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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid