The third 2014 Community Iftar at Pacifica Institute Sunnyvale branch was marked with a presentation by the international speaker and author of ‘Islam Without Extremes’, Mustafa Akyol. Mr. Akyol is a columnist for two Turkish newspapers, a lecturer at universities in the United States and the UK, and a contributor to the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. He studied political science and history at Borgazici University in Istanbul, where he currently lives.
Mustafa Akyol delivered an eloquent, entertaining, and passionate dialog on Islam. He cited specific passages of the Quran, explained how and why interpretations vary between cultures, between countries, and over time. Mustafa commented on the current state of Muslims in Turkiye as well as other countries, primarily in the Middle East region. He shared his thoughts on political interference in religions, and drew correlations between Islam and other major religions in the world.
Mr. Akyol’s presentation was followed by questions from the audience and commentaries that were graciously received.
Other notable attendees were:
Councilman Michael Kasperzak, Councilman for Mountain View, stated that he has had many opportunities to attend dinners and events as a Councilmember, and every time he learns something new about Islam. He was most impressed with Mr. Akyol’s knowledge and thank Pacifica Institute on behalf of himself and his wife, for the invitation at attend this evening.
Reverend Andrew Kille, from the Silicon Valley Interfaith Council, said it was a blessing to be invited to Ramadan Iftars and shared his appreciation for the great meals that he was able to enjoy. Reverend Kille enumerated the blessings we all shared during the evening by coming together, by our conversations around the tables during the evening, by meeting old friends and new friends, and blessed by the speaker who gave us a deeper understanding of Islam. Reverend also commented on the blessings that Muslims imparted on the communities during the month of Ramadan.
Maggi Henderson, a Presbyterian pastor and Chair of the Interfaith Council of San Francisco, started her commentary by saying that “we as Christians and non-Muslims need to know more”. She feels that her calling during the month of Ramadan is to be more aware and ask lots of questions. Pastor Maggi closed by offering Peace and Blessings to all those who believe in God and those who don’t believe in God.
Venereble JianGong, Executive Director of Shung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale drew a correlation with the fasting of Muslims with the fasting of Monks explaining that fasting is like a medicine for the soul, creating a deeper appreciation of the foods and expanding ones compassion. He expressed his thankfulness for being invited and being able to come together as friends.