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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid