ING Participates in Meaning of Ramadan Open Houses

Thanks to your support, ING’s Interfaith Ramadan Dinner on Saturday, October 14th was a great success! Attended by over 200 people, nearly half of them Americans of other faiths, the program flowed smoothly, the ambience was beautiful, and the feeling of sharing a common tradition was expressed by the speakers and guests alike. The program began with a brief introduction to fasting and Ramadan, followed by the prayers and dinner, and then resumed with a presentation about ING’s interfaith activity in this and next year, which was followed by three religious leaders from each Abrahamic faith discussing the significance of fasting, dialogue and outreach. Muslim guests and those of other faiths both expressed their appreciation for the event, and the importance of building bridges which ING has been dedicated to for the last fourteen years. To read more about the event, please see the article printed in the Times below*
Throughout this Ramadan, ING speakers have been participating in similar events throughout the Bay Area in an unprecedented number, as increasingly Muslims are opening their doors and educating friends and neighbors, and Americans of other faiths are recognizing and honoring Ramadan. ING speakers were invited keynote speakers discussing the significance of Ramadan and fasting at the following events this Ramadan:

– Bay Area Cultural Connections Interfaith Ramadan Dinner – Tuesday, September 26th

– Islamic Society of the East Bay, (ISEB) Fremont Open House Iftar Dinner – Sunday, October 8th

– Islamic Center of Livermore Open House Iftar Dinner – Sunday, October 8th

– UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Annual Iftar Dinner – Tuesday, October 10th

– Apple Computers Cultural Diversity Week Ramadan Presentation – Wednesday, October 11th

– Santa Clara University Annual Iftar Dinner – Thursday, October 12th

– UC Davis MSA Iftar Dinner and Fastathon – Friday, October 13th

– Palo Alto Bay Area Arabic School Annual Iftar Dinner – Sunday, October 15th

Upcoming events that feature ING keynote speakers include:

– Boalt Law School MSA Iftar Dinner, Berkeley, Wednesday, October 18th

– UC Merced Ramadan Open House, Wednesday, October 18th

– MSU of USF’s Eid Dinner, Saturday, October 28th

Ramadan meal shared among faiths

By Rebecca Rosen Lum

As an imam in wheat-colored robes chanted a call to prayer, 250 people from around the Bay Area, including Jews, Christians and Muslims, took their seats in a white-draped banquet room decked with white sparkling lights to share a traditional iftar, or Ramadan fast-breaking meal, Saturday night.

The 14-year-old Islamic Networks Group, a cultural and educational organization, sponsored the interfaith dinner. More than anything, Ramadan “is a celebration of our humanity,” said vice president and co-founder Ameena Jandali of El Cerrito.

“We are not cousins,” said Imam Alauddin Elbakri, spiritual leader of the Islamic Society of San Francisco. “We are brothers and sisters.”

Ramadan, 30 days of reflection and fasting, takes place in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, beginning at sunset after the first sighting of the new moon. Observant Muslims refrain from food, drink and other worldly pleasures from dawn to sundown.

For the more than 1 billion faithful worldwide, Ramadan is a time for considering one’s character, strengthening bonds between loved ones and treasuring one’s own bounties.

“It’s an opportunity … to remember those around the world who do not have enough food and drink on a daily basis,” Jandali told the crowd.

Muslims believe that it was at this time that the Angel Gabriel revealed the Quran to the prophet Muhammad. A virtuous Ramadan record can be undone by committing any of five transgressions: lying, slandering, denouncing people behind their back, uttering a false oath, or indulging in greed or covetousness. Ramadan ends with a three-day festival called Id-al-Fitr.

Zeeshan Khan, a native of Bangladesh, came with his wife, Fahria, and their four children.

“I try to come every year,” the Fremont man said. “This is the way to reach out to the community and show the good things we have.”

The Islamic Networks Group promotes interfaith dialogue through 20 chapters in the United States and United Kingdom. Speakers visit schools, law enforcement agencies, universities and houses of worship to discuss Islam and build bridges between Muslims and people of other faiths.

Traci Tokhi said sharing a meal with non-Muslim neighbors helps everyone “find commonality.”

“We want to find a chesed, a connection,” said Rabbi Dana Magit of Temple Emanu-El. “We can’t have a proper relationship with God if we don’t have a proper relationship with each other.”