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Indian Prairie Library program offers taste of Muslim culture

Yvonne Maffei, author of "Summer Ramadan Cooking," shared recipes, traditions and facts about the Muslim culture with patrons at the Indian Prairie Public Library Nov. 6.  |  Sandy Illian Bosch/Sun-Times Media

Yvonne Maffei, author of "Summer Ramadan Cooking," shared recipes, traditions and facts about the Muslim culture with patrons at the Indian Prairie Public Library Nov. 6. | Sandy Illian Bosch/Sun-Times Media

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DARIEN – Ramadan is about more than fasting from food and drink, as special guest Yvonne Maffei explained to a group that gathered at the Indian Prairie Public Library Nov. 6.

Maffei’s presentation was the third and final in a series of events meant to help patrons of the library understand their Muslim neighbors.

Maffei, who was raised as a Catholic and whose parents are Puerto Rican and Sicilian, doesn’t match most peoples’ idea of a Muslim. But as she explained to those in attendance, Muslims come from all parts of the world and from many backgrounds.

Her cookbook, “Summer Ramadan Cooking,” is a fusion of the many cultures within the Muslim community into recipes that are halal, or permissible by Muslim standards. In short, that means no pork, no alcohol, and an emphasis on clean, pure foods. Those in attendance stayed to sample a date dish — a common way to break a long day of fasting.

Maffei said Ramadan, which takes place in the ninth month of the Muslim year, observes the month in which the angel Gabriel began to share the word of God with the prophet Muhammed. Observance of Ramadan involves 30 days of fasting from before sunrise to sunset. During those 30 days Muslims also are expected to perform acts of charity and to spend time praying.

During Maffei’s presentation, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-11th of Naperville, stopped by to congratulate library staff on their efforts to educate the community.

“Knowledge is what bridges cultures,” Foster said. He congratulated the library on receipt of a Bridging Cultures Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant provided the library with a collection of films and books about Islam and the Muslim culture, allowing patrons to learn about the religion and culture for years to come.

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