First day of Ramadan met with conflicted emotions this year

Monday, Muslims across the world, and here in the Bay Area, marked the first day of Ramadan, a holy month of prayer, charity and fasting. But with those prayers, many expressed concerns about the ongoing conflict in Gaza with Israel, where thousands have been killed and many others are now facing a humanitarian crisis in the region.

"It’s the month of giving," and for that reason, Faiz Vaid, the Imam of the Islamic Center of San Francisco, said the war in Gaza has been weighing even more heavily on the congregants at his mosque, many of whom have been fundraising to send humanitarian aid to the region.

"In our own congregation we had a brother who was telling me so nonchalantly that he lost over 16 members of his family in Gaza…and we’re dealing with racism here in San Francisco as well," said Islamic Center of San Francisco board member, Zuhaib Siddique.

Siddique says he has been working with leaders from other faiths in the Bay Area to fight intolerance, while also continuing to raise funds for relief efforts. 

Meantime, at Grand Coffee in the Mission, the shop's Palestinian-American owner has been spending this month fundraising for kids caught in the conflict in Gaza, through the sale of Ramadan Coffee Boxes.

"Most cafés are closed by the time the sunsets, especially as the days are longer, so I wanted to offer people coffee to take home, to brew up, like after sunset," said Nabeel Silmi, owner of Grand Coffee.

A portion of the profits from each box sold goes to the Middle East Children’s Alliance.

"You work with a heavy heart, but to kind of add…a component to the work that I’m doing, which helps folks in Gaza, makes the work a little easier," said Silmi.