Archive for San Jose

An American Ramadan, Circa 1955

Posted in Food, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2012 by irydhan

Does the first experience of Ramadan begin the same for everyone? It all depends on the time and where this all takes place. Consider the time to be during the year 1955 or early 1956, and the place was Oakland when I experienced my first month of fasting. I don’t remember for sure just what time of year it was since time has elapsed.

The ordinary calendars said nothing about when Ramadan should begin. There was very little printed literature available, except what I received in the mail from well-wishers in Africa and the Fiji Islands. Even once in a while I would get something from India or Pakistan, but they only said that the month of Ramadan was somewhat close to some equivalent month on our American Calendars. There were “Turko Tartar” community members here in the Bay Area and they had a calendar with the important Muslim holidays printed on it. Since they were some of the founders of the Islamic Center of San Francisco, we followed their advice and learned what day Ramadan would begin.

Fasting should begin just before dawn appears. When is dawn?

Read the rest of the article here on Al Mihrab Patheos.


Islamic Science Rediscovered in San Jose, CA

Posted in Architecture, Art, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2011 by irydhan

Recently I went to the Tech Museum in San Jose, CA where one of the exhibits here on a limited engagement is “Islamic Science Rediscovered.”  I highly recommend everyone who is interested in Science to check it out.  But surprisingly it is not only about Islamic contributions to Astronomy (the astrolabe, development of star charts), Mathematics (algebra, arabic numerals and the number zero) and Medicine (development of optics, eye surgery), which most people may already be aware of – But it also has a lot of exhibits which show how Muslims have contributed to the fields of Architecture, Human Flight, Mechanical Engineering, World Travels via Sea and Land, and Inventions such as the pin hole camera which even a Muslim such as myself was unaware of.

Below are some pictures of the exhibit which I took with my phone, but I encourage everyone who hasnt yet seen the exhibit, to go check it out, as it is only in town for a limited time.  For more information check the San Jose Tech Museum’s website here:

The Oglee Arch - designed by Muslim ArchitectsThe pinhole camera invited by Ibn Al-HaythamThe first Human to fly - Abbas Bin Firnas in the 9th century in Spain

2010 Food in Review

Posted in Food, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by irydhan

Double Halal Bacon Burger from Falafel Corner in Fremont, CA

With close to 600 food reviews across several different websites (Zabihah, Yelp, Google, JustSayGo, etc.) many consider me to be one of the most Prolific Halal Food reviewers online today!

Halal Steak Tacos and Chicken Wings from Tayyibaat in Milpitas, CA

I have a large collection of pictures (mainly taken from my iPhone) of my favorite food dishes on Facebook and twitter.

the Sports Platter from Jubba Somalian Food in South San Jose


Combination Chicken and Beef Kabab Plate at Salang Pass (iftaar during Ramadan) in Fremont, CA

Many people enjoy seeing and commenting on my latest food photo online, so I decided to pick a few of my favorites from 2010 and post them here on my blog.

Shake & Bake Chicken dinner made by the wifey the day before Thanksgiving!


Hot, Fresh and Tasty Homemade Naan by my mother-in-law.

I have also included some homemade food dishes made by family and friends. There are also some desserts from mainstream restaurants in the Bay Area.

Homemade Sushi by my brother-in-law, Shahzad Goraya!


Mixed Kebab Plate at Oasis Grille in Berkeley, CA

Feel free to comment on which ones you like best and don’t forget to go out and support these Halal establishments, because you never know if they change owners, move or even worse: close down completely.

Fried Chicken Jummah Plate

Halal Fried Chicken Plate from Jummah after Thanksgiving at Napredak Hall


Memon Potluck Thanksgiving Dinner:)

This happened to a couple of my  my favorite Halal places including: Silk Road Bistro (San Jose, CA) and Top Deck Deli (Santa Clara, CA), which closed down in December last year!


Last Meat at Top Deck Deli: Halal Philly Cheesesteak, Steak Fries & Rootbeer!So I posted two of my favorite items from Top Deck below. Enjoy!

Chicken Salad from Tazo Bistro in downtown San Jose

Jumbo Halal Hot Dog and Chicken Wings and Chocolate Malt Shake (not shown) from Dandy Dogs in Livermore, CA

Unlike other reviewers, I have been to most of the places I have reviewed more than once and try to give an accurate, yet fair review! I don’t post reviews for places that I have not personally been to, ordered food from or eaten from.

