The Friendship and Dialogue Iftar Dinner was held on Friday 9 May 2021 at Para Hills Community Hub, Adelaide organised by Multi-cultural Youth Education Support Services (McYESS) and the Uniting Church supported by Pinnacle College Pastoral Care, Community Engagement and the McYESS ladies’ group.
The event was attended by more than 110 people enjoying the interfaith gathering and breaking bread together in an atmosphere of friendship and understanding.
The year fasting of Ramadan commenced on the 12 April, with Muslims all around the world fasting from dawn to dusk until 12 May.
Iftar dinners are an important feature of Ramadan celebrations. Here in Adelaide this was a special interfaith and intercultural gathering at an Iftar dinner to promote cultural understanding and tolerance during this important spiritual month.
Iftar dinners place an emphasis on the enjoyable company of others in a relaxed environment. Those fasting, break their fast not only with their family and friends, but also with people they have not met before.
Meeting together with others at the Iftar table is inclusive, rewarding, and stimulating. An Iftar dinner encourages mutual understanding and gives those attending a sense of belonging to our contemporary multi-cultural society.
Dr Mehmet Aslan, McYESS Community Engagement Manager and co-host of the event made an introductory speech at the event.
During his address, Dr Aslan commented said, “In a spirit of friendship, solidarity and breaking down cultural & religious barriers for a better world, I think it is a great opportunity for individuals to engage in first-hand cultural exchange and dialogue and meet over an iftar meal. As we all know, only too well, the world has suffered greatly from problems caused by disunity and intolerance.”
“I would like to relate a short story told by the great Sufi scholar, poet, and teacher Rumi. Rumi lived in the 13th century, in Anatolia, Turkey. In Sufi teachings students had to answer two questions at the end of each day. If they answered the first question with a ‘Yes’ there was no need for the second question. The first question was, “have you broken a heart today?” and the second, ‘have you performed your daily prayers?’ The first question does not specify the race, background or religion of the person whose heart has been broken. This shows that spirituality is only beautified and relevant when humanity is exalted… and that human values are the core of our being. This illustrates Rumi’s insight into what is truly important for all human beings.”
Rev Jesse Size, Para Hills Uniting Church said,“… As faith communities we ought to be gift-giving communities, and this is exactly what we all experienced at this Iftar gathering. At this wonderful dinner we had the gift of being together in ways we do not normally encounter. We have the gift of conversation and the opportunity to learn new things along with the extraordinary gifts of hospitality, music, and friendship. For me faith makes most sense when it brings us together at the table. At the table we discover a hunger greater than a physical need. I pray that the remaining days of Ramadan are most blessed. Ramadan Kareem…”
On behalf of Para Vista Uniting Church, Rev Lyn Leane, another co-host of this event also addressed the audience saying,” I wanted to thank you again for last night’s wonderful gathering of all our people. The hospitality was wonderful as was the generosity of the Pinnacle College and McYESS Community. I give special thanks to the women and men for preparing the food. I cannot say enough about the joy that Farhan’s troupe and his glorious singing brought to the occasion. After some difficult, personal problems, I once again found something healing and meaningful in the beauty and energy of the troupe’s musical gift to us all’.
Iftar dinners during Ramadan highlight how people from differing faiths and cultural backgrounds can get together to promote mutual understanding and tolerance demonstrating a spirit of cooperation and a most positive friendly atmosphere.