After days of uncertainty, Haitham A. of Granada Hills was overwhelmed with relief and joy after his sister contacted him on Skype Thursday to tell him she made it out of their native Iraq to escape the bloodshed.
In recent years, Haitham’s relatives in the war-torn Arab country have endured the constant threat of bombings and kidnappings as well as wearisome security checkpoints. A fresh round of sectarian violence prompted his sister’s family to flee Baghdad for Jordan while his brother’s family has fled to Iraq’s calmer northern region of Kurdistan until escalating tensions subside.
With the Islamic holy month of Ramadan starting Saturday night, Haitham and other Southern California Muslims with ties to countries engulfed in turmoil say they will keep their endangered relatives in their thoughts, prayers and actions. During Ramadan, observant Muslims around the globe abstain from food, drink and sexual relations during daytime hours to commemorate the month in which the Quran was said to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
“We appeal to God Almighty to make it easier for them because many of them are also fasting in Iraq, but fasting knowing they are unsafe,” said Haitham, who came to the United States in 1982 and has a civil engineering degree from Cal State Long Beach.
Read more in Brenda Gazzar’s story RAMADAN.