Share Your Iftar
By Zaki Syed
line up for iftar at UC Davis
group of guests at the iftar dinner
year, Muslims wake up in the wee hours of the morning to
perform Sahri, they forego days of hunger and thirst, control
their anger and internal desires, and patiently wait for
the time at which they can break their fast. When the time
comes to eat, it is magical, the day’s journey is
over and it is time to eat and drink. The breaking of the
fast is the highlight of the day, and what would the highlight
of the day be if we couldn’t enjoy it with our neighbors
It was a tradition started by the Prophet Muhammad (PBU)
to share the joyous occasion of breaking the fast with his
neighbors and friends. Whether it is just a date, or a glass
of milk, the tradition continues to this day. All over the
world Muslims get together with their fellow brothers and
sisters to break their fast. Every country and place has
its own way of practicing the tradition. In Egypt, they
cook meals outside their house, and invite those passing
by to sit down and share in the breaking of the fast. In
the same spirit, the Sacramento and Davis community also
have a special way of practicing this tradition.
of UC Davis serve their guests
of Yolo County speaks
Sacramento, the masjid SALAM hosted an interfaith event
in which they invited people of different faiths and religions
to come and participate in the breaking of the fast with
the Muslim community.
“We are using traditions of the Prophet to build continuous
bridges,” said Imam Aziz of SALAM. The event brought
together numerous prominent figures in the Sacramento community.
One of those was Sacramento Police Chief Albert Najera who
said that TIME magazine once named Sacramento the most diverse
city in the nation and as Police Chief of such a diverse
city it is his duty to go out and understand other cultures.
It is for this reason that he decided to join SALAM in the
breaking of the fast.
As Najera puts it, “It’s hard to be mad at somebody
when you are having a meal with them.” He also commented
on the delightful smell coming from the food and for good
reason. To break the fast, there were dates and milk, the
actual meal consisted of kabobs, steamed vegetables, hummus,
and stuffed lambs. It was homemade Mediterranean food provided
by Altaf and George.
Thompson at SALAM
Najera and guests
the breaking of the fast, the Muslims went to pray Maghrib,
and the members of the other faiths were invited to come
and observe the Muslims in the act of prayer. “It
was interesting and powerful to watch people so devoted
to their faith,” said Reverend Kathleen McShane. McShane
said that after this event she would go back to her congregation
and encourage others to observe and learn about the Muslims.
Bob Loessberg-Zahl, a UC Davis university administrator,
said it was moving to see people take time out of their
day to praise God. He said the event made him want to look
beyond his immediate community and build bridges.
Bridges were not only being built by SALAM, but by college
students as well. The very next day, a couple of miles from
SALAM, the MSA (Muslim Student Association) was hosting
their own event for the breaking of the fast. The event
was called “ Fast 4 a Day” and entailed inviting
non-Muslims of the community to fast for a day and to break
the fast together with Muslims of UC Davis.
“I like the warm welcome that I have received,”
said Mell Lewis. Lewis said he attended the event to build
kinship and bring back information. Attending is one thing,
but why would non-Muslims put themselves through the unnecessary
hardship of fasting?
“To know what Muslims go through,” replied Tray
Clafton, a student at UC Davis. “It is easier to understand
the process of fasting when you go through it yourself.”
Maria Smith, also a student at UC Davis, says that fasting
gives her a feeling of solidarity and spirituality.
Clafton and Smith weren’t the only non-Muslims with
growling stomachs and parched lips, the hall was packed
with hundred of hungry non-Muslims all sacrificing their
own livelihood in an effort to connect and build unity within
the Muslim community.
The MSA’s motivation for hosting the event was simple:
“The media doesn’t do their job,” said
MSA’s secretary Amir Asifuddin. “That’s
why it is important to build understanding to fight negative
images of Islam.” Summer Hararah, communication director
of MSA, said that “cultural understanding is fundamental
to defeat ignorance.”
Understanding is what Ramadan is all about. Understanding
what it feels like to be hungry, and learning discipline/self
control. “The word Ramadan means scorching heat,”
says Imam Aziz. “We create discipline within our hearts,
and fight temptations by avoiding the permissible.”
Through the scorching heat, temptations, and hardships Muslims
can and will still find the ability to reach out to the
Why one might ask?
“I think it goes back to the concept of honoring you
neighbors, and encompassing those around you,” said
Shazeb, president of the UC Davis MSA. This tradition should
never change, and it’s up to each and every Muslim
to keep the tradition alive. Go outside your home, share
your Iftar, and do your best to get along in the month of