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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Muslim Marines eat to strengthen spiritual fitness

By Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | August 03, 2012

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Mahmoud Harmoush, the imam of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley, leads prayer during an Iftar celebration at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2.  Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.::r::::n::

Mahmoud Harmoush, the imam of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley, leads prayer during an Iftar celebration at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2. Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.::r::::n:: (Photo by Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions)


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During an Iftar meal Brig. General Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton speaks with base chaplains, U.S. Navy Capt. Ollis J. Mozon and U.S. Navy Lt. Asif I. Balbale at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2.  Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

During an Iftar meal Brig. General Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton speaks with base chaplains, U.S. Navy Capt. Ollis J. Mozon and U.S. Navy Lt. Asif I. Balbale at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2. Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions)


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U.S. Navy Lt. Asif I. Balbale, chaplain for the Assault Amphibian School Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, recites the Adhan, or call to prayer, during Iftar at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2.  Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan

U.S. Navy Lt. Asif I. Balbale, chaplain for the Assault Amphibian School Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, recites the Adhan, or call to prayer, during Iftar at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2. Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (Photo by Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions)


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Shakir Fardan, a volunteer military spiritual leader, speaks with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Edward S. Pease during an Iftar meal celebration at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2.  Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.::r::::n::

Shakir Fardan, a volunteer military spiritual leader, speaks with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Edward S. Pease during an Iftar meal celebration at the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2. Iftar allows fasting Muslims to break fast with an evening meal that takes place at sunset each night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.::r::::n:: (Photo by Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions)


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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --  As the darkness of night swept over Camp Pendleton, the recitation of the Adhan could be heard throughout the halls of the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2.

Pendleton's Muslim community gathered for Iftar, an evening meal to break fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam," said Asif I. Balbale, a practicing Muslim and chaplain with Assault Amphibian School Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. "It is an opportunity to revive your spirituality."

During Ramadan, Muslims show their religious dedication by refraining from daily cravings like eating or drinking during daylight hours.

"(In America) we don't have a large Islamic community, especially for myself being in the military," said Gunnery Sgt. Jimi Khamisi, crash chief with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. "At times, it's very hard to stay disciplined."

Fasting is a way to strengthen self-discipline and remember the world's less fortunate who might not have the choice to go without essential items, Khamisi said.

Just after sunset, Muslim attendees took part in Maghrib prayer, one of the five formal daily prayers followed by a long overdue meal.

"It’s customary now to have Iftar parties," said Balbale. "It's an opportunity to come together with people from different walks-of-life."

Many Muslims believe that feeding someone Iftar, as a means of charity, is very rewarding and coincides with the third Pillar of Islam, almsgiving.

"It's always good when you can open fast with other Muslims," said Khamisi. "It's then that you feel the glory of that month."

The importance of spiritual fitness has even been addressed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps as being crucial to a Marines well being. For Muslim Marines, Ramadan and Iftar Parties are ways to enhance theirs, said Balbale.

ImageCommandant of the Marine Corps ImageIftar ImageMarine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Imageramadan

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