News

Breaking the Ramadan fast

Islamic organization brings the Stanford community together

The sun had set, everyone had completed their Maghrib prayer, and the smell of grilled chicken filled the room. Everyone was clearly hungry -- no one had eaten since sunrise -- but no one wanted to be first to hit the buffet.

It took encouragement by the evening's two organizers, Fatima Wagdy and Galym Imanbayev, both Stanford undergrads, to get the crowd of 40 to the table on Saturday, Aug. 28.

The Islamic Society of Stanford University hosts social and religious events, such as Friday prayers and Ramadan iftar meals (that break Ramadan fasting), "to create a home away from home," President Wagdy said. Egyptian and Costa Rican, she grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sophomore engineering student Navid Chowdhury, 20, promotes Islamic social and political events on campus as vice president of the Muslims Student Awareness Network.

"Your responsibility is to set a positive example of Islam," he said, indirectly addressing the Ground Zero mosque controversy and quieting the conversations before him. "I don't want people to know about Islam from what a handful of radicals have done -- I want them to know what the 1.5 billion peaceful and loving Muslims have done."

The reputation of Islam was damaged when terrorists flew the planes into the towers, Chowdhury noted. "You can't change people's perceptions of Muslims overnight -- it takes longer to repair a damaged reputation than it does to ruin a good one."

Born in Bangladesh, Chowdhury spent much of his childhood at an international school in Swaziland. Ignorance fuels Islamophobia, he said.

Many non-Muslims also take part in the Ramadan iftars, Chowdhury said. The Islamic Society encourages community outreach, and every year they invite the Stanford Police Department to their Ramadan iftar meals. People also bring non-Muslim friends.

"The event is inclusive -- we're meant to share it with the community," Islamic Society Vice President Imanbayev said. Some nights a bible study group that shares the building joins the iftar.

This year Ramadan started Aug. 11 and will run until Sept. 9. During the month, Muslims typically fast from sunrise to sunset to experience what those less fortunate feel, Imanbayev said. Originally from Kazakhstan, he grew up in Portland, Oreg.

The Islamic Society of Stanford University includes members from over 24 countries and encompasses many branches of Islam -- Sunni, Shiite and others. "Every member has something to offer, whether it's news or stories from home, or a different perspective," electrical engineering undergrad Salahodeen Abdul-Kafi said. He grew up in Missouri, but his parents are from Iraq.

The Islamic community's annual events and frequent get-togethers helped him adjust to Stanford life, Imanbayev said. After students arrived on campus in September, the society hosted a Fajr (early morning prayer) on a hill overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. They met up for an early IHOP breakfast, and then headed north, arriving at the Golden Gate to pray, just before sunrise.

Atif Khan, CEO and founder of deeda, a Web-based start-up that connects customers with local businesses offering discount services, moved to Palo Alto recently.

"Part of our faith is to take care of strangers," Khan said. "We embrace you like family, no matter where you're from."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Thank you for this article. I love the diversity in Palo Alto. I enjoyed learning about Ramadan. I am glad Muslim Americans and their families celebrate Ramadan together. The kids are very cute.


Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm



Good story, this part was interesting

---"Many non-Muslims also take part in the Ramadan iftars, Chowdhury said. The Islamic Society encourages community outreach, and every year they invite the Stanford Police Department to their Ramadan iftar meals.
People also bring non-Muslim friends.

"The event is inclusive -- we're meant to share it with the community," Islamic Society Vice President Imanbayev said. Some nights a bible study group that shares the building joins the iftar.---

Good idea--


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2010 at 7:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2010 at 6:01 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Here comes the edit ax - How long before "Diversity" closes all restaurants during Ramadan to avoid offending? Don't laugh.


Like this comment
Posted by Jasmin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm

thank you for the article, I enjoyed reading it.


Like this comment
Posted by ashley
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Sep 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm

what a great article!thank you


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Post-election reflections -- and sponges
By Diana Diamond | 12 comments | 1,360 views

Couples: Philosophy of Love
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,005 views

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 1 comment | 234 views