June 6th marked the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, and as we are nearing the end of the fifth day of Ramadan, Pacifica institute hosted its first Iftar meal together with its Christian neighbors.
Of course it is a blessing to fast and break the fast together with family, brothers and sisters but it is a double blessing when we as Muslims are able to do that with our neighbors and interfaith partners.
Christian Muslim Consultative Group – CMCG is an interfaith partnership that is very active in Los Angeles area. There are also representatives and members from the nearby churches that joined the Iftar dinner. As the call to prayer of the evening time was recited, that alerts the end of fasting, Iftar meal was shared between all the people present.
Mariam Mohiuddin, a member of the board of CMCG explained what Ramadan and fasting was meant as a way, not only to abstain from eating and drinking, but also as a way to sympathize with people who are less fortunate.
The evening prayer was performed in congregation and the guests were able to watch the ritual take place.
Then came Lori Margaret the director of CMCG who talked about the connections of Christians and Muslims
Lori expressed, “Christian-Muslim Consultative Group’s work is to pair mosques and churches, and groups of Christians and Muslims, together in dialogue to break down misconceptions, listen to each other, and build relationships, understanding and friendships between our faiths. As the director, one of the things I do is to bring small groups of Christians to a mosque for the first time to observe prayers. Two of the comments I always hear on those visits are, ‘That’s not at all what I expected’, and ‘I really felt God’s presence in there’. Experiencing another’s faith and tradition in prayer, to the same God, is an eye-opening experience, and a moving way to begin a relationship with that community. Our dialogue groups go through a seven-part study guide together, where they learn about each other’s faith traditions in person. It’s a powerful counter-narrative to what we see in the world today, and equips people to respond to the comments they hear in the media and around them. One of the other things we hear after people participate is, “Now I know how to respond to a hate speech.” We all hear and see it around us, and this is a way to support our Muslim sisters and brothers as people of faith. If your church or mosque is interested in being involved, please contact me and I’d be happy to help you find a partner. Thank you so much for attending tonight, and for your interest in building interfaith community.”
The evening came to an end with the serving of teas and desserts, and the beginning of new friendships.