By JIM SMITH
Acceptance of people of all colors, faiths and beliefs was the overriding theme at Woodland's Muslim Mosque Iftar dinner. Held Saturday at the Mosque on North Street, about 300 people attended to break the daily fast of Muslims during Ramadan, which started Aug. 1.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and worldwide, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and refrain from food and drink before "breakfasting" right after sunset with a special prayer and dinner.
Among those attending the breaking of the fast were Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel, Vice Mayor Skip Davies, Yolo Sheriff Ed Prieto, Woodland Police Chief Dan Bellini and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada.
Yamada used the occasion to note it was the Japanese in America who were discriminated against as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor some 70 years ago, which generated a great deal of sympathy today when American Muslims were vilified immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
As such, she said, Japanese Americans were the first to support American Muslims being discriminated against after the 911 attacks. "This country made a mistake" 70 years ago when Japanese were imprisoned, lost their property and possessions as a result of discrimination, Yamada said. "But it admitted to that mistake, made reparations and apologized."
"We have learned that we can take the high road," Yamada continued. "We can build peace and community together."
Both Yolo Sheriff Ed Prieto and Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel talked about the importance of family structure and a sharing of cultures.
"When I look around here I can sense the importance of family," Prieto said. "...I'm here to tell you as one man that I'm a staunch support of civil rights. Being a Latino - a person of color - the only thing I can tell you is that we stand tall, we stand strong and we stand united; and we always make sure we try and do the appropriate thing."
Pimentel agreed with Prieto saying he was happy to share in the celebration and in uniting together as one county with distinct cultures.
Samina Faheem Sundas, executive director of the American Muslim Voice, noted the emphasis on cultural diversity, and sought to shift the focus on "inclusion" of different beliefs and peoples in America.
"We are all family," she said. "I want to see all the beautiful colors of people. I want us to be a beautiful garden. Let's build a beautiful 'inclusive' nation."
(Khalid Saeed, National President of the American Muslim Voice, spoke about the importance of fasting during the month of Ramadan.)
Hafiz Aamir Hussain, imam of the Woodland Mosque, delivered an evening prayer which was followed by another prayer presented by Ardith Allread, pastor of the Woodland United Methodist Church.
After the prayers, those of the Muslim faith retired to the mosque to perform their evening prayers while non-Muslims dined on traditional Pakistani food of rice, chicken and fruit prepared by members of the mosque as well as the Top Himalaya Restaurant of Woodland. [Woodland Democrat] Pictures by Abdus Sattar Ghazali