|code: 258515||Date: 2011/08/09||source: scottsvalley|
Ramadan, for Muslims and Non-Muslims Alike
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - As Ramadan begins, South Bay Islamic community leaders are encouraging Muslims and non-Muslims alike to explore the significance of the holiday through events held during the month.
They include open houses of mosques and community centers, charitable events for the homeless, and celebrations for the fast-breaking holiday of Eid ul-Fitr.
Some organizations are offering daily activities. The West Valley Muslim Center in Saratoga is providing nightly prayers, which will occur at 9:45 p.m. at City Hall. The Islamic Center of Santa Cruz is also offering nightly prayers around 9:45 every night at 4401 Capitola Road.
The South Bay Islamic Association at 325 N. 3rd Street in San Jose is hosting two open houses for the general public since “there have been a lot misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam,” said Athar Siddiqee, the Association’s president.
Siddiqee hopes the open houses will demonstrate that Islam is not homogeneous, for example, reserved for Arabs from one region of the world, but rather is a diverse, peace-promoting religion with representation in over 70 countries. There are 250,000 Muslims in Northern California, said Siddiqee, and an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 in the South Bay.
The Islamic Organization open house will be held on Aug. 13, with an additional open house Aug. 21 at the Muslim Community Association Islamic Center on 1755 Catherine Street in Santa Clara, which is geared towards youth. The events with come complete with a tour, a Q&A session and a complimentary dinner with other guests.
For those not familiar with Ramadan, it is a time of fasting and abstinence. Muslims around the world not only refrain from eating and drinking, but also sex and smoking during daylight hours. Ramadan comes 11 days earlier each year, since Muslims follow the Lunar Calendar.
“Ramadan is an opportunity to not only physically, but spiritually cleanse oneself,” said Siddiqee. “So you are not starving yourself, but rather you are abstaining from food, drink, and other worldly pleasures to remember those who are less fortunate then we are.”
The end of the month culminates with Eid ul-Fitr, or “feast of the fast breaking,” said Siddiqee. Every year for the past 20 years, over 7,000 Muslims have gathered at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds for a bazaar, roller coaster ride and petting zoo at an event organized by the South Bay Muslim Association. This year's event will occur on either Aug. 30 or 31, depending on when the lunar cycle ends.
Several other events will be occurring throughout the month. On Aug. 27, the Islamic Association will be hosting a Human Dignity Day, where they notify all homeless shelters in the area that they can come to the mosque to receive a hot meal, a hygiene kit, a blanket and a bottle of water.
For Eid ul-Fitr, the West Valley Muslim Center is renting out Memorial Park in Cupertino, where they will be hosting a fair for kids with cotton candy and a puppet show. But there will also be time set aside for all to reflecting on what the month meant.
“It’s usually about community building, about peace and doing good deeds, reflecting on the last month,” said Reshma Hyder, the communications director of the Muslim Center. “It’s about how Muslims are encouraged to reflect on the effects of not being able to eat.”
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