A Family Reunion of Abraham’s Children in San Jose
By Ras H. Siddiqui
A memorable Interfaith Iftar
Bart Charlow addresses the gathering
An All-American Iftar

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.

Young girls enjoying Iftari
Azan in downtown San Jose
Observance 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 Ceaser Chavez.

(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 Kashmir. Thanks).


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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