Guests gathered for the Khutbah (June 18th 2024)
Guests gathered for the Khutbah (June 18th 2024)

Threads of Unity: Chico Islamic Center’s Eid Al Adha Gathering

Discover how the Chico Islamic Center’s Eid Al-Adha celebration showcased the town’s cultural diversity, uniting neighbors in shared values of hospitality, inclusivity, and mutual respect.

Three weeks ago on June 18, an Eid Al Adha event hosted by the Chico Islamic Center brought together local Butte County community members from various faith backgrounds, including Jewish, Quaker, and Christian locals.

This small yet powerful gathering highlighted the unity and mutual respect that can be found within our vibrant community.

As the Fourth of July weekend comes to a close, we share the experiences and reflections of our guests to capture the essence of this meaningful gathering.

As guests entered the mosque, they took their seats in front of the podium, intermingling with one another while everyone settled in. The celebration began with a warm welcome from the Islamic Center’s Imam, Brother Abdoulhac Bande, a religious leader who guides Muslims in their prayers.

He started the event by delivering a khutbah, or sermon, discussing the significance of Eid Al Adha for Muslims. He emphasized shared lessons from the story of Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, highlighting the importance of family relationships, faith, sacrifice, and interfaith unity.

In his closing remarks, the Imam stressed the need for open dialogue and community connections. He introduced himself, sharing his journey from Burkina Faso to Chico, and invited questions from the audience. One woman inquired about his background, prompting a brief history of Burkina Faso and its name meaning “land of the free people.”

Following the Imam’s speech, Mukhtar Khan, President of the Islamic Center, invited guests to begin dinner, with women and children going first, followed by the men.

The meal included delicious traditional Pakistani dishes like channa, butter chicken, and rice, which were enjoyed by all. Conversations continued as people shared stories and experiences, fostering a sense of unity and mutual respect.

 

Guests being welcomed by Imam Abdoulhac Bande (June 18th 2024).

 

Among the attendees were Emily Alma and Jim Anderson, both of whom have attended community events at the mosque in the past.

Alma, a Jewish community member, emphasized the warm welcome she received, noting, “We were asked to wear a headscarf and dress modestly, and we felt like honored guests.” She reflected on her experience, sharing her familiarity with the history of the celebration.

“I’ve been familiar with the story of Abraham from the Old Testament for years. However, hearing it from a Muslim perspective, where Ishmael is the son involved instead of Isaac, was fascinating,” she said.

When asked what she would like to share with anyone who might be interested in attending future events held by Chico’s Muslim community but may be hesitant, Alma expressed that people should feel confident that they will be welcomed, respected, and not proselytized.

Jim Anderson, a dedicated member of Chico’s Quaker community, which consists of 20-25 regular Sunday service attendees, was invited to the event by two members of the Muslim community who attended a meeting of the Chico Area Interfaith Council.

He noted the shared values of peace and justice between Quakers and Muslims. Jim described the event as a vibrant gathering with a welcoming atmosphere, where children played on the lawn as attendees enjoyed a meal together.

Jim highlighted the importance of interfaith dialogue and collaboration, mentioning an environmental project between local Quaker and Jewish communities. He encouraged others to visit the mosque, emphasizing that such experiences can be enlightening and nurturing.

“The mosque is a gathering place for people from around the world, whose cultures and perspectives may open our eyes to new understandings.  Religious and cultural diversity enriches this town and helps us understand events around the world as well. I have friendships with members of the mosque I have known for many years and am grateful for that,” he said.

Women gathered for dinner outside the Mosque (June 18th 2024).

While the Eid Al Fitr event served as an invitation for community members to participate in the Muslim celebration, it also provided a valuable opportunity for Muslim attendees to deepen their understanding of other local religious groups as well as strengthening the relationships within our own community.

Farhan Rehman, a long-standing member of the Muslim community who has attended the mosque since childhood, emphasized the profound significance of these interfaith interactions.

Learning about the Quaker community in Chico and their silent prayers, he drew parallels between Islamic Friday Jummah prayers and Quaker Sunday services, highlighting their shared role in fostering understanding across diverse faith traditions.

“It’s crucial for communities like ours to have a seat at the table, which initiatives like these make possible,” he remarked. “This event not only demonstrated unity but also provided a valuable opportunity for younger generations, like myself, to engage with older community members about life in Chico.”

As a student, Farhan expressed his hope that more young people would be encouraged to participate in such events, not only for the knowledge gained but also to uphold and further the traditions promoted by these interfaith coalitions.

Barbara Johnson, a revert Muslim married to a Palestinian, found her experience at the Chico Islamic Center markedly different from her time at a mosque in Oakland.

In Oakland, where the community was predominantly immigrant and khutbahs were in Arabic, she struggled to connect and fully understand. However, at the Chico Islamic Center, she felt a deep sense of pride in sharing her faith openly. “I am delighted to share my faith and demonstrate the warmth, hospitality, and kindness of Muslims.”

Against the backdrop of increasing hostility towards Muslim communities in recent months, I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all the guests who joined.

Such initiatives truly showcase the beauty of Chico’s diversity and community. We look forward to welcoming more community members to our future events to experience our warmth and hospitality firsthand!

 

Men gathered for dinner outside the mosque (June 18th 2024).

If you would like to stay connected with the mosque and any future events, more information about the Islamic Center can be found on their website , their Facebook page, or by contacting them directly at [email protected].

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