Islamic Center of Inland Empire Hosts Interfaith Community Dinner during Turbulent Times
By Hassan S. Patail, MD
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during the daylight hours. As the sun sets, community members break their fast at a communal dinner event known as Iftar. On June 14 th, 2016, the Islamic Center of Inland Empire (ICIE) located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, hosted an interfaith Iftar dinner to promote solidarity and unity amongst diverse groups of the community.
This event came at a time when grotesque acts committed by insane individuals have increased hatred, misunderstandings, and resentment between the diverse communities of our great nation. The keynote speakers at the dinner included Rancho Cucamonga’s Mayor Pro Tem Sam Spagnolo, Upland Police Chief Brian Johnson, Los Angeles Police Department’s Officer Jim Buck, Inland Congregations United President Tom Dolan, Consul General Abdul Jabbar Memon of Pakistan, and respected Imam and Hafez Brother Saheb Ashrafi.
Community leaders in attendance stressed the importance of unity amongst different faiths. After Dr Shoaib Patail’s address of welcome, Mayor Pro Tem Sam Spagnolo expressed the importance of ICIE within the Rancho Cucamonga community. Officer Buck made the exhortation that members of different faiths must stay united and vigilant against violence and hatred. Under LAPD Chief Downing, he had been working diligently with several interfaith groups to prevent violent crimes. Chief Brian Johnson of the Upland Police spotlighted the importance of the meeting while stressing that participating communities must collaborate more often to have a better understanding of each other. Consul General Memon underscored Pakistan’s role in the battle against terrorism, both foreign and domestic. President Tom Dolan described how his organization has been bringing different communities together by promoting understanding, peace, and friendship. Hafez Saheb Ashrafi reiterated that Islam is a religion of peace and exhorts its followers to show utmost respect to adherents of other faiths.
Shortly afterwards, the gathering demonstrated solidarity in condemning the senseless violence in Orlando. It expressed unity with Floridians and Americans at large. The evening concluded with the observance of a moment of silence for victims of the Orlando carnage. Iftar dinner followed.