Share Your Iftar
By Zaki Syed

 
Guests line up for iftar at UC Davis
A group of guests at the iftar dinner

Every 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 and friends.
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.
Students of UC Davis serve their guests
Supervisor of Yolo County speaks

In 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.
David Thompson at SALAM
A speaker
Dr. Saud Joseph
Albert Najera and guests

After 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 community.
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 Ramadan.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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