Chicagoland

Catholics join Muslims to break bread during Ramadan

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
June 6, 2018

Catholics join Muslims to break bread during Ramadan

For the 21st year, Muslims from the Chicago area invited Catholics to join them to break their fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of Islam’s lunar calendar when they traditionally believe the Quran was revealed to Muhammad.
Cardinal Cupich visits with Kifah Mustapha before dinner during the 21st annual Catholic-Muslim iftar dinner at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook on May 25, 2018. The Annual Interfaith Iftar, sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, includes breaking the Ramadan fast, observing maghrib prayer and sharing a festive dinner and program. Ramadan 2018 began in the evening of May 15 and ends the evening of June 14. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Kareem Irfan talks with Kifah Mustapha before dinner during the 21st annual Catholic-Muslim iftar dinner at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook on May 25. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich greets with Mohamad Jabri before dinner. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon speaks at the iftar dinner at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook on May 25.(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich gives remarks at the 21st annual Catholic-Muslim iftar dinner at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook on May 25, 2018. The annual interfaith event, sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, includes breaking the Ramadan fast, observing maghrib prayer and sharing a festive dinner and program. This year Ramadan began the evening of May 15 and ends the evening of June 14. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Mehtap Abusalim talks with Marilyn Beliveau during the 21st annual Catholic-Muslim iftar dinner at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook on May 25, 2018. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father David Jones, pastor of St. Benedict the African Parish, speaks during the 21st annual Catholic-Muslim iftar dinner at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook on May 25, 2018. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

For the 21st year, Muslims from the Chicago area invited Catholics to join them to break their fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of Islam’s lunar calendar when they traditionally believe the Quran was revealed to Muhammad.

This year’s iftar — the name for the meal where Muslims break their fast from sunrise to sunset — took place at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook with the theme “Overcoming Hate through Acts of Faith.” The annual event is sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

Ramadan began the evening of May 16 and is expected to end at sundown June 14. When Ramadan falls during winter months in the United States, the fast is shorter than when it falls during the summer months, especially June, when the longest days of sunlight occur.

Gathering annually for an iftar is a way for Catholics and Muslims to set an example for the wider community “about the importance of making friends across lines of religious practice, heritage, language and enjoy the diversity that is ours,” Cardinal Cupich told the gathering.

For the past two years, Cardinal Cupich has served as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ co-chair of Muslim-Catholic dialogue.

“The conversations that I have had as part of this dialogue have really enriched me in understanding so much more, not only about Islam but American Muslims and some of the struggles and challenges that you face, especially as you raise your children as you support your families,” Cardinal Cupich said. “We have so much in common in these areas and share so many similar struggles as we live in a very secular society in the United States.” 

During the iftar, Zulfiqar Ali and Father David Jones, pastor of St. Benedict the African Parish in Englewood, gave suggestions on how to combat hate from their respective faith traditions. 

Zulfiqar challenged the Muslims at the dinner to look at the core beliefs in the Quran that are similar to those of Christianity.

“From a Quranic perspective, God is the creator of all human beings. Humans are made in the image and likeness of God,” he said. “We in the Quran have that narrative that makes us love everyone regardless of race and creed.”

Instead of focusing on the differences between Islam and Christianity, believers of both faiths should focus on “competing in matters of goodness,” he said. 

With a similar viewpoint, Jones said that the only way to overcome hate with faith is love.

“Love is the only answer. We know that. Love is the ultimate answer. Love is the potion that unhardens the heart of that which otherwise will become evil,” Jones said. “But our commitment to our respective religious practices necessarily push us to dwell deeper and recall that there is a God in this mess who responds to our cry.”

Topics:

  • muslim-christian relations

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