The Inter Diocesan Ecumenical Group is encouraging Christians consider how we might offer hospitality to a local Muslim community during Ramadan this year. Ramadan in 2018 will start on May 16th and continue until June 14th.
During the month of Ramadan, observant Muslims fast during daylight hours. The fast is broken at sunset each night with a large meal called an Iftar. Muslims are urged to invite others to break the fast with them. The Iftar is an opportunity for non-Muslims to get to know their Muslim neighbours. In many countries Christians host their Muslim neighbours for Iftar meals. The simple gesture of sharing a meal builds solidarity and understanding between people of different faiths.
Noting that Christian witness in a pluralistic world includes engaging in dialogue with people of different religions and cultures (cf. Acts 17 22-28), the Inter Diocesan Ecumenical Group encourages Anglicans throughout New Zealand to consider building bridges with their Muslim neighbours by hosting an Iftar meal at parish facilities.
The experience in this country and around the world, is that if any inter-religious strife or religiously-motivated violence occurs, one of the most powerful witnesses for peace comes from solidarity formed between local faith communities through existing bonds of friendship. The hope of hosting an Iftar meal is to build relationships of respect and trust so as to facilitate deeper mutual understanding and cooperation for the common good.
The group suggests this resource for ideas on how to host an Iftar meal.
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland hosted an Iftar last year. Rev Ivica Gregurec, Cathedral Precentor comments: “The Iftar in the Cathedral was a mutually enriching experience. Having 200 Shia Muslims for a prayer, meal and evening of talks was an inspiring moment for all involved, Muslims, as well as Christians. Our guests were surprised that we were willing to offer them hospitality. Afterwards, the relationships of respect continued as we returned to visit one of the prayer centres and continue to visit each other on special occasions.”
Dunedin North Parish contacted the local mosque to invite the Muslim community to an Iftar, but instead the parish was invited to the mosque for a meal. One parishioner said: “Even though I think of myself as someone with an open mind, it was challenging to go to the mosque. After I put a scarf on my head on the way I wondered what people on the street would think of me, I wondered whether they thought I was someone to be afraid of, or to judge as strange or different. That taught me something before I even got there. After the meal I left with a real sense of compassion and respect for the people I had met and for their leaders.”
Please contact your representative on the IDEG (listed below) if you would like to discuss hosting Iftar meals.
- Auckland: Rev. Nyasha Gumbeze
- Waikato & Taranaki: Rev. Andrew McKean
- Waiapu: Rev. Stephen Donald
- Wellington: Rev. John McCaul
- Nelson: Very Rev. Charles Tyrrell
- Christchurch: Rev. Canon Helen Roud