SOUTHBOROUGH — ‘Southborough Neighbors for Peace’ interfaith group in Massachusetts, the US, announced plans to host neighbors to its third annual Ramadan Iftar at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, May 19.
“Ramadan can be a way to bring members of the community together,” Dr. Sadfar Medina, one of the founding members of the interfaith group told Community Advocate on May 14.
This year’s iftar will be held in memory of those lost in the Parkland, Florida and Toronto tragedies. Non-perishable food items will be collected for the Southborough Food Pantry.
“This dinner really makes sense. The purpose of Ramadan is building a sense of community with everyone, not just those who observe,” Medina said.
Recalling growing up in Toronto, the Muslim professor said, “I always thought of being a minority as a very positive thing. Years ago, Ramadan was very different since no one knew what it meant. Now the world has changed.”
“Our interfaith group is now made up of a core group of 15 to 20 members. We have members who are Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, and Episcopalian,” Medina noted.
Phil LaBelle, the pastor at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church said: “As a Christian priest, I didn’t know much about Ramadan other than what I learned at seminary that it was the month when Muslims fasted during the daylight hours.”
“My life has been enriched by these (interfaith) friendships and in learning more about the different ways people worship God,” he added.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar. It is expected to start this year on Wednesday, May 16.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, except for the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint, and good deeds.
According to 2010 data from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), Muslims make up less than 1% of Massachusetts’s population.