BBQ Afghani Bacon Burger from Cafe Sophia

Great burger which is hand made and cooked to your preference. I like medium well myself.

I am also known to post new Halal restaurants, stores and markets quickly and usually am the first person to review them online.

If you would like me to review a specific place, feel free to leave a comment on my blog or email me with your suggestions.

Thanks for everyone’s support and Happy Halal Eating in 2011!

Warm English Toffee Cake from Claim Jumpers

Cornish Game Hen Kebabs from Yas Persian Food

Free Cotton Candy at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose during the SBIA Eid Program!

Nescafe Indian Cold Coffee from Mirchi's Cafe in Fremont, CA

Ice Cream in a peanut brittle waffle bowl at McCormick & Schmicks in San Jose, CA

Gorgonzola Stuffed Meatballs

homemade stuffed meatballs for the first iftaar of Ramadan by Huma Khan

Second to Last Meal at Top Deck Deli: Chopped Steak, Eggs (over easy), Sourdough toast and Hashbrowns!





My Top 5 Halal (Zabihah) Restaurants in the Bay Area

Posted in Food, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by irydhan

 Currently I have nearly 200 reviews on – a website created by a friend of mine, Shahed Amanullah, about 10 years ago which is a user generated review site for Zabihah Halal restaurants across the world!

Zabihah is an arabic word which means an animal is slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws (similiar to Kosher for Jews) and it is Halal (permissible in Islam) for Muslims to consume.

Since many people see my reviews online, I got the nickname of “Mr.” from some of my friends and always get asked about my favorite Halal places or if I have come across any new Halal places in the Bay Area.

I decided to post my top 5 Halal restaurants (as of now:)) here on my blog!  So here they are (not in any particular order):

Top Deck Deli in Santa Clara, CA

Top Deck Deli in Santa Clara, CA

1. Top Deck Deli in Santa Clara, CA (located about a mile away from the MCA masjid).  This is an Old-fashioned American Deli which serves all the traditional favorites such as Reubens, Cheese Burgers, Philly Cheesesteaks, Grilled Chicken Sandwiches as well as specialty items such as wings, salads, burrittos, tacos, steaks and soups.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast try the chopped steak and eggs or the Denver Omelet (Halal turkey bacon, veggies and cheese). My favorite lunch item is the Hot Pastrami sandwich on a sourdough roll.  They also have low-carb wraps which you can get for most of the sandwiches and is a good alternative if you are trying to cut down on your carbs like I am these days:).  An important note is that the owner, Don Brown recently converted to Islam (during the month of Shabaan this year) and is a very down to earth and friendly man (as is his wife, Emma, who runs the deli with him).  He is dedicated to providing high quality Halal American food for the Muslim community, and although his prices are a bit more than the usual places (Subway, Quiznos, etc.), his food is much better quality and has bigger portions – last but not least it is completely 100% Halal:)! Go to for more info.

Cafe Grillades in San Bruno, CA

Cafe Grillades in San Bruno, CA

2. Cafe Grillades in San Bruno, CA (located close to the SFO airport).  This is a nice French Algerian place which serves some of the best crepes in the Bay Area.  When most people think of crepes, they think “IHOP”, but these are REAL crepes, both savory and sweet crepes.  The owner, Br. Samy Fars has gone through alot of trouble to provide all halal meat, even though most of his customers are not Muslim.  The restaurant is small, but very classy and a nice change compared to most Halal restaurants which have little or no interior decor or concept of friendly service.  My favorite items are the chicken poulet crepe, the cafe grillades burger (one of the best burgers I have had) and for dessert you can’t beat the banana crepe with caramel!  I highly recommend this place to bring your guests as it will be a very unique Halal experience that you can’t find anywhere else in the Bay Area (and perhaps in the country:))! Go to for more info.

Gulzaar Bakery and Restaurant

Gulzaar Bakery and Restaurant

3. Gulzaar Halal in San Jose, CA (located a couple miles away from Valley Fair Mall).  This use to be a Lebanese bakery (Called “Just Laziz”) which served Manakesh and other similiar items, but was bought by Imam Omar Farooq Desai who use to own Hala-B’s sandwich spot in Sunnyvale a few years back.  He has brought back his famous Beef Kabab and Shredded chicken sandwiches to Gulzaar.  The french bread roll is one of the best sandwich bread I have ever had, and I still don’t know where he get’s it from!  Imam Farooq still has the Lebanese items on the menu, but has added some Indian-Pakistani favorites such as biriyani and samosas.  Try the Beef Kabab Sandwich (medium spicy) and you will not be disappointed! The chicken biriyani is good too:) Go to for more info.

