Displaced by Fire, Islamic Center Regroups for Ramadan

September 13, 2007

Author: Rebecca Rosen Lum

Source: The Mercury News/The Contra Costa Times

http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_6888921?nclick_check=1

Amid a row of women bowing in diaphanous, brightly-colored gowns, Sughran Ahmed prayed -- prostrate in silence, rising with the imam's sung, "Allah Akbar," God is great. Suddenly, her 3-year-old son, Muhammad Ali, broke free from his caretaker, ran to his mother and threw his arms around her neck. She smiled at him tenderly.

It is an affectionate congregation, said chairman Abdul Rahman of the Islamic Center of the East Bay, recently displaced by an Aug. 12 arson fire.

"I wish these positive feelings would rub off on the community," he said.

The figs, fruits and communion that break the fast at day's end tasted especially sweet this year.

Some 100 worshipers gathered at sundown Thursday for the first iftar, or fast-breaking meal, of this Ramadan. The seller of an Antioch restaurant, empty in escrow, offered it as a temporary prayer hall Sunday, tripping off a mad dash to get insurance and permits in time for the celebration.