Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Ramadan: a Time to Promote Muslim-Christian Friendships
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
TOBA TEK SINGH, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Like many Muslims around the world, Muslims in Pakistan are celebrating the Holy Month of Ramadan.
The start of the Ramadan fast is called Sahri and the closing is called Ifftar, Fateh said.
“Ifftar is a great event every day during all these 30 days of Ramadan. There are number of reasons, If it’s a family, all members prepare a variety of food, fruits and juices, etc. Palm dates are must! Everybody enjoys [the food] and gives thanks to God,” Fateh said.
Fateh explained: “If Ifftar is organized by someone for the people of various backgrounds, it’s a great event. It gives an opportunity to meet people and share love, friendship and harmony.”
Fateh stated that for the last few years, since Muslim-Christian interaction has increased, Muslim brothers and sisters invite Christian friends for Ifftar to show them they are remembered and respected.
“On the other hand, a tradition of conducting Ifftar by Christians for Muslim friends at their homes, church yards or hotels is also growing,” he said.
“This season is used to promote ‘Interfaith Harmony’. The Christians send a message to Muslim brothers and sisters that Christians have high regard for Muslims, and their religious rituals and seasons. Christians also make arrangements to offer their prayers and rituals.”
Fateh said he has been invited for two Ifftar programs. One by the Al-Khadmat Foundation ( a countrywide network of the Islamic political party called Jamat-E-Islami). The network is a charity based group giving services in the field of health, education, development and disasters. The network has started a program called ‘Orphan Care Program’ for the floods, earthquakes and other disasters.
“They called a donor conference to raise funds for their program. I was the only Christian who was called. I was very happy, as I was introduced among the various notables and opinion makers. My work for peace, harmony and Christian-Muslim friendship was also shared with many of the guests. The organization made an appeal to adopt at least one child for which supports costs Rupees 2500 per month and annually Rs 30000.
“God blessed me to make a small one time donation. I was told by the national director of the program that the foundation is not only taking care of Muslim children, but Christian orphan children as well,” Fateh said.
“This evening a non-political forum of high profiled citizens called a meeting to organize a consultation on civic issues. Ifftar was also organized by Mr. Amjid Ali Javed, District President of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, one of the mainstream political parties of Pakistan.
“I am blessed to represent the Christian Community in the forum. It was a great experience to have Ifftar with scores of Muslim brothers. I managed to give a proposal to the forum to make a committee to conduct reconciliation among local media groups who are having differences with each other, which has been affecting journalism in the city of Toba Tek Singh. My proposal was appreciated, and some senior members took the responsibility to make peace among them,” Fateh said.
He concluded: “Ramadan is great opportunity to promote peace, love and experience in Muslim-Christian Friendship. Pakistan's leading English Newspaper ‘DAWN’ has reported issues raised by the US State Department that in Pakistan religious freedom is becoming hard for Pakistan's minorities.
“In response to that, I would suggest that the department should also highlight the positive stories like Interfaith harmony in Toba Tek Singh.”
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