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MUSLIM COUPLE CROSSES CULTURES

The doctors sponsor a meal for the needy that's part of a Christian outreach charity.

They may call Tampa home now, but Drs. Adel and Ghada Eldin plan to continue their Ramadan tradition in Hernando County.

On Sunday, the Eldins will again sponsor a Love Your Neighbor meal for homeless and needy people in Brooksville.

Adel Eldin continues his cardiology practice in Spring Hill. His wife, who is also a physician, serves as his office manager.

"The meal is for Muslim and non-Muslim," Ghada Eldin said. "The hunger, the pain, affects everybody. It doesn't matter if you're Muslim, Christian or Jewish. Pain is pain. We're human beings, and we have to be very merciful to each other."

Love Your Neighbor is a Christian outreach ministry that feeds about 300 to 400 people each weekend at American Legion Post 99 in Brooksville. It is a part of New Beginning of Tampa, a nonprofit charity corporation.

"While we are Christian, we do accept sponsors from all walks of life and religious backgrounds," said Lisa Callea, who runs the ministry with her husband, John. "It's really about our community."

Eldin said Sunday's dinner will be similar to the one he and his wife sponsored last year.

Lisa Callea said it went well.

"It was awesome," she said, noting that there are a few changes to the group's typical meal such as serving dates and avoiding pork. "There are a couple of things they ask us to do that we would not normally do. Otherwise, it's our regular Sunday dinner."

Ghada Eldin said she helps serve the meal.

"I do everything you could imagine," she said. "I serve and I speak and I clean sometimes. Whatever needs to be done, I do it. I don't mind helping, and I explain who we are."

The Eldins also sponsored a meal for Mother's Day and sponsor a Thanksgiving food basket distribution each year.

"This (kind of) stuff is all year round, not just at Ramadan," Adel Eldin said.

The Council on American Islamic Relations encourages Muslims to share meals, have interfaith events and discussions and give out copies of the Koran, in about 25 languages, during the holy month of Ramadan, Eldin explained.

Toward that end, another effort by the Eldins this year will be to distribute six films on Islam along with copies of the Koran.

"Our theme this year is 'Education and Kindness,'" he said. "We'll be giving six movies to a lot of places, basically schools, churches, businesses, officials, you name it - the key places."

The films are about 30 minutes in length and are titled African Americans and Islam, Islam: An American Faith, Islam: Faith and History, Islam: Faith Hijacked, Christians and Islam and Women in Islam.

"African-Americans make up over one-third of the Muslims in American," Eldin said, explaining the value of exploring the history of African-Americans and their connection to Islam in the first film. "The second film is for those who have the idea that Islam and America are not compatible. There is a great divide. This film dispels this myth."

Islam: Faith and History deals with the basics of the religion and touches on the spread of Islam around the world, the various advances made by Muslims and how some have deviated from the true teachings of Islam, Eldin said.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks' impact on Islam and Muslims is the subject in Islam: Faith Hijacked. In Christians and Islam, there is a discussion about the similarities and differences between the two faiths.

"Women in Islam addresses the esteemed position, rights and responsibilities and role that Muslim women have played throughout Islamic history and in society," Eldin said.

He said the films are well made.

"I can't reach everybody, but at least those who are interested in sharing it with others can," he said. "After all, (Muslims) are a billion and a half in the globe - one-quarter of the globe - and in America about 10 million. So it cannot continue to be ignored and pushed aside or brushed off."

Ghada Eldin said she and her husband are "trying to build a bridge between us as Muslims and other people who don't have (an) idea about what is the philosophy and the religion. Our message is to say that we are human and we have to help each other."

Adel Eldin said promoting education and kindness is a message that works.

"So that's the theme that we try to do on the local level that has worldwide implications," he said, noting that an iftar dinner celebration, a Ramadan tradition, was held at the White House.

"This is a whole new spirit and a new beginning. People are beginning to know things that were hushed."

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