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Minnesota National Guard
National Guard Soldier observes Ramadan during Annual Training

Minnesota National Guard Hugging, kissing and praying for each other are common sights on the morning of Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday that ends Ramadan's approximately 30 days of fasting for the Islamic religion The festive mood is in the air along with the smell of freshly cooked traditional food, such as the large amounts of rice, lamb and goat, said Army National Guard Sgt Alkali Yaffa, the administrative Non-Commissioned Officer of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division headquarters

Aug 8, marks the end of Ramadan this year For Yaffa these tender moments are the most memorable experiences of Eid ul-Fitr

For Yaffa, Ramadan is more than a time of fasting from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations; it's a spiritual time for him to reconnect with his religion To him, it's a time to reflect his blessing such as, food, shelter and a healthy family

"It not only makes me a better Soldier, but a better human being," said Yaffa "I've become a more modest man as I have come to realize the bigger picture"

Fasting from sunrise to sunset is no easy task Being an avid coffee drinker, Yaffa will experience a headache for three to four hours because he has not had his morning cup of joe

Charity is also an important element of Eid ul-Fitr It is a common practice to donate an average of ten dollars per family member to a worthy cause Yaffa donates to his mosque where his money goes toward out-reach and after school programs

Yaffa has taken the initiative to improve his personal wellness through his reflections and five daily prayers His unit commander and chaplain have reached out to him with modifications that have made celebrating Ramadan easier for him Prayer time has been made readily available as well as days of leave to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr

"I want to extend my sincere appreciation to my command for the support they have given me during Ramadan," said Yaffa "My brigade chaplain and unit commander have made accommodations since the beginning and even through a deployment to Iraq"

Other Soldiers from his unit often ask, "How do you do it Sgt Yaffa?" His response is, "It all depends on how much you believe in something, religious or not, if you believe in it you can do it"

Yaffa is a Soldier who has been able to thrive in becoming a living example of a resilient, dedicated Muslim, husband, father and Soldier with the support of a wonderful group of family, friends and fellow Minnesota National Guard Service members

Aug 8, 2013
By Pfc William J Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division



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