Woodland Mosque Interfaith Iftar Dinner Draws Large Crowd
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The Woodland (CA) mosque held its traditional interfaith iftar dinner on August 4 which drew a large crowd from different ethnic and faith groups.

The program began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Qari Hafiz Aamir Hussain followed by the English translation of the Qur’anic verses by young Aisha Sadiq. Bishop Dr. Bill Wagnon from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered prayer before the iftar dinner.

Like last year, Yolo County Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada also attended the iftar dinner. Tellingly, in solidarity with the Muslims, she was fasting. She disclosed that whenever she is invited to an iftar dinner, she prefers to join the fast-breaking while she is fasting.

Echoing Pimentel’s sentiment, Mariko Yamada told the audience that by fasting she recognized the blessings of having faith and perseverance. “You can let go of the gnawing feelings during the day” to demonstrate your commitment to your faith.

Yamada also noted the dinner was also a “manifestation of our constitutional rights,” where people of all faiths could exercise their freedom of religion and acceptance of one another. Despite past and continuing pressures on individual constitutional rights, Yamada added, “It’s our responsibility to ensure that the words in the Constitution are fulfilled Our country is great because we can recover from those stresses “ imposed on it.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig agreed, saying that although it was his first time in attending the dinner, he was impressed on the specialness of the occasion. “We’re lucky to live in a country where we have the right to live free,” he said.

Besides District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Deputy District Attorney and Laura Valdes, Jonathan Raven, Manager Victims Division of the DA Office attended the dinner.

Practice the Olympic Spirit

Speaking at the dinner was Dr. Jesse Ortiz, President of the Latino Community Council, who talked about the importance of human beings coming together such as during the 2012 Olympics, but noted that people still have a long way to go.

Ortiz spoke about a black couple that could not get married in their own Baptist Church because the congregation did not allow them. He also spoke how - Huma Abedin - an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was accused of being a terrorist-sympathizer because she was Muslim, despite her decades of government service. “If we practiced the principles of the Olympics every day our world would be a better place,” Ortiz said, “but we still have a long way to go.”

Former Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel, who attended the gathering with his newly wed wife, Emmy Award winner TV anchor, Vivianna, was impressed at the unity reflected in the gathering. He said it was a place where people learned to understand one another. “I’ve learned a lot from your culture,” Pimentel said, adding that Woodland needed people like UC Davis graduate Mansoor Shafqat in politics or simply more active in public service to provide the diversity necessary for effective local government.

Mansoor Shafqat of Woodland, who graduated from UC Davis in 2009 with a degree in neurology, had earlier delivered a speech about his experience of fasting at the UC Davis campus. He spoke of his own resolve as a student, noting it was difficult to sit through classes all day as well as walking between classes without being able to eat or drink. “However, with the spirit of Ramadan he and his Muslim student colleagues were able to overcome this.”

Vote of thanks

The Woodland Democrat Editor, Jim Smith, like last year’s Iftar dinner, was present to cover the event. He was accompanied by his wife Penny Smith and daughter Jessica Smith.

Woodland Mosque Treasurer, Zahoor Ahmad, was the MC of the program.

Khalid Saeed, Director of the Woodland Mosque, particularly thanked the Woodland clergy to have graced the occasion. The clergy included: Rev. Ardith Allread of the United Methodist, Sylvina of the Holy Rosary Church and Bishop Russ Spring from the Woodland Ecumenical Ministries.

Roz Stone from the Kiwanis Club also attended the iftar dinner.

The American Muslim Voice founding Executive Director, Samina Faheem traveled from Palo Alto to attend the gathering. Khalid Saeed introduced her as the pride of the Muslim community in the USA.

Author and journalist, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, traveled from Fre mont, to attend the event. Khalid Saeed thanked him for his services to the Muslim community as a blogger, journalist and writer.

Khalid Saeed also thanked all Woodland mosque volunteers and officials for making this event successful. He particularly thanked Woodland Mosque President Ahad Pervaiz, Vice President Ali Khadim, Treasurer Zahoor Ahmad and Property Overseer Naseer Ahmad for their extraordinary efforts.

The sumptuous dinner for the event was catered by Curry Corner Restaurant, Natomas, Sacramento, CA.

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