New Yorkers Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, CA

New Yorkers Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, CA

4. New Yorkers Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, CA (in the Mission District).  Although the parking is difficult and it may not be in the best of areas, this place is worth trying out when you are in SF, especially if it’s late at night and most Halal places are closed, this place is open till 3am on Friday and Saturday nights!  The wings are excellent.   My favorite wing sauce is the Spicy one, although BBQ and Teriyaki are very good as well.  I usually get the Supreme Philly Cheesesteak, which is excellent since it’s very cheesy and has alot of meat!  The interior decor of the place is clean and spacious and they have a large TV in the corner where you can watch movies or sports. Go to for more info.

Sala Thai 2 in Fremont, CA

Sala Thai 2 in Fremont, CA

5. Sala Thai II in Fremont, CA (Located in an industrial office park).  I like Thai food, because it’s a mix of Chinese and Indian food and spicier than both!  The interior decor of this restaurant is very nice with polished wood tables, shiny black seats and colorful yet elegant tiles on the walls.  Our family usually celebrates some kind of birthday, anniversary or special occassion at this restaurant, as everyone enjoys the food.  Get the Hot soup with prawns (or chicken) and Yellow Curry Chicken.  The sati is good, as well as the BBQ chicken or beef.  I liked the garlic wings for appettizer and Drunken Noodles for main course.  Try the Thai Iced Tea as well the fresh coconut milk.  For dessert try the “Roti” (tiny pieces of bread with condensed milk and sugar on top).  Note that there are two locations, but only Sala Thai II serves Halal meat.  Go to for more info.

You can see these as well as the rest of my reviews on  If you have an iPhone, download the Zabihah application from iTunes, so that you can quickly find your local halal restaurants, grocery and meat stores, masjids and Muslim owned businesses while on the go!

Irfan “Mr.” Rydhan

My Memory of Dear Sattar Uncle – by Adeel Iqbal

Posted in Activism, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2009 by irydhan

I was just a college freshman then, as I sat face to face with Br. Abdul Sattar Rydhan, marhoom – Sattar Uncle, as I called him – at his home in San Jose. Tape recorder, notebook and pencil in hand, I was ready to begin my first interview for an assignment I had taken on in Dr. Hatem Bazian’s course on the development of Islam in America.  It was mid Spring 2004 and like all the other lazy Muslim kids in Dr. Bazian’s class who opt for what they think will be an easy way out of UC Berkeley’s American Cultures requirement, I, as usual, had started months later than I should have. As the deadline loomed, I worried about not yet having enough material for my write-up. But after spending just a few hours in Sattar Uncle’s living room, my worry took a new twist: How would I fit all of this into one paper?


His story – full of creativity and action – began with the 1970s at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where Sattar Uncle was studying engineering and participated in the activities of the campus Muslim Student Association. From there I would hear about the transformation of student associations into community associations as single students turned into parents, and started worrying about raising children with strong Islamic values.


At the time, the nearest masjid to the South Bay was in San Francisco. There were no Sunday Islamic schools. Not a single Islamic advocacy organization.


As he spoke, I thought of how lucky I am to have grown up years after the first steps had been taken by Sattar Uncle and others like him. I thought back on my classes at the South Bay Islamic Association on Sundays. Those were a regular part of my weekly schedule as I grew up, and although I drove with my mom to school each week, I would rarely give thought to the people that had first made Islamic school a reality.


Three decades after masjids like the South Bay Islamic Association were first built; our community boasts numbers in the tens of thousands, countless organizations that advocate on behalf of Muslims, another countless set of Islamic service organizations, and dozens of masjids and halal meat stores.


It’s safe to say that much of these blessings are a result of the tireless work of our dear Sattar Uncle. Many in the community have already heard about his work in kickstarting Bay Area Media Watch – the precursor to the Islamic Networks Group, which a little more than 15 years back began teaching objectively about Islam and Muslims in local schools. We have also heard about his efforts in developing the American Muslim Alliance, which aims to bring the voice and concerns of Muslims in the United States to the mainstream political arena. He also put energy behind community outreach efforts and building strength in the news media, supporting such causes as the American Muslim Voice and a media outreach committee at the South Bay Islamic Association.


