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By Jim Smith – Editor of The Daily Democrat - May 27, 2018

Now in its 17th year, the annual Iftar Dinner held at the Woodland Muslim Mosque brought together nearly 300 people who urged inclusiveness and cooperation.

The dinner — which is held during Ramadan — was started after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bring Woodland Muslims and others throughout the community together.

Ramadan started on May 16 and ends June 14. Held at the Mosque on North Street Saturday, the dinner occurs after sundown in keeping with guidelines set forth in the Koran. During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to drink or eat — except for reasons of health — between sunrise and sunset in the Mideast in order to gain a greater understanding of the simple pleasures of living. In Woodland, however, that can mean eating breakfast as early as 2 a.m. and dinner as late as 10 p.m.Woodland 5-26-2018 (30)

The Iftar Dinner for Muslims takes place after they have offered prayers, while those who are non Muslim are allowed to eat.

But whether it’s fasting or eating a meal, that shared experience can mean for better mental health as well as a closer-knit family, speaker Marwa Zafarullah told those sitting down for the meal.

Zafarullah is a graduate student studying neuroscience. She said research has found that “togetherness” has a positive effect on our health.

“There are studies that show children who share meals with their parents and their families five times a week are way more better in academic’s then the kids who eat alone,” Zafarullah said before Muslims adjourned from the tables to pray. “I would say to those who are fasting, that the habits you are developing will help you throughout the year. And to those who are not fasting, try to make some time to be at the table and be with your dear ones.”

The dinner was timed so that Muslims could leave for prayer services at 8:21.Woodland 5-26-2018 (19)

But before prayer, others also spoke about the need for greater understanding and a spirit of community.

Wearing a black and silver head-scarf, known as a hijab, Woodland Fire Chief Rebecca Ramirez said the dinner was a means to bring family together and “share this gentle blanket” of oneness. She said she was pleased to “be able to work in a community where diversity is encouraged” including the “diversity in beliefs, diversity in speech, diversity in thought and diversity in all the things that we do.”

Former Woodland Mayor Gary Sandy and current Yuba College trustee and candidate for 3rd District Supervisor, Gary Sandy (who was asked to speak by members of the Mosque) said the weather was perfect and the company pleasing.

“We live in troubled times,” Sandy said, “but we also live in times where here in Woodland we work together to make those times better. It’s been said that we wage war, but we practice peace. Well, we need to practice peace so we can get it right.

“It’s clear that this is something we have not yet perfected,” Sandy added. “We need to spend more time on the practicing peace, more time on harmony with one another, more time on developing cooperative solutions with one another. And here in Woodland we’re about that important work ... When we gather here together and break bread together (we’re practicing peace). And we need to do this for however long it takes to get it right.”Woodland 5-26-2018 (1)

Woodland Police Capt. Derrek Kaff thanked members of the Mosque for their help over the years and spoke about how the department is trying to be more inclusive.

“We have a lot of community outreach programs,” he said. “We’re going to be looking as a department to form more partnerships because we know the closer we become — the more we get to know each other — the harder it is to do something wrong ... We are changing from the inside and we want you to be part of that. For all young folks here — and I hate to make it a recruiting message. But for all the young folks here, if you want to make a change in the community I would encourage you to come and talk to us about a career in the Woodland Police Department because as we move forward we want to make sure we are recruiting all segments of the community.”

Also speaking was Larry Love, pastor of the Woodland Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who is also the president of the Woodland Multifaith Ministries, and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

Both Love and Reisig expressed their gratitude to members of the Mosque, saying that the dinner’s and other activities have fostered a spirit of togetherness and community for everyone.


Abdus Sattar Ghazali adds:

Muhammad Usman Sadiq was MC of the Woodland, CA Mosque annual interfaith iftar.
The annual event attracted large number of people from Woodland and other towns. Muhammad Usman Sadiq was MC of the event.

The program began with the recitation of holy Quran by Hafiz Mudassar Khalid. It was followed by a talk about the importance of the month of Ramadan by  Marwa Zafar, PhD student at the UCD.

The Interfaith iftar was attended by clergies from other faiths as well as public officials including Rebecca Ramirez (Fire Department Chief), Capt. Derrek Kaff  (Woodland Police Department),  and Jeff Reisig (Yolo County Dictrict Attorney).

Bill Scheroder offered Interfaith prayer before meal.

Imam Riaz Qadri offered Prayer for Peace.

Among those who addressed the guests included: Gary Sandy (former mayor of Woodland), Samina Sundas (Executive Director of American Muslim Voice) and Khalid Saeed (National President of American Muslim Voice).

Khalid Saeed welcomed the guests and also introduced the Woodland Mosque Board of Directors.

The program ended with the call for Maghreb prayer by Muhammad Usman Sadiq.

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