chowdhury goes Ramadan shopping this week, she said she will check first to avoid buying Israeli products, she said.

“It definitely changes the atmosphere,” Chowdhury said.