A Family Reunion of
Abraham’s Children in San Jose
By Ras H. Siddiqui
memorable Interfaith Iftar
Charlow addresses the gathering
San Jose: It does not
happen often, but this year the beginning of Muslim Ramadan,
Jewish Rosh Hashanah, Christian (Protestant) World Communion
Day and (Catholic) Feast of Saint Francis all fell within
a few days of one another. And if this was coincidental,
it still made some people from these three “Abrahamic
Faiths” think, as Peace, Salam, and Shalom greeted
one another at the “Circle of the Palms” venue
in downtown San Jose, California.
Close to 300 people from these faiths and other religions
gathered on October 6 to help Muslims break their fast at
sunset and to share the vision of a more peaceful world.
And who knows that this event, named “Fasting and
Feasting Together: A Family Reunion of Abraham’s Children,”
might serve as a catalyst for something positive and exciting
in the Silicon Valley Interfaith realm.
Within walking distance of the Ceasar Chavez Plaza (please
see report end), in the backdrop of the Fairmont Hotel,
this was a moment that people of any faith (or even none)
could be proud of. Christians of many denominations, Jews
and Muslims waited together for the breaking of the fast
or Iftar time at sunset on this day, the second of the month
of Ramadan and shared Jewish Challa bread, dates and water
(as in the time of the Prophet) and spicy pakoras (a South
Asian fried delicacy) along with grape juice.
The evening festivities began with a request for each person
to introduce him-/her- self to someone they did not know,
reports an appreciative S. Reshma Yunus from the South Bay
Islamic Association who was happy on the active participation
of women here.
Many other organizations participated. Samina Faheem of
the American Muslim Voice expressed these thoughts: “It
is the beginning of a wonderful trend. Many Muslim organizations
and mosques are now focusing on building bridges with all
other Americans. We, the American Muslims, had been living
in a cocoon, were forced to come out and reach out to our
fellow Americans for help after 9/11.”
This meeting of religions was sponsored by the Cantor/Rabbinic
Association of Greater San Jose, Council of Churches of
Santa Clara County, Catholic Diocese of San Jose, Silicon
Valley Conference for Community and Justice and the South
Bay Islamic Association.
girls enjoying Iftari
in downtown San Jose
of Ramadan in San Jose
Echoing the words of earlier speakers who said that “the
hope of our world is in relationships” and with Bart
A. Charlow of The National Conference for Community and
Justice wishing everyone “Ramadan Mubarak,”
Imam Tahir Anwar who is also Religious Director at the South
Bay Islamic Association (SBIA,) expressed these thoughts
to Pakistan Link. “Allah has created all of us as
human beings and the wisest thing that we can do is to get
to know one another.”
On hand to offer words of encouragement were Rabbi Dana
Magat, Reverend Margo Tenold, Father Jose Rubio, Andrew
Kille and Maha El Genaidi of the Islamic Networks Group.
The Azan (prayer call) was most likely heard for the first
time at the Circle of the Palms as Muslim men and women
said their Maghrib prayers while people of other faiths
waited patiently. It was a joy to see appreciative non-Muslim
young boys and girls eating “Iftari” although
there was one comment that the samosas were too spicy.
All groups that have initiated this interfaith momentum
in San Jose deserve to be congratulated. This is not the
first such move in the area and it will not be the last.
And let us hope that we do not have to wait for several
years for our religious days of significance to fall within
the same week to get together. War cannot be the alternative.
Religions have to reach an understanding and accommodation
for the future of mankind.
A wise man once said that “an eye for an eye makes
the whole world blind”.
His name was Mahtama Gandhi. And one of his followers was
(A special appeal to the readers & interfaith community:
We would appreciate any assistance that you can be provide
for the victims of the recent earthquake in Pakistan and