Muslim community celebrates Ramadan with sundown feast

600 attend Iftaar fast breaking

Ramadan is a time for prayer, purification and introspection, and, for some 600 Muslims on Saturday, it was a chance to gather for Iftaar, a traditional breaking of their fast with friends before an evening of prayer.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours, without so much as a glass of water. For some at the Iftaar, that meant knowing sundown to the second, with one obviously hungry young man counting down with 30 seconds to go.

Traditionally, the fast is broken with a date, and a small portion of food is eaten before evening prayers. A call to prayer praises God, offers a testimony of faith -- "There is no God but God" -- affirms that Mohammed is God's prophet and calls people to prayers.

The local Muslim community is as diverse at it is similar. United by faith, they come from India or Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Lebanon, and the food served at the Iftaar meal showed the variety as much as the unity.

Muslims in the area have a reputation for courtesy, as witnessed by the room full of members of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center who turned out recently to ask for an expansion of the center, and for special permission to hold larger-than-allowed gatherings on Fridays during Ramadan. They'd already consulted with neighbors and San Ramon planners and anticipated questions about parking and traffic. During Ramadan, however, that's more evident that ever.

"If you do a good deed, the reward for it is 70 times," said Syed Saifullah, explaining that Muslims add extra prayers and charity deeds during Ramadan, joking, "They do a lot of things to rack up the bonus points."

"It's not the easiest thing in the world, but there are people in the world that have no food," he added.

Ramadan was given to Mohammed in a vision, Saifullah said, adding that fasting is a spiritual component of nearly all faiths: Lent for Christians, Yom Kippur for Jews, with fasting a regular practice for Buddhists and Taoists alike.

Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven, Mohammed is reported to have said.

While most non-Muslims may be familiar with Ramadan fasting, there's a deeper component to the month. It's a time for spiritual purification as well as purifying the body.

The hours between sunset and dawn are especially important during Ramadan. Not only do people refrain from fasting, but special nightly prayers are held in which the entire Quran is recited over the course of the month.

During Ramadan, Muslims are urged to see only things that please God -- Allah -- to speak no evil, hear no evil, do no evil and look to Allah with fear and hope.

That was probably more difficult when Saifullah and his family moved to the San Ramon Valley from Texas. His was one of the first Muslim families here and is no stranger to prejudice.

"I remember our house getting TPed, I remember getting beat up," he said. "Twenty years ago you could definitely feel it."

Being among the first few families led to special responsibilities for Saifullah's family, and the roots of the SVRIC can be traced directly to Saifullah's mother.

"She was running an Islamic school, sort of a Sunday school out of her house," said Noman Munif, who attended those classes. "They just ran out of space."

Five families were originally involved. By 1992, that had grown to 30 families, Munif said. Now, services at the SRVIC, at 2232 Camino Ramon, can bring in 400 people and the Muslim community hopes to draw even more with its expansion.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Aug 19, 2011 at 7:12 am

What a through job you did explaining the tenets of Islam. How did you come to be so knowledgeable on this subject? It is so nice to know that those that worship Mohammad as their prophet can do so safely and without fear here in the US as it is so difficult in other parts of the world. I certainly hope those new to the US love and appreciate our country and the freedoms we have here to worship any God, any religion or no religion at all.

Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

Actually Bill, I'm expecting this article to bring out the right wing loonies en masse! Where's Julia and TL Nelson?

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen Paine
a resident of Danville
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:12 am

"I certainly hope those new to the US love and appreciate our country..."

I think those new to the US get it -- I am not, at all, sure that those who've grown up here have any earthly or other-worldly idea of the blessings to which they are heirs.

We ALL need to count those blessings!

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Danville
on Aug 19, 2011 at 10:23 am

The name of G-D appears 6,823 in the Jewish Bible. The name of G-D is presented as the tetragrammaton of Hebrew characters Yodh-He-Waw-He, Y-H-W-H. Christians know the name of Hebrew Y-H-W-H through Latin letters J-H-V-H, as Jehovah, interlaced with vowels.

The article above slightly distorts the actual Islamic oath of their god, Al-Shahadah. From Arabic, the Al-Shahadah chant recites, “There is no god except Allah, Mohamed is the messenger of Allah.”

In Islamic belief, Mohamed rides his mythically winged white “horse”, half mule and half donkey, named Buraq or Barrack to meet Allah in heaven, also being transported between Mecca and Jerusalem in a single night.

The Islamic belief is enchanting, however one must surrender to a false god, if taken seriously.

However, that is what makes America different from many other countries around the world, the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Islam as a minority religion seeks peaceful right to religious freedom. It is very different when it is a majority religion.

Yet, the right to freedom of worship must be provided to all and protected.

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Hopefully the local members of the "peaceful religion" will disavow the extremism-and shariah tenets held by many followers of this religion founded 625 years after Christianity. Read the Quran---hopefully women will be accepted as equals in San Ramon's mosque.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Aug 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Thank goodness Christianity has not spawned any radical extremists. Was Timothy McVey an extremist?

Like this comment
Posted by Observer II
a resident of Danville
on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Timothy McVeigh was a documented self-described agnostic. An extremist, but still an agnostic. Try again.

Someone who believes in a winged donkey whisking around an illiterate prophet in the sky has an extremely open mind.

Cold hard facts. The president of the United States was named after Mohamed's winged donkey, Barack. Insightful.

Like this comment
Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on Aug 23, 2011 at 9:20 am

There is a subtle distinction noted between the designation "Muslim Americans" and "Muslims in America." I would be far more accepting of American Muslims if they would openly disavow the extremists in their religion.

Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm

So ironic that students have to learn all about the eastern religions and accept them, but when Christianity is involved, the guy in the red suit is the only thing that can be talked about. Digusting!

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