Islamic ceremony to honor all O.C. Muslim grads
Organizers of Anaheim event hope to make it an annual ceremony.
ANAHEIM The Islamic Institute of Orange County is holding a ceremony Sunday to honor all Muslim graduates in the county.
Organizers say they want to promote unity among all local Muslims and promote the importance of education.
The event is open to all graduates, including high school, college and post-graduates. Institute leaders said they hope to make the ceremony an annual event.
This year, organizers said 220 Muslims from across Orange County have registered to come to the Anaheim mosque on State College Boulevard. They relied heavily on email chains and social networking sites such as Facebook to get the word out about the inaugural event. They hope participation will increase in future years.
The ceremony will honor graduates at all levels, as well as four hafiz – children and teens between grades 6 and 12 who have memorized the Quran in its entirety.
"We have a lot of fundraisers in our community, but this is a free event that also sends the message to our youth that they are the next generation of Muslims," said Natasha Rahel, 30, an Irvine resident who organized the event.
"Many of our parents came from other countries to give us a better life," said Rahel, an attorney. "Now it's up to us to take it from here, to reach for the sky and become doctors and architects, while keeping our Islamic morals and values."
The U.S. Islamic Foundation also will be offering at least 15 scholarships to graduates who plan to continue their education.
The Orange County event is being patterned after a similar ceremony hosted by the Islamic Center of Riverside, which organizers say has been heavily attended and well-received in years' past. The Riverside event attracted more than 500 people last week.