Indialogue Foundation (IF) and Islamic Studies Association (ISA) jointly organized an iftar for the friends of ISA at IF’s office at Greater Kailash on 22 July 2014. Fr Leonard Fernando SJ, the Principal, Vidyajyoti along with a few staff members and students of Vidyajyoti attended the iftar.
Director of Indialogue Foundation, Mr.Bilal Acikgoz, the welcomed the guests. Victor Edwin SJ briefly introduced the Vision and Mission of Hizmet Movement that runs the Indialogue Foundation. The members of Hizmet Movement draw inspiration and guidance from Mr. Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish religious thinker and visionary.
On this occasion Fr. Medard Xalxo read the Message for the end of Ramadan ‘Id al-Fitr 1435 H. / 2014 CE from the Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue titled “Towards a Genuine Fraternity between Christians and Muslims”.
The Message reminded both Muslims and Christians the words of Saint John Paul II to Muslim leaders at Kaduna, Nigeria on 14 February 1982. “All of us, Christians and Muslims, live under the sun of the one merciful God, we both believe in one God who is the creator of man. We acclaim God’s sovereignty and we defend man’s dignity as God’s servant. We adore God and profess total submission to him. Thus, in a true sense, we can call one another brothers and sisters in faith in the one God.” The Message emphasised both groups of believers “inspired by our shared values and strengthened by our sentiments of genuine fraternity … are called to work together for the rights and dignity of each person … for those most in need: the poor, the sick, orphans, immigrants, victims of human trafficking, and those suffering from any kind of addiction.” The Message also invited both Muslims and Christians “to build bridges of peace and promote reconciliation especially in areas where Muslims and Christians together suffer the horror of war.”
Fr. Thomas V Kunnnunkal SJ, the President of ISA handed over a copy the Message to Mr.Bilal Acikgoz, the Director of IF.
Then the guests watched a short video on the vision and works of Mr Gülen entitled “The cultural Foundation of Tolerance and Dialogue”. Both the Message from the Vatican and the Message of Gülen from the video footage helped the group to ‘listen’ and ‘share’ their reflections. As Ramadan a month of fasting, this religious practice drew a number of short comments from both Mr Bilal and his Christian guests. Mr Bilal mentioned … that fasting strengthens in the hearts and minds of Muslims the idea of God’s sovereignty and human persons’ dependence on God … the month of Ramadan trains Muslims in patience … it stimulates sympathy for and solidarity with the poor … provides an opportunity for intense communion with God … it is not only refrain from food and drink but also from all kinds of falsehood … a fasting Muslim is blessed with more time to read and reflect on the word of God, the Qur’an. Christian guests shared their experience on fasting. Listening to one another enriched our heart and minds specially the sharing of Mr. Bilal threw more light on the meaning and the purpose of fasting.
All had iftar together at the appointed time. Then the call to prayer was given. Thanks to technology, the muezzin’s voice from the Blue Mosque of Istanbul flowed through the air. Bilal and another young Muslim friend Muhammad Hashim offered namaz. The Christian guests sit in the rows behind in prayerful silence. After the prayer, delicious meal was served.
Arulda and Victor Edwin