The spirit of Ramadan filled the air on May 20 at the Hilton Pasadena where approximately 250 Islamic Center supporters gathered to celebrate the coming of Ramadan at the annual Pre-Ramadan Fundraising Dinner. This dinner is both the main source of funding the Ramadan Program and an opportunity for the community to come together one final time before embarking on a month-long journey of spiritual purification and fasting.
Guests were greeted with cheerful smiles from the Center staff and invited to have their photos taken in front of the Ramadan-themed backdrop. These souvenir photos were printed on-site and available for guests to take home at the end of the night.
The main hall social hour was abuzz with attendees catching up with old friends or paying a visit to the silent auction table overseen by Bookstore Coordinator Azza Smith, featuring handcrafted Islamic jewelry, artwork and home decor up for bid. The evening’s Emcee Kristen Stangas welcomed the crowd to the dinner before introducing Religious Director Asim Buyuksoy to the the podium for a recitation of the Quran. A translation of those verses was delivered by Arva Syed, a member of the Muslim Youth Group.
This has been the year of the Muslim. People are trying to provoke us and push that button. But we are resisting by doing and practicing good.
– Umar Hakim, Founder & Principal at INKERIJ & Executive Director of the ILM Foundation
After dinner and prayer, Hedab Tarifi, the 2017-2018 ICSC Chairperson, made a heartfelt request for attendees to reach deep into their pockets to support the valuable Islamic Center Ramadan Program. This year’s goal was to raise the $80,000 required to cover all operational expenses throughout the month of Ramadan. The Islamic Center relies fully on the generosity of its donors to keep the doors open and programs on track.
Featured Speaker Umar Hakim greeted the guests with an energetic, “Assalamu alaikum!” The room felt his energy, focusing in on his talk surrounding the concept of resistance and how that translates to our daily lives. “This has been the year of the Muslim,” he said. “People are trying to provoke us and push that button. But we are resisting by doing and practicing good.”
Before calling honored guest Mohamed Bzeek to the stage, a short stand-up comedy routine was performed by local comedian and community member Aron Kader. Kader, who has appeared on Comedy Central, gave the crowd a good laugh about a wide variety of topics – from dinosaurs to Palestinian aunties.
Omar Ricci, ICSC Spokesperson, awarded Mr. Bzeek with the first “Spirit of Ramadan Award,” a crystal award engraved with the words, “for your sacrifices and courage in foster caring terminally ill children, for being a bright light in a period of darkness, and for being a model for Muslims and humanity.”
The presentation of this award marked the end of the main program, leaving just a few minutes for a final fundraising pitch from Dr. Kamal Hamdan, current Board Member and Chair of the Development Committee. At this time, Dr. Hamdan mentioned that the Center was only $7,000 away from reaching its $80,000 goal of the night in hopes that attendees would crowdsource the remaining funds before the conclusion of the event. Alhamdulillah, by the generosity of its loyal donors, the Center met its goal for the evening.
Check out the photos from this year’s Pre-Ramadan Fundraiser today.