Late Friday, members of the Loma Linda-based Islamic Community Center of Redlands sat on tarps spread around the floor of their modest mosque holding plates of food.
It was another day of observing the holy month of Ramadan. They had just finished prayers. By 7:45 p.m., it was time to break their fast and embrace their community, members said.
“We kind of have a picnic set up,” said Mosque member Walid Bayoun, of Riverside. “You see Ramadan is not just about fasting, it’s about family and enjoying each others company.”
As of Saturday, there were eight days left in the Muslim holy month. Each night, hundreds of residents from Loma Linda, Redlands, Highland, San Bernardino and other cities in the region, have converged for prayers and worship.
Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from the break of dawn to sunset, according to a description by the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR.
The group has opened its doors to the community, inviting them to come in and learn more about Ramadan and the Muslim faith given all the uncertainty and misinformation.
Motioning toward the crowd, Bayoun dispelled a myth. “This is not a Middle Eastern group,” he said. “In many cases, these are second and third generation Americans.”
And of those native to other countries, some are from the countries of Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey, Africa and Russia, said Ismail Hossain, of Colton.
“We’re here in universal harmony,” Hossain said. “We eat, pray, talk.”
Ramadan, one worshipper said, is about discipline and learning to gain control of one’s life.
“This is a great community,” said Nareem Anne Slayyeh, who is visiting from Jordan. Everyone has been close and welcoming. She will likely be returning to the city and the mosque. “Everyone really enjoys getting together and being close."