Nineteen Hours of Ramadan Sunlight for Muslims in Alaska

Muslims in the U.S. state of Alaska face nearly 20 hours of daylight during the fasting month of Ramadan. VOA Hausa reporter Yusuf Harande went to Alaska to see how some Muslims are adjusting to the long days.

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Muslim Americans Run for Charity During Ramadan Fast

During the month of Ramada, millions of U.S. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. This year, Ramadan has fallen in May. Already temperatures in Washington, D.C., have risen above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit.) Running while fasting on hot days can be challenging and ill-advised. Still about 70 fasting Muslims took part in a fundraising run to help raise $100,000 for children with special needs. VOA’s Niala Mohammad has more.

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National Spelling Bee Crowns 8 Co-Champions

Eight contestants won the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night, the first eight-way tie in the 94-year history of the competition.

The six boys and two girls ages 12 to 14 and from six states, Alabama, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

“We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and, so far, you are showing the dictionary who’s the boss,” the bee’s pronouncer, Jacques Bailly, told the remaining eight after 18 rounds of competition.

They were: Rishik Gandhasri (auslaut), Erin Howard (erysipelas), Abhijay Kodali (palama), Shruthika Padhy (aiguillette), Rohan Raja (odylic), Christopher Serrao (cernuous), Sohum Sukhatankar (pendeloque), and Saketh Sundar (bougainvillea).

The self-dubbed “octo-champs” spelled words that included aiguillette, bougainvillea, erysipelas, and pendeloque.

Each winner will receive $50,000 in cash and a trophy.

This year’s tournament at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland began with 562 contestants from across the United States, its territories and six other countries.

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Superman Building Makes National List of Endangered Places

Providence’s iconic Superman Building is included on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of the nation’s most endangered historic places.

 

The 2019 list highlights 11 architectural and cultural sites the private nonprofit deems at risk because of neglect, development or other threats.

 

The 91-year-old vacant skyscraper is Rhode Island’s tallest building at around 430 feet (131 meters). Formally the Industrial Trust Building, it resembles the Daily Planet headquarters in the old TV show.

 

Katherine Malone-France, the National Trust’s interim chief preservation officer, says few buildings in Providence are as iconic or beloved, but the Superman Building has deferred maintenance needs after six years of vacancy.

 

The National Trust says the list can mobilize support for preservation. This year’s list also includes Nashville’s Music Row and the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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Washington Restaurants Urged to Cater to Muslims During Ramadan

At a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington, a large number of Muslims are reciting evening prayers before they break their daily fast at sunset for Ramadan.

Afterward, some go home to eat Iftar, the daily meal shared with family and friends after fasting, while others break their fast at a restaurant. The problem with going out is that many restaurants close too early. That mostly leaves some 24-hour restaurants that serve fast food.

Now there is a new initiative to give Muslims in the Washington area more dining options during Ramadan, called Dine After Dark. The idea is for restaurants to open a couple of hours earlier or later during the holy month, to accommodate Muslims who fast from sunrise to sunset.

Dine After Dark a win-win

Katherine Ashworth Brandt, a graduate student at George Washington University and a Christian, came up with the idea.

Brandt said religious holidays like Christmas are celebrated, so why not Ramadan for people who belong to the third-largest religion in the United States?

In the Washington area alone, Muslims make up about 2% of the population, according to the Pew Research Center. Brandt thinks giving Muslims more places to dine during Ramadan, and restaurants more customers to serve is a win-win for everyone.

“I just want this to be a common business practice because I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I think treating Muslim customers with respect and appreciation during their holiday season is something customers like and it’s also good for business.”

Be welcoming

So far, only a few restaurants that are already open late have joined the effort, with the hope other eateries will follow.

Among them is a trendy local restaurant group called Busboys and Poets. Owner Andy Shallal hopes by calling attention to the issue that places now closed after dusk will join the Dine After Dark idea to extend their hours during Ramadan and make it a yearly habit.

“Me being a Muslim, I understand the significance of Ramadan, how important it is to people and families to come together and break bread together during this time,” he explained. “It’s not so much what the food is or what you are offering, it’s really about being welcoming.”

Customers like it

Some 80 people from the Muslim Writers Collective of Washington came to Busboys and Poets in downtown Washington to an Iftar to catch up and enjoy traditional food like halal chicken and vegetable dishes.

“I think it’s a great idea to have restaurants open later since Washington is not a city that caters to people late at night,” journalist Nesima Aberra said.

During entertainment on stage, local comedian Louie Al-Hashimi, made the group laugh as he talked about Muslim families.

“A lot of younger people move to Washington for jobs and might not have family nearby or know many people,” he said. “Ramadan is a good time to get to know one another. So, the more places we have to eat together late at night, the better.”

Shallal said he looks forward to the day when spending Iftar in restaurants as well as at home will be considered nothing out of the ordinary.

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Washington Restaurants Encouraged to Cater to Muslims During Ramadan

In the Washington area, there is a push to give Muslims more dining options during Ramadan. Local restaurants would open a couple of hours earlier or later during the holy month to accommodate Muslim customers who fast from sunrise to sunset. The moves give Muslims more places to dine and restaurants more customers to serve. A couple of restaurants that are open late have joined the effort with the hope others will follow. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about the initiative called Dine After Dark.

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