Interfaith Iftars: Jews and Muslims Unite
More and more Muslim-Jewish Iftars are becoming more common across the nation. Iftars are defined as the evening meals that occur at the end of the day during an event called Ramadan in which Muslims fast. The reason for fasting during Ramadan is meant for spiritual reflection and an increased devotion and worship during these periods of time. Many Jews and Muslims are increasingly coming together for these celebratory Ramadan meals and forging interfaith relationships. These meals are significant because they represent and demonstrate how Jews and Muslims can come together and share common interests and enjoy each other’s company and cultural foods.
Rabbi Sara Bassin is part of an organization called NewGround that works year round on Muslim-Jewish relations. Bassin states that “Yes, we are in another awful flare-up of violence and both of our communities are suffering. That will be acknowledged at the Iftar.” There has been about 900 Muslims and Jews that have attended the event in 2012 held in Chicago. This union of religions is significantly representative of how two groups can come together in their beliefs and become stronger when they unite. Although they may share different beliefs it does not mean that there needs to be animosity between them. It is customary for Muslims to include extended family and friends in their evening meals. It has become common for the American Muslim to invite people beyond these two groups as well. President Barack Obama has been hosting an Iftar each year since he was elected in office. I believe this is significant because this signifies that religious customs and traditions do not have to be restrictive. They have the potential to be open and diverse in this sense. Many people may disregard a religion because they are not educated on their customs and traditions. And in this way, even if you are not part of a particular religion you can still understand their customs and traditions without such critical judgment.
Bassin states that “The Jews feel comfortable going to a Jewish institution and the Muslims feel comfortable that they’re going to an Iftar. It puts everybody equally in and out of their comfort zone.” This is a significant statement because it represents how religion has the potential to bring people together much more than the potential to divide them. I believe religion inherently comes from a place of unity, acceptance and ultimately love. But I understand that not all religions will agree on many things but this example of Muslims and Jews uniting in events like the Iftar shows that religion has a great ability to bring people together. Even if there are many different religions that clash together in their beliefs it does not mean that there needs to be an environment of hostility between them. Acceptance between different religions may not be as common as we would like but a thoughtful understanding of each religion is crucial for individuals to coexist.
- A. Y #200