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Kristen Hodges was preparing a lesson for her LDS Relief Society class about fasting more than two years ago when she decided to research how different religions observe fasting.

“For me, sometimes I wax and wane with fasting, and I wax and wane in the way that it is meaningful to me,” said Hodges, who is originally from Las Vegas but currently lives in Salt Lake City. “And I wanted to see what other people were doing and maybe incorporate some of those ideas into my fast to make it more meaningful.”

Hodges discovered a 2010 Deseret News article about a Mormon congregation in Southern California that joined together with a Muslim congregation to end their fasts. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints collectively observe a fast once a month on a Sunday. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and Muslims fast in order to feel the pain of the poor. They celebrate Ramadan, a 30-day religious period during which a fast is observed from before sunrise to about sunset. It is not uncommon for Muslims to invite other religions to join them in an iftar, or a meal to break the fast.

In her research, Hodges learned that Muslims “focus on making sure that you’re not superficial,” she said. “The discipline forces you to remember why you’re alive and trying to be the best form of yourself. It’s about self-restraint and trying to get rid of whatever is between you and God. I feel like their fast goes a little bit deeper sometimes than my fast did.”

The article stuck with Hodges for two years, and when she was invited by a friend to visit a Salt Lake City mosque, Hodges connected with a Muslim woman, Amina Dinki, who agreed to help her plan an iftar, or a meal where Mormons and Muslims could join together to break their fasts.

To read the full article on the Deseret News, click here