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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid