LAS CRUCES, New Mexico ( Associated Press) – Sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of his wife and six children, with plates of fruit on a red cloth in front of them, Wolayat Khan Samadzoi watched from the balcony door open to the new moon cloudless To appear in the New Mexico sky, where the Sun was beyond a desert mountain.
Then, while munching on a date, the bush-bearded former Afghan soldier broke his first Ramadan fast in the United States—away from the threat of the Taliban, but also three dozen relatives he would mark the start of the Muslim holy month if he Still had home in Khost, Afghanistan.
Just minutes after the naan was dipped in a bowl of roasted okra and beans, Samadzoi, his wife and two eldest children retired to worship on their prayer rugs. On Saturday evening the two-bedroom apartment was filled with the murmur of his call.
“I pray for them, and they pray for me, they remember me,” he said of his relatives back home. His cousin Noor Rahman Fakir, now also in Las Cruces, translated from Pashto into simple English what he learned to serve with the US military in Afghanistan.
As they adjust to their new communities, Afghan families have moved to the United States as the Taliban took power last summer Celebrating Ramadan with gratitude for your safety. Yet there is also the pain of being away from loved ones they fear are building up an increasingly repressive order under Taliban leadership.
From metropolitan areas with thriving Afghan diaspora to this desert university community less than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the Mexican border, tens of thousands of newly arrived Afghans share a major concern that escalates into a festive time. Is: Status with temporary immigration only And with low-paying jobs, they feel helpless to take care of their families here and back home.
Abdul Amir Qarizada repeats the exact same moment several times, at 4:30 p.m., when he was ordered to take off from Kabul’s airport during the chaos of the evacuation – not having time to get to his wife and five children. , who are still in Afghanistan. seven months later.
“My concern is that the plane is safe, but my family is not safe,” the former flight engineer says after Friday prayers at the only mosque in Las Cruces, where he bikes to find some “peace”.
So can 28-year-old Qais Sharifi, who says he can’t sleep with worry for the children he left behind, including a daughter who was born two months after fleeing Afghanistan alone.
When the mosque’s director of education, Raja Shindi, an Iraqi-born professor at nearby New Mexico State University, both smiles, they are offered a nightly free iftar dinner in a meeting hall decorated with gold balloons spelling “Ramadan Kareem”. are invited to register for – An Arabic greeting often used to wish people a happy Ramadan.
Local churches such as the mosque in Las Cruces and the El Calvario United Methodist Church, as well as Jewish and Christian-based organizations that resettle refugees in their national networks, are helping Afghans find housing.jobs, English language classes, and schools for their children.
They condemn the fact that most displaced Afghan families do not have permanent legal status in the United States, despite their services to the US government, military or their Afghan allies during the post-9/11 Afghanistan War. This will give them many government benefits and an easy way to work and family reunion.
While Afghanistan’s decades of war and current food shortages Meaning far fewer extravagant feasts than in many countries where Ramadan is celebrated, the familiar taste of home tops this year for many displaced people. Karizada remembered her mother’s special festive dish, bolani, which was fried bread stuffed like a giant samosa.
Shirkhan Nejat’s mother still cries when the 27-year-old makes a WhatsApp video call at home from Oklahoma City, where he is resettled with his wife and the couple’s baby is born. Despite the gratitude for being safe, Nejat said, missing his close extended family in Ramadan brings “bad feelings”.
It is these bonds, the warmth of large family gatherings around the iftar meal and the hoarseness of familiar sights, sounds and smells that mark the end of a day of fasting that many in America have been craving.
In Texas, David Formuli remembers his family’s usual pre-iftar routine: his hungry father angrily begs him for food. Her mother told her husband to calm down, and Formuli, 34, told a joke to lighten the mood and make his father laugh. His children, along with many of their cousins in another room, sometimes played, sometimes fought. “Allahu Akbar,” a call to prayer, is spreading from the mosque down the street.
“Every day, it’s like Christmas,” said the former translator of the US embassy in Kabul last Ramadan in the three-story house that his family used to share with their parents, siblings and their families.
In their new apartment in Fort Worth, the call to prayer now comes from an app, not a tower.
The transition has been particularly difficult for his pregnant wife, who is still learning English. Yet there are traces of familiarity in their new community: Muslim neighbourhoods, mosques for special Ramadan prayers known as “taraweeh” and halal food markets.
Khayal Mohamed Sultani, who was still staying at an extended living motel on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, the day before Ramadan, was taken in a taxi to ride the nearly 80-mile (128-kilometre) journey into New Mexico. Had to go shopping and slaughter. Lamb for Ramadan.
The 37-year-old ex-serviceman, his wife Noor Bibi and their six children broke their fast for a second day with pieces of lamb cooked in an aromatic sauce around a table in their duplex, built on a barren foothill opposite them. The house in Gardez, and its apple and pomegranate trees.
Right after iftar, the next morning the four children got ready for their first day of school, another new adventure for their parents, who had never received any formal education.
But when it comes to faith, Sultani will continue to teach her children at home, as her father did for them.
The three eldest children – a boy, 11, and two girls, 9 and 8, with red scarves arranged loosely on their long tops – pray alternately on a green rug that is the family’s most treasured asset. is one of.
The family’s Quran came from the military base in New Jersey where they first landed in the United States. But Sultani’s father brought this rug from his pilgrimage to Mecca after another son was killed by the Taliban, a likely fate he survived, crossing several checkpoints he fled Afghanistan last summer.
“We are Muslims, and part of our faith is to thank Allah for everything,” Sultani says in Dari through a volunteer translator. “As a compliment to that, we’re doing it.”
Fam reported from Cairo. Bobby Ross Jr. from Oklahoma City contributed.
The Associated Press religion coverage is supported by the Associated Press’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. Associated Press is solely responsible for this content.