USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75), At Sea (NNS) -- Nine Muslim crew members on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), currently deployed to the 5th Fleet Area of Operations (AOO), ended a month-long fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan Sept. 9.
To fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam, Muslim crew members must abstain from consuming any form of sustenance from dawn until dusk while observing Ramadan.
"We fast for 29 or 30 consecutive days, depending on the sighting of the new moon," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate [Handling] 1st Class (AW) Abdoulie Jallow, the Muslim lay leader aboard Truman. "Fasting is a form of Ibadah, which means worship and obedience of Allah. It gives us a greater spiritual understanding and rejuvenates our faith by showing us virtues of compassion for the poor and the needy."
The Department of the Navy's policy under SECNAVINST 1730.8B states that Sailors and Marines have the right to practice any religion as long as it does not have an adverse impact on the command's health, safety or mission-readiness.
"Whatever a person's religious background, the Navy's policy is to accommodate that person's religious needs," said Cmdr. Jerome Hinson, Truman's command chaplain. "We are able to arrange meals for them before sunrise and after sunset. Depending on their work schedules, we accommodate their needs as much as we can."
Truman's Muslim community is very grateful that they are able to freely attend prayer services, as well as honor Ramadan on board.
"When I was in elementary school, my teachers told me that Americans have a freedom of religion," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Eli Conroe, a Muslim Sailor who works in Combat Systems. "I believe it's also our right as human beings. When I joined the Navy and knew they supported every religion, it gave me a greater sense of pride to be able to serve my country."
The Muslim culture celebrates the end of Ramadan with a feast called Eid-Ul-Fitr. The Muslim Sailors who observed Ramadan aboard Truman got together to celebrate Eid during the ship's port visit to Jebel Ali, U.A.E.
"It's a great experience to be able to practice my religion here," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (AW) Jason Jenkins, a Muslim Sailor from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32. "It really shows the commitment the Navy has in allowing us to practice our faith and that we are supported by everybody."
While Jallow was stationed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), he was able to go on a joint-service training mission to Mecca to fulfill Hajj, another Pillar of Islam. As a trainee in the Islamic traditions and faith, Jallow was humbled and honored that his career as a Sailor enabled him to fulfill a major part of his religion.
"Islam is my way of life, just as much as the Navy is," Jallow said. "The fact that we can practice our religion freely and serve our nation at the same time speaks volumes about our nation's policy on religious tolerance. From the entire upper chain of command to the most junior enlistee to the cooks providing us with food during Ramadan—everyone has supported us 100 percent."
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