One of the most important holidays in the Muslim religious calendar, Ramadan lasts a full month and is celebrated through daytime fasting and observances of purity. During the evenings, Muslims eat and extend hospitality to friends and neighbors. It’s central to Islamic observance, and yet the customs surrounding Ramadan are little known to those outside the Muslim tradition.

Therefore, the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara County, along with the Santa Barbara Islamic Society, will be holding an Interfaith Ramadan event to allow non-Muslims to experience the holiday. On Saturday, September 13, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church will open its doors to the public for a dinner and discussion. The event, titled “Beyond Hospitality: Deepening Interfaith Relationships Locally and Globally,” will include three talks on the subject, each presented from a different point of view.

The first speaker will be the rector of Trinity Episcopal, Reverend Mark Asman, who has presented talks on peace to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and on sexual choice and religion to Planned Parenthood. He has also appeared on CNN to discuss the religious rights and prerogatives of homosexual church members.

Mona Kanwal Sheikh, a native of Denmark and of Muslim Pakistani background, will speak from an Islamic perspective. She’s a former member of the Danish Parliament and a noted debater.

The third speaker, Dr. Ed Bastian, is the president of the Spiritual Paths Foundation. His Buddhist and philosophical background places him outside of the monotheist tradition; his perspective will provide an outside point of view on the challenges faced by monotheistic religions as they attempt to find common ground.

Overall, the Interfaith Ramadan event ought to be an excellent opportunity not only to experience Muslim faith and culture but to hear and express a variety of opinions on how religion continues to affect the world. Previous events sponsored by the Interfaith Initiative have been a success and have drawn large groups anyone interested in attending would be wise to register in advance.

To register for the Interfaith Ramadan event, contact Terre Sanitate of the Interfaith Initiative at 201-3134, or visit Anyone interested in learning more about the history of Ramadan, or about the three day feast of Eid ul-Fitr which concludes the month of Ramadan, can contact the Santa Barbara Islamic Society at 968-9940.


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