News / USA

Maryland Mosque Invites Jewish Neighbors for Iftar

Multimedia

Saqib Islam

As Muslims around the world observed Ramadan over the past month, one mosque in the suburbs of Washington found the holy month of fasting from sunrise to sundown could provide an opportunity for some interfaith understanding. The Islamic Center of Maryland hosted members of the local Jewish community for evening prayers and an Iftar dinner, the daily meal in which Muslims break their Ramadan fast. Then, they joined their guests for a Havdalah ceremony - to mark the end of the Jewish Sabbath.  VOA's Saqib UI Islam was also there.

It's sunset in the town of Gaithersburg, Maryland, just north of Washington, about time for the Muslims living in this area to break their fast.  Many have gathered in the Islamic Center of Maryland waiting for the Call to prayer.

But as they stand in lines to pray, there are many new faces here to pray with them, local Jews who have gathered here to break fast and pray with the Muslims.

"Every year, at Ramadan, our mosque opens their doors for Iftar," said Haytham Younis, the mosque's imam.  "We invite guests, and we put a signboard out front inviting anyone who just wants to come in off the street."

On this day the Jews have been invited through an organization called the "Judaism Islamic Dialogue Society."  Imam Younis and Rabbi Dan Spiro are members.

SPIRO: "It's just a wonderful way of exploring what it means to be a child of Abraham.  And we are, after all, children of Abraham."

YOUNIS: "God, we believe, gave the law to Mohammed, just as he did to Moses.  And it was a very similar law, for a nation of believers, so that they establish God's law on earth.  So we have a lot in common."

Following the prayers, the Muslims joined the Jews for a Havdalah Service, a ritual which ends the Jewish Sabbath, of Shabbat.

"Shabbat isn't lasting a whole month, but it happens a day every single week," noted Hanna Spiro.  "So it's this kind of regular, but spiritual, sacred holy time, and Havdala and the break-fast, the end of the fast is kind of marking that was our sacred, holy time.

In the conversation which followed, members of both communities talked about their experience with each other's faiths.

Andra Sufi says she learned to recite part of the Quran to take part in the Muslim Prayers, and has incorporated some of the teachings of Islam into her life.

"So I think that the coming together and sharing allows us the richness of what's going on in other faith traditions," said Sufi.

In many Muslim countries, Imam Younis says people of other faiths are not allowed to enter a mosque.  But he says this concept does not reflect the true teachings of Islam.

"I mean, the prophet sala Allah alaih va salam (God be pleased with him) when a group of Christians came from Najiran, and it was time for them to pray, he invited them to make their prayer in the masjid of the prophet sala Allah alaih va salam (God be pleased with him)  , and of course Allah subhann watala (God Almighty) throughout the Quran, you know (Arabic phrase) 'call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and the most beautiful of manners.'  And so how is it that you can call people to Islam if you shut them out of your lives and you have nothing to do with them whatsoever?" asked Younis.

Imam Younis and Rabbi Spiro both believe Jews and Muslims have much in common. Both faiths, they say, are profoundly monotheistic and share many of the same core principles - including honesty, justice, mercy, generosity, respect for the sanctity of life, and commitment to scholarship.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid