PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Diversity is a key component in today's Navy, whether it is of race, religion or sexual preference. The fleet is comprised of Sailors from all walks of life, customs, traditions, and even different cultures and nationalities.
Keeping true to that theme of diversity, the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrated the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr to celebrate the end of Ramadan on the ship's mess decks, June 15. The festivities included a traditional meal and cake, with a group prayer to close out.
"We respect all religions, and even though it is a small community, we made sure to help in any way we could to make this very important time special for them," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Sodavan Mean, who coordinated the meal. "I feel like it is important for us to do what we can to accommodate every Sailor, and in this case, that requires us to consider some very unique customs."
Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and ninth month of the Islamic calendar, commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammad. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset.
"When you fast, you have to give and burn away all of your bad desires and bad energy by growing closer to God," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Ghulam Khan, who helped coordinate the event.
Eid Al-Fitr is the day that indicates the end of Ramadan, ending the fast with a feast and celebration after 30 days.
"Eid is the last day of Ramadan and it is very important because you fast the entire month and then you get a day of celebration that serves as a reward from God," said Khan, who also prepared most of the food for the meal.
Fasting aboard a forward-deployed Navy warship may seem impossible, but according to Khan, it is actually very possible with the right support from throughout the command.
"The food service chain of command was extremely helpful and provided us with plates of hot food at the end of the day when we broke fast," said Khan. "Also, CRMD (Command Religious Ministries Department) was very supportive throughout the month. All we needed to do was communicate with them and they were able to provide us with a time and place to pray."
According to Aviation Electrician's Mate Airman Shehab Alawdi, who helped coordinate the meal, this Ramadan was personally significant because he had the opportunity to observe the entire month while underway with others who share his faith.
"It's amazing to not fast and celebrate alone, and to have this time and place to come together as a community" said Alawdi, who has been serving with Strike Fighter Squadron (VAQ) 41 since 2015. "It's very important, when we are far away from our homes and our families, to have this feeling of family."
According to Khan, the entire month and concluding meal went better than he could have expected, which he attributed to committed support from throughout the ship.
"We are very thankful to the religious ministries department and the food service division chains of command for providing us the time out of their busy schedule to provide for us," said Khan. "We really couldn't have done this without them, and I think I can speak for all of the participants when I say that we are extremely gracious to have the opportunity to observe Ramadan much more comfortably due to their efforts."
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.