By Kent Larsen
LDS Families Experience Ramadan, Learn Similarities With Muslims
DENVER, COLORADO -- Two LDS couples got to experience first hand the
begining of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the invitation of their
Muslim neighbors. Dennis and Linda Brimhall and George and Ilene Dibble were
the guests of Muhamed and Siham Jodeh, natives of Jerusalem, for the feast
that ends the first day of the month-long holiday of fasting from dawn to
dusk. And during the feast the Brimhall's and the Dibbles discovered that
Islam and the LDS faith have much in common.
"The first night of Ramadan is special, and the tradition is to invite your
most dear family and friends. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have here
than you," Muhamed Jodeh told his guests. The couples met through a network
of community and interfaith boards, but the friendship among the couples has
developed further since they met, "Out of these things comes friendship,"
said Ilene Dibble, who is director of public affairs for the LDS Church in
During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from food, drink and physical contact with
one's spouse from dawn to dusk each day. Then, at 4:35 pm yesterday, the
moment of sundown, they "break-fast." Muhamed marked the moment Monday in
the traditional way, offering a place of sweet dates from Morocco.
During the meal, the friends shared traditions. The Brimhalls, who are
seasoned Mideast travelers. Linda Brimhall marveled at what Ramadan
requires, "I have so much respect for Siham -- getting up early for 29 days
to prepare meals," she says. Brimhall is director of community relations for
the LDS Church in Denver.
During the meal, the friends identified several areas where the LDS faith
and Muslim beliefs are similar. Both worship the "God of Abraham" and
believe in scriptures transmitted from God. Both believe in "rigorous,
"We fast for a 24-hour period the first Sunday of every month," said George
Dibble, head of consulting firm Dibble and Associates. "Like Muslims, we
give the money we would have spent on food to the poor." "It's a matter of
subjecting the physical things of this world to the spiritual," said Dennis
Brimhall, the president of University of Colorado Hospital. Both the LDS
faith and Muslims also prohibit using alcohol.
The LDS couples also learned about conditions on the West Bank, learning
that the people there are in desparate need of medical supplies, "They've
been screaming, 'Send us some supplies' -- especially sutures,' said Muhamed
Jodeh of communications he has had with friends there.
And the couples learned that family is as important to Muslims as it is to
Mormons. Recalling seeing Muhammed pray with his son in another room, Dennis
Brimhall said, "As I looked at father and son praying, I thought, 'How
similar.' We have family prayer, too. As I saw Ahmad standing next to his
dad, I thought, 'That could be us."'
Ramadan bolsters interfaith friendships
Denver CO Rocky Mountain News 28Nov00 P2
By Jean Torkelson: Denver Rocky Mountain News Religion Writer
Muslims are joined by Mormons for feast after first day of fasting