Although seeing these groups and participating in them as a young Muslim have always given me a sense of pride, I am even more grateful for the smaller, unrecognized efforts of Uncle Sattar.


I can remember back to my youth group class at Sunday School when my teacher took leave – Sattar Uncle came to fill the void. Alongside calmly covering difficult topics like tahara and the deeper meaning of the six fundamental beliefs, which often Muslim teens can struggle to comprehend, I remember enjoying him lightly poke fun at me and my classmates – and making the masjid a fun environment to join. I can also think back to the rare instances when I have arrived early to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds for Eid prayer, and seen Sattar Uncle and family running from one corner to the other to make sure all arrangements are in order for everyone else. And who can forget the idea of halal Kentucky Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy at Juma each Thanksgiving?


Although while a child, all I knew of Sattar Uncle was that he told me to “wait a minute” to hear announcements after Maghrib prayers at Family Night on the first Friday of the month – announcements about moon sighting seem to be the most memorable – I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to appreciate the many different colors of the man as I grew older.


In the months before his passing, he even gave me a basic economics lesson: “Cash is king,” he said, with his hand movements amplifying each statement he made. “Buy low, sell high. Like that 1970s disco song, what goes up, must come down. And remember, money talks, everything else walks.” He was again poking fun – this time for my decision to take some economics courses. “You know what they say about the economist. . . He can only predict what has already passed,” he said with a grin on his face. He got quite a few chuckles out of me, as he spoke, and everyone else who decided to listen in.


Years earlier, I recall running into him unexpectedly atop the hills of UC Santa Cruz. It was the summer after my sophomore year of high school and I was just beginning a yearbook camp there. Uncle had come to drop off his daughter, Sana, for the development residency. Upon seeing the two of them and exchanging salaams, I remember feeling my respect for Sattar Uncle shoot up even higher. In that moment, I saw not only a father taking time out of his weekday afternoon to be a part of his family’s activities, but an uncle from my community who had the foresight and trust to allow his daughter to explore on her own. This was an exemplary leader who didn’t simply pay lip service to the need for media activism or women’s empowerment; I thought to myself – rather, he helped to instill these values in his own children.


It is with the blessings of Allah subhanawata’ala that more than a year since our dear Sattar Uncle left us; his legacy and our joyful memory of him still shine.


He touched lives wherever he walked – as I’m sure you can guess, in writing this article, I could have talked to at least a hundred people about Sattar Uncle’s impact on them personally. The fact is: he helped to build leaders. Alhamdulillah, each organization I mentioned earlier, to this day, works with the same unwavering spirit that Sattar Uncle carried.


Sadly, I don’t ever remember thanking him. Not once. And realizing that now really makes me wish I had.


Now, all I can do is pray for him, and his family. And I can tell others about my mistake. Let it serve as a reminder for all of us to thank the many other brothers and sisters who have toiled to build the Ummah we know today. The list of their names could not fit on these pages. Two probably just stood next to you during Juma prayer.


Let that be the suggestion I leave you with: Make du’a for Sattar Uncle and his family and his community after your next prayer today, and the next time you see someone you know has done great things for your community, thank them. Right there and then. You’ll be glad you did.


More importantly, put yourself to work. No harm in repeating the old adage: Your community is as good as you make it. Uncle’s family will need your help putting out the prayer mats on Eid day. The school principal will always be in need of a teacher. The community will need a voice in the media. The list can go on. As his active elder son, Irfan, reminded us all a year ago at the khatam for Sattar Uncle, “There is a lot of work we need to get done.” He said we could start by pitching in for a new sound system at the masjid as the old one had broken.


In the history Sattar Uncle began relating to me in his living room some five years ago, there was no ending. We need to build libraries, institutes of higher learning, where Muslims and non-Muslims alike come to study and read books about history and algebra and science, and the contributions of Muslims in these fields, he said. Not just about Qur’an and Sunnah.


Simply put, he was a visionary. A man ahead of his time. And he’s left us with a project – We owe it to him to get it done.


Adeel Iqbal is former chair of the SBIA Media Committee and former editor of The Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley.