The community is invited to participate in one of Islam’s most beloved customs this weekend, hosted by the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara County and the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara.

“Iftar is the breaking of the Ramadan fast,” IFI board member Afaf Turjoman said. “For Muslims, it’s a community event; we rarely break our fast alone.”

The month of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and so this year began at the beginning of September. During the month, said to have been the month God sent the Quran to Earth, practicing Muslims pray more, ask for forgiveness and wisdom and curb their appetites.

During the month, Turjoman said, Ramadan observers (excluding the very young, the very old and the sick) eat and drink nothing from daybreak to sunset, after which they break their fast.

“It gives us the chance to focus on the needy,” Turjoman said. “When the sun sets, we can all look forward to having a nice big meal, but a lot of people around the world don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.”

The iftar is part of a larger event being held by the Interfaith Initiative that evening called “Beyond Hospitality: Deepening Interfaith Relationships Locally and Globally.” Representatives of other faiths, including the Rev. Mark Asman from Trinity Episcopal Church, Dr. Ed Bastian, a Buddhist at the Spiritual Paths Institute, Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer from the Community Shul of Montecito and others will be on hand to discuss the meaning of hospitality with the community.

“We see it as a good teaching opportunity,” Turjoman said. “This is the fourth year we’ve done this with the community, and it’s been well-received.”

This year’s event also will mark the awarding of the first “Interfaith Hero Award” by the Initiative. The first recipient is the late Father Virgil Cordano, priest of the Saint Barbara Parish, who was active with the IFI. Proceeds from the event will be given in his name to the Santa Barbara FoodBank and to the Interfaith Initiative.

The event will be from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. in Santa Barbara. Food is provided by the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara.

Reservations are necessary. To register, click here, or call 805.201.3134 for more information